Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ken’s Magic Kick Set

If you have a team like ours, you have some really fast and capable kickers and some pretty fast and then some who are working on it but not there yet. Ken came up with a great kick set that generated excellent energy. One of the brilliant components is that the entire training group got to “get up and go” together. There was excellent team dynamics when we did this set. You can adjust the intervals to meet your needs. These were done in a 25 yard pool. Have fun and tell us what you think!

Group 1 is going on a 1:20 per 100 send off

Group 2 is going on a 1:33 per 100 send off

Group 3 is going on a 1:40 per 100 send off

Each group begins together.

Group 1 goes 8x75 kick on the 1:00 interval.

Group 2 goes 7x75 kick (they start from the other end of the pool) on the 1:10 interval

Group 3 goes 6x75 kick on the 1:20 interval

After the 75’s the entire team rests for 30 seconds and then everyone goes 4 x 100 on the 2:00 interval, progressive (descending). The goal is to record your best 100 kick time on #4.

Then we went a second round of the entire set, both 75’s and 4 x 100 aiming for an even faster final 100 kick.

The beauty of this was that everyone was able to make their 75 send offs even though it was very challenging and the whole pool was alive with kicking energy no matter what your own interval was. Then the team came together on the 4 x 100 and really got involved in each other’s success. It was spectacular…which is why Ken is the Head Coach.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Which Ones and How Many?

It is a common thread of discussion among swimmers and parents concerning practices: which ones are really important and how many do I really need to attend?

Not surprisingly coaches do not ask these questions. They already know the answer: all of them!

Swim coaches get frustrated when athletes miss workouts. We have a plan for what we accomplish every day…or at least what we aim to accomplish. So why, we ask ourselves, would any swimmer miss a training session?

Let’s set aside the usual and very real reasons – illness, family emergency, unexpected school work and or tutoring.

If you play on the football team, soccer team or lacrosse team and miss every Thursday because you are getting tired from training you will not play in the game on Saturday. Why, because you have missed some important practice time that is relevant to the game itself.

When a swimmer misses a day here and there are they really prepared to race on the weekend? Well, yes and no. Yes - because they know how to swim and race and have entered the meet. No - because they have missed valuable practice time that affects their ability to race up to their current potential.

We are talking here about the senior swimmer or senior want-to-be. The younger age groupers have other sport activities and school interests (the school play) which are very valid things in which to participate.

At some point however, if the youngster really wants to see what she can do with the sport she needs to commit to it…and that means to going to every practice, not just the ones she wants to or can fit in due to her social schedule.

Every year we have seniors who miss out on a college opportunity due to being a second slower in their 100 free than what the college needs. Is this the end of the world? Of course not! Having said that, every time a swimmer misses a training session there is a cost to that absence.

Not terribly dissimilar to the fact that every day you don’t show up to work there is a cost. Or to put it into more precise terms, if a student missed a day once a week of math class then he doesn’t get to complain too loudly about his grade suffering…nor does his parent(s).

If you are older and swimming is important to you – get to the pool. If you are younger and swimming intrigues you – get to the pool. As one of our soon to be famous swimmers said a year or so ago, “You don’t get faster with your head on the pillow.” We couldn’t say it any better, so we won’t. See you at the pool soon – like today!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

2 Questions

We have been working on the importance of self-evaluation after races. Our new season has begun and we have had two rather low key one day meets. This brings us quickly back to the subject of times.

Swimmers, and we guess runners and golfers, are plagued by the value assigned to times and scorecards. Very often we tend to look first at the time, make an evaluation and then attempt to rationalize it. “That was a great time for early in the season.” “I can expect to go much faster when I get in better shape.” “I will certainly be able to do better when I get in shape and then shave and taper.” The list goes on…and on ad nauseam.

The real comeuppance happens later in the season when we do not “get what we want” or come up short of our expectations.

So how do we handle the results/outcomes of these early season races in such a way that they have a positive impact on the rest of the season?

We are suggesting to our team the following and we trust that it has some value to you as well…without getting preachy you can of course see how this applies to closing a sale with a new account or getting an existing customer to “buy into” your next offering.

If the swim doesn’t go the way you intended ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?” This means on the technical and the physical level. Do I need to improve my technique and or my conditioning?

If the swim goes as planned or even exceeds current expectations ask, “What am I going to do with this?” This means how can I use this performance to leverage myself into a higher level of expectation for the next outing?

So, we are encouraging our team to use whatever outcome is realized in a positive forward thinking/moving manner. After all, we are in the business of progress!

Have a great week in and out of the pool…

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Some Really Good Insights

Here at North Bay Aquatics we are very fortunate to have David Winters leading the charge with our Pre-senior and Senior 2 groups. He is assisted by Simon and Greg. This is an exceptionally gifted group of coaches. They are mature adults who have a wide range of experience. They love working with developing youngsters and it shows both in the results and the smiles on the faces of the swimmers. Personally we think the latter is more important…but that is our bias.

Meets are a huge factor in the development of young swimmers. It gives them feedback on how they are progressing and what specific items they can focus on for the next round of training. The following four points went out in an email from David just after a recent meet. We share this with you in hopes it helps you with your team or young swimmer. We especially liked #3.

Have a great week in and out of the pool!

