101 Super Swimming Tips for Super Swimming Coaches: 101 Ways to Be the Coach You Want to Be and the Coach your Swimmers want to See.

By Wayne Goldsmith | In Swimming Coaching

  1. Never use your mobile phone on deck during workouts.
  2. Smile – it makes a big difference.
  3. Say one constructive, positive thing to every swimmer at every workout.
  4. Be a master of technique: technique is critical in fast swimming.
  5. Be creative the best ideas win.
  6. Bring parents into your program: parents are your partners in performance.
  7. Understand the basics of swimming science: get a “PhD” – a “Practical Human Degree” – i.e. learn enough about sports science to work effectively with people.
  8. Be comfortable talking about “winning”. It’s cool to talk about kids achieving their best.
  9. Teach one new swimming skill every week. That’s about 50 new skills a year and around 500 over the career of most swimmers.
  10. Walk workouts: never sit down and coach from a chair. It’s like asking the swimmers to train from showers.
  11. Incorporate mental skills development in the design of every workout.
  12. Engage swimmers and work with them: don’t coach at them.
  13. Be committed to your own learning and development: the faster you learn, the faster they swim.
  14. Review your workouts every day – what worked, what didn’t, what can be improved?
  15. Swimming is an individual sport wrapped in a team structure. Think about both individual and team issues in your training and competition plans.
  16. Remember that every swimmer is different and needs individual attention to detail. To a coach with a hammer, every swimmer is a nail.
  17. Keep yourself healthy – continually work on your own health, fitness and well-being (physical and mental).
  18. Use your imagination – every workout should include some new, exciting, stimulating ideas.
  19. Stay calm, composed and confident at Swim Meets.
  20. Inspire swimmers to want to give their best rather than trying to force them to what you want them to do.
  21. Work hard – there is no other way to succeed.
  22. Be yourself.
  23. Believe in yourself.
  24. Be different.
  25. Be unique.
  26. Speed is the most precious thing in swimming – don’t be afraid to work on it all year round.
  27. Give feedback – often.
  28. Include your assistant coaches in decision making, planning and programming.
  29. Don’t just try to create fast swimmers: build outstanding young people with great self-confidence, values and passion and then teach them to swim fast.
  30. Learn how to use Social media effectively to communicate with your swimmers and families, e.g. Face-book, Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube etc.
  31. Have a clear coaching philosophy: if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
  32. Get to workouts early and welcome the swimmers as they arrive.
  33. Put sarcasm and cynicism in the rubbish bin outside the pool area and never take them to workouts.
  34. Recognise and praise swimmers for improvement in skills and technique.
  35. Have a clear policy on drugs and alcohol in swimming – Just Say No!
  36. Be understanding of the commitments swimmers have away from the pool – e.g. school exams, other sports, family commitments.
  37. Don’t categorise young swimmers as a “backstroker” or “freestyler” etc. Kids change, kids grow, kids develop and last year’s “backstroker” can be next year’s “butterflyer”.
  38. Get out of the A.T. mindset – there is no need to drive kids at anaerobic / lactic threshold pace every workout.
  39. Challenge kids to try one new thing or to accept one new challenge every day. It builds confidence and the belief that they can achieve anything.
  40. Educate swimmers about nutrition – what they eat today, swims tomorrow.
  41. Educate parents about nutrition because kids don’t shop and kids don’t cook!
  42. Teach swimmers that rest, recovery, sleep and relaxation are as important as training and hard work.
  43. Empower swimmers to make decisions, to become independent, to learn through problem solving and accepting responsibility for their own actions.
  44. Regularly connect senior swimmers with junior swimmers in training and at Meets. Coaches coach but swimmers learn from other swimmers.
  45. Plan.
  46. Listen twice as much as you talk – that’s why you have two ears and one mouth.
  47. Look like, dress like, act like the coach you want to be.
  48. Be confident on deck: build a presence which says “I am a passionate, knowledgeable swimming professional who knows what I am doing and who loves working with swimmers”.
  49. Have a clear policy on discipline, make sure all swimmers and parents know what it is and implement it consistently, fairly and with integrity.
  50. Be honest.
  51. Have a passion and interest other than swimming. It keeps your mind healthy, fresh and positive.
  52. Get to know your swimmers – their birthdays, their schools, their favourite movies, their favourite food etc.  They are kids who choose to swim with you – not swimming machines.
  53. Teach swimmers to deal with disappointment and to learn from adversity: these are skills for life that you can teach better than just about anyone.
  54. Don’t be a Stop Watch Watcher! Use the watch when you need to, but spend most of your time watching, listening, offering feedback and engaging with your team: the ”clock” will take care of itself.
  55. Teach pacing – teach pacing – teach pacing: it is a critically important swimming skill.
  56. Think long term but act short term: i.e. think about the long term development of each swimmer but ensure the quality of their training environment each day is the best it can be.
  57. Have a sense of humour: life is short and after all it is just swimming.
