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  • Writer's pictureAli K


Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Maintaining the highest levels of motivation throughout the season is hard unless you have solid plans in place. There will be times where athletes will feel down and times where motivation is not as high. But having a plan in place will help you pass this phase.

The most challenging part of sport psychology is presented right at us. With some simple steps, you can maintain the highest levels of motivation throughout the season. Well, how do we plan for motivation?


To maintain the highest levels of motivation for the season, you must think about "Probability of Success" because success makes you motivated and psychologically reinforces us to chase for more. Also, failure, makes us chase for more.

And, if you are thinking about success PBs that is NOT what I AM TALKING ABOUT!  
Yes, times & PBs help us but... 

It's about smart goal setting that has a vast variety of targets and goals. You must eliminate the monotony factor by the "smart goal setting attitude."

To authentically maintain the highest levels of motivation throughout the season, we must all be experts at "Probability of Success". Probability of Success is SMART GOAL SETTING.

Firstly, "Probability of Success" and "Smart Goal Setting" are related.

Swimmers' Tool
Success Chart

As you can see on the chart, long term goals have a "probability of success" under 50% when initially established. In other words, long term goals are more difficult to achieve.

Short term goals should have a much higher "probability of success" 80 to 100%.

Short Term Goals should be stepping stones towards your LONG TERM GOALS

The benefit of this type of goal setting is that SUCCESS is fulfilling, and strengthening, therefore helping you maintain the highest levels of motivation.

Success will keep you, or your swimmers motivated and continue to achieve. Many swimmers believe that success is medals, trophies and PB's (extrinsic motivation); as we all know, success is not just that! Success can be perfect streamlining after each turn, breaking out on the 15M on each sprint; reducing the drag force; increasing the lift force; pushing off the wall strong; reducing the turn time; reducing SC but increasing SV (Swim Velocity) etc. etc. etc.

We have so much that we can focus on in Swimming. Our sport is RICH because we are a technique limited sport. Do not just focus on PB's, medals and trophies; this will not help you or your swimmers. It will hinder them from maintaining high motivation throughout the season.

If you are still with me, you will find this interesting.

According to a study by Atkinson (1964), goal setting has two main elements:

  1. Need to Achieve (NACH): These are your athletes who enjoy competition, take the risk, welcome a challenge, enjoy feedback on their performance, try harder after failure. This is a person that works hard to beat their own personal best.

  2. Need to Avoid Failure (NAF): Avoid challenges, take the easy option, take no responsibility for their performance and give up when success is not achieved. This is a swimmer that gives up after a few races that they did not do well in.

We need to get our athletes to HIGH NACH - LOW NAF ZONE


a challenging "Probability of Succes" where failure is likely, this tends to WEAKEN

'need to avoid failure.'



The reward for success will be high

As the experts on the pool deck, we must be involved with our athletes, parents, community and everyone involved in one's growth, and this will help us to nurture the right "mindset and personality."


will upgrade your athlete's mindset.

Their personality factor will be set to be persistent and to keep striving for success. It will allow your athletes to persist even when they meet obstacles and failure.

We can achieve this priceless quality of a sportsman.

coach a

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