3 Important Reasons You Should Be Writing Out Your Swim Practices
Professional swimmers are often told that regular and consistent practices are enough to achieve the Olympic level of mastery. However, when Olympic swimmers share their stories, there’s more than just physical practice that’s behind their success.
Caeleb Dressel, an American freestyle swimmer, shares that keeping a journal helps him maintain the consistency of his swimming practice sessions:
Video credit: Swimswam YouTube
Caeleb says that after every practice, he puts down his weight, reviews every set, his technique, as well as thoughts on what needs improvement. He also mentions that he keeps a record of both good and bad practice sessions. According to him, journaling is the way to keep practice consistent, hold yourself accountable, and objectively assess your progress over time.
What Does Science Say about the Effects of Journaling?
General research also offers evidence that supports the positive effects of journaling on students’ self-regulated learning strategies.
A study from Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, involved 62 tenth-grade students, who were given a model for a journal, in which they wrote their thoughts after a science class.
The participants reflected on their dialogs with teachers and other students, their scientific observations, drew conclusions, and evaluated their level of understanding of the concept they had learned during the lesson.
The study showed outstanding results. Students from the experimental group, who regularly kept a journal, significantly outperformed other participants. They showed considerable improvement in using self-regulated learning strategies, namely:
- identified learning goals more precisely
- were more ready for challenges
- successfully monitored their learning progress
- cultivated intrinsic motivation
A swimming practice also resembles the process of learning, during which students work on improving their skills and technique. So, in regards to professional swimmers, writing out swim practices and reflecting on them in a journal can help students be more consistent.
But besides consistency, which other benefits can a swimming practice log bring along?
Let’s take a look.
1. You Become More Self-Aware
For every athlete, it is important to see the real picture and understand what needs to be done to improve skills. Making regular notes in a swimming practice log can help swimmers assess swimming sessions objectively and become more self-aware of the results of each practice.
Diana Adjadj, a researcher at TrustMyPaper says: “ In this case, self-awareness is learned through self-efficacy. “A journal can help an athlete to evaluate the goals of each training session and see whether their goals are realistic and what they need to do to achieve them.”
General research supports the idea of improving self-awareness through the assessment of self-efficacy.
One study performed at the University of Nebraska involved 41 psychology students aged 19 to 44 and investigated the connection of self-efficacy and self-awareness and how it can be improved through journaling.
The researchers asked students to keep practicing journals for one semester to see how tracking their performance would affect their self-awareness. The results of the study reported that all participants got better grades and attributed their achievements to journaling.
In conclusion, the study suggests the following steps to improve self-awareness when tracking self-efficacy using a journal:
- Identify an event that helped/didn’t help you achieve your practice goal.
- Reflect on your current understanding of this situation.
- Consider further improvements that need to be made.
Following these three simple steps can help swimmers objectively assess how effective the practice was and what needs to be fixed or introduced to make further improvements and achieve the goal.
2. You Acquire a Growth Mindset
Continuous improvement is an important part of the success of professional athletes. Having a mindset that there’s always room to grow can help set new goals and move forward to new achievements.
Keeping a journal can help professional swimmers acquire a growth mindset. And a study by the Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE, has confirmed that.
The study involved fifteen female participants, who were asked to keep a reflective journal for their sixteen-week nutrition course. The participants wrote in their journals just once – in week eight of a sixteen-week semester, but could already see a positive effect.
In personal interviews, all students confirmed that writing even one entry in a reflective journal already helped them better understand their current mindset, improve their cognitive and critical thinking skills, and better understand what they need to contribute to achieve more.
The results of this study can also be applied to your swimming practice sessions. Keeping a journal for your swim practices will help you see your progress from a different perspective, objectively assess your practice, and discover the efforts you need to make to improve.
3. You’ll Feel More Motivated
We already mentioned that writing out your swim practices helps maintain consistency. But it is also important to mention that your swim practice journal will also become your motivation to keep improving in the long run.
In the interview that we mentioned in the introduction, Caeleb Dressel shared that he hadn’t missed any of his swimming practices for an entire year. He attributed this achievement to his practice journal, which motivated him to keep going.
Marie Fincher, a writer and researcher at TopEssayWriting says: “You can find support for the motivational effect of journaling in psychology. “When you regularly reflect on your achievements, it promotes intrinsic motivation that sticks around longer than any other type of motivation or reward.”
To maintain this intrinsic motivation, you need to use your swim practice journal consistently, while also keeping in mind the following:
- Use dates. This will help you recollect all your achievements or mistakes when you review your journal after a while.
- Keep your entries structures. Break down your entrees intro different parts, like the number of sets, technique, improvements, and notes. This will help make your results more traceable.
- Proofread. In case you feel that you need to share your record with your swimming coach, keep your journal tidy and mistake-free. To save yourself some time, you can take advantage of online proofreading tools like GrabMyEssay, Subjecto, or Grammarly.
You can revisit your practice journal every week or once a month. Regular revisions will constantly remind you of your goals, boosting intrinsic motivation, and keeping you focused.
How Can Swimming Coaches Foster Reflective Journaling?
In all the above-mentioned studies, researchers emphasize the significance of the educator’s support of reflective journaling. As a coach, you also need to keep that in mind and make journaling an inalienable part of the swimming practice.
But to help your students get as many benefits from journaling as possible, you, as a coach, also need to keep a reflective journal, where you can track their progress from your point of view.
To make sure that you approach this method correctly, you can use the ARRIVE method proposed by Angela B. Perry. ARRIVE is an acronym, in which every letter stands for different steps of journaling:
- Assess. You start your journal entry with an initial assessment of your student’s progress and your coaching methodology.
- Research. Next, you identify the problems and research solutions to them.
- Reflect. After that, you write down everything that both you and your student have been exposed to during the swimming practice and determine how to manage it.
- Innovate. Then, identify the new coaching methodologies that may be useful during the practice.
- Verify. Before the final evaluation, you should also verify how effective the new coaching methodologies will be compared to what has already been used.
- Evaluate. You wrap up the journal entry with a final conclusion using SWOT analysis and plans for upcoming swim practices.
Having your own reflective journal as a coach will help you assess each practice objectively and help answer the questions of your students more precisely.
Writing out your swim practices can be an effective way to help you improve, and multiple studies support that.
Consider journaling as a regular exercise, which is as important as physical training that you do every day. In the long run, it will motivate you, help you become more effective, self-aware, and show that you’re capable of achieving even more.