  58. Be unpredictable. Every so often write a workout up on the board but then do something completely different.
  59. Meet with parents often but away from the pool deck and the training environment.
  60. Have a team selection policy and make sure everyone knows what it is, what is means and where to find it.
  61. Build great relay teams.
  62. Lead.
  63. Understand strength training and how, when and why to incorporate it into your training program.
  64. Be flexible: sometimes you have to change the workout in response to the needs of the team and not try to force the team to respond to the needs of your workout.
  65. Teach relaxation as a fundamental aspect of all swimming.
  66. Do things for a reason and with a lesson in mind: be proactive not reactive.
  67. Deliberately create problems and challenges for swimmers to solve, learn and grow through actual experience.
  68. Encourage late developers (i.e. kids who are small for their age) to persist, to strive and to develop high level technical skills: they often struggle with sustaining motivation.
  69. Develop a great social program around the team and empower the swimmers to make decisions about the social events they want.
  70. Start every session with a race quality dive: it sets the tone for the rest of the workout.
  71. Vary lane structures, e.g. Monday split up the team by swimming speed, Tuesday split them up by stroke specialisation, Wednesday split them up by gender, Thursday by age, Friday mix up the ages with older swimmers in the same lane as younger team members.
  72. Encourage swimmers to drink regularly during workouts.
  73. Encourage swimmers to stretch after workouts.
  74. Encourage swimmers!!!
  75. Make training more challenging and more demanding than competition: this builds “bullet-proof” confidence and self-belief.
  76. Teach nervous swimmers how to stay calm, cool, relaxed and composed at Swim Meets…but teach them these skills in training well before the Meet. Just telling them to “relax” on Meet day does not work.
  77. Attitude is everything – for both swimmers and coaches.
  78. Don’t smoke.
  79. Communicate with swimmers in the way they want to be communicated with: learn how to best connect with each individual swimmer in your team.
  80. Encourage, praise and reward effort, hard work and commitment.
  81. Build leaders: provide the opportunity for your swimmers to learn to lead and to help grow a winning culture in your team from the inside.
  82. Keep on top of the political situation at your Club, the Pool and the local swimming administration. More than one great coach has failed because of ignoring what’s going on around them.
  83. Use swimming equipment (e.g. fins, paddles, pull buoys) appropriate to the level, age and ability of the swimmer.
  84. Avoid fads, gimmicks, tricks and trends: do it your way and avoid quick fixes, short cuts and instant solutions.
  85. Educate parents on how they can help their kids be the best they can be.
  86. Do your slow work slow and your fast work fast: kids respond well to endurance and speed work.
  87. If in doubt, stick with the big five: Dives, Starts, Turns, Finishes and Underwater skills. Building your program around these fundamental swimming skills means your swimmers are always competitive when it counts.
  88. Be the best kicking team in your district, your state and your country: fast kicking = fast swimming.
  89. Find a coaching mentor and speak with them often. Challenge them to challenge you honestly and without compromise.
  90. Review your own coaching regularlyyou can always improve.
  91. Take holidays!
  92. If you have a family and or partner, love them, support them and include them in your life: there are far too many “swimming widows and widowers”.
  93. Be a student of swimming – learn from the best coaches in the sport and…..do it better.
  94. Know the benchmarks – know the local, state, national and international standards for all strokes, all ages and all distances: you can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.
  95. Build a team of experts and professionals around your team who you know, trust and who you can utilise to help your team when you need to.
  96. Enlist parents and others to raise money for the team: money does not mean medals but it helps with buying equipment, travelling to Meets, providing support services for swimmers etc.
  97. Talk to the Club committee about aligning the Club Racing program and Club Night Competition program with your coaching program: it just makes good sense.
  98. Be enthusiastic.
  99. Be passionate.
  100. Enjoy every moment on deck with your team: coaching is one of the most rewarding, exciting, challenging and fulfilling thing you will ever do.
  101. Life is short: coach often, love being a coach and coach at your best every day.

Wayne Goldsmith (with thanks to the many outstanding swimming coaches and swimmers I have known over the past 22 years).

© 2013, Wayne Goldsmith. All rights reserved.

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Comments

One Response to “101 Super Swimming Tips for Super Swimming Coaches: 101 Ways to Be the Coach You Want to Be and the Coach your Swimmers want to See.”

  1. Cheryl Goins on April 27th, 2013 3:04 am

    Mr. Goldsmith,
    Thank you so much for your blog. This is my first year as the president of the Elkins Otters Inc. in Elkins, WV. The team has been practicing/competing for 13 years. We have just become a parent run organization and are trying to get our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. I am looking for anyway I can help the swimmers and the parents who have volunteered to coach them. May I have a copy of your 101 Super Swimming Tips and any advice you have to share would be great. Thank you so much again for this blog.

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