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Consistency Required For Change

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Early in my coaching career, I was so eager to try new things and implement new knowledge I had just read or learned. The constant change, regardless of the success, failed to correct long lasting changes in technique or changing an athletes behavior.

As a coach, there is so much to think about on a regular basis, and the truth is athlete's can only try to change so many things at once. It is hard for me to keep having to remind the youth I coach to be consistent in changing motor patterns, and sometimes I feel like banging my head against a wall because I just reminded them 30 seconds earlier.

Accountability, consistent reminder and patience is a necessity. Changing a pattern of behavior is tough, anyone who has ever tried to stop a habit knows this. It takes constant thought until the task you are trying to change becomes inherent.

Consistency Required For Change

Over the last couple weeks with our swim team we have been trying to hold our athletes accountable in doing their under-waters. We have spent countless practice time working on becoming more efficient, becoming more powerful and correcting technique, however if those changes do not occur within the thousands of yards of swimming performance will not improve.

So we hold our athletes accountable, we give them opportunities to correct it (i.e. redoing sets and reps) and I try and stay as patient as possible (however frustrated outbursts have occurred). The following tips may be helpful to athletes and coaches alike:

  1. Stay Consistent in Expectations: I give my athletes the bare minimum expectations I have for them so they know what I expect. For example I may say, "I expect that you do at minimum three dolphin kicks off each wall." It gives them the opportunity to do more if they want to work on it, while allowing them to understand what my expectations are.

  2. Create a Network of Accountability: The age old adage, one fall we all fall is something we practice. While many may criticize this thinking, we are a team even in an individual sport. Every athlete must be accountable to their teammates and visa versa. I rarely call out an athlete for their mistake, and rarely does just one athlete repeat something, the entire team does.

  3. Stay the Course: It is easy to throw something that doesn't work right away aside, but consistency and accountability will get athletes to where they need to be. Often times athletes will also throw aside a technique or stop working something because they feel like it makes them slower or they aren't picking it up quickly, but over time the changes will most likely lead to a more powerful and efficient athlete.

Technique changes are challenging, but over time the body will adapt and become more efficient and the behavior will become inherent. It just takes time!

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