Overcoming Discouragement and Disappointment

So you had a terrible heat. Maybe even your entire meet was terrible.  You didn't accomplish your goal(s).  Your start was awful, your timing was off, you ruined the finish.  Sound familiar?

Remember LANE to overcome discouragement and disappointment after a race:


  • Always talk to your coaches before and after your event.  He/she can provide feedback needed to help with future training to correct technique, strategy, attitude, etc. 
  • Tell your coaches how you feel.  Don't assume they know what you are thinking and/or feeling.  Coaches care about your disappointment.  They are interested in your feelings and willing to provide feedback to help you meet your goals and work through your concerns.  
  • "Your coach is your mirror." ~Bob Bowman  


  • Failure always provides an opportunity for feedback.  Take constructive criticism and apply it thoroughly.  Make sure you understand what the coaches tell you.  Ask them about it again in practice and work on it until you have it mastered.  
  • Think carefully about "what" caused the mistake.  Was it a lack of proper preparation?  Were you focused?  Did you eat junk food, causing you to be exhausted?
  • Possibly, it wasn't a mistake, but a learning curve.  Sometimes the coaches change something about your stroke.  It feels different and unfamiliar.  It will take a while to adjust to the change.   
  • "Always seek to improve yourself and the team."  ~Wooden


  • Sometimes, you just have to let go of a bad experience.  You have to step past that event, know that it is behind you, and focus on the next one.  You can still have good races after a bad one.  
  • If you are disappointed with your performance in all events, then it will be time to refocus your efforts during practice.  Again, talk to your coach!
  • Consider what you have learned.  Experiencing failure enables you to relate to others who don't always have success.  In the real world, that is going to be a LOT of people.  
  • "Be growth oriented, not just goal oriented." 


  • Don't view losing or not achieving goals as a sign of failure, a threat to your self worth, or evidence that you can't succeed in the future. 
  • Success many times is about the effort, not the results.  If you haven't been trying very hard in practice, then don't be upset if you didn't make your goals.  If you tried your very best and didn't make your goals, give it more time and don't give up.  
  • Continue to apply what you learn!
  • "When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this:  you haven't."  ~Thomas Edison
  • "But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently."  ~Romans 8:25
To read more about this topic, click on following link:  USA Swimming Article about Winning Philosophy