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CoachML
February 11th, 2009, 10:35 AM
I was just put in charge of the rowdiest group of boys I have ever seen. They were so bad I barely got them to do 300 yards in the first practice. I wasn't even able to get their names or any times.

They're middle school level, and while I'd love to keep them, I'm not going to put up with 40 boys who are like that. I want to cut that number to about 30.

I could do a 50 and cut by time, but I was thinking of having them swim a 500, and anyone who touched the floor, stopped to talk, or doesn't finish would be out, especially during the first part of the drill. Do you think that is fair?

knelson
February 11th, 2009, 10:43 AM
I was thinking of having them swim a 500, and anyone who touched the floor, stopped to talk, or doesn't finish would be out, especially during the first part of the drill. Do you think that is fair?

Sounds fair to me! You might want to relax the needing to finish requirement. You might have some very inexperienced swimmers who can't complete a 500 right now. I'd say as long as they make their best effort that should be good enough--assuming you have space for them.

ViveBene
February 11th, 2009, 11:02 AM
(I deleted my uninformed comments, but leave this thought: "Out of the crooked timber such as man is made of, no straight thing was ever crafted." -- Kant.)

:)

Good luck!


I was just put in charge of the rowdiest group of boys I have ever seen. They were so bad I barely got them to do 300 yards in the first practice. I wasn't even able to get their names or any times.

They're middle school level, and while I'd love to keep them, I'm not going to put up with 40 boys who are like that. I want to cut that number to about 30.

I could do a 50 and cut by time, but I was thinking of having them swim a 500, and anyone who touched the floor, stopped to talk, or doesn't finish would be out, especially during the first part of the drill. Do you think that is fair?

Redbird Alum
February 11th, 2009, 11:13 AM
Not sure what kind of organization you are with... some do not like "cutting" based on a fixed performance.

When I inherited a mixed group of boys and girls ranging from 8-12 years of age, I simply started focussing on the kids that did the work and reprimanding the ones that goofed off or distracted the group, to the point that I would ask kids to get out of the lane unless they were going to swim.

Surprisingly, several weeded themselves out, and a few actually started to do the work. I wasn't in a position to "cut" them.

aquageek
February 11th, 2009, 11:31 AM
Not sure what kind of organization you are with... some do not like "cutting" based on a fixed performance.

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. There are probably a few diamonds in the rough that aren't proficient yet but have superb potential.

My suggestion is a week of practices, where you state up front the behavior expectation, provide moderate intensity workouts and create workouts based on ability. Tell the kids their attendance is mandatory and so are the workouts. If they don't attend or screw around, they are gone. I'd also say anyone who does the workouts and is appropriately well behaved after a week deserves to stay.

Oh, and give the ringleaders the hardest set you can imagine. They are screwing around for one of two reasons. Either they are a swimming stud and think you aren't pushing them or they stink at swimming and are covering their lack of talent with bad behavior. Either way, you'll find out.

ande
February 11th, 2009, 12:24 PM
Coach, You're Not Asking the Right Question.
Here's what you need to do.

keep them busy, stay on them

have them do sprints & make them tired. It's hard to horseplay when they are gasping for breath.

Walk up and down on the side of the pool with them
watch them
encourage them
praise the positive.

start them, tell them when to go, call out send offs
challenge them,
demand excellence
get them to do things they don't think they can do

If they are horseplaying or wrestling say
"Hug him if you love him."
they'll quickly let go of each other

Ask them to count their strokes

have them do relays
do no breather 25's
do fast stuff for time
work on outstanding pushoffs
work on Streamline Dolphin Kicking

don't cut anyone, make it so hard that some quit.
It's an honor to be on the swim team and to be coached by you.

Have them get out of the pool and do push ups, sit ups, & push outs.

come in with the attitude, they are going to listen to me, they will respect me and do what I say.
Treat them with respect

If they are talking too loud, don't quiet them by yelling.
Have a signal for silence, Boy Scouts use the scout sign.
Maybe you can do the dolphin sign, hold your hands in a certain way,
Tell them that when they see you doing this
they have to hold their hands the same way and be quiet
then begin when everyone is silent

Ask them about their goals

When I show up to coach my goal is to make the kids as great as they can be.

