Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Value of Observing

Some say that if you look at the human body there are more organs designed for sensing what goes on around us than for sharing that information. Said more simply, we have 2 ears, 2 eyes and 1 mouth. We also know it to be true that when your lips are moving your ears and eyes don’t work quite as well as intended.
We had the California State High School Championships this past week in Clovis. Thanks to Meet Mobile it is no longer necessary to take splits the old fashioned way. So we spent our time simply watching and listening. Sometimes we were looking for specific things like stroke count and tempo and at other times we were just watching to see what we could observe.
We believe that coaches learn more about faster swimming by watching the faster swimmers than by making a lot of noise about one thing or another. The faster swimmers intuitively demonstrate subtleties. They may have learned initially from a coach but then they further refine it by figuring out what works and what doesn’t through the time honored and tested process of trial and error.
And so we watched to see what we could. There were obvious things like the speed underwater and breath holding. Some less obvious ones were relay takeoffs…at the high school level (even with club kids) they were mostly very conservative – slow. We wonder exactly how much time is spent in training sessions on this skill, one that earns double points no less.
What about starts? Many events are decided by razor thin margins, tenths or even hundredths of a second. The fastest part of the race is the start…we think but are not scientifically certain…not sure if any study has been done to measure this velocity quotient. If this is true then how come so many swimmers do not know how to enter the water cleanly? How much training time is spent on this critical element?
Let’s say you have 2 hours to train each day. First you need the conditioning; no wait first you need the skill set; oops, you actually need both. If this is true (a big if) then how do you allocate your time? How much of the 2 hours is spent doing what…and is it possible to accomplish more than one task simultaneously?
These and other thoughts kept us awake for the 3+ hour drive home…that and satellite radio!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Week in Review

One of the best things about our profession is the willingness to share openly with each other. There are actually no secrets as it were. There are however many different ways to achieve the desired result.
The first thing is to understand the desired result – that’s your goal. Next in line is the development of a plan aimed at achieving that goal. Then when feedback becomes available you can assess how far along the path of success you have traveled.
Meets are an excellent assessment tool. However, the willing and able coach can make the call on a daily basis about the progress, or lack thereof, without waiting for confirmation at the meet.
As we were doing our assessment after the North Coast Section finals Saturday while driving home we called our trusted and true colleague Coach Dave Krotiak of Fox Valley in Illinois. We chatted about all things coaching sharing tips and foibles and then asked him “So what are you doing that is moving the needle; give us something to work with”.
He paused a few moments then said he was at practice and after 20 minutes of observation didn’t like what he saw so he wrote the following on the board poolside. He then stopped everyone and asked them to read it. He said they and he had an awesome 2 hours after the message was digested.
“You’re guaranteed failure if you practice it every day.”

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Rough and Tumble Week

It has been a crazy week in the swimming world; just like so many weeks in our sport. We are in the middle of High School Championships here in California with tales of glory and lessons taught (and hopefully learned). We now know that our sport can only be clean if High Throughput Testing is in place. Apparently it will not be in Rio…sad but true. We learned that the fall from grace in our profession is so tragic; that any response falls woefully short. While making sense of all these variables seems problematic at best we are reminded by Gary Zukav of the following…

Reality is what we take to be true

What we take to be true is what we believe

What we believe is based upon our perceptions

What we perceive depends upon what we look for

What we look for depends upon what we think

What we think depends upon what we perceive

What we perceive determines what we believe

What we believe determines what we take to be true

What we take to be true is our reality

From The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav