By Dr. Jim Bauman//Special Contributor | Thursday, May 26, 2016
In previous articles, we talked about the services and role of a sport psychologist in swimming, and four of the seven High Performance Strategies. This article will briefly describe the fifth strategy – The Power of Competing in the Moment.
Doing anything in the moment (one thing at a time) flies in the face of how our electronic media-rich environment pushes people to “multi-task” throughout the day. That same environment has also contributed to a social expectation to increase our electronic “personal and work connections,” while still pursuing productivity in more life and work tasks. Contrary to the initial and popular beliefs about multi-tasking being a wonderful asset to getting many things done, there is a growing body of research that says the opposite. Many things do get done, but at the expense of accuracy and quality. Our amazing brains have limits to the number of things we can efficiently focus on without some loss of quantity and/or quality output. If accuracy and quality are important to what you do, and they are for a swimmer, you are more likely to achieve that, if you limit your attention to “moment-tasking” instead of multi-tasking. So, how does this work for you?
Time Zones: We can break the idea of time into three general categories…Past, Present, and Future. If we multi-task time when we swim, we are thinking about what has happened in the past (i.e. I didn’t start or swim well in this event before) and what could happen in the future (i.e. bad swim today could mean loss of money or not meeting expectations), while still attempting to swim at a high level right now. That’s even hard to say, much less do!
A competitive mindset will be one where you focus your attention on “this moment in time.” It will be absent of much, if any, attention given to what just happened (past) or what could happen (future) in a race. Minimizing your attentional focus (brain) to what you need to do bio-mechanically (body) in each moment, as you progress through a race, will provide you with the highest likelihood of a quality performance. When you are in the start…focus is on the start; when you are swimming your stroke…focus on each stroke; when you prepare for and hitting the wall for a turn…focus is on just that; and when you are finishing…focus only on that long and powerful drive to the wall. Competing in the moment (moment-tasking) is a powerful strategy to synchronize your brain with your body for maximum performance. Like the other strategies, for this to work, you will need to regularly practice it in training and when you compete. Using visual “cues” to remind you of this could be as simple as writing “swim in” on the back of one hand and “the now” on the back of the other…or create different words that will work for you. Visual cues work!
For more information, as well as techniques to teach this strategy: Contact Dr. Jim Bauman at 434-987-2918 and/or email@example.com.