Let them have some fun, take 5 minutes at the end of practice to
play whale attack, sharks and minnows, or marco polo

Don't be predictable, keep them engaged

have them sign a contract like coach carter

create a team website like: http://www.whs-warriorsswimming.org/about.shtml

Create a team handbook and have all parents and kids read it and sign it:
like the Westwood High School Swimming Team (http://www.whs-warriorsswimming.org/pdfs/team_HB_2008_09.pdf)

Put the rules in writing and enforce them.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
February 11th, 2009, 12:38 PM
when I show up to coach my goal is to make the kids as great as they can be

ALOT OF WAYS TO BRING ON THE BEST -

I fought the urge to write on this thread because I knew Ande would see it before long and give a great response!

I think I'll cut his advice out and send it to ASCA - it should go out to all coaches...

Its' definitely going up on my bulletin.
Advice applies as well to masters swimmers as it does to teenage bad boyz!

Thanks Ande.

CreamPuff
February 11th, 2009, 02:22 PM
I personally was not into "cutting" when I coached and at some times I had over 100 swimmers (not in one session) and their parents to deal with. I felt it was my responsibility to get the kids excited about swimming. Plus, with the obesity epidemic here in the States I really hated to turn anyone down.

Some specifics that worked for me -

I held team meetings on the first week. I made it VERY clear as to what my expectations were of the kids (I had ages 6 to 18) - both in and out of the water. I usually had 3 to 5 rules (they will forget any more than that) that HAD to be followed. Although the rules may seems silly (like NO talking while I was talking; raise your hand if you have a question; respect your teammates and NO horseplay; etc.), they WORKED. BTW, I made sure the parents knew these rules as well via communication to them in person or via email/ flyers. As the season progressed and the group gelled, the environment would be a bit more relaxed rather than military based.

Punishments would be physical in nature and would include push ups, sit ups, duck walks, press outs, pull ups, and even water based sets. Punishements could be individual or group based. RARELY would anyone be thrown out of practice. As the kids found that they had a lot of fun at practice, they wanted to attend and stay the duration. I noticed as the season progressed, fewer and fewer *punishments* would be doled out. I could be a bit *boot-campish* with the older boys and would literally get in their face while I did the push up punishment with them and they struggled to complete it. They learned quickly to follow directions. Who wants to be shown up by an old woman?

On being able to demand respect, I would get in and race the kids at the end of practice or on special days. They were sort of like USMS "gridges" come to life. I would also do demonstrations. Not sure if that's an option for you. . . but it really works.

I made most everything a game while incorporating physical challenges with skills. Kids love to play so I made sure to have plenty of silly stuff in with the real stuff. I'd have them do a lap of their worst free followed by 2 laps of their best freestyle stroke and so on. Kids love fins so we did some fin work (SDK and no breathers.) There were lots of relay races and team based competitions each practice. Gosh darn it if my 10&Us couldn't SDK better than me at season end!

And, depending on how motivated the group was (and my groups REALLY varied in motivation and skill), I spelled out to them their goals/ skills that they would be expected to acquire by season end. I had a huge board with the swimmers' names and the skills to be learned and I charted their progress. Everyone REALLY got into it. Was really cool to see the 8&Us to older kids learn how to do the 4 strokes legally along with racing starts and SDK no breathers. Skills included not only water based skills but flexibility and dry land goals.

Not sure if you're into this but I was accessible via email and phone to my swimmers and their parents. I created a group/ team web site which recognized accomplishments and communicated administrative issues. Good communication got every more excited about swimming. I had NO qualms picking up the phone and calling a parent if there were issues. I found parents to be VERY receptive.

I planned out my practices so that there was ZERO spare time for anyone to play around. However, I would be able to alter the workouts depending on who showed up, what kind of day people were having and so on (that's where the experience in swimming comes in.)

