Category Archives: Competition

Mindfulness & the Christian Coach

You simply cannot live in todays world and not have heard of mindfulness. It has become a bit of a buzzword these days.

an article in the Sunday New York Times pointed out

…Mindfulness has come to comprise a dizzying range of meanings for popular audiences. It’s an intimately attentive frame of mind. It’s a relaxing, alert frame of mind. It’s equanimity. It’s a form of rigorous Buddhist meditation called vipassana (insight), or a form of another kind of Buddhist meditation called asanapanasmrti (awareness of the Heart). It’s M.B.S.R. therapy (mindfulness based stress reduction). It’s just kind of stopping to smell the roses. And last, it’s a lifestyle trend, a social movement and – as a Time magazine cover had it last year – a revolution.

Like, I’m Sure, many Christians, I struggle with the concept of mindfulness, largely due to its Buddhist roots, and yet at first glance, there is something attractive about it. In the midst of an overworked, consumerist culture or a culture of relentless competition and pushing for the next level performance, couldn’t mindfulness off us something true and good?

There are a couple of concerns 

#1 – “as a Christian, mindfulness goes against my theology, as its a Buddhist practice”

It is true that mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, However the type of practice that is employed by athletes and coaches is totally westernised, it is devoid of any spiritual or religious connotations and simply focuses on the act of awareness. at its very core It is stress reduction. 

Stress damages our emotional, mental and physical bodies, costs billions every year, it has a negative impact on our children as well as the athletes ability to operate at their very best. Mindfulness is an incredibly inexpensive, powerful and easy tool in dealing with challenging and often overwhelming issues.

#2 – “As a Christian, mindfulness is about ‘clearing the mind.’ This opens a gateway to demonic/evil forces, thoughts or actions”

Mindfulness is not about clearing, In fact, its pretty much the opposite of that.

Mindfulness, on every level regardless of which exercise you practice (mindful breathing, walking, hearing etc), is about bringing awareness to thought. What is ‘cleared’ is the overwhelming majority of thoughts – it teaching you how to quiet the incessant dialogue that ravages our brain to bring forth quiet, clarity and clam.

It is my belief that mindfulness offers Christian a way to deepen their faith in, and to develop a deeper connection to, God. By learning to ‘tune out’ distractions and focusing on the moment, listening to that still small voice offers a way to learn, grow and focus completely on what God wants for our lives.

As a coach, I have debated the use of mindfulness with my athletes, it is something that I should encourage, is it something that we should utilise? it has undeniable benefits for race preparation and readiness.

Should a Christian coach encourage their athletes to practice mindfulness?

the mind is the athlete

My answer, at the moment, is a resounding yes, (Once again let me stress that I am referring to the completely westernised, non religious form of mindfulness). It is my belief that the calm focus on the immediate, the ability to calm the doubts and just act in the moment is a huge benefit to the athlete.


I know that not everyone will agree with me and that is fine, debate is healthy and this post barely scrapes the surface of a huge subject.

Until next time




Londons Calling

2016 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS Monday, May 16, 2016 to Sunday, May 22, 2016 London Aquatics Centre General meet information is available from Championship Central The meet is being streamed l…

Source: Londons Calling

2015 A Cracking Year

Well here we are, the end of another year. Thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months. I’m not a great one for writing notes as I go so this will have to be done from memory I guess.

The year started in fairly unspectacular style with a few opportunities that had become available to me.

Peter Hill Swimming was ticking over nicely without setting the world on fire, Larne Swimming Club was the usual mix of pleasure and pain and I was invited onto the 2015/16 cohort of the Sports Coach UK ASPIRE program.


The swim school has been tinkering along very nicely at around 150 pupils for a number of years, nothing awe inspiring but nice enough. This year saw this change considerably with us building up to over 220 at the end of the last session. I cant thank every one enough for their support with this venture that may actually now be able to start to fulfill the ambition I have to be the biggest private swim school in Belfast (gotta start somewhere). I would especially like to thank the teachers working with me, Vaila, Jessica, Sian, Andrew, Carol-Ann, Robin and Marie – I may not say thank you very often but you are all greatly appreciated. Also Loop Magazine for their fantastic features and advertising.



