Sunday, January 6, 2013

Things We Learn When Watching and Listening

Often coaches want to know the “secret” to success; what sets deliver the most impact; what drills teach the best form; how best to handle over-zealous parents; the list is endless. We admit every now and then to asking ourselves, “If only we could...” - you fill in the blank.

And yet the clues, answers and revelations we seek are readily at hand on a daily basis. All we need do is listen to our colleagues – you chat at meets with your fellow coaches, yes? - and watch our swimmers as they go through their workouts. Here is a sample of things we have learned and the origin of the revelation.

We have been a little frustrated with our dry land program for the last year or so. We have the usual challenges - no real indoor facility so when it rains we are pretty much toast, and essentially a patch work of equipment - a couple of pull up bars, some fire hoses, a few benches nearby to step up and jump up on, that kind of thing. Craig Carson (Brentwood Sea Wolves) shared at a recent meet that he has had a lot of success with his program by handing it off to a local gym owner who is a former pro football player. His team goes over there 2-3 times a week and the trainer leads them through the paces. Craig says two important things happen; the first is that the kids feel stronger and so their personal confidence is up and secondly they respond better to a different voice (he simply helps out and observes).

We began last week at The Cave ( and early indications are very positive. The Cave is run by professionals with gymnastic as well as athletic backgrounds. They teach Cross fit and Parkour as well as other types of classes to adults and kids. We met with them prior to our first session and are impressed with their “technique first” approach. We anticipate no reckless injuries - one of our major concerns in everything we do. We are there Tuesday and Friday 5:30-6:30 before school. We also are doing Pilates on Wednesday. Swimmers who cannot or will not get off the pillow will be able to do a “Dry land 101” on their own at home. Check back with us in 3 months and we will let you know how it goes. Thanks Craig!

We do a fair amount of jump rope work. The other day we noticed Cameron running while he was jump roping. We admit that we are often not that bright and hadn’t even thought of doing the two together. Now we do. Thanks Cameron!

We use simple chain from the hardware store to make a yoke between lane lines so we can attach bungee cords in each lane. We hook them directly to the starting blocks on one end but need the 8 foot chains on the other end so we can have 16 stations going simultaneously. The other day for no real reason other than the idea popped up, we gave one of the chains to Brigitte to wrap around her waist. We asked her to swim a lap of breaststroke and see if she could keep her hips up. The extra weight added awareness which actually made it easier for her to identify the muscles needed to lift herself up in the water. We then tried a dive and the extra weight increased her awareness of her angle of entry and body position during the pull through. We now use chains at least once a week with the breaststrokers and the flyers are next. Thanks Brigitte!

We were registering for the Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic yesterday and stopped in to listen to John Leonard (ASCA Executive Director) who was conducting a Leadership Session. He put two quotes on the screen we especially liked. The first is from John Wooden, “do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” Talk about a powerful thought. Albert Einstein said, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Even his choice of words reflects the sentiment!
Thanks John!

If you aren’t a member of ASCA you are missing some serious intellectual stimulation at the very least. Give yourself the gift of membership today. You will be supporting yourself and your profession and each of those are worthy goals for 2013.

May 2013 be our collective best year ever! See you at a pool soon.

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