View Full Version : New Coach Looking For Ideas

October 5th, 2002, 12:13 AM
I am a new coach for a Masters team. I have been coaching YMCA Age Group for almost 2 years and have swam for the Masters since about the same time. I would like some input on how practices are run for other teams. We have just have had a written work-out on a dry-erase board with our past coach. I want to be more involved and an active coach, but I don't know where to start after working with the kids for so long. Any ideas or thoughts are welcome!


Matt S
October 7th, 2002, 06:16 PM

One thing to keep in mind is that masters swimmers will use the "masters' perogative" and alter your workout to something that you may only dimly recognize. That being the case, embrace it rather than swear under your breath. Plan workouts that different abilities can modify easily, and try to give some idea of the purpose behind a set, so that conscientious swimmers understand how they should modify to remain consistent with your intent. (e.g. if they can't make interval, is the idea for the interval to still be challenging, so keep it as short as they can sustain, or are you going for quality swims, so lengthen it a lot, would fins or pull-buoys defeat the purpose if they can use them to keep up, what skills are they suppose to use, etc.) Beware of interval envy. Some swimmers (they tend to be triathletes) hate any rest of any duration. They swim as if someone offered them $5 for every minute they finish the workout early. If you do NOT want your swimmers to do the workout that way, make clear what your goals for the work-out are up front, and give them some goal other than finishing the set first (descending times, stroke length, whatever.)

Some ideas that we use: MWF coach has a different workout goal for each of the 3 days. Monday is freestyle, Wednesday is stroke, and then comes the infamous IM Friday. There are several web sites that have sample workouts--including a couple of discussion threads in these fora. Also, Swim Magazine has a workout every issue, adjusted for 3 levels of ability.

It helps if you have some desination meet in mind for shaping your season, whether that is SC or LC Nationals, Zone Championships, or a particular open water swim or triathlon. That will help you set a season plan, and have some idea of whether your are generally in the stroke mechanics phase, or the general or specific endurance phase, or the taper phase. Even if swimmers don't plan on attending the particular meet that is your "destination," they can still appreciate the variety, or use some other swim as their destination.


October 7th, 2002, 07:56 PM
Since you have age group experience, you're halfway there. Masters are just like kids only with shorter attention spans :p

It's good to hear that you plan on being active rather than just writing stuff on a white board. Our coach (Tim Sheeper, Menlo Masters) keeps our workouts interesting. He mixes up the focus and distance on a daily basis and always keeps you guessing. His workouts start with announcements, then he gives us a warm-up set of about 1000 yds. This will be broken up a different way each day. After this is complete he will explain the next set to each group (our workouts have six different levels based on speed) tailoring the set to the individual group by distance, interval, and stroke improvement focus. Some days he will divide the pool in half and have one half do one workout and the other half do a different one (i.e. distance free vs sprint butterfly). These workouts can get pretty amusing as Tim has to run back and forth explaining his set to 8-12 different groups. Tim always keeps a positive attitude and offers tips based on the individual swimmer and their goals.

As for ideas for workouts, Mike Collins posts his workouts in the workouts section. These are a good start.

October 8th, 2002, 09:36 AM
Great ideas above.......

My mantra is "keep it fun". Include relays as part of your workouts. These, again, can be specifically focused based on your training goals for the day, week, month.... i.e. underwater relays work on VO2, relays in general help with starts, etc.

Relays will also offer a way for you to become more involved with the team. And, bystanders observing others having fun want to be included. Its a great way to recruit onlookers!!!

October 8th, 2002, 01:21 PM
In Davis we used to do matchbox car relays. These were underwater and you had to roll the car on the black line. If you needed a breath you had to leave the car, come up for air and then go back down in the same spot. This was not only fun, but worked on breath control.

January 29th, 2003, 05:22 PM
I'm so glad you posted this thread! I to am a new coach!! I've been swimming with our small group and teaching technique as we go along. Recently, we all worked together and planned a one hour fitness challenge! It worked so well that we've added 6 people to our new team!! I love the ideas about the cars...I may have to try this at our next practice!! Keep the ideas coming!!

February 7th, 2004, 12:07 PM
hey coach:

like others have said, "try having themes for each day", i.e., mon is long dist free, tues is stroke, wed is mid dist, thur long dist, and fri (freaky friday and/or short stuff).

also, you're probably used to doing aerobic set, for examply 10 x 100 on 1:30 with swimmers getting about 10 sec rest. my suggestion is to add in some anaerobic sets, i.e., 6 x 100 on 2:30 with swimmers getting tons of rest. This will work a different energy system and will help with your masters swimmers who actually will go to a meet.

Also, I never give out the whole workout. I like to keep them in suspence so that they will not 'save' themselves. But, I do explain that 'this is the main set'... so they should be really working it.

In addition, I allow for modifications... some have bad shoulders, or whatever problems... the trick with masters is to understand that with swimming... there is a new methodology... and that is that everything is negotiable. Keep it fun. Life is too short.

One other point, look around usms website and find where you can rent videos from the library. There are technique videos that are great and lets face it... you can't know everything.

by the way... promoting the one hour swim in january was a great 'change' for my swimmers... even though we all hated, and that included me..... who jumped in cold-turkey after a 1.5 year absense.

good luck