Sunday, November 3, 2013

Looking for a Little Inspiration?

If you are a swimming coach you needn’t look any further than the pool in front of you if you want to get inspired. And what a wonderful situation in that it happens every single day, except maybe an occasional Sunday. The key ingredient is to keep the challenge level high enough to get their attention. Sometimes when you work with a fairly diverse group – either in ability or intention, or both – the natural tendency is to “dumb down” things now and then so no one will feel left out.

This is actually one of the worst things a coach can do for it affects both ends of the spectrum while ultimately satisfying no one.

The slower ones in the group know when the standards are being shifted down as do the faster ones. This is one of the challenges for you as a coach. How can you keep everyone’s attention while simultaneously giving everyone what they need in order to progress?

If you break your training season into segments (cycles some would say) it is fairly easy. At the beginning, everyone is working on aerobic conditioning. Then speed and power is added. Some, even many, go the opposite way. They begin with speed and add in the aerobic component as they go along. The important thing, we think, is to tell everyone ahead of time what is happening, what is the plan. And then when changes in the plan occur, let everyone know why and when and what the expected outcomes of the changes are going to be.

This gives all a sense of confidence in what is occurring. It creates a positive expectation of the near and midterm future. We have had great success with this, this fall.

We began by laying out the training cycle and then sticking to it, making sure everyone knew when we were hitting the benchmarks that we wanted. We also did something different this fall. We didn’t ask for goal cards until well into the 8th week of training. The cards reflect a sure hand knowledge on their part about what they wanted, the standards needed to get to certain meets, etc. The team is very well focused on their individual and collective pursuits of excellence.

We shifted gears this week for a couple of reasons…lots of fitness, not much speed yet. And with the big meet in December looming it is time to develop more speed. Our strength and conditioning program is going great and we know that with another month of that plus speed work in the pool we will be where we want to be.

So this last/next 10 days we gave everyone 3 days off from swimming…last Friday, Sunday and this coming Wednesday. The dry land component stays in place on last Friday and this coming Wednesday. We expect to see some snap in their racing this coming weekend. We will know by watching them and how capable they are at delivering that we will know how to shape the remaining 4-5 weeks.
We have communicated this with them and everyone seems comfortable knowing what is up.
We will report back to you with our conclusions shortly.

In the meantime, we read the goal cards again and it fires us up! Our team is poised for some remarkable swimming. They have done the training and are honing their skills; from the fastest to the not yet super-fast…they all seem to have their eye on the prize.

And that is a beautiful thing to be a part of, each and every day!

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