Run a tight ship and they will respond.
I'm off to my tightly run ship headed up by Coach Landon "Laying Down the Hammer" Harris. Avg age of swimmers are 14 to 18. And then me. LOVE my swimming boot camp practices. :)

Hope this helps someone out there.

ande
February 11th, 2009, 02:37 PM
thanks Ahelee, I edited it and added more

excellent answer cream puff,
I suggest you change your name
from Cream Puff
to Hard A$$

FlyQueen
February 11th, 2009, 03:17 PM
As a teacher I would suggest first pointing out those that are doing a good job and working in some type of reward - going off of diving boards, relays, etc.

My principal is fond of saying we need to look in the mirror not out the window - figure out what you could be doing better first. I coached a good sized group of country club kids this summer. Age ranged from 5-12. All in the pool at the same time. I had them moving constantly.

You also need to make them aware of your expectations AND aware that there will be consequences if they don't follow the rules. Then follow through with the consequences. Swimming fly non-stop in a lane, push-ups, or anything on "dryland" that is not fun and seperates them from the mob mentality.

WHEN they do start following directions and doing a nice job reward them with sharks and minnows or something similar. Let them beat each other up in a supervised mannor. Start practice with all out sprints to wear them out and settle them down.

CoachML
February 11th, 2009, 07:23 PM
It's a middle school team. I can cut for safety reasons. It's far better to cut them early to sort of set the tone rather than try and wait - then they feel they can get away with more. I've also only got four days before the first meet.

The teachers were talking, and apparently 20 out of the 40 are some of the worst kids in school. I haven't check yet, but there are certainly some who don't fit the GPA requirements.

It's going to be hard. I did try to wear the kids out to pull down their talking. The problem is, with 25 yard sprints, if you have to send 8 groups there is no way they are getting tired because they have forever to rest.

The problem I have is not so much treating them nice, it's that when I do they talk. They talk so much that I can't instruct. I pretty much have to yell in order for the other side to hear, or I have to ask them to be quiet.

I've tried signs to make them be quiet. I did the sit and stare, clap and I tried to convince them that if they could get into perfect lines and be quiet it would scare other teams. I even tried my best technique to keep them quiet: I have them lay down on their stomach until everyone is quiet, and once they are we do push ups. The whole time I tell them they are not getting up until we're done with our push ups. They talked for a good while, and the push ups didn't persuade them to be quiet. I also singled a couple out who were screwing around and made them do push ups. That helped, but it didn't keep them from it. I made sure they never sat down. Kept them moving the entire time, but I still didn't get very good results. I think I simply need to cut some people. At least a few. I'd be fine with a team of 20.

And again, I would love to keep them all, just not all at once. I can see many of them do want to swim, but many of them think it is a joke. In the right atmosphere they could probably become great swimmers, and I see that potential, but I have to be able to control them in order to teach them. I'm also scared that some kids may bring down the entire team by acting a certain way.

I also didn't have practice today because they had a half day - which meant I wasn't allowed. So no news on how it goes until tomorrow.


TL;DR: teams far too big to teach. Can't set a positive mood and stay on task with out breaking some eggs. Going to have them swim non-stop tomorrow and kick any of the talkers who obviously aren't focused enough.

CoachML
February 11th, 2009, 07:51 PM
I personally was not into "cutting" when I coached and at some times I had over 100 swimmers (not in one session) and their parents to deal with. I felt it was my responsibility to get the kids excited about swimming. Plus, with the obesity epidemic here in the States I really hated to turn anyone down. I can see potential in some of the talkers too, and usually those who talk are also the ones who want the most attention, which means they want to succeed deep down, too. I hate to make the cuts, but I can't have practices like I just had.



