WednesdayZenDay: Rewire Your Brain to Become a Better Athlete

The word of this WednesdayZenDay is “neuroplasticity.” I interviewed a neurosurgeon for a story a couple of years ago, and he explained, “It occurs when other neurons make new connections and learn new tasks by practicing them over and over again. It’s like rewiring the brain.” I’ve done a lot to change my swimming over the years. But there have been a couple of areas that I perceive as being a real hindrance to taking my swimming to the next level. One in particular is flip turns.

Figuring how to do a flip turn has required me to completely rewire some circuits the past couple of weeks. It’s something that has not come naturally to me over the years – AT ALL. (But I’ll save the blackmail material details for another post.) I’ve decided to embrace it. Every awkward, baffling, frustrating, and exhilarating moment of it. Because that feels a whole lot better than dwelling on the not knowing how to do flip turns.

Logically, I know that if I can do flip turns I will become a more conditioned athlete in the pool and the open water. My average lap times will drop. Psychologically, I’ll feel like I’m joining all the cool kids in the Master’s lane by finally mastering them.

It’s just a matter of practicing this new task and the various parts of it over and over again. What about you? Is there one thing that you’d like to nail that’s going to force you to rewire your brain? A faster cadence on the run? A more powerful stroke in the water? A better position on the bike? Learning to do that one thing better just might be the key to taking your performance up a notch.

Since the Wednesday ZenDay series was inspired by my Wednesday meditation classes, I’d be remiss in not mentioning that numerous studies have shown that meditation can help your brain make those new connections. To learn how, I highly recommend the book “Rewire Your Brain for Love” by Marsha Lucas, PhD.