Self-monitoring as an intervention to decrease swimmers' stroke counts

Jodi Polaha, Keith Allen, Benjamin Studley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Self-monitoring of stroke count by swimmers is a common coaching strategy, it is but one that has little data to support it. Although research has demonstrated that self-monitoring can motivate behavior change, little research has focused on whether self-monitoring can enhance skill development. The purpose of the present set of studies was to examine the effects of self-monitoring on the improvement of a specific swimming skill (i.e., stroke count). Eight adult fitness swimmers and three college-level competitive swimmers participated in Study 1. In an A-B-A design, swimmers were observed to reduce stroke counts by about one stroke per lap when instructed to self-monitor and to verbally report strokes. In Study 2, swimmers self-monitored and visually reported strokes on a dry-erase board. A greater improvement was observed in five out of six swimmers. Across studies, stroke counts generally returned to baseline levels when self-monitoring was ended, and improvements during both self-monitoring phases were the greatest in the weakest swimmers. Limitations of the research, mechanisms of change, and implications for coaches are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-275
Number of pages15
JournalBehavior Modification
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Coaching
  • Self-monitoring
  • Swimming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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