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The Results Depend on the Process

Recently I have been working with a high school senior who desperately wanted to qualify for his state championships and make it to the finals. Throughout the season he had been getting frustrated because he would swim efficiently in practice, but would not do nearly as well in meets. After giving a motivational speech to his high school team, he told his coach he wanted to start meeting with me to work on his concentration skills and self-confidence. As we began our sessions, it became very clear to me that his biggest issue wasn’t his ability or skill level, it was how he was thinking when he swam. He was so focused on the times he wanted to achieve, that he would get extremely anxious, physically tense and tight, and consumed with trying to swim this certain time. Consequently, by thinking so intensely about swimming a specific time, he psyched himself out of accomplishing his goal. As a result, when he started to realize this, we had to change his thinking process. We discussed how important it was for him to reach his goal, as he wanted to make the finals at the state meet, but also wanted to swim in college. Since these results were extremely important to him, we discussed how the way he was currently thinking was not helping him accomplish his goals. What he became aware of, was that he was focusing way too much on his time goals, and not enough on what he needed to do to accomplish them. We changed his thinking during his swims by changing his focusing skills. When I asked him what were some of the simple things he could think about while he swam, he stated focusing on the black line at the bottom of the pool, concentrating on his breathing, on his strokes, his kick and his turns. As I explained to him, this was, “the process”, the route that would assist him at accomplishing his time goals. By focusing on “the now”, what you need to do is concentrate on what you need to do at that moment, that will give you a greater chance at reaching your end results. It took a couple of weeks for him to change his thinking and by the time he got to the state meet, he felt extremely confident and focused. And he made it to the finals in both of his events. In our follow-up session after the meet, he told me that the only thing he concentrated on was “the process”. The times he wanted to achieve were in the back of his mind, but once he dove in he only focused on what he had to do to get to the final wall. Winning and losing happen in every sporting event (unless you end in a tie). How you get to the end has a great deal to do with what you think about and focus on to get there thru “the process”. That will usually give you the result you want.

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