Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dick Vermeil

Vermeil owns the distinction of being named “Coach of the Year” on four levels: High School, Junior College, NCAA Division I and Professional Football.

In all three of his stops as an NFL head coach, Vermeil has taken every team—Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City, each of which had a losing record before he arrived—and brought them to the playoffs by his third season at the helm.

Vermeil was interviewed in the lead up to the Super Bowl this week and was asked about his successful run at all 4 levels of the game. He said the thing that made the biggest impact on him was a conversation he had with legendary basketball coach John Wooden while they both were coaching at UCLA in the 1970’s. Vermeil was talking with Wooden and saying how worried he was about his inability to attract top recruits to UCLA in the same manner as cross town and Pac 10 conference foe USC.

Wooden counselled Vermeil to stop worrying about the athletes that were going to USC and to focus on making the ones he had at UCLA into better football players. That resonated with Vermeil who in two years took UCLA to the Rose Bowl…by focusing on coaching those that he had on his team.

Swim coaches are often looking at rivals in their own LSC or across the nation wondering how come, “We cannot get the same caliber of athletes?” If you have swimmers in the pool then you have someone to work with, to coach. Wooden would tell you to coach them really well and see what you can make happen. In the end all we can do is coach the ones who come to the pool. If we do a really good job we will have really good swimmers – who will often swim fast. When we coach exceptionally well we will have excellent swimmers who more often than not will swim exceptionally fast.

Same goes for you swimmers out there as well. Instead of wishing you were “like the girl or guy on the other team” or the one who is faster or taller than you two lanes over…decide that you are going to do something about the one over whom you have control – yourself.

Ask yourself, “Am I the first one in the pool every day”; “Am I the last one out every day”; “Do I take an extra 5 minutes when workout is officially over and stay to swim an extra 300 polishing my stroke, working on my turns?”

You get the idea. Work with what you have and what you have will change into something better, faster, more proficient. Focusing on what the other program, swimmer, or coach is doing will not help you improve. In fact it actually will retard your progress.

See you in Omaha in June 2016…

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