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Dr David Fletcher Psychology Workshop


A massive thank you to Dr David Fletcher for the Psychology Workshop that took place on Sunday 16th June 2019. It was a brilliant morning and offered a lot of things for our swimmers to consider. The main points to note were:

  • For swimmers to have overall goals and aspirations (Process Goals) Eg. to finish in the top three in a race, qualify for counties, swim at the Olympics.


  • Although Process Goals are good to have, there must be Performance Goals and Outcome Goals that shape the pathway to achieve Process Goals.


Performance Goals – eg. how fast you would like to swim. Break this down to achieve the goal in stages. For example, to go 4 seconds faster you could aim to go 1 second faster each month over a four month period.

Outcome Goals – this could be many little goals like always remembering a water bottle to every session, going to the toilet pre-session to avoid missing parts of the set, focus on breathing patterns during a set, focus on technique points, achieving fast turns in training, not breathing on the first stroke in a free set, etc.


  • Have a positive mindset – be confident in your ability and what you can achieve. Think in a positive way about improvements you need to make. Do NOT focus on the negatives. Eg, Do not say “do not dig in front crawl”, Do say ‘I need to stretch my arm strokes in front crawl”.


  • Having self-belief and arrogance is positive BUT do not let winning take over your vision. Still consider other swimmers around you and how they may feel.


  • Ask yourself, “What do I contribute to the overall goals of the club?” Do you offer support to your team-mates? What support you give to someone else will not only make you feel good BUT it is more likely to be replicated back. Do not develop a win at all cost attitude, you may need your peers support one day.

  • There can only be one winner in a race – they are the odd one out. There are often 4 to 7 other swimmers who are the same (they haven’t won the race or event). The chances of winning every time is slim. Therefore, you should not beat yourself up if you haven’t won. You still have time to work on your Outcome, Performance and Process Goals.

Here’s some of the reading that was mentioned at the end of the session –

For age-group swimming psychology, pretty much anything by Keith Bell is very good:

In particular, “Winning Isn’t Normal”, The Nuts and Bolts of Psychology for Swimmers”, and the “The Swim to Win Playbook”.

Susie O’Neil’s book is very good too:

Although not swimming specific, Matthew Syed’s book is very good:

Also the journal that goes with it:

Here are some other random books about sport which might be of interest:

Epstein, D. (2014). The sports gene: Talent, practice and the truth about s
uccess. London: Yellow Jersey.


McClusky, M. (2015). Faster, higher, stronger: The new science of creating superathletes, and how you can train like them. New York City, NY: Plume.

Hemery, D. (1991). Sporting excellence: What makes a champion? London: CollinsWillow.

Syed, M. (2017). The greatest: The quest for sporting perfection. London: John Murray.

Woodward, C. (2004). Winning! London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Beveridge, H., & Hunt-Davies, B. (2011). Will it make the boat go faster? Olympic-winning strategies for everyday success. Kibworth, UK: Matador.

Kerr, J. (2013). Legacy. London: Constable & Robinson.

Syed, M. (2010). Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice. New York City, NY: HarperCollins.

Oakley, B. (2014). Podium: Sporting champions' paths to the top. London: Bloomsbury.

Slot, O., Timson, S., & Warr, C. (2017).The talent lab: The secret to finding, creating and sustaining success. London: Ebury Press.

Gogarty, P., & Williamson, I. (2009). Winning at all costs: Sporting gods and their demons. London: JR Books.

Smith, E. (2009). What sport tells us about life. London: Penguin.

Papineau, D. (2018). Knowing the score: How sport teaches us about philosophy (and philosophy about sport). London: Constable.

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