View Full Version : What do you look for in a coach?

September 28th, 2014, 11:25 AM
What do you look for in a good USMS coach? What about him/her do you like that keeps you motivated to come back each time? Or is it more about the team aspect that keeps you coming back? Or what frustrates you about a coach that would want you to go to a different team? I'm really curious as to how diversified people are in what keeps them going back.

September 28th, 2014, 05:44 PM
Great question!

I've worked with various coaches, and the ones I've been happiest with are those who make time for the swimmers in the slower lanes as well as the faster ones. I've been to practices in which there's just about no attention paid to the "velocity challenged" among us (yours truly included).

Of course, I can understand why the faster swimmers would interest coaches more--been there as a teacher, and I have to remember that although it can be more of a challenge to help someone who's struggling with a subject, that person needs me as much as the faster learning classmate.

My first coach was incredibly enthusiastic and though he pushed all of us, whether in the slower or faster lanes, he offered a lot of encouragement. I learned a lot about technique, began bilateral breathing, was successfully persuaded to try an ocean mile, and looked forward to each practice. My current coach has a more quiet, low-key manner but he lets even those of us in the far-end lane know what he expects of us, gives us feedback, critiques, and encourages. He put together a schedule for me to complete a 5 mile swim this past summer--a challenging schedule, but one that accounted for where I was as a swimmer. I got so much out of training with him and his group--great bunch of people, variety of skills/speeds, from the very fast to people around my speed, so I wasn't by myself. Having a variety of skills in a group really helps, I find b/c when I've been in groups where everyone is a lot faster, I feel a bit lost. It's possible to appreciate such a group for other reasons, and no matter what group I'm in, I figure I get something if I give it my best shot. But I love when the coach reaches out to me and shows interest.

I can get something even out of practices in which the coach more or less ignores me--at a 2-hour practice I attended for a while, I liked having a very good pool for those 2 hours, and the chance to get in more distance with the longer time (of course, way less than the speedsters, but more than I might otherwise--and some of the other swimmers were helpful in giving advice/encouragement). As long as I adjusted my expectations--okay, I'm going to this practice b/c there will be more time and more distance, but the coach will be focusing on faster swimmers--I was okay with what I got. But when I need more feedback, I won't go to such practices.

And I prefer a more hands-on coach whenever possible--so if I have a choice between a nice facility with a disengaged coach and an okay but not great facility with a hands-on coach, I prefer the latter. Sometimes I get lucky and get both. Had wonderful long-course practices during the summer with the above mentioned low-key but very engaged guy.

Another coach I liked: a woman who unfortunately wasn't at my Y long enough (she moved on to another job): she was able to work with all skills and know who needed what kind of feedback. We were a pretty small group, maybe about 6-8 people of different ages and swimming backgrounds--but a loyal group with a lot of rapport with one another as well as with her.

Thanks for asking!

September 29th, 2014, 04:11 PM
The only missing link i see in the coaches I'm working with is that they don't really push masters swimmers to compete. Part of that is their focus is more on age group competition, and we live in an area somewhat isolated from other teams and masters swim meets. I can't recall the last time I did a relay because I never have teammates at competition.

September 30th, 2014, 11:44 AM
I love our Indy Aquatic Master's Coaches!! One thing I notice they ALWAYS do is manage to get around to every single swimmer at each practice and somehow acknowledge their presence. I know that doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it is. Everyone needs a bit of positive interaction each and every day and for some of us on some days this could be it.
Our coaches are also very good at offering up stroke tips, providing motivation during practices, and organize us into lanes where we can all co-exist successfully in workout.
This is just the tip of the iceberg w/our coaches but I'd say it's the little, human touches that make us happy and keep us coming back.

September 30th, 2014, 02:46 PM
Interesting thread. I just got back from a masters swim with a new coach. He let me swim in a lane by myself, and spent a good amount of time correcting my technique and encouraging me to relax. Swimming with other people makes me nervous, so he's fine with me swimming alone, but he encourage me to be part of the group when I'm ready. Fortunately, the pool is usually empty when they meet there. I only got about a third of the way through the assigned workout, because I'm slow and don't have that much aerobic capacity yet. I found him to be kind, patient, and motivating.

I think he is an example of very good coach. The Masters wants to encourage adults to swim, so you need coaches who understand what it's like for someone who's learning in middle or senior age, and may come with baggage.

Interestingly, when I was teaching, I always found it more rewarding to work with the folks who had the least experience or aptitude. Because I figured they needed me most.

September 30th, 2014, 03:28 PM
Feedback :agree: