Reviewing your performance is one of the key skills that a young swimmer can learn. After all, how else do you know what to work on to improve? That’s what matters – continual improvement – whether you’re an agre grouper or an Olympian.
I used to envy the guys that could throw away a bad swim, but actually, it’s as unhelpful to throw it away without learning as it is to dwell on it as I often used to do. Balance is important.
What should I include in a review?
I suggest starting with the highlights (we tend to overlook these), then what could have been better. You can do this for the meet as a whole or focus on specific events.
I don’t mean, “I did a good / bad time”. I mean what did you do well and what could you have done better? If you did a PB, you must have done some things well, but you might also have had room for improvement. Likewise if you didn’t get a great time. Time isn’t always a great indicator of how you swum, especially as you get older and tend to do PBs less often.
Additional questions to consider:
- What do I need to work on in training?
- What will I do the same at the next meet?
- What will I do differently at the next meet?
What aspects of my performance should I review?
You should think about what you did leading up to your races – your preparation; during the race; and after the race (e.g. swim down).
Also try to think in terms of:
Physical: How were your warm ups, eating, drinking, effort levels, swim downs
Technical: feel (including in warm up), stroke counts, starts, turns…
Tactical: Did you have a race plan? Did you stick with it? How did you pace your swim?
Mental: What did you think about before / during / after the race. How did you feel – nervous, excited?
When should I review?
I’d do it soon enough to have the meet fresh in your mind, but you also have to have time to cool down and review objectively. It’s important to take the emotion out of it. If you swim really well, you might overlook opportunities to learn. If you swim badly, you might overlook things that you did well.
Normally, I’d suggest sleeping on it and reviewing the next day if you can, or as soon as possible after that. Don’t be tempted to do it on the day.
Who should I review with?
Ideally, your coach. At first, you might find it quite difficult to find things to say, so having someone else who can ask questions and give you feedback helps. So, if you can’t get the time with your coach, perhaps your parent or even do it in pairs wi
th a team-mate and help each other out. As you get better at reviewing your performance, you can do it more on your own.
You can use your learning points to great goals for, or to put into your planning and preparation for the next meet. I’ll post on planning and preparation soon. Try to get into a cycle of reviewing, practicing, preparing, competing and start again with review. It isn’t something that you should only do as a reaction to a bad swim – make it a habit and you’ll see the benefit.