Changing your patterns for moving, in swimming or running as well as any other powerful athletic movement form, can be difficult. There are a lot of factors that can make it easier or harder than it seems to be for others. But if you are reading this blog, you are likely one of those who has been working in training on a change in your form.
But let’s consider for a moment why some people don’t make an effort to change, or give up too soon to see real results.
Change – of the kind that is permanent – requires an effective process, and that involves an investment of time over many weeks and months.
Change takes effort, and that requires energy. We all have a limited supply and people budget their energy expenditures differently. What are your priorities?
Change involves stress to the body, not just the mind, even if that change is desired and taking one in a positive direction. The body already went through the hard work of refining the supporting systems in the body to establish some level of local efficiency around the patterns you have been using. It prefers things to remain as they are, and reluctant to go through all that work again. There is some internal resistance to change, even good change.
One does not just get a quickly-explained correction from a coach and then turn around and start performing with that correction firmly in place. It takes months to hard wire a change into one’s movement patterns to the point it becomes the new dominant pattern, able to hold up under difficult conditions. It takes months for that new pattern to become efficient in terms of neural firing, muscle fiber recruitment, which allows that movement to executed with as low or lower energy cost than the old pattern had.
And change feels risky.
A higher-achieving athlete will have a very strong pattern for moving a certain way, and since that pattern has been a part of his success equation up to that point, it can be very scary to set it aside, in the hope that a recommended change will make things better. For a time, he has to neglect the old way of moving in order to allow the new way of moving to gain dominance and efficiency. Only then can he test that new pattern to verify that it is indeed more effective than his old one. The higher up the success ladder an athlete is, the less appealing that risk will seem… unless some major motivation comes along to urge him to seek something better than what he’s got. He might then consider that the old pattern has taken him as far as it can go, and he needs to find a pattern that will take him farther. But he will likely try all other less-costly ideas before the most inconvenient one.
People just starting out, or those way down on the ambition scale, have little to risk at trying a change that promises to improve their performance and experience. So, they may experience far less hesitation, less internal resistance to change. But nonetheless, change takes time and effort, even without much internal resistance.
There is another scenario that doesn’t work. You can’t dabble with substantial changes to your form and expect it to immediately feel more comfortable or more efficient or produce faster or longer-lasting performance. It literally takes weeks for the body to build new wires, build strength around that new pattern and refine the movements to achieve efficiency with a new pattern. So, if you have tried, or when you hear of someone conducting a one-time test, trying to compare their way of swimming against someone else’s, to prove it is not better, there is a well-documented reason why this kind of a test not a credible way to do it.
So, who has the motivation for a big change? Who has time for it? What all needs to be changed? What is the process to be followed?
If you want to change, you need strong enough motivation.
You need time.
You need energy.
You need a reliable process.
You need to put in effort. You need to stick with that process all the way through.
You need some faith in the promise of better performance of the change you intend to make.
And, if you have enjoyed some success with what you’ve been doing before, you may need a bit of courage too. It will take some time to prove that this change is really better for you.