Questions you always wanted to ask your coach but were afraid to ask.
By Wayne Goldsmith | In Swimmers
- Did you ever want to ask your coach a question but couldn’t find the right way of asking the question?
- Did you ever have something you wanted to say to your coach but couldn’t find the right moment?
- Did you ever want to sit down with your coach and discuss some stuff you have been wondering about but never had the chance?
Well – here’s your chance!
Questions you always wanted to ask your coach but were afraid to ask!
How good can I be? Do I have what it takes to be a great swimmer?
“How good you can be, has nothing to do with me. It’s up to you. I can write the workouts. I can help you improve your technique and skills. I can help you get faster, stronger, more flexible and more powerful…I can do all that stuff but in the end, greatness is a choice and success is a lifestyle. Your passion and your desire to succeed will determine how far you go in this sport. I will help you all I can, but in the end, it’s up to you”.
When should I specialise in the one event?
“There are rules about stroke specialisation – it’s not about age or sessions swum or how long your legs are….it’s about the three Ps:
- What stroke suits you physically?
- What stroke suits you psychologically?
- What stroke are you passionate about in swimming?
Or if you like, your “special” stroke is the one which best suits your body, mind and spirit. As you grow, mature and develop, it will become pretty obvious what stroke is “yours” – and if you work hard at it every day, there are no limits to what you can achieve.
Does it really matter what I eat? I’ve seen lots of kids eating junk food at Meets and they still swim really fast.
“Does it matter what fuel a formula one driver puts in his car? Does it matter what fuel the space shuttle uses to get into orbit? High performance engines need high performance fuel. Swimmers are high performance people and high performance athletes so yes…it does really matter what you eat”.
Why do I have to get up so early in the morning to train?
“A great question! There are three reasons:
- To prepare you for racing / meets: at most big meets you race heats in the morning and race finals in the afternoon / evening. So we train twice a day to prepare you to meet the demands of competition racing;
- To give you the maximum time between sessions to rest and recover. We believe that your body needs 8-10 hours between sessions to recover so we structure training to give you the best possible opportunity to be at your best at every workout;
- And the third reason is a selfish one….because there’s nothing more wonderful than working with a team of motivated, committed, dedicated, talented people first thing in the morning!!”
Why do I have to train so hard when my friends who play basketball and baseball seem to only train two or three times a week?
“Another great question. The main reason is that a key component of most land based sports is walking, jogging and running. These are all normal, natural movements for us humans. Jumping into a big body of water and swimming fast is not a normal or natural thing for us to do or else we’d all have fins, scales and a big flat tail! So we need to spend a lot of time in the water to learn how to move on it, under it, over it and through it. Imagine how much time a fish would have to spend learning to play football!
What else do I have to do (besides swimming) to be a great swimmer?
“Follow the great principle – gym work (dryland) – recovery – eat – attitude – train!
G = do your gym work and dryland training with the same passion and determination that you put into your pool work.
R = rest and recover after training, get plenty of sleep and help your body and mind regenerate after hard work.
E = eat quality, nutritious, high performance foods and plenty of fresh water, juices and healthy drinks.
A = attitude is everything! Attitude leads to consistency. Consistency gives you belief…and with belief, anything is possible.
T = train hard, consistently and to the best of your ability.
In other words to be great – be great!
Why do I have to swim with the older and faster kids sometimes? – I just want to swim with my friends!
“I hear ya! Swimming is as much about friendships as it is about freestyle so you have no argument with me. But, training is also about making the most of every lap and sometimes you have to train with older, more experienced and faster swimmers to help you improve and reach your goals. And right after training, you will have so much to talk about with your friends”.
Why do I feel so bad and so tired when we taper for a meet?
“Guess what??? It’s normal and almost every swimmer in the world feels yuck during taper time. In taper time your body adapts to the hard work you have been doing in training and it is this adaptation that takes some getting used to. Your blood, nerves, muscles, energy stores and many of your cells are all changing, growing, adapting and improving during taper time – no wonder you feel funny! Don’t worry. It doesn’t last and you will be feeling fast, fit and fantastic on meet day!”
