When you think about the Animal Kingdom there are two types of animals: Predator animals and their Prey. There are key differences between these two types of animals.
Prey animals have evolved to have eyes on the sides of their head or further apart than predators. This is to improve peripheral vision so that they can see everything that is going on around them. It is a way to protect themselves.
Predator animals have eyes much closer together. They don’t need to be as concerned with the world around them. They need to have tunnel vision to attack their prey.
We can use this analogy in swimming and diving to see that we have a choice. Are we a predator or a prey athlete?
The Prey is concerned with everything around them. How good are the people we are competing against? What are my friends going to say if I lose? What do I look like when I am out there? If I lose this event, what will happen next? If we lose this meet, will we be out of playoffs?
The Prey is worried about all of these external factors. Things they have no control over, things that won’t help them and most importantly things that don’t matter.
A Predator athlete doesn’t care to look around at these external factors. He/She makes decisions based on what he or she believes is best regardless of others. He or she focuses on the things that he or she can control. Predator athletes put forth a full effort and are aggressive regardless of rankings, seeds, score and outcome. They don’t look ahead, look around, or look back. They focus solely on the task at hand, the athletes ahead of them, and what they need to do. Olympic 3000m runner Patti Sue Plummer said that when she races “the gun goes off and everything changes and nothing else really matters.” She was not worried about the fans, the other athletes, or anything outside of the task at hand. Don’t let external factors affect your performance.
During the postseason you have the same choice. Are you predator or prey? Are you going to look around at what other people are doing? Fans? The crowd? Other teams in your area? Predictions/Seeds/Rankings? That is a Prey mentality.
Be the athlete who acts like a Predator. Focus on what you have to do to be successful. Tune out your opponents results, ranking, predictions and all the hype. Use tunnel vision, stop caring about what is going on around you and focus all your energy on competing aggressively from start to finish. Do everything you can to be the best swimmer or diver at the meet.