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Lots of research and individual opinions have been published over the years, regarding the potential ability of human muscle cells to develop strength and endurance. For decades we have been told that there are two distinct types of human muscle cells. One type can develop endurance most easily and the other type can develop muscle power most easily. Different research has often been contradictory and now there are claims that there is a third type of muscle cell which can best provide anaerobic capacity. 

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“90% of the game is half mental” -Yogi Berra, famous Yankees catcher and manager

INDIVIDUAL DYNAMICS

This is the third installment on a series of four articles about mental training. It addresses a general guideline to individual mental preparation and the first phase of the mental program.

As Ye Believe, So Shall Ye Swim

I look at physical training as part of mental preparation— not just the other way around. What swimmers believe about themselves is manifested in how they train. Their belief system is at the core of their decisions about technique, nutrition, pain tolerance, etc. Part of that belief comes from those around the athlete, specifically their team, parents, coaches, etc. In our program we share a great number of stories throughout the year about past successes in several areas of endeavor. There are legends of amazing time drops, levels of commitment, physical prowess, and complete turnarounds of character. These clearly help to galvanize the current swimmers’ beliefs as to what lies ahead in their futures.

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Rick Edwards Photo

“90% of the game is half mental” - Yogi Berra, famous Yankees catcher and manager

This is the second installment on a series of articles about mental training. It addresses specific team activities that will connect your team members to larger sources of power as well as provide several avenues for increasing confidence. 

Team Meetings.

Productive team meetings are essential, but when abused are among the worst things you can do. The right balance is a different for every team; you don’t want to waste training time. The most important things to consider are frequency, duration, and essence. The “same old, same old” is boring and redundant (faculty meetings being a prime example). Obviously you have to get out information, but you only need to highlight what is important. Information can be published; don’t waste time in details that they can read on their own. We usually had a meeting every Monday. If a crisis arose during the week that needed addressing, we might have another. Most meetings were set up by the coaches, but some were set up by the swimmers themselves.

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Rick Edwards photo

“90% of the game is half mental” - Yogi Berra, famous Yankees catcher and manager

At the world championships in Melbourne, Australia, 15 world records were broken. At the 2007 NCAA Championships, there were 4 swimmers who swam 42+ in the 100 Freestyle that did not make finals. I suspect records will continue to fall and the field will keep getting faster. Is this because the gene pool is superior to what it was 30 years ago? I would have serious doubts about that. In 1977 Joe Bottom was the first man under 20 in the 50 yd. Freestyle, but his time thirty years later would have missed scoring in the top 16. Much of this improvement at the bottom end comes as a result of a significant improvement in the level of coaching. Because “the world is flat,” as Thomas Friedman states in his book of the same name, more and better information is getting into the hands of more and more people both in this country and around the globe. A better understanding of technique combined with a much more sophisticated concept of physiology has produced much faster swimmers even in non-traditional swimming areas such as Greece or Tunisia. But that is only a portion of the total picture. World records keep progressing because expectations keep progressing. Everyone knows the Roger Bannister story. As the frontiers of physiological limits are reached, it is the mind that continues to push the body into uncharted waters.

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