What Aquatic Professionals can learn from the Super Bowl

This afternoon you might be at a super bowl party or at your home nuzzling the chili cheese hotdogs you eat once a year.

Maybe you’re suffering through the gameplay to see the commercials or maybe you’re a diehard fan.

Personally I want San Francisco to win. Not because I know anything about them but because I liked them when I was a kid and they had cool colors.

We can take this opportunity to learn from the football players.

What could they possibly teach us about swimming?


Here are three visible examples of giving effort at the game that you can have fun looking for.

With practice you’ll be able to look for similar examples during lessons and swim practice.

  1. Defensive players moving at the ball and following through the tackle.
  2. Habitual or ritual-like examples that reappear before or adfter a play. S
  3. Hardest to see. Overcoming changing conditions and afapting, leaning on conditioning and habit, trained purpose to outplay someone.

Professional football players are already culled through rigorous recruiting and demand for excellence.

You’re already going to see the best.

Denfensive players.

Look at how the person making the tackle ensures that the person with the ball is down.

They’ve had it drilled into them at practice for years to follow through. To get after it. To drive it home.

Look for the defender tapping the ball carrier after the whistle ends the play. Watch how they remain piled.

Look for receivers continuing to run their routes quickly even on a running play.

Look for defenders not involved with the tackle sprinting to the ball or running to the downed player after the tackle is made. All examples of demonstrated effort.

Do you think those things are accidental?

Of course not. A coach forced them to do something specific during and after a play to encourage effort. They demand the follow through to weed out the players that don’t go the extra step.

What can you see in swimming? Streamline. Find and encourage everyone to create a streamline habit.

When streamline is a habit then the rest of swimming gets easier.

Habitual rituals


Keep an eye out for players on the sidelines doing warm up routines. They calm nerves. They flush rested muscles with blood and they warm atheletes up for exertion.

What rituals do you give your swimmers? In lessons do you always do a streamline flow before the lesson? Work yoga into the pre swim routine. Mentally prepare them to put effort in disciplined movements.

Look at the offensive line just before the play begins. They’ll line up together and as a team as a one. They’ll bend forward and square up for the snap. Recognize this ritual. Who does it best. Who does it with a dancers adherence to perfection? Who does it sloppy?


Look at the running backs. Watch them holding the ball as they run. Is it in the same spot?


Look at the wide receivers. How do they square up before the snap? What position are they on? Do they run the full route or jog on a running play?

Find Moments of Excellence


Pointing out specific examples of athletic excellence is as difficult as prediciting who is going to win the super bowl.

Look for moments that make you say, “Wow.” or “holy cow, that was incredible.” You’ll know it when you see it. They are times when the athlete makes the incredible challenge of outrunning 11 other people look easy.

What habits and effort went into that moment? How many hours did that athlete train to work up the physical ability to perform so well and adapt to those conditions.

We can provide that same training for our athletes, for our swimmers.

Do you think the coach is going to praise the specific footwork to evade the tacklers? No! They’re going to say great job on that effort, well done reading the field, or something.

When we’re teaching swim lessons we can focus in on those moments of excellence and celebrate them with our kids. When a 4 year old overcomes their fears and does a streamline or a glide for the first time we need to celebrate it with a stadium like applause. We should bounce off our feet, jump and holler with joy and make the moment special! Channel the crowd at the super bowl and impress that energy into our swimmers.

Train your critical eye

Finding moments of excellence, examples of habit and routine, as well as deliberate “extra steps” at the super bowl is training you to look for the exceptional.

When you’re done celebrating with tacos, sliders, and chip dip, return tomorrow at swim lessons with a fresh look at how we can notice those moments in our swimmers, in our athletes and point them out.

Give feedback like an armchair football coach commenting on “what they should have done,” or how they “should have played that 3rd down.”

We are the stewards of our swimmers and if we treat the Super Bowl as a chance to train our brains to better recognize moments of astounding effort we can foster and encourage it in our athletes and students.

Have fun! Enjoy! And go easy on that chili!

Better swimming.
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