Sunday, November 24, 2013

For What It’s Worth

Every time we get ready to rest and shave we give our team some guidelines with the intention of letting them know what we are looking for and what they can expect from us as coaches. It gives us a chance to “get on the same page” in preparation for the big swims. These are the notes from last Saturday’s meeting.

Team meeting 11-23-18 –

Less than two weeks to Seattle/Walnut Creek/JO’s, less than 3 weeks to North Carolina

What have we learned thus far?

About: stroke mechanics, power, racing skills, dry land, nutrition, sleep, cycles of training – short discussion on each of these points

Everyone is aware of times they want to hit – correct?

Goals times, cuts for future meets … (much like hitting GPA marks and SAT scores)

We have done a lot of timing of efforts in wkots this fall as a means for giving all of us, coaches and swimmers alike, feedback on our progress. The times we have posted mean many things and are affected by many things

What they mean: how much stronger we are getting, fitter, faster – all those impt items

What affects them: water&air temp, type of suit, pool type, and place in cycle

However, there other impt things taking place and those are actually more significant

List includes: confidence, skill set, understanding of race strategy, keeping stroke together as you get tired, managing fatigue, managing failure and its twin imposter success etc.

What can you do in the final days to help yourself?

Sleep and eat correctly, stay on your school work, visualize success, practice doing the things that can help you, keep your body functioning properly via dry land routine

What can you do to hurt yourself?

Worry about your outcome, focus on the times you want to swim, get caught up in the usual pre meet hype, look at the psych sheets, look at the travel as a grand camping trip

What we will do to help you: not time you, keep working the process, and give each of you one item you can work on before you leave the pool each day for the next couple of weeks that will make a difference in your swims, stay even keeled

We suggest you do the same – work the process, stay even keeled, support the team

Keep your head up, unhinge your jaw, relax your tongue and breathe

Monday, November 18, 2013

Too Hard vs Too Easy

Ken had an interesting comment today. When someone finds something too hard and they feel over challenged, the tendency is often to give up.

Conversely when the same person finds something too easy and they realize they are not stimulated they disengage... a nice way of saying they give up.

We see this all too often when we look at people who appear to have tons of potential but never seem to be going anywhere with it.

Then we started wondering why this was the case. After some reflection it occurred to us that this type of behavior is perhaps born of two sets of learned patterns.

The first is that folks who start out after a project and come up short early on in life may "learn" that life isn’t "fair" for them; that success is for other folks who are "more talented, luckier, get more breaks" and that list is very long indeed when you are looking at it from the "have not" side of the equation.

The second is that many have not learned the power of goal setting + attitude. William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” Goals, of course, are statements of intention. Those statements generate change. When goals are accompanied by the acceptance of personal responsibility for one’s attitude a person is set up to be a “winner” in the game of life.

The real value of sport is that with careful, dare we say impassioned guidance - coaching and parenting - youngsters can learn at a very early point in their lives the value of goals plus attitude.

Every time we as coaches come in contact with such a person who needs "enlightenment", and we fulfill that person’s need, we guarantee our spot on the beach next to the big pool. You know that one; it’s the one all the way at the end...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Grand Master Ken at it again…we think…!

We raced at the Terrapin’s Senior Trials and Finals meet this last weekend. It is the first really meaningful meet of the fall season and a good indicator of things to come in December. All of our swimmers got what they needed. The ones who are all in, got confirmation that they are on track for some seriously fast December races. Those who are a bit on the fringes of reality got the feedback they needed as well; mainly get on track or get left behind this training block.

As we watch the races and give feedback to our swimmers, now and then a piece of wisdom emerges and we capture it for its value in explaining the phenomenon known as seriously fast swimming.

This is from Ken: “You can never win a race in the first 50 but you can lose a race in the first 50.”
This sounded like a theory to us so we checked our knowledge from decades ago about theories and what makes them valid. What follows is the generally accepted version of what is needed for a theory to be valid. Based upon these explanations, we will go out on a limb and say that Ken is indeed a Grand Master as his statement is indeed a theory.

Hope this is fun and helps you with your swimmers!

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.[1][2] Scientists create scientific theories from hypotheses that have been corroborated through the scientific method, then gather evidence to test their accuracy. As with all forms of scientific knowledge, scientific theories are inductive in nature and aim for predictive and explanatory force.[3][4]

The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain, which is measured by its ability to make falsifiable predictions with respect to those phenomena. Theories are improved as more evidence is gathered, so that accuracy in prediction improves over time. Scientists use theories as a foundation to gain further scientific knowledge, as well as to accomplish goals such as inventing technology or curing disease. (- or swimming faster).

Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.[3] This is significantly different from the word "theory" in common usage, which implies that something is unsubstantiated or speculative.[5]

  • It must match the evidence.
    It should predict.
    Its statements must be able to be independently verified.

·       For a scientific theory to be valid, it must allow you to test it. There must be ways to validate or invalidate the theory either through observation or experimentation. Predictions are often presented with the theory. After this, the theory is tested to check and see which predictions hold up or are true and which are false. 

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!