A Major Reason for Competition Disappointments

Have you or your swimmers ever went to competition and had everything go wrong? Do you get confused because you or your swimmers practice so well, but then at competition they cannot perform? Well, today is your lucky day. Today’s post is all about trying to get practice performances at competition.

In my experience swimmers that cannot perform at competition have become distracted by their thoughts. More specifically they focus on things they cannot control versus things they can control.

If you ask your swimmer what their goal is, is it something they can control?

I bet most of their goals are to get a certain score, place ahead of a certain swimmer. All of which they do not control.

Here is a quick chart for you of things in our sport you can control and not control. Feel free to print it off and add your own.


Notice that all the things on the right are uncontrollable. Yes you can plan for them, practice for it and try to anticipate it. Ultimately though you do not have any power over them.

Once swimmers get to a competition many seem to dwell on the right side of the column. Especially focusing on too much about the outcome.

You cannot be thinking about winning a figure event before you have even started or finished the first figure. In fact thinking about “winning”, whatever winning means to you is not helpful. You need to be focusing on your game plan. Have you ever watched the swimmer in front of you and decided you need to go slower or be higher? Do you then try to do that? Sometimes it can work, but more often than not it fails.

Release yourself from the result.

Focus on the process. What do you need to do to get the figure/performance you want? What is your practiced game plan? Stick to at all costs. Spend your precious energy focusing on your “controllables”.

Release yourself from the result as you have no control over it.

I love this idea, Think about placing high or getting high scores as a reward for your accomplishment in the figure.

Think about placing high or getting high scores as a reward for… Click to Tweet

Try this. Don’t even look at your scores until the end. It will be difficult because you have trained yourself to validate your figure result based on a score you get. A score, which you do not control.

And I want you to remember that at the end of the day you can put all the effort in the world, stick to your game plan and have personal bests and that still does not mean you will reach your outcome goal. You know why? Because you cannot control your scores or the other competitors. Another swimmer could have the swim of their life placing ahead of you and you have no control over that. And that really is the joy of sport. The unpredictability.

So to be clear I am not saying do not make outcome goals. I am saying at competition focus on things you can control. Do not give your power away to circumstances you do not control.

Here is a link to a Facebook live post I did on the subject.

I would love to hear if any of you have tried not listening to your figure scores. How about routine scores? Was it helpful?

Yours in Synchro,


  1. Dad on September 24, 2017 at 9:24 AM

    What a fantastic read

  2. María on March 12, 2019 at 7:48 AM

    This article makes a lot of sense, thank you 😊

Leave a Comment

Top 4 Olympic Qualifier Tech Teams 2016

Get your FREE DOWNLOAD today!

Includes all pattern changes and swimmer positions.