I held team meetings on the first week. I made it VERY clear as to what my expectations were of the kids (I had ages 6 to 18) - both in and out of the water. I usually had 3 to 5 rules (they will forget any more than that) that HAD to be followed. Although the rules may seems silly (like NO talking while I was talking; raise your hand if you have a question; respect your teammates and NO horseplay; etc.), they WORKED. BTW, I made sure the parents knew these rules as well via communication to them in person or via email/ flyers. As the season progressed and the group gelled, the environment would be a bit more relaxed rather than military based.Well I had three rules:
-be on time
-be respectful: I told them our goal is to gain respect and the quickest way to lose respect is to be disrespectful - to coaches, to team mates, to other teams
-always work hard: or you will be setting a bad example for your team mates. I even tell kids that some times, instead of simply yelling at them, especially the supposed ring leaders


Punishments would be physical in nature and would include push ups, sit ups, duck walks, press outs, pull ups, and even water based sets. Punishements could be individual or group based. RARELY would anyone be thrown out of practice. As the kids found that they had a lot of fun at practice, they wanted to attend and stay the duration. I noticed as the season progressed, fewer and fewer *punishments* would be doled out. I could be a bit *boot-campish* with the older boys and would literally get in their face while I did the push up punishment with them and they struggled to complete it. They learned quickly to follow directions. Who wants to be shown up by an old woman?I had some do push ups.

I could do them with them, but I doubt that it would be nearly as effective since I'm a 20 year old guy, but I'll try it. I could always do my one handers and shoot for a role model, but that's not exactly what I want to become.


On being able to demand respect, I would get in and race the kids at the end of practice or on special days. They were sort of like USMS "gridges" come to life. I would also do demonstrations. Not sure if that's an option for you. . . but it really works.I could do this. I find it harder to keep control while I'm in the water though.


I made most everything a game while incorporating physical challenges with skills. Kids love to play so I made sure to have plenty of silly stuff in with the real stuff. I'd have them do a lap of their worst free followed by 2 laps of their best freestyle stroke and so on. Kids love fins so we did some fin work (SDK and no breathers.) There were lots of relay races and team based competitions each practice. Gosh darn it if my 10&Us couldn't SDK better than me at season end!This is something I don't do, and on a team team I think that would really be-little some of the athletes because that would make it easy for the better ones.


And, depending on how motivated the group was (and my groups REALLY varied in motivation and skill), I spelled out to them their goals/ skills that they would be expected to acquire by season end. I had a huge board with the swimmers' names and the skills to be learned and I charted their progress. Everyone REALLY got into it. Was really cool to see the 8&Us to older kids learn how to do the 4 strokes legally along with racing starts and SDK no breathers. Skills included not only water based skills but flexibility and dry land goals.With the girls team I had a Star Board. They got a star every time they broke their personal best time. However, I doubt the guys will like that as much. I was thinking of something like a best times board. Some sort of public display of the times of the best six swimmers in each event. That way if ever I had someone who wanted to compete for a position, they could try to beat that time. This works because it doesn't humiliate anyone and gives praise to the best, and allows other to covet the best.

I could use more ideas if you have them.


Not sure if you're into this but I was accessible via email and phone to my swimmers and their parents. I created a group/ team web site which recognized accomplishments and communicated administrative issues. Good communication got every more excited about swimming. I had NO qualms picking up the phone and calling a parent if there were issues. I found parents to be VERY receptive.I will be calling parents after every "strike" the kids get. Anything that's outrageous, I can send them home and give them a strike and call home. In the past I called home after the second strike, and what I realized was that the parents didn't realize how serious it was. So I'm going to try and be more harsh with it, and I'm going to try and call home more often.


I planned out my practices so that there was ZERO spare time for anyone to play around. However, I would be able to alter the workouts depending on who showed up, what kind of day people were having and so on (that's where the experience in swimming comes in.)Well yesterday was the first practice. Once I get them into lanes what I like to do is send them on sets that end on different times. That way they don't get the chance to talk to the person in their lane.