I don’t want to stick around and do the team relays at the end of meets. Why do i have to do it?
“Believe it or not, swimming is a team event. Yep – that’s right: a team event. We are a group of people with two clear goals: to best the best we can be and to enjoy every moment of what we do. Think about what orchestras can achieve when they work together. Each musician is highly talented and works hard to be the best he / she can be. Each musician can make wonderful sounds and music with their own instruments but when all the members of the orchestra come together and play in harmony, the result is magic! By working together, encouraging each other, supporting each and creating “harmony” in our team, we can also make magic – fast swimming magic! Did you know that t.e.a.m – stands for together everyone achieves magnificence?”
Why is it so important that I get plenty of rest and sleep?
“When does a tree grow? When you are planting it? When you are watering it? Or when it is resting quietly in the sunshine, absorbing light and energy and taking in water and nutrients from the soil? Training stimulates your body to grow, change, develop and improve but most of these changes and improvements take place while you rest, recover and regenerate. So the message is train hard – rest “hard” – that is, spend as much time, effort and energy on your recovery program as you do on your training program
Why do you always go on and on about streamlining and working our turns?
“Swimming is so much more than butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. There is a fifth stroke – underwater technique and skills. You can be the fastest freestyle swimmer in the state, but never win a medal at championships because you have slow turns and sloppy under water work. So the reason i always go “on and on” is because streamlining, turns, starts, dives and underwater kicking are as important as any of the four competitive strokes. Imagine having a race car with a huge engine but it couldn’t turn, steer around corners or brake when it had to: you would never be able to drive it at full speed because of limitations in its handling and braking. Swimming is the same. You can do a lot of work improving your swimming speed, endurance and power but never realise your full potential unless you consistently work on improving and enhancing your skills”.
Why do I have practice other strokes? I only want to do backstroke.
“Several reasons. Firstly, swimming the same stroke all the time would get boring…for you and me! Second, developing skills in other strokes will often help your favourite stroke. Improving your fly can help your freestyle and backstroke underwater kick. Working on backstroke can enhance your catch and shoulder flexibility. Thirdly, it gives you options. Sometimes if you just focus on one stroke and it is not improving – what we call a performance plateau -, you can get bored, frustrated, angry and even despondent. By spending time working on skills, technique and performance in other strokes you will often find that your main stroke starts to improve as well.
Why do we do so much kicking practice? We don’t race kicking races!!
“Have a look at the great swimmers of the past 10 years; Thorpe, Coughlin, Piersol, Phelps…all great kickers. Kick is a critical part of swimming fast. Still not convinced??? Next time you train, cross your feet and swim the fastest 100 you can. Then do it again, working your legs fast and kicking with speed and power…..and feel the difference. In fact, one of the greatest swimmers of all time recently said about kick: “kicking is critical to success. I think of it like this. My arms take me out – (to half race distance) and my legs bring me back (the second half of the race). Without a strong kick to “bring me home” there would be no world records, no gold medals and no big race wins”
Why do I have to go to the gym?
“Athletes in all sports use the gym for several reasons. To get stronger, to improve flexibility, to enhance their power…there are as many reasons for going to the gym as there are stars in the sky.
However, we use the ability principle in our swim gym program:
- St-ability – we work on our abs, back muscles and core to create a strong, stable platform for swimming.
- Mob-ability – we focus on mobility so that we can get into important swimming positions for little effort.
- Flex-ability – we concentrate on flexibility so we can reduce the risk of unnecessary injury.
Swimming ability = st-ability plus mob-ability plus flex-ability!”
Thanks for your questions!
And one final thing….don’t ever be afraid to ask your coach anything. After all – your coach’s dream is the same as yours…to see you reach your potential and for you to enjoy every moment of your time in swimming!
© 2012, Swim Coaching Brain. All rights reserved. This post can not be reproduced in full or in part without the expressed consent of the author Wayne Goldsmith.
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July 29, 2012