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View Full Version : Drills vs Endurance sets - Age Group Training



diamondking
May 27th, 2008, 09:53 PM
I am interested in hearing everyone's thoughts about how much practice time should be spent doing drills vs sets. This is in regards to age group training...with specific interest in the 10 and under and 11-12 age groups.

My kids swim in a local club and the majority of the practice time is spent doing set after set. All the coaches do is throw the kids in the pool and tell them to swim laps. There is virtually no time dedicated to drills. I am very disappointed in the fact that my kids have developed bad stroke technique that is not being corrected in practice. As a result, their times are going up and they are becoming disenchanted with their experience.

I am currently a member of the board and would like to address these issues with the rest of the board and the coaches. However, I need information to help me with my stance.

What is everyone's experience with drills vs endurance training?

Thank you.

That Guy
May 27th, 2008, 10:27 PM
Getting the kids doing drills is a good step only if they're doing good drills, and if they know what the drills are supposed to be accomplishing. I remember plenty of coaches who would assign drills without having the foggiest idea why. As a kid I would abuse some coaches by simply asking them what aspect of my stroke I should focus on while performing the drill that they just assigned. I could practically read their minds - "I have no idea, but I can't admit that, so I'll just say something really vague."

Bottom line: are the coaches there to help the kids improve, or to be babysitters?

diamondking
May 27th, 2008, 10:42 PM
My kids remember drills they used to do at their previous club and WHY they did the drills. They knew what part of the stroke it worked on and then the coach would incorporate the drill into their next endurance set.

However, this coaching staff seem to fit into your latter category...babysitters. Heck of a lot of money to spend on babysitters.

That Guy
May 27th, 2008, 11:00 PM
Their previous club experience sounds really good.

Thinking more about this, I remember plenty of sets that were pure filler. I arrived early to a Masters meet a couple years ago; the preceding kids practice hadn't ended yet. I heard the coach assign the kids some reverse IM's. I started chuckling because it's been so long since I've done reverse IM's that I'd forgotten about them, and for the life of me I still don't know what they accomplish. (It's exercise, there must be some benefit, but what is it?) Now that I train alone, I don't do anything without knowing why I'm doing it.

anita
May 28th, 2008, 12:05 AM
[quote=diamondking;135012]What is everyone's experience with drills vs endurance training?
quote]

Agreeing with That Guy...there needs to be a purpose to what each aspect of the workout is for. If the coach can't verbalize what HIS goals are for the team and how he will be attaining those goals, he needs to rethink what he's doing, or you need a new coach.
When I swam there were many times when the sprinters would do different drills/sets than us distance swimmers. And of course the strokes would be split up as well. Our coach actually Coached us, talking with us about our strokes, effort, etc. That's the only way one can improve--with input.
Unfortunately back then there was also an emphasis on "garbage yardage", which I understand now is a thing of the past. Still, I think I recieved an excellent swimming experience. In my experience my coach (a gold medalist Olympian) really could coach and communicate with his swimmers.

gobears
May 28th, 2008, 08:07 AM
It depends a lot on the level of swimmer as well. I am currently coaching our summer league team and working with the less experienced kids (7-12). I find myself doing drills with the kids most of each practice. I have always been a firm believer in explaining why we are doing what we're doing. Some of the kids listen and care, some are just there to play.

It's interesting that there are parents out there who are concerned that their kids aren't swimming more. I could just assign them sets and watch the occasional dog-paddle, breathing with the head up, breaststroke kicking on freestyle, etc. They'd get some aerobic work, I guess, but I'd be encouraging their poor technique. It's a difficult balance.