Run a tight ship and they will respond.
I'm off to my tightly run ship headed up by Coach Landon "Laying Down the Hammer" Harris. Avg age of swimmers are 14 to 18. And then me. LOVE my swimming boot camp practices. :)
I hope so. Thanks. I really didn't know what to expect yesterday, so I was a little unprepared. I'll get some order into it.

thewookiee
February 11th, 2009, 08:20 PM
I had some do push ups.

I could do them with them, but I doubt that it would be nearly as effective since I'm a 20 year old guy, but I'll try it. I could always do my one handers and shoot for a role model, but that's not exactly what I want to become.
.

Maybe there is come clarification needed but as a coach, why wouldn't you want to be a role model? Maybe I am reading this wrong but as a role model, you have the opportunity to help shape these boys. Will it be easy? Heck no...being a role model isn't supposed to be easy.

CoachML
February 12th, 2009, 12:09 AM
Maybe there is come clarification needed but as a coach, why wouldn't you want to be a role model? Maybe I am reading this wrong but as a role model, you have the opportunity to help shape these boys. Will it be easy? Heck no...being a role model isn't supposed to be easy.I want to be more of a parent figure or teacher. Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe we view this differently.

To me a role model is more of a mystical figure that is an example of what a person can become if they work really hard at it - someone like Michael Phelps.

A parent would be more of a real person who adds structure and provides the disciplines and help to attain that level.

When I was swimming I never really wanted to be a coach. I trusted and respected my coach, but that's more of a student/teacher relationship.

thewookiee
February 12th, 2009, 08:05 AM
.

To me a role model is more of a mystical figure that is an example of what a person can become if they work really hard at it - someone like Michael Phelps.

.

A role model is much more than a mystical figure. A role model is someone that sets an example of how to behave, how to work hard and esp. how to treat people.
You can be a teacher/coach, as well as a role model. My coaches weren't just coaches...they have been role models. They worked hard to come up with the best possible plans to help us succed, how to be a positive person, how to work with others, etc.
You can be a teacher but also a role model. Yes, parent's should be kid's role models, but that isn't always the case. You have the opporunity hear to do all three in one.

aquageek
February 12th, 2009, 08:47 AM
To me a role model is more of a mystical figure that is an example of what a person can become if they work really hard at it - someone like Michael Phelps.

Mystical, huh?

That's the problem, people use mystical people as their role models, someone like Michael Phelps. Role models should be tangible and present, not mysterious and aloof.

thewookiee
February 12th, 2009, 08:58 AM
Mystical, huh?

That's the problem, people use mystical people as their role models, someone like Michael Phelps. Role models should be tangible and present, not mysterious and aloof.

Geek...this is why you are my role model

qbrain
February 12th, 2009, 09:15 AM
I could use more ideas if you have them.


How about a time dropped board by event. This is where your slowest kids, aka the kids with the most potential, will be able to do the best.

Your fastest kids are always going to be able to step up in any event and take the best time until your team matures. If you see this happening, your best times board might become the discouraging board.

Dropped time by swimmer would be good if the swimmer picked the event they wanted to improve the most during the season. Not sure if your team would be ready to buy into this, but this would hit all the swimmers, instead of just the high end or the low end.

Short term, you could do pick the race. You pick six kids, have them step up and do a 50, the winner picks the next six swimmers and what they will swim. The key being, the race is mixed, the worst kids swimming free against the best kids off strokes, giving everyone a chance to win. You have a time constraint, so maybe you have the heats preset, and the winner of the first heat picks the stroke for one of the kids in the next heat, and the rest are planned ahead of time.

CoachML
February 12th, 2009, 09:40 PM
How about a time dropped board by event. This is where your slowest kids, aka the kids with the most potential, will be able to do the best.

Your fastest kids are always going to be able to step up in any event and take the best time until your team matures. If you see this happening, your best times board might become the discouraging board.

Dropped time by swimmer would be good if the swimmer picked the event they wanted to improve the most during the season. Not sure if your team would be ready to buy into this, but this would hit all the swimmers, instead of just the high end or the low end.I like that. It fits the theme, too. I want them to know their times and know what improvement is for them. This will be perfect, and it will be like a badge of honor for the lower swimmers, and anyone who works hard.


