Everyone wants to know what the secret to another athlete’s success is. It seems to be a common question, “what are they doing different than me that makes them better?” Many times we are looking for that perfect practice, set, or drill that will help us qualify for nationals, a world championship, or just give us a personal record. I learned something about this back in 2001. I discovered what champion’s do that makes them great.
I was a counselor at the Longhorn swim camp for kids 18 and under. If you are not familiar with the University of Texas swimming, well simply put, they are the best. They routinely have one of the top teams at the NCAA’s and on the men’s side it seems as if half the Olympic swimming team is made of Texas swimmers. Being a swimmer this was a thrill for me to be at the camp as a counselor and learning from Eddie Reese (the head coach of the Men’s team). I was not alone. All of the counselors wanted to know what drills they are doing that make them so good. What practices they are doing that make them so much faster than everyone else? After the first week of helping and coaching at the camp we, the counselors, were disappointed. I remember all of us sitting around and talking about how these are the same drills we do or give to our swimmers when we swim or coach. Many of us thought we were not getting the secrets to their success. But in reality, we were. It was right in front of us.
I learned the secret when I was able to observe several practices of the Texas swim team. It was a thrill to see what Olympic and World Record Holders were doing. After attending several practices I came to a realization. These Olympic swimmers were doing the same drills that the coaches were giving out to the 10 and 12 year olds. The drills consistently reinforced good habits and proper technique so that when the swimmers did go fast they did it right. What they did better than everyone else was the basics, the fundamentals. There was not some top secret formula that no one knew about. The Men’s Texas swim team just reinforced what skills the swimmers needed to do to be fast.
I feel this is the same for all athletes in all sports. If you are constantly looking for a short cut, some secret, then you will never realize your top potential. The secret to success is right in front of us. Do the right things right and be willing to put in the time. If you do that, then you will find success and you can obtain your goals.