The most amusing thing to me right now is the number of parents who are obsessed with their kids' starts. We do some work on dives and starts but, really, when you aren't swimming the 25 correctly or legally yet, the start isn't the priority...

hofffam
May 28th, 2008, 11:43 AM
I think FAR too many age group coaches are barely competent. There is no good reason for all but the most skilled 10-12 yr olds to pound yardage. Lots of things wrong with that:

1. it is boring. Young kids generally find little to like about long sets.
2. long sets of the wrong technique simply reinforces bad habits
3. coaches that don't explain the drills they do are: lazy, don't know themselves why, are repeating what they learned to do as kids, or don't care

Bored kids will leave the sport.

I still remember my kids swimming 75x100 LC once - the coach left the deck for an hour. We left that team before long.

smontanaro
May 28th, 2008, 11:54 AM
I think FAR too many age group coaches are barely competent.

Note that this statement probably applies to all kids sports, not just swimming and isn't just about overuse injuries. My wife was a PE major and played softball and volleyball in college then coached volleyball at the high school level later. She still rolls her eyes when she sees some dad coaching pee wee soccer where he has 10 kids on the field and 8 of them are standing in line while two are doing some drill and several soccer balls are sitting around gathering moss as well.

Skip

quicksilver
May 28th, 2008, 01:05 PM
I am interested in hearing everyone's thoughts about how much practice time should be spent doing drills vs sets. This is in regards to age group training...with specific interest in the 10 and under and 11-12 age groups.

My kids swim in a local club and the majority of the practice time is spent doing set after set. All the coaches do is throw the kids in the pool and tell them to swim laps. There is virtually no time dedicated to drills. I am very disappointed in the fact that my kids have developed bad stroke technique that is not being corrected in practice. As a result, their times are going up and they are becoming disenchanted with their experience.

I am currently a member of the board and would like to address these issues with the rest of the board and the coaches. However, I need information to help me with my stance.

What is everyone's experience with drills vs endurance training?

Thank you.

As a USA coach (volunteer parent) I see the same thing. Our two full time coaches with very little swimming experience want them to grind out the yards. Wrong in my opinion. Some folks bring a runners mindset to the pool. The more you do the better you get. Not true in our sport.


I'd rather see a young swimmer fine tune their technique before they start piling up the distance.
In a few instances...I've worked with kids in an empty lane...and corrected head position, stroke length, and streamlining. They went from the B cuts to the A level in as little as a couple of week.

Repetition of bad form will manifest itself when it comes time to race.
Whatever they do poorly in practice will rear it's ugly head when they try to go fast.

diamondking
May 31st, 2008, 12:06 AM
Thank you so much for all your replies. I'm no expert when it comes to swimming, but I can certainly tell when a stroke is being done incorrectly...and the impact the flaw will have on swim times.

I can see I'm not alone in my stance on technique over endurance at the younger age groups.

Thanks again.

swimshark
May 31st, 2008, 06:57 AM
I practice with an age group team. I'm with the Senior kids which means 11-18 year olds. Our coach is huge on drills. About once every other week he will take a stroke and break it down to it's basic and then rebuild it (every Sat practice is all out yardage, though). There are times when I don't know why and I'll ask what I'm supposed to gain from the drill and he's good and telling me. This is a coach who is not high in ASCA level but knows what he's talking about. Maybe your team could invest in a swimming drill book and tell the coaches to read it and start working on it more.

When we do drills, I get frustrated since I like yardage but my times are way down this year so I see the benefit of it every meet. Good luck. I hope the coaches listen and start working on technique more.

Allen Stark
May 31st, 2008, 01:30 PM
In a recent issue of Swimming World,they were talking to the head coach of a really big successful team(Nova,I think).He was talking about training 10 and unders and said a Mom came up after workout and said "they only did 1000" and he said"but it was a good 1000".The next day she complained about the lack of distance and the coach said"would you rather they learned it right or got lots of practice doing it wrong."

swimshark
June 1st, 2008, 06:30 AM
Sadly, Allen, I've said the same thing to my coach and then he reminds me that yardage isn't everything. It's the quality. And he reminds me that my times are going down. It's hard to argue with him when he mentions that but I'm also doing Go the Distance so the "yardage" person in side me wants more all the time.