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Creating Massive Change Part I

At Mastering Flow, we’re all about facilitating change. More specifically, we’re about facilitating MASSIVE change. And we’re all about doing that consistently. Nothing is more empowering that setting a goal, developing a game plan, then executing that game plan and making it happen. Doing so shows you how powerful you really are.

Without change, accomplishing your goals isn’t possible. With MASSIVE change, anything is possible.

I work in the swimming space, and that’s where I work to facilitate change. I’m not interested in small amounts of progress. I’m interested massive transformation, and for that to happen, a different approach is required.

You’re often presented with videos or articles such as ‘3 drills to instantly improve your butterfly’. Of course, you start doing the drills and there is almost always no real change in your swimming. While these drills may or may not be effective, they overlook all of the OTHER aspects of performance that influence your ability to move through the water effectively. If you’re going to REALLY improve, ALL of these other aspects need to be addressed as well.

Technical change requires systematic approach to every issue, not 3 drills for a quick fix. Everything you do needs to be part of a SYSTEM, and that system needs to be designed to result in significant technical change that enhances your performance.

If you’re going to improve your swimming, and improve your swimming dramatically, you need a step by step process.

This article contains an overview of that process.

In future articles, we’ll dive deeper into each aspect of the process.

Getting faster in the pool is complicated.

I’ve done everything I can to make that process simple.

Let’s get started.

The Pieces of the Puzzle

If you want to improve, and do so more than you thought possible, there are five main aspects that you’ll need to address. For you, there may be a limiting factor that needs to be addressed. There may be areas where you are already strong. If you skip or overlook any one part of the process, you’ll still improve. However, you’re results are going to be compromised.

It ALL matters.

Coach Yourself. You have to be an active participant in your improvement. Unfortunately, traditional coaching roles have undermined this process. The athlete often gives up responsibility for their own improvement, and their coach assumes this responsibility. While coaches do have expertise and wisdom to impart, you’re the one that’s in your head 24/7. Your steering the ship and you better know what you’re doing. If you’re going to reach your potential, you’ll need to develop the skills to optimally manage yourself during training. A coach can’t do that for you. Addressing any of the areas below will be much less effective if you don’t understand how to guide yourself through the learning and training process. It’s THAT important, and it’s never taught.

Flotation, Balance, and Stability. If you can’t control your position in the water, you won’t be able to swim effectively. You’ll be constantly working against the water and constantly working against yourself. Watch any unskilled swimmer. They are struggling, hard, and it’s because they’re fighting themselves in the water due to a lack of balance and stability. They can’t float effortlessly. Finding balance and stability in the water is foundational to swimming effectively. It’s only when you can comfortably manage your position in the water that you can learn how to swim.

Feel for the Water. The ability to feel the water matters. It’s often considered to be some mystical quality that only a select few possess. This is nonsense. While not everyone can win the Olympics, anyone can improve their ability to interact with the water. It is simply a matter of paying attention to what the water is already telling you. You have to learn to tune in. Water is constantly flowing over your body and your limbs. If you’re listening, it will tell you what to do. The key is to learn how to listen.

Develop the Strokes. Coaching yourself, controlling your position, and feeling the water are all general skills. While necessary and valuable for performance, they’re not going to necessarily improve your actual strokes. These general skills DO improve the potential you have for any one stroke, and lacking these skills can hamper your progress. To get better at swimming you have to understand the foundational principles of fast swimming, and you have to earn how to apply these principles within the rules of each stroke. Fortunately, there are exercises you can perform that great facilitate this process. More to come.

Train the Strokes. Beautiful, effective, and efficient strokes are wonderful. They’re also useless if you can’t perform them fast and when you’re under physical pressure. These skills need to be trained. However, there is a very big difference between training for physical improvement and training to expand your ability to display your skills. Simply working hard will enhance your physical abilities. If you want to train your skills, the focus has to be on expanding the speed you can achieve and the fatigue you can tolerate, all while still executing excellent skills. It requires a different approach and a different focus. I’ll show you how.


These different pieces of the puzzle all overlap. You’re never working on one specific area to the exclusion of the others. Yet if there are significant gaps in performance or skill, addressing these issues becomes critical. If you lack skills further up the list, all of the skills further down the list are going to be compromised. For instance, if you aren’t skilled at coaching yourself, it will be much more difficult to learn all of the subsequent skills. Progress will be slower and your improvement will always be less than it could be. If you can’t float, you’ll never possess the comfort required to learn to feel the water and develop your strokes. You’ll always be trying not to drown. If you can’t feel the water, it will be tough to improve your strokes because you won’t have an appropriate awareness of what you’re doing, and whether it’s effective. You certainly can’t train strokes that you don’t possess. It doesn’t make sense to try to train skills that are ineffective.

Of course, you don’t need to practice these skills in isolation. You can and should work in all of the areas at the same time. If you have a more severe limitation, it makes sense to spend more time and energy in that area, while still spending some time in other areas. For instance, if you’re skilled at coaching yourself, floating, and feeling the water, most of your time should be spent developing and training your strokes. However, you should still spend time refreshing the other skills. Likewise, if you can’t float, it makes sense to spending time learning that skill before investing a lot of time learning strokes improperly. You’ll just have to change them anyway. Yet it’s still valuable to practice so you can begin to integrate your improved floating ability into those strokes.

Having provided an overview of these different performance targets, next time we’ll take a deeper dive so you can understand just what you’ll need to do to facilitate the improvement you’ve always known is possible. The more you understand what Mastering Flow is all about, the easier it will be to understand everything I present, and the easier it will be to implement changes that dramatically impact your performance.

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