Grant Goddard is a current sophomore on the Harvard swim team that recently won the Ivy League title. His success in the pool speaks for itself, as he swims a 19.94 in the 50 free. Grant shares his thoughts on how intentionality plays a big role in success and development.
Having swum since the age of six all the way up to now, my Sophomore year of college, I have spent countless hours both in the pool and in the gym conditioning my body to swim fast. I have always been fascinated with exercise science, continually experimenting with different training schemes to try and get my body to adapt favorably.
Having tried and failed at many things, the number one piece of advice that I can give to aspiring high school athletes regarding training is that above all else, time spent doing what you are trying to improve on is the number one most essential part of getting better. Very often I observe athletes that are convinced that they are not improving because they need more rest days, or that they aren’t lifting enough, and 99% of the time the problem will be that they are not training the specific skill they want to improve enough. Being able to bench press 275 pounds did not bring my 50 free time down to 19 seconds, but putting in countless hours swimming at 50 free pace in the pool did.
While strength training is certainly a vital part of training and improving, the weight room should be treated as a means to an end and not an ends to a mean. When athletes become more focused on bringing up their squat than spending time working on their swing/jump/sprint, issues arise because they simply aren’t spending enough time working on the specific skill they want to improve. If you want to dunk, practice dunking for hours while adding some strength training, and eventually your body will make the adaptation and you will more likely dunk. Similarly, if your goal is simply to bring your back squat to 300 pounds, try squatting frequently in the exact manner you want to back squat that 300 pounds instead of taking 4 rest days a week and trying a bunch of different squat variations like the online website told you that you needed to do. While this idea certainly applies to sports, it really applies to anything you want to do in life. You get better at math by practicing math problems so many times that you become good at it. If you want to really understand a book, try spending a lot of time reading it and then reading it again. So, if you are an athlete out there that wants to have the fastest 40 yard dash, get out there and spend some time sprinting fast, and you will be there in no time.