‘Trust the process’. A quote that’s thrown around by coaches, athletes and motivational speakers alike. But what is the process and how can it best be implemented to help yourself improve.
Trust the process, may just look like another catchphrase to be printed out, laminated and plastered to the coach’s whiteboard, only to be glanced at every now and again without it truly having an effect. However, the process is quite a powerful tool once mastered.
In its simplest form the process is about repetition. Outside of that, it’s based on trust. You as an individual need to trust what it is you are trying to achieve. What the process is trying to be is training. It’s the gathering of all the things you need to do in order to achieve an outcome.
When teaching learn to swim lessons, my process revolves around fun and creating comfort around water. Learn to swim is a great environment in which there is rapid success and improvement. Often the young swimmers develop their skills at a considerably fast rate.
I’ve seen coaches at the Artemis Centre use the elements of fun and encouragement to help create and foster this comfort around the water. When someone becomes comfortable around water it’s much safer for everyone and this confidence is key to the process.
Training and the process isn’t limited to the competitive side of the sport. Some of the most rewarding results of trusting the process is watching a young swimmer dive under the water for the first time. Then developing from those first attempts of hesitation, to building of confidence through repetition.
Confidence is a strong part of mastering the process. Another element is trying to make things feel natural.
From a competitive standpoint you want to be relaxed and natural in your racing. When you compete, there is no time to think and second guess. Often the best performances come from doing things instinctively. The repetition of training creates the process, and this is how things become natural.
Making things natural is all about repetition however trying new things to find out what is or isn’t natural for you can be helpful. It can be as simple as whether you put your goggles over or under your cap when you swim. Training is a great environment to practice these sorts of things.
Training is a place to make mistakes, in a consequence free zone. Make the mistakes in training and from those mistakes you will find what makes you better. Training provides you with the space to find your ‘dos and don’ts’.
For me on race day my ‘dos’ involve, staying calm and relaxed. I have a lot of natural energy so for me it’s not about getting amped up or too excited as my body does that naturally. For me, it’s about going through my process of arriving at a certain time prior to my race, going through my routine before I get in the water, doing the same warm up I’ve done for years, listening to music or having a conversation in marshaling.
My ‘don’ts’ involves not having a big breakfast or overthinking what I am doing and how I am feeling. That right there, is very important and translates outside of the pool as well. Do not over listen to your body, often that is simply pre–event jitters. This is key moment to trust in the process. Whatever you are doing, trusting the process is more important in the few moments before performing, because it can often be when our self–doubt is highest.
Often all the hard work has been through preparation and repetition. Mastering and applying the process to improve will come down to not overthinking what is happening. Being aware of what you are doing is a good thing but have confidence knowing that your improvement and performance is a result of your hard work.