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Redefining Discipline

Written By: Emmanuel Lanzo

Discipline is the synonym of "organization" and "method". In the past, it has been equated to "punishment" or enhancement of mortifications and limitation of privations. It has also been confused with "routine". Coach and athlete success fall victim to a lack of discipline, seemingly more post-covid than ever before.

When truly understood and studied, it is Self-discipline; self-subjection to methods of efficiency.

Common enemies of self-discipline are weak willpower, lack of honest character, or habitual excuses that limit consistent performance.

Do you want to enjoy the benefits of victory? Get organized, distribute your time. Instead of worrying about your future, discipline yourself in the present. Establish in advance how to make use of your time and talents to achieve the greatest productivity. Even if you are smart and have great projects, if you don't pre-organize, your efficiency will be diminished.

For many, discipline is hated and feels restricting but it does not require transforming into a medieval hermit.

Give a touch of flexibility to your life, but planned, within a general framework of order and method. Directing activities, even leisurely pursuits, according to pre-established plans can be pleasant and rewarding.

For example, set the alarm clock to get up at 6a but when it rings we opt for the snooze button and fall asleep, plans and structure will fall by the wayside. Naturally, creating excuses to break the self-imposed commitment is easy! Bad night, nervous breakdown, an irresistible invitation, lack of money... Endeavor to not rely on flimsy excuses. When that alarm goes off, allow your purpose and goals to determine your discipline.

Historians have established one of the greatest feats of human creation is the immense fresco in the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. No less than four hundred human figures appear in it. The artist dedicated four and a half years to this work. He had to work lying on his back on a scaffold under extreme conditions. Isn't that a shining example of discipline? Challenge and hard work are not something to fear or tread lightly into and the result can be a masterpiece.

You don't have to be a genius or wealthy to be successful. Most people are not.

In all my athletic and swim coaching years, I observed low-achieving athletes and disengaged coaches demonstrate the same affliction: they lacked self-discipline. They had to withdraw from the challenges of practices and swim meets out of fear or embarrassment, and resign themselves to receive a slower performance because they lacked organized dedication outside of the competition, allowing petty excuses to block opportunity.

A comfortable swimmer will say that she didn't have time to schedule a goal-setting, but she didn't miss her favorite entertainment program or high school football game. Another will say that he did not have money to buy a tempo trainer, but he did have it to purchase a new pair of shoes. A coach may arrive late for workout, saying they got caught in traffic despite leaving little room for prompt arrival. What are the false stories we tell ourselves to allow for a lapse in self-discipline?

How to win friends, overcome shyness, develop one's own personality and self-confidence, gain respect, get that extra bit from the coach to be better, find a job... Every task in life requires its own committed method. However, there is a common element that cannot be missing for success to occur: self-discipline.

Challenging ourselves and our athletes to be even a little more disciplined and accountable for that self-discipline will inevitably lead to greater success, in & out of the pool. We have to be willing to be open to passionate discipline & dedication to achieve what we set out to do.

As coaches we need to challenge ourselves and our athletes to be disciplined and risk an uncertain outcome for that discipline. We can, in fact, Fail Forward Together.

Coach Emmanuel is going into his eighth year with RAC. He is Olympic Swimmer Kieran Smith's development coach. Kieran has been named 2019-2021 part of the USA National Team. During the 2021 Olympic Trials, Kieran Smith made the Olympic Team represent the USA in the 200, 400, and 4x200 free relay, winning a Bronze Medal. Coach Emmanuel Lanzo has been coaching since 1997. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, and his master’s degree in Physical Education with Specialization in Sport Coaching at the University of Turabo. Emmanuel is an ASCA Level 4 Swimming Coach and Certified Stroke Technician, International Olympic Committee Level 2 Swimming Coach, AAALF Adapted Aquatics Instructor, ATI-CPT, TRX Certified Group Trainer, and Cross-train Group Trainer at Results Ridgefield and Ridgefield Parks and Recreation. He is the founder and CEO of the non-profit ToxiKHeaD brand, which provides personal training for elite athletes in Puerto Rico and the USA. Professionally, he volunteered for the Eastern Zone Diversity and Inclusion Camp at the University of Maryland. In 2018, Coach E was also chosen to be the Head Coach of the USA Swimming Diversity Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Also, under his coaching, two swimmers achieved the World Top 100 list, and three swimmers (Kieran Smith, AJ Bornstein, and Connor Hunt) represented the USA in three different International venues: Mare Nostrum Series in Europe, Junior Pan Pacific Championship in Fiji and Junior Open Water World Championship in Eilat, Israel. In 2017, Emmanuel was part of the USA National Junior Team Staff for the FINA Junior Worlds Championship, coaching Kieran Smith to achieve a silver medal in the 200 Individual Medley. The American Swim Coaches Association named Coach Emmanuel a 2015 Coach of Excellence. As a coach, his philosophy is to be able to effectively teach, both fundamental and advanced skills, with a holistic approach, helping each swimmer to achieve their planned goals while having fun!

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