Sprint freestyle legend Gary Hall Jr. is one of Fitter and Faster’s original stars, and he’s back in the water not to race but to propel other swimmers toward greatness.
This 10-time Olympic medalist is beyond excited to reconnect with swimmers and get his feet wet as a clinician. Participants will immediately be drawn in by Hall’s dynamic charisma and light-hearted attitude, as he wants to show swimmers “how to deal with race preparation and avoid pressure and psychological burnout.” This comes from the man whose pre-race routine consisted of walking out in a boxer’s robe and shorts, throwing punches behind the blocks.
He emphasizes sports psychology as a centerpiece of his Fitter & Faster Clinics, which is fitting for the sport’s original showman. Learning how to cope with pressure, both internal and external, is something that is “probably under-addressed in swimming — how do swimmers deal with pressure coming from their parents, whether it’s intentional or unintentional?”
Along with handling pressure, Hall will teach participants how to prepare for races.
“We’ve all known great practice swimmers. But for whatever reason, they would go slower in a meet than they could do in repeats at practice. Why is that? I want to help swimmers prepare for the race experience, which is different from the practice experience. I’ve picked up a few tricks from working with a number of brilliant sports psychologists throughout my career.”
Coaches and parents need to be aware that “there are a lot of different personality types, and the same approach doesn’t work for everyone. It’s not really possible to do a rah-rah speech that will affect each swimmer on the team the exact same way.” So how does Hall convert “practice swimmers” to his philosophy of race prep? It can be as simple — and silly — as jumping around on the pool deck, swinging his arms and making grunting noises. Participants are guaranteed not only to have fun but also view racing from a new perspective.
Swimmers can’t help but feel a strong connection to Hall’s methods: “I try to win them over by relating, because I’ve been there. I’ve gone through this experience my entire life. I feel an ability to connect to anyone who’s going through that themselves. Sometimes a change of perspective is all that’s needed.”
In addition to gaining new perspective, Hall will teach swimmers how to build explosiveness — a key component of racing. In order to build explosiveness, you must train your neurons to respond accordingly. “I think it’s something you can practice, refine and improve upon.” On the pool deck, he encourages coaches to skip a long warmup set in favor of 15 minutes of quick-reaction exercises. “A lot of people do upwards of 2,000 yards to warm up their bodies, but what are you doing to start firing up those neurons?”
With explosiveness and mental toughness in your swimmer’s arsenal, Hall adds the final touch — an inquisitive attitude toward technique. He was among those forward-thinking swimmers who realized a sea of change in freestyle technique, with the focus tilting towards core strength and trunk rotation and got on board. “I love seeing a new generation improving upon what we started exploring.”
Coaches, athletes and parents alike will learn invaluable lessons from one of the greatest swimmers in history. Sign up now for his next clinic!