Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Level

What must an athlete do to “Take it to Another Level” ?

I often find myself in conversation discussing this subject. It’s discussed in the office, on the pool deck, over the phone with friends, coaches, parents – and on the deck with swimmers. It’s occurred to me that different people have their own ideas of what “Another Level” actually is, and differing opinions regarding how we go about getting there.

I have a problem accepting the idea that “Another Level” is an actual place or circumstance. To me, “Another Level” can happen anywhere, based on an individual’s mind-state – particularly in regards to swimming training and performance.

I’ve heard collegiate swimming referred to as “The Next Level”, in comparison to USS club swimming. Also, I’ve heard club swimming referred to as “The Next Level” when compared to High School swimming. I understand the idea behind these statements, but consider them to be large generalizations – generalizations which are believed by athletes, and in my opinion do them an injustice. “The Next Level” is not a fixed state, circumstance, or place – is a readily accessible mind-state, to which we have constant and ever-expanding access.

The “Next Level” is whatever we make it. The “Next Level” is OUR CREATION. Without interaction with the “Next Level” – and I mean exciting, personal interaction – the “Next Level” only exists as a fictional place in a fictional time.

We are at the Next Level as soon as we wake up and create it in the pool, on the track, on the deck, or in the office each day. As soon as we raise our standards, we are THERE – looking the next level directly in the eye. Once we are seeing that next level in daily training, we must begin to search for the next NEXT LEVEL. There is always another level!

The next level is not found as you move from High School swimming to Club swimming, although the amount of practice time may increase and your coaching may change. Similarly, the next level is not reached because you take yourself from a Club swimming situation (as a High School Student) to a Collegiate swimming situation (as a College Student). The next level is reached by changing your mind – changing the way you think, changing your standards of what it means to be successful, changing your ability to think bigger than your currently are, changing your sense of creativity and what you consider possible, changing your resolve to experience physical discomfort, changing your determination to put off overloading social ‘responsibilities’, changing your ability to not only ignore – but dismiss detractors of your goal from your mind.

It takes practice and confidence to feel this way, and create your next level. You have think about it a little bit, and decide that you are the creator of your life.

Out-training and out-working your “Old Self” is one way to create your “New Self” – and once you do it, THAT’S the next level.

1 comment:

  1. Paul, I couldnt agree more with these statements. Its mind over matter. matter being your current situation (S, Club, Collegiate swimming)but mind has to overcome ant and all hurdles which come your way. The mind should overcome these progressional overloads to get to the "nest level". Very well written.
    Dan Zeek
    SMST Rapids
    Shelton, CT.