View Full Version : Types of coaches and teams

Dennis Tesch
July 22nd, 2005, 04:17 PM
Masters swimming is very unique in that there are teams that have full time coaches, parttime coaches, volunteer coaches, mulitple coaches, one head coach, and no coach at all. I am wondering for teams that are large (75 members or more) what is your coaching situation? What seems to work best for your team if you have had different coaching dynamics. Since I come from masters clubs where we have multiply coaches, I feel we don't get well planned workouts and there is alway bad communication to the team. I wondering if having a head coach who coaches a great majority of the workouts, if that would be a better situation.

I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this.


Graham Short
September 22nd, 2005, 02:53 PM
Hi Dennis,

I sympathise with you! This is a real problem for some masters clubs. I've found that the most successful clubs - masters and age group - are those that are headed by a dynamic and strong head coach. Forget the well-meaning helpers, swimmers need a good coach. A helper won't have the passion that a good coach will have. You can be sure that the top coach will eat, sleep and breathe swimming.

The whole progression for successful clubs is accumulative, in as much as when a club finds a good coach (If they are wise) they hang on to him/her. That coach, then, in turn, attracts more swimmers, develops his own, and promotes his club to the benefit of all. The club then becomes stronger and stronger. If you see a top club suddenly go down hill you can be sure that the head coach has left!

At the end of the day the head coach is always answerable to the committee - but he will have full control while on deck at swim team practices. The head coach would be solely responsible for setting up the annual training programme and would maintain a 100 per cent attendance record at both training sessions and competitions. 'Helpers' wouldn't be this committed to the cause.

I would advise you look for a coach who provides on-deck instruction, individually and as a group, and runs the flexibility sessions himself prior to swim sessions. Also, you will notice that a good coach will speak to every swimmer individually during the training session. Nobody should be overlooked. Masters are just like age groupers - they thrive on attention and encouragement.

You should consider it paramount that the head coach promotes team participation, and also liaises with the local press in order to promote the club favourably within the local community.

Also... I believe the head coach’s job is to encourage, inform, teach, correct, supervise, be patient, and display a sense of humour. These are the attributes to look for. Also he should have the ability to entertain. We've all seen clubs with a coach standing at the end of the pool who resembles a statue! He wouldn't recognise charisma even if he could spell it.

Over the years I have been fortunate to work with many talented coaches. I've also seen 'prominent coaches' who are less use to a swim programme than floating cabbages! A good head coach will understand swimmers and their needs, and have the ability to make every session enjoyable. He will be aware that the swimmer does not have to attend training - that he/she has a choice.

Good luck Dennis in finding a club with a good coach. They are out there (clubs and coaches).


jim clemmons
September 22nd, 2005, 07:20 PM

Our program has ~265 members, 7 days-a-week water with 24 coached workouts per week. We swim in a local college pool, Mills College, Oakland which is approximately 7(?) years old. 10 lanes (7.5 foot wide) x 25 yard with 4 - 20 yard lanes stuck to one end.

We have 1 head coach and 7 assistant coaches.

Communication is done not only through the coaches but by way of newsletter and email which helps keep the info flowing well.

Consistency of workouts is not an issue in my opinion.


If you're in the area, you should stop by for a swim. My treat.