At One with the Water, we have spoken at length about the growth mindset. In fact, it is an integral piece of our core coaching techniques.
“As authority figures, the messages we send to students and clients about success can often cause them to fall into the fixed mindset, as their success breeds a fear of failure. If success means they are smart/talented/brilliant/athletic, then failure means they are the opposite of all those things. At One with the Water, we praise our clients based on the growth processes used to perform – practice, study, effort, consistency, and persistence — and connect it to the outcomes, successful or not. And we are always developing new strategies and approaches. Because everyone is different. Because everyone learns in a different way.”
Interestingly, a not-insignificant number of individuals hold a growth mindset concerning athletic abilities and a fixed mindset when it comes to academics, believing that while athletic ability can be improved by practice, persistence, effort, and hard work, intelligence and academic success is innate, and cannot be changed. One study showed that 75% of students focused on performance goals in school versus mastery goals. In sports, the opposite was true. 77% of students were oriented towards a mastery goal in sports, compared to performance goals.
So what does that mean for you and your swimmer? The good news is that mindsets can be changed. And when you or your student exhibits a mixed mindset, as mentioned above, the tools we teach, the growth mindset used in improving their swimming abilities, can be applied to their academic and professional arenas. Numerous studies mention treating the brain like a muscle, viewing the academic arena as a playing field, and teachers who are there to coach, mentor, and care for them. Sports and swimming, in particular, become a familiar reference in which to re-imagine their capabilities and nurture a complete growth mindset.
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.