Short term, you could do pick the race. You pick six kids, have them step up and do a 50, the winner picks the next six swimmers and what they will swim. The key being, the race is mixed, the worst kids swimming free against the best kids off strokes, giving everyone a chance to win. You have a time constraint, so maybe you have the heats preset, and the winner of the first heat picks the stroke for one of the kids in the next heat, and the rest are planned ahead of time.This sounds fun, I don't think I could do it though. The team is very immature. I swear, this has to be the worst age group and the worst area to pick people to be on a swim team. xD

They all know each other, so you lose the timidness most people experience when being on a big team. For example, when I joined a USS team, everyone already knew the program, and I pretty much had to learn how to conform. But getting all the boys like this is like trying to take a (forty) slob(s) and teaching him (them) table manners. I expect them to conform to all my rules, and they've never experienced it before.

CoachML
February 12th, 2009, 09:47 PM
As far as the actual cuts go, I told them "get in the water and don't stop swimming till I say you can stop. These are your cuts. I will keep the hardest workers."

I cut three kids out of 36. Each one had been screwing around. I was sure to keep it respectful and privet. Each was mildly surprised, one cried, but it wasn't because I was unfair, it was because he wanted a second chance - which is ridiculous I told him personally that I was watching him and exactly what type of behavior he should have.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to cut 5 others for grades, and 5 more don't have physicals. They can swim if they get them, but usually that doesn't happen.

I did get some really bad times (like a 1:17 fifty free), and according to some of the teachers I still have some real assholes on the team. I don't see it, but I'll be sure to get rid of it quickly, if I need to. So now my team of 40 should be closer to a team of 25.

CoachML
February 12th, 2009, 10:01 PM
A role model is much more than a mystical figure. A role model is someone that sets an example of how to behave, how to work hard and esp. how to treat people.
You can be a teacher/coach, as well as a role model. My coaches weren't just coaches...they have been role models. They worked hard to come up with the best possible plans to help us succed, how to be a positive person, how to work with others, etc.
You can be a teacher but also a role model. Yes, parent's should be kid's role models, but that isn't always the case. You have the opporunity hear to do all three in one.Well we just disagree. I think the major difference between a parent and a role model is that a parent is expected to love their children unconditionally, and in that respect, a coach is different from a parent. Coaches don't have to love you at all, and pretty much all the love they have to give is tough love. I do shower them with as much positive attention when they do something right so that they know to do it again, but I also make nothing easy for them.

We're all expected to guide these kids into the people they will become, and I'm certainly pleased to have that opportunity, but I simply feel a role model is different and inspires kids differently than a parent, teacher or coach.

thewookiee
February 13th, 2009, 06:47 AM
Well we just disagree. I think the major difference between a parent and a role model is that a parent is expected to love their children unconditionally, and in that respect, a coach is different from a parent. Coaches don't have to love you at all, and pretty much all the love they have to give is tough love. I do shower them with as much positive attention when they do something right so that they know to do it again, but I also make nothing easy for them.

We're all expected to guide these kids into the people they will become, and I'm certainly pleased to have that opportunity, but I simply feel a role model is different and inspires kids differently than a parent, teacher or coach.

You are right...we do disagree. I am so glad my coaches had a different attitude about how a coach is supposed to coach, lead, set-examples, teach life lessons, be a positive influence, discipline, etc....all the things a role model can do.

gobears
February 13th, 2009, 08:09 AM
I think respect is a key here. And it needs to be earned. Kids won't respect you if they think you are just trying to control them and don't really care about them. I've found that treating kids with respect and practicing what I preach has gone a long way. I LOVE your post, Cream Puff. One of the best I've ever read.

luchsn
February 13th, 2009, 07:07 PM
I have the same kind of situation in my swim team. My coach puts them each individually in lanes with the guys and girls they don't like and can't mess around with. And if any of them touch the bottom during practice, the have to swim a timed 200 fly.

Make sure the consequent is something they won't like!