Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm Not Your Friend, I'm Your Swim Coach

The old model wasn't working. I was trying to be everybody's buddy and make sure they showed up for class by being nice. The good thing about this model is that I didn't scare many people away and the dropout rate was not bad - I still have about 10 people per class at the end of the session. The weaker swimmers now have good endurance. But the bad thing about this model is I have not enforced proper technique enough and they have developed bad habits.

I've had nice guy swim coaches and tough guy swim coaches and I have to admit the tough guy coach works for me. Craig McCord is a good example of the tough guy. He used to yell at the kids. I wonder if he yells at the paralympic athletes? Probably.
Anyway the problem with being tough guy is that some people will drop out, however those that continue will really benefit. I think a tough guy coach screaming "raise your elbows!" will prompt me better than the hippy touchy feely nice guy coach suggestion that "you might find that raising your elbows would make your entry more efficient". My touchy feely crap just isn't working with my weak swimmers.

This week I started being tough guy coach (complete with yelling) to shake things up and get them to drop the bad habits.
Improper kicking is the worst problem. I haven't given them enough kicking drills and most of them really need it! Monday I got them to do Titanic Kick.

This is an advanced exercise and takes a high level of effort to maintain the proper position. Without strong effort, swimmers sink, like the Titanic. There's no slow or easy way to do this drill. The purpose of this drill is to gain an understanding of the amount of effort it takes to lift any part of the body out of the water while trying to maintain blance and propulsion. Also, it's a strenuous workout.

Flutter-kick on the back with your arms together a streamlined position and pointing directly toward the sky or ceiling. Arms should be perfectly straight (no bent elbows).

I thought I would have to jump in to rescue R. He had closed his eyes and was slowly sinking to the bottom of the pool while kicking. He was probably thinking "everything is fine, I'm probably supposed to be under water".
But once the swimmers got the idea that they had to kick really hard to be able to breathe they did it. So much of it is just mental.

Today we worked on more kicking drills and I gave them 800metres of kicking homework.

As a tough guy coach I hear a lot of "my legs are burning" comments but at the end of practice I hear "thanks for a great workout".

By the way, I know a few of you swimmers have found my blog. If you have time to read my blog you have time to make it to swim practice. We still have a few sessions left. Did I mention I'm also giving out Candy if you show up? And get this - no more butterfly - we're mostly working on proper freestyle technique.