  • Know the pace of a meet. Look at a program and see how many swimmers are competing in events prior to your event. Divide the number by “8” (if eight lanes are being used per heat) and that’s how many heats. Then multiple by 3 minutes for a 200 and one and a half to two minutes for a 100. For 500’s figure five and a half minutes to six minutes per heat. All this takes time and experience but it can ease your mind. Another way to know when to swim is to study the “time line” which I usually email to parents prior to a meet if available or find a time line posted at the meet. The coaches can also give some ideas of the pacing of the meet.
  • Prior to racing let’s warm-up. We warm-up at each practice so we need to warm-up prior to racing. My groups rehearse warm-ups prior to meets in practice. Many have specific warm-ups they need to accomplish at certain meets. The warm-up is to prepare your body and mind to race. It requires an elevated heart rate so there needs to be some fast swimming in warm-ups prior to the start of the meet. I also need to see everyone in our pace lanes and start lanes to practice off blocks and to rehearse our pacing for your events. Do not forget to swim down after pace and starts. Prior to your race please warm-up!!!. Some on our team have to swim a little faster than easy in this portion of warm-up because of pre-race anxiety. Some like to go from warm-up pool right to the blocks. Others like to warm-up and dry 5-10 minutes prior to their race. This takes several meets to figure out the best strategy for the swimmer and their racing.
  • Warming down after races: This is really important!!!!! After the swimmer races they can visit the coaches and then warm-down or warm-down and then visit the coaches. Ideally I want 15-20 minutes of warm-down or 8 x 100. While this seems like a lot to many consider this one: If I told your swimmer that the practice was going to be a fast 100 from the blocks, then 8 x 100 cooling down then a fast 200 from the blocks followed by 8 x 100 cool down, plus a fast 100 followed by 8 x100’s, the swimmer would think it was the easiest practice ever. One missed warmed down can affect all the other swims down the line that day.
  • Never breathe at the end of races. We work on holding our breath in fly and free the last 7.5 meters from the finish at practice. Holding your breath will allow for a faster time at the end.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Goal Setting at the Beginning of a New Season

The way our season is set up here in Northern California we have 4 training blocks. The Fall season is the most important in our eyes as it is the longest and therefore has the biggest chance for training our swimmers’ capacity for physiological change. It is also the beginning of the “Swim Year” 2011-2012 which is an Olympic Year which has a very significant impact on attention and focus. All coaches and swimmers, regardless of ability, can use this to boost their individual game, feeding upon the emotional charge of those aiming for London. Also, there are several swimmers who will make the US Team that no one is considering today here in early October. It happens every single time.

So, this is a perfect time to revisit the subject of goal setting. This is the handout that will go to our swimmers at North Bay Aquatics at tomorrow’s team meeting. See if there is something here that will help you; and as always, let us know how it is going for you!

Goal Setting Process

This is not the only way to work when setting your goals. It is, however, a proved process and we suggest you consider the steps before moving forward. You will need a paper and pencil and a little time. You can begin whenever you want, take a pause in the steps, and then return as time allows. We do know this for certain, no one in history has ever made a significant improvement – and retained it – without writing a goal down. Please, at the very least do that much.

Step One: Take Responsibility.

If you are not responsible for something you cannot change it so this is the first and most important step. For instance, if you want to break 2:00 in the 200 and to do so you will need to get into really good shape and have excellent technique, then you need to be responsible for that part of the process. No one is keeping you from doing that.

Step Two: Investigate and Eliminate.

You are going to ask yourself a few questions so here is where the paper and pencil come in handy.

1 – Ask yourself what it is you want. Write it down…sub 2 minutes for the 200.

2 – Ask, why I want this. Write it down…I want this because it will qualify me for the next big meet; it will improve my chances for being on the A relay; it will help my college prospects.

3 – This one may seem counterintuitive but it is very important. Ask yourself why you do NOT want this to happen. Now you may wonder about this one…but of course I want this, why wouldn’t I? Well, let’s consider this for a minute…Now the coaches will expect more from me; to really get this I will have to miss some social functions and those may actually be more fun; I’m not sure I want the pressure of competing at this faster level…

The point here is that there are going to be ramifications in your current life if you actually dig in and make a change – said another way, if you set a goal, work toward it and then achieve it your life will be different and you need to be ready for that difference.

The main purpose of this second step is to find what you want and to eliminate those things that will stand in your way.

Keep in mind that the number one thing people resist is change; even if it is for the better! This is not rocket science. The way to change anything in your life: 1 – eliminate what isn’t working for you and 2 – replace it with what you want.

If you know your stroke needs tuning up then simply do it…that is, work on the things you know need fixing. Ask one of us to help you. And then do it. Stop “trying” and start “doing”. Even if you are only able to do it correctly for a lap or two before you get tired. Start now and work forward from this point. Think about this sentence: It takes preparation and work to make a change, large or small, but it does not take time. It may take time for anyone to notice the change but it doesn’t take time to make the change.

So, get your pencil and paper out and start the process. Think about what you would like to have happen – short, mid and long term, as we discussed last week. Even you polo players can begin the process. And of course you can do this for your polo season as well.

Sooner than later we need you to turn in your goal sheets so we can look them over and share our feedback with you. This doesn’t need to happen today but it does need to happen. Spend some time thinking about why you want what you want and then some time why you may not want it. In the end, we need you to come up with a few goals that you are willing to work toward.

This season is going to be a very special one for our team, and that means for you. To capture the full opportunity we all need focus. Goals give us that focus; goals give each day meaning and purpose. Very few things match the satisfaction of a person who knows what she/he wants and is “willing and able” to execute the plan. We will help provide the “able”; you let us know about the “willing”.