In an earlier article, we discussed what swimmers want from their coach. Here we’ll discuss some additional tips on how to provide a personal touch to make the athletes on your team feel that you’re investing effort to help them achieve their individual goals.
Here are some ideas for keeping workouts interesting.
Coaches often find problems with their swimmers’ technique, but persuading swimmers that something’s wrong can be difficult. It’s our responsibility as coaches to help our swimmers go from not knowing there’s a problem to swimming with improved technique unconsciously.
To anyone who isn’t a coach, our jobs seem fairly straightforward: Plan the season, write workouts, give stroke feedback, shout out repeat times, and dispense colorful drill-sergeant rants about the necessity of hard work and discipline. While these tasks DO represent the meat and potatoes of our daily coaching activities, there are a host of hidden jobs we perform behind the scenes.
From our perspective as Masters swim coaches, the benefits of participating in our programs are obvious. Masters swimming provides conspicuous improvements in health, fitness, and racing speed—as well as endless opportunities for fun and friendship. And if that’s not enough, well, who wouldn’t want to bask in the awesome glow of the coach’s abundant personal charm and charisma, right?
When swimmers talk about flexibility, they’re usually referring to exercises that increase range of motion, such as those discussed in the January-February 2014 issue of SWIMMER magazine. But coaches can benefit from flexibility, too, especially in workout planning and delivery. Here are a few thoughts to consider as you create your club’s workouts.
It’s 6:45 a.m. in the middle of January and not that cold in Tucson, Ariz., where I’ve joined the SaddleBrooke Masters for one of their five weekly workouts from September through May. The 6:45 group is the first of three groups of Masters swimmers. Each workout lasts about 90 minutes and ranges from 1,500 yards for beginners to 3,000 yards for the more experienced swimmers.
Every Masters swimmer knows that hard work is required for improvement. In fact, after we reach a certain age, hard work is required just to keep from losing speed. This hard work comes in three primary areas:
Every Masters swim team coach dreams of having unrestricted pool time, an infinite number of workout lanes, and a full staff of eager and competent assistant coaches. Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us have to do our best with limited resources. But, with a little planning and creativity, we can still give our athletes consistently great swim workout experiences.
Athletes join Masters swim teams for a variety of reasons. As coaches, we’re most effective when we get to know our swimmers personally and truly understand their individual needs and goals. At the same time, we’re tasked with providing workouts that satisfy the needs of many swimmers at once. It would help if we had some general guidelines about what most swimmers like and dislike about workouts, so we could deliver swim practices that keep them coming back for more.