In swim training there’s a term called “garbage yardage” which refers to the swimmer physically putting in the time training but while doing so, being mentally out to lunch. You know, it’s the old, “going through the motions” thing.
If you want to get more out of your training this year, then you need to train with a purpose. You need to train with a reason. If you have a reason for putting all this time in, sacrificing and physically suffering, then you will indeed get far more out of your training then if you just go through the motions.
What I am asking athletes to do here is to take responsibility for their training. Own your practices. Commit to them and be invested. If you didn’t get much out of practice, don’t blame this crummy practice on the coach. If you have a goal that you REALLY want to accomplish in your sport, and you take it with you when you train EVERY day, then YOU will put more into your practices and, as a result, get more out of them.
If you don’t have a good, personal reason for training, if you don’t have what I call a BIG ENOUGH WHY, then you need to spend some time thinking about getting one. What would excite you in your sport? What could you accomplish that would make you feel really good about yourself? You need a direction for your energies. You need a target for your efforts. Don’t just go through the motions. Be smart about your training and develop a focus. Then ask yourself every day: “How is what I’m doing today going to help me get to that goal?”
To perform at your best you need to be loose and relaxed. You need to be free to make mistakes and totally unconcerned with the outcome. You need to be completely unburdened by expectations! You need to be in a relaxed, trust and let it happen mindset. You can’t achieve this mindset if you’re worried about the outcome of this performance and your goals and expectations are at the forefront of your mind right before and while you perform!
If you are overly goal-focused during the performance, if you desperately want to win, then you will become a victim of trying too hard, of muscling the performance and of trying to force things to happen. So do yourself a favor! Remind yourself that good mental mechanics require that you use goals and expectations ONLY as a training tool for practice and NEVER as a performance tool for competition!