Sunday, October 24, 2010

Connecting the Dots

We have our senior team training really well right now preparing for the November “mid-term” meet which comes up in three weeks. As coaches we always strive to get the swimmers to see how things they do in practice relate to results in meets. We refer to this as “connecting the dots”.

We came up with a simple explanation that seems to be taking hold, having a positive effect if you will. We tell swimmers that “you race like you train, so train like you want to race.” We apologize to the English teachers out there for the grammar. Having said that, this rather simple statement is having an effect. We had a tri meet last Saturday and our finishes are much better. We have been emphasizing that recently…no breathing at the end of free and fly races.

We have also been talking about turns…turning at the same speed you are swimming, as opposed to relaxing through the walls. In this last meet we saw that we need to be better at this in the later stages of the race. We had a number of swimmers who turned well at the 25 and even the 50 wall in their 100’s but really coasted into the 75 wall. It is as if they were taking a short pause in their effort while readying themselves for the last lap and the finish from the 7 or 8 yard mark to the touch pad. So we need to fix that…and we will.

It is really simple sometimes and as coaches we tend to make things a little too complex now and then. Football coaches talk about the fundamentals of blocking and tackling; basketball coaches talk about getting in position for the rebound; swim coaches talk at length about the importance of the start and the turns.

Effective coaches are able to communicate the essentials to their athletes in such a way that those same athletes learn the value of the skill(s) and then make it habit. We are willing to bet a large amount of money that Ryan Lochte spends a lot of time underwater off turns in practice whether he is swimming easily or going for it. He is more than someone who turns really well. Indeed, he is an underwater phenom who to no one’s surprise crushes opponents on the turns. He wasn’t born that way. Neither was Natalie Coughlin. They both learned the value of it and then learned how to do it. It is a skill that is now part of who they are in the water.

What do you want to change in your game? How are you going to do it? Find the dots then connect them. Pretty darn simple…

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