When we consider the goal of continual swimming improvement what is or are our enemies to that goal?
- A body that doesn’t want to work hard?
- A mind that is afraid of pain?
- A lack of talent?
- Not enough time?
I suggest that these are the real Enemies Of Improvement:
Ignorance of how swimming works, and how the human body/mind works.
Lack of Vision for our potential at every age.
Disorder in the path we should follow to our goal, or lack of any path at all.
Distraction from what matters in this moment, right now.
We solve Ignorance with thorough and diligent study.
We solve Lack of Vision by exposing ourselves to others who are tapping into their potential at every age. We will absorb the attitude and energy of those we hang out with.
We solve Disorder by devoting ourselves to a pathway that has proven itself to lead to the results we seek. Pick-and-choosing pieces of various methods is a poor way to go about improvement.
We solve Distraction by Focus on what is important right now, with assurance to set aside that which is not important, or that which will require our attention later.
Does the system you follow provide you with each of these solutions?
Keep this in mind – systems are effective because every piece of that system works together to produce a certain result. Every part is essential to the whole. When we approach a sport training system with admiration and desire for its promised result we should also respect the entire package of pieces in how they are meant to work together to produce that result. Skipping over pieces of it because we think we know better is foolish.
No one (that I am aware of) has become a martial arts master because he dabbled and pulled little pieces from this and that system of martial art. First, one devotes himself to mastery of a single system and then from that position of mastery becomes capable of assessing and understanding how a technique or idea from another martial art school may integrate or interfere with his capabilities. Each martial art school has a system of understanding and practice that produces the results that art is known for. Only one who devotes himself to that school of study and practice will become a master of that version of the art. Then he is in position to master other forms and to develop his own unique version, and offer substantiated professional critique to other schools.
Only one who is a genuine master is in position to test other systems for their mastery capabilities. And a genuine master will respect the devotion required in another system of technique. He will be respectful and constructive in his criticism for other masters and their schools.
There are a myriad of opinions and programs out there for sports performance improvement. Each one is trying to distinguish itself from the others. It is hard to sort through all the claims. Yet, I think it is good for the sport that there are methods and systems that challenge each other (respectfully). Those of one school may criticize and mock those of another for whatever reasons, but really, the variety of approaches, and the variety of values they represent, and rational or scientific comparison between them is good for the improvement of the sport overall.
But this is my concern – the one who dabbles, who pick-and-chooses a bit here and a bit there, who does not give time and effort to devote himself to any particular system to experience completely how that system works – this person runs the greatest risk of never achieving his potential, and he poses the greatest threat of mis-information about systems he claims to be knowledgeable about, when in fact, he knows very little and what he does know is superficial.
If I have not submitted myself to another’s system with a sufficient amount of time and earnestness to experience its promise, I am not in credible position to criticize it. Without that intimate understanding my superficial criticism often causes more harm than good – to students and to the sport itself.
I advise that we should first become an apprentice to a system and learn from it completely before we attempt to move off on our own ideas, or criticize another’s. This approach has a long and proven history of producing original masters among artists, athletes and performers of all kinds.