Pre-Race Routines

USA Swimming—May 27, 2009

By Jenny Susser, PhD
Women's Sports Medicine Center
Special Correspondent

Pre-race routines are valuable tools for swimmers that can help with pre-race jitters. A pre-race routine is what you do once you’ve arrived behind the blocks and before the gun goes off. Think about your favorite swimmer right now and try to remember what they do behind the blocks before a race. You might realize that it’s the same each time, race after race. Even Tiger Woods has a “pre-shot” routine!

Pre-race routines are important for several reasons. One is consistency. When you go to a meet, certain things will always vary: the pool, the blocks, the lane lines, the bathrooms, the officials and your competitors. Your pre-race routine will not vary, and that you can count on.

A second reason pre-race routines are important is that they can help “ground” you and make you feel more comfortable. Whether you are at home or away, it can help manage distractions by always giving you something to focus on. As you know, focus is key to swimming fast and when you get nervous, your focus unfortunately tends to go to how nervous you are and not your race or technical strategies.

This article originally appeared on


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