Literally no idea where to start with this one. its hard to imagine how this year could have gone any better. Don’t get me wrong there are definite areas that need improved but the change from this time last year is unbelievable, both in terms of performance in the water and the clubs administrative side. Sure there have been a few speed bumps along the way and there are bound to be more ahead but generally its been spectacular.

At the start of the season we set out to win the PTL (club league), gain promotion in the Aquasprint (under 12 league), win a couple Irish Titles and qualify for the National team in the summer. a very brief round up of results –

PTL – Champions

Aquasprint – Div 2 Champions

European Games – Danielle Qualified

European Youth Olympics – Conor Qualified  – 2 silver medals

Junior Commonwealths – Conor & Danielle Qualified – 2 Gold & 1 Silver

World Junior Championships – Conor Qualified

We won Irish Titles both Long Course and Short as well as Ulster Titles. but the frequency that our guys broke records is what sticks with me the most. It felt as though every time they raced someone broke a regional record or a National Junior record. 2015 will also be the year these guys broke their 1st Senior records with the club taking a total of 2 National and 5 regional senior marks.

The triathlon section of the club represented Ireland around Europe for the 1st time as well.

And we have embarked on a partnership with Swimzi kit manufacturer which I hope will see us move towards an even more professional club.

On a personal level, I got selected for my 1st national trips travelling with the Irish team to European games in Baku and World Junior Champs in Singapore. Both fantastic trips and incredibly enjoyable and well as eye opening about what needs to be done to compete at this level.


I was genuinely worried about the prospect of attending this program however it has been a very rewarding experience, though at times very tough. I think it is making me think far more about my coaching and I hope that it will help me help the athletes under my guidance to achieve their Goals.


So what does the next 12 months hold? I have no idea it will be tough to top the last year but its gonna be exciting.

Next week I am expending the swim school to an additional venue so there will be extra work involved there but I believe we can continue to grow at the current rate and offer lessons to many more children than was previously possible.

The Aspire program finishes and I cant wait to see what the last half of this holds

And in Larne we have the European Junior Champs as our major goal as well as Irish nationals and Age groups.




Baku 2015 European Games

Ok what i thought id do for major meets is rite a wee daily blog I can update as the meet goes on.

The 1st big summer meet is the 1st European Games in Baku. These are just a few of my thoughts and impressions on the last weeks leading up to the meet and the trip itself…..

Saturday 20th June

1st day able to train in the competition pool this evening. Again VERY impressed by the set up. It really looks the part.

Team all seem in real good for and all say the pool feels fast.

Excitement is building now ahead of competition starting on Tuesday

Friday 19th June


Ok so 1st impressions on Baku are…! After the hustle and bustle of Istanbul airport arriving in Baku airport was a total culture shock. It was literally like a hotel. No queues no people lying on floor waiting for their flights. VERY NICE.
A huge, empty, 5 lane dual carriageway and a luxury bus to the village again. Very impressive.

And the village…..we had a slight problem checking into our rooms but nothing major and the apartments are again much better than they could have been.

We havent made it to the pool yet but are heading up this afternoon for our 1st swim here.
Friday 12th June

So the kit arrived today…….very exciting really. Gotta say I think it looks very well. Nice even.


Not as Green as one might have expected I guess but that may be a good thing.
The schedule for the last couple of training days while we in Baku arrived today. Happy enough that it will work well for D.

Not long to go now ………..

Thursday 11th June

So the time is almost on us now, the opening ceremony of the 1st European Games takes place today in Baku……….

You can watch it here………. if you want.

The Irish swim team don’t travel until next Thursday with the racing starting on Tuesday 23rd so Danielle and I are now in an adaption week before the last 10 or so days or race prep.

My kit should arrive today so it’s starting to become more ‘real’ – quite exciting LOL

Tuesday 9th June

Only 1 more session at home before we travel to Baku. Still a full week out from competition but things looking pretty good.
We got confirmation of travel arrangements for Thursday morning. Leaving Dublin airport at 11am (reporting in at 8am). We don’t arrive in the village until after 1am local time on Friday morning and we have potentially 6 sessions in the pool before racing sarts on Tuesday.

We have also been given a note of what or ‘airport clothes’ are. Team hoodie, navy shirt and navy track bottoms oh and team trainers as well. Will post a pic if the team on Thursday (not quite sad enough to dress up just yet lol)

posted by Peter