Sunday, July 24, 2016

Planning vs. A Microwave

Since being at Olympic Trials we have been thinking about the direction of our program, defining it and then implementing a plan. We decided that it is in our team’s best interest to develop a 4 year cycle. The goal will be to put as many swimmers at Trials in 2020 and give any a shot at a second swim or making the team the best opportunity to achieve that goal.
We had four swimmers at this year’s event, 2 who are still at our club level and 2 who had dual representation with their universities and our club. None of them had cuts 4 years ago. 2 were not even on the team 4 years ago.
Point – a lot can happen in 4 years. Your promising 13 year old without cuts today can make them in 4 years. Any of the 4 who were there this summer can improve in 4 years.
We have to make the statement of intention publicly so all will know what the center of our target looks like. No one is excluded, though naturally many will exclude themselves due to training neglect or development of other interests.
We attempt to “coach” all swimmers on our team while acknowledging the reality that some only get “trained” while others actually ask for and are susceptible to being coached. Also, being willing to be coached doesn’t mean you will get to Trials. We are of the belief that if you only train you probably won’t make it to Trials. We talk about this openly; we play no favorites; we are an equal opportunity team…everyone has the opportunity and they must own it. We facilitate; they swim.
A couple of weeks ago we were listening to a radio interview being conducted at San Diego in conjunction with MLB’s All-Star game. Respected baseball authority Tom Verducci was asked why the San Diego Padres (host of the game this year) faired so poorly over such a long stretch of time. They have made the playoffs very infrequently yet reside in a baseball rich area of the country with excellent weather and great living conditions. His comment burned in our minds. “You cannot microwave a championship”. You must plan, build, invest and coach like crazy…over the long haul.
That’s exactly what we are doing…beginning yesterday.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

This One’s for the Coaches Out There

Paul Lundgren swims on our Masters team. He contributes mightily to our program. He is a deep thinker and highly respected distance athlete (he has attempted to swim across the Sea of Cortez twice). His book, “Where Mountains Come to Swim”, subtitled “A journey into the mind of a man training to swim across the Sea of Cortez” is available through He sent us the following which made us laugh instantly; reminding us that laughter is indeed the best medicine. You will appreciate Joe Namath’s quote.

"Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble the football" - John Heisman  
"I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game." – Bear Bryant / Alabama
"It isn't necessary to see a good tackle, you can hear it!” - Knute Rockne / Notre Dame  
"At Georgia Southern, we don't cheat. That costs money, and we don't have any." – Erik Russell / Georgia Southern
"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it."  -  Lou Holtz / Arkansas - Notre Dame
"When you win, nothing hurts."  -  Joe Namath / Alabama
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall."  -  Frank Leahy / Notre Dame
"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."  -  Woody Hayes / Ohio State
"I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation.  I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation."  -  Bob Devaney / Nebraska  

"In Alabama , an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant."  -  Wally Butts / Georgia
"I never graduated from Iowa.  But I was only there for two terms - Truman's and Eisenhower's."  –  Alex Karras / Iowa
"My advice to defensive players is to take the shortest route to the ball, and arrive in a bad humor.”  -  Bowden Wyatt / Tennessee
"I could have been a Rhodes Scholar except for my grades."  - Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State
"Always remember Goliath was a 40 point favorite over David."  -  Shug Jordan / Auburn   
"I asked Darrell Royal, the coach of the Texas Longhorns, why he didn't recruit me ."   He said,"Well, Walt, we took a look at you, and you weren't any good."  -  Walt Garrison / Oklahoma State 

"Son, you've got a good engine, but your hands aren't on the steering wheel."  -  Bobby Bowden / Florida State

"Football is NOT a contact sport, it is a collision sport.  Dancing IS a contact sport."  -  Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State
After USC lost 51-0 to Notre Dame, his post-game message to his team was, "All those who need showers, take them."  -  John McKay / USC
"If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education.”  -  Murray Warmath / Minnesota
"The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb.  To be a back, you only have to be dumb."   -  Knute Rockne / Notre Dame
"We live one day at a time and scratch where it itches."   -  Darrell Royal / Texas   
"We didn't tackle well today, but we made up for it by not  blocking."   -  John McKay / USC
"I've found that prayers work best when you have big players."   -  Knute Rockne / Notre Dame
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer on one of his players: “He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades and he doesn't know the meaning of a lot of words.”
Why do Tennessee fans wear orange? So they can dress that way for the game on Saturday, go hunting on Sunday, and pick up trash on Monday.
What does the average Alabama player get on his SATs? Drool.
How many Michigan State freshmen football players does it take to change a light bulb? None. That's a sophomore course.
How did the Auburn football player die from drinking milk? The cow fell on him.
Two Texas A&M football players were walking in the woods. One of them said, "Look, a dead bird."The other looked up in the sky and said,"Where?"

What do you say to a Florida State University football player dressed in a three-piece suit? "Will the defendant please rise."
If three Rutgers football players are in the same car, who is driving? The police officer.
How can you tell if a Clemson football player has a girlfriend? There's tobacco juice on both sides of the pickup truck.
What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas cheerleaders in one room? A full set of teeth.
University of Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh is only going to dress half of his players for the game this week; the other half will have to dress themselves.
How is the Kansas football team like an opossum? They play dead at home and get killed on the road.
Why did the Tennessee linebacker steal a police car? He saw "911" on the side and thought it was a Porsche.

How do you get a former Illinois football player off your porch? Pay him for the pizza.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Observations from Omaha

We are competing at the 2016 Olympic Team Trials in Omaha this week. This is the best clinic a coach could attend since in addition to conversations and information sharing among the coaches we are able to watch the fastest swimmers in the US ply their trade.
The following represents some of the highlights according to our point of view; yours of course will be different and feel free to share them as you wish:
Never underestimate the power of “NOW”…if this is your chance then you must go for it. You can never tell what will happen over the next 4 years and how that will affect your career. As Elvis said, “It’s now or never…”
Sometimes it takes a while to get where you want to go. Tom Shields was a high school phenom going into college at CAL. It took him 6 years but he is an Olympian today.
Tempos and stroke counts vary by individual. Your task is to find your sweet spot. The stop watch will help you find both.
Michael Phelps is the only one here who can put his hands in the water in fly without a splash. He does it with a slightly bent arm (almost looks like freestyle) supported by a powerful thrust from his kick moments before his hands enter. He is able to hold his body from shoulder to knee rather flat in the water.
If you want to go farther under water with your dolphin kicks you need to push off deeper…such a simple concept but it takes a while to master it…and be ok with less oxygen.
In long course if you over amp your first lap you will pay dearly for that indulgence. It’s the old “you cannot win a race on the first lap but you can lose it on the first lap.” We have seen it here in 100, 200, 400 races…all strokes…men and women. You must learn how to ride the enthusiasm curve without investing your energy stores. We have seen numerous swimmers who appear to be shot with a tranquillizer dart as close as 10 meters from the wall. Margins for error in this meet are measured in hundredths and tenths of a second. 
Elapsed time is not the only measure of progress.
Finally for today, develop your team with a 4 year cycle. Go back and look at your swimmers and determine who can be at this level in 4 years… but refrain from naming them aloud. Tell the team that you are implementing (if this is your first time at it) this program and then highlight some of the markers along the way. This is goal setting over a longer period than many use. When your swimmers know what you as a coach are aiming at it will give them clarity. The ones who want to be all in will make themselves visible. And there is no way for you as a coach to know today who can do the work and be available in 4 years. So open your doors wide and accept as many as are willing to do the work, make the sacrifices and get the big payoff.