Swimmers, particularly motivated ones, seem to want as much technical information as possible about how they can get better. They want to feel in control.
Likewise, coaches love to provide technical information, whether with the intention to help or to demonstrate their expertise. They want to feel in control.
Unfortunately, this instinct is likely counterproductive. As we’ve all heard, when you chase two rabbits, you catch neither.
If information can’t be acted upon immediately, it’s not relevant for the coach to comment on or the swimmer to focus on.
By choosing to focus on one task and one goal, swimmers and coaches are much more likely to accomplish their objective. It’s okay, and even valuable, to require a shift in focus across repetitions or sets. However, at any given time, there should be one task and one goal.
As swimmers, their job is to focus on getting better, one stroke at a time, one lap at a time, one set at a time, one practice at a time. As coaches, our job is to provide the minimal information the swimmer needs to do what they need to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
At any given time for any given task, there should be one goal. When that goal is accomplished, we can move onto the next one.
Over time, we’ll have accomplished a lot.