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Importance of Setting Practice Goals

Jill Jones Lin, Head Coach - Westmont College

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it. - John Mayer”

Throughout my years of swimming and coaching I have learned the benefit of having practice goals. Regularly at practice my team hears me say: “this is our laboratory, let’s try things out and see what happens.” In our laboratory it’s encouraged to try something new and to leave space for failure. Without challenging the edges of their comfort zone consistently, progress may plateau.

In my opinion, practice goals keep swimmers engaged in the workout, regularly provide measurable results, and give the athletes more responsibility and accountability.

Last year my team developed a motto for the year: “Small Victories, Big Impact,” and this year it’s “First Things First.” Both of which were a nod to focusing on the details and making each workout count.

One ritual we implement into our training is writing 3-5 practice goals on a whiteboard that they walk past every day before practice starts. Following the workout, they are encouraged to put a checkmark next to whatever goal/s they accomplished that day.

In a perfect world those goals are measurable: “13 strokes per lap in freestyle, 6 underwater dolphin kicks every wall, etc.” However, sometimes it’s as simple as “faster turns, be more explosive off the block, faster finishes.” Even though the subjective goals are not as measurable, the athlete is focusing on one piece of their swimming to improve and that is still moving forward.

As a coach I’m constantly brainstorming ways to inspire my swimmers. My desire is for them to work hard and to pay attention to the small details that can give them a competitive advantage. However, I can’t want it more than they do. I believe that by teaching them ways to hold themselves accountable they have a little more stake in the game. So that when the time comes to race, they know that they did all they could and I know that they did all they could.

Happy goal setting!

Jill Jones Lin brings 19 years of experience as a year-round competitive swimmer at the high school, club and collegiate level. An alumna of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Jones Lin competed as a NCAA Division I swimmer, served two years as team captain, was a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) finalist in the 200 Freestyle and a four-time school record holder.

For the two years prior to her hiring, Jones Lin coached as a senior assistant swim coach at both Orinda Aquatics in Moraga and Springbrook Swim Club in Lafayette.

Jones Lin completed her first season as head coach of the Westmont Women's Swimming team in 2019-20, helping the Warriors to a successful inaugural year as a program. Westmont placed 10th at the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference Championships this season, finishing first among NAIA schools. The PCSC includes schools from the NCAA Division I, II and III levels, as well as the NAIA. The Warriors then went on to compete at the NAIA National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee and tied for 22nd place nationally. Additionally, Westmont swimming was honored by the Collegiate Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) as a Scholar All-American team for its success in the classroom. The Warriors earned the award in both the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. Jill lives in Santa Barbara with her husband Curtis Lin and their son Caden.

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