It takes more than just knowing how to swim to become the best swim coach. When working on how to coach swimming, you grow beyond thinking of improving your swimming career. Instead, your focus is now on the growth and success of every swimmer on your team.
When placed side by side, swimming, and coaching fundamentals are inherently different. While swimming covers the teaching of proper execution of strokes and the corresponding skills, coaching, on the other hand, requires you to step back to the basics and break down the rationale behind all you already know.
So if you are a newbie or older coach reading this article, here are ten coaching swimming tips that can help you become the best coach to your swim team:
1. Set rules and Stand Your Ground.
As a coach, the first thing you need to do is to set ground rules, for practice time, behaviour around the pool and lockers, etc. It is still okay for you to be friendly with everyone, but you cannot let them walk all over you. Also, when you have set these rules sick to them and try not to go back on your word. The team needs to know you are serious.
Additionally, the rules you set can be applied to both the swimmers and their parents. If you have coached a swim team, then chances are you have had to deal with some problematic parents. Let the parents be aware of where you stand, and always try to relate with them in a firm but respectful manner.
2. Work on Techniques
For some coaches, when working on the performance of their swimmers, they will attack things from a “work harder” and “train harder” perspective. However, they tend to miss the critical aspect that peak swimming performance is achieved by physical training, stroke technique, breath control, racing speed, dives, starts, turns, finishes, warm-up, cool down, mental approach, etc.
Rather than asking them to merely swim more and work harder, teach them how to also work smarter by focusing on their mental skills, stroke technique, swimming skills, drills, and tactical abilities to help improve their performance.
3. Be Approachable.
Considering the amount of time your swim team spends practising with you, they should be able to find it easy to approach you. There is so much knowledge and advice the swimmers can get from you if you are an approachable coach. Ask them about their challenges or past injuries. Such information enables you to learn more about each swimmer and help them craft workouts they will benefit from.
Be open and willing to listen to your swimmers always, be it at practice or a meet. You find out that beyond wanting to swim more effortlessly and faster, there are other goals or struggles your swimmer will like to accomplish and overcome. And they’ll only share such information if they perceive you to be an approachable person.
4. Approach Each Swimmer Differently
No two swimmers are the same; they all have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Thus, it is essential that as a coach, you can create age group swim workouts for your swim team. The techniques and drills for an age group of 8-12 years will be different for what you use for swimmers age 15-18.
Where you have much younger or new adult swimmers on your team, you might want to keep corrections at a minimum until they’re more relaxed in the water. It is often a gradual process that requires a lot of encouragement and patience.
5. Ask questions.
Do not live in isolation as a coach. Reach out to your colleagues and veterans in the sport to ask questions and interact with them. Head coach at Susquehanna University Pennsylvania, Jerry Foley, advises that young coaches can learn a lot from the veteran coaches who are also very eager to share their experiences if they ask. Your fellow swim coaches are always there to help one another, so make it a habit to utilize them while you can.
6. Attitude Is Everything.
“Enthusiasm is like a virus that is highly infectious.” The level of how passionate, driven, enthusiastic, and motivated you are, reflects a lot on your swimmers and their work ethic. You need to continually look at yourself in the mirror and be reminded of the need to model positive attitudes and behaviours in everything, especially as a swim coach.
7. Never, Ever Stop Learning.
Just like writers on writing services review websites such as Best Writers Online, never stop refining their skills, you should never stop learning. The saying goes, “the man that stops learning stops living.” Thus gaining a winning advantage comes from learning. You are only able to build your swim team to work smart, train, win, and always have the edge over the competition when you can coach them properly. Never stop learning; improve your coaching skills by writing, research, asking your mentors, taking coaching courses, etc.
8. Stay Unique; Do Not Copy
There should be an extent to which you look, listen, and learn from other coaches. It should never extend to copying them, or else it overshadows your uniqueness. You need first to understand yourself as a coach and carve out your training techniques and philosophy.
What are your values, drive, and passion for being a swim coach? What makes you unique and stand out as a coach? When you have figured these out, then you can use the knowledge from others to make more informed decisions and likewise learn from their mistakes.
9. There Are Different Ways of Coaching
Coaching isn’t a one size fit all approach. You can pick bits from different coaches and develop a coaching style that works for your team. Also, like I said earlier, no two swimmers are the same, so you will need to merge different approaches to deal with different swimmers. Find a balance in applying the physical, technical, tactical, and psychological aspects of coaching.
10. Have fun.
Remember, fun is good! So just because you’re a coach shouldn’t mean it is all work and no fun. Swimming should be fun for both you and your swimmers because the practice has a way of becoming a drag when you get way too serious and forget to have fun. Thus the environment should be entertaining so the swimmer can absorb more.
No doubt, there is a lot of hard work that goes into becoming the best coach to your swim team. Try to find your rhythm and be willing to put in the hard work. And I also hope these coaching swimming tips will help improve your techniques and bolster you into a long coaching career!
Guest post by Gregory V. Chapman
Gregory is passionate about researching new technologies in both mobile, web and WordPress. Also, he
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