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View Full Version : Age Group Advice - PASSION?



TacJag
October 15th, 2007, 01:18 AM
Greetings all!!

A LONG time ago, I was an age group swimmer. Not all that good, really ... basically I was a 5-6-7 finisher from age 8 through high school. (Thus, no one wanted me for anything more serious!!)

My son, now age 8.5, started swimming on a team this summer and seemed to enjoy it. It was at an outdoor pool and it was a pretty laid back program. This month, we started him in a YMCA program that's considerable more organized. He seems to have a lot of natural talent (for his swimming, baseball, skiing, school work) but no PASSION for anything ... yet.

Now, I know that he's young and I definitely don't want to be a pushy parent, but I do have a question.

For those of you who had success swimming post-high school (college level or nationally), when did that spark of PASSION to really do something special ignite? Was it something your parents did ... or, maybe, did not do? Was it a coach? Happen young? Or late?

I want to encourage him but not pressure him. I had little talent, and thus wasn't able to do all that much athletically. But, he seems to have a LOT of natural talent and I don't want to see him pass up opportunities.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Cheers!!

Ken

Warren
October 15th, 2007, 01:22 AM
You should put pressure on him. He will try harder and start getting better then he might develope a love for the sport because he is good at it. Don't pressure him to much though, just enough to where it is positive. What are his top times right now?

dorothyrde
October 15th, 2007, 06:11 AM
No don't put pressure on him. He is only 8. Put pressure on him and he will learn to dislike it. If he is having fun, then that is the most important thing. The other stuff will come. Kids have different personalities and some show their passion in different ways than others. Some take a while to grow and mature, but you need to let him be a kid and let him have fun. 8 is too young to worry about this stuff.

With my kids my 19 year old probably had the most passion for swimming between 10-14. My 14 year old is happy go lucky and still just swims for the fun of being with friends and physical exercise. Her passion is art and music, which showed up early, by age 5 or 6.

swimshark
October 15th, 2007, 07:37 AM
I'm with Dorothy. Encourage what he's doing but don't put pressure on him. Not at his age. I swim with an age group team and I see the pusy parents and I hear what their kids say when they can't hear. It's not nice. One mom even drives me crazy! Tell him he's doing great and maybe give him incentives like a computer game for getting A times or something like that but don't push. I swam up until college and I can't remember my parents pushing me ever - and they are pretty competitive. I just loved the sport and loved being there so I didn't need pushing. Same with my ballet.

Good luck. Sounds like you have a good swimmer on your hands.

Alison

gobears
October 15th, 2007, 08:04 AM
Wow, interesting responses so far. I have always been against "pushing" kids in sports. I can see signing them up and making them try something if they are the type of kid that never wants to do anything. But pushing kids to excel seems both pushy and probably futile. Most cases of parent "pushing" I've witnessed have been much more about the parent's competitive drive and passion than the kid's. Those are parents you want to hand a suit to and tell THEM to get in the water.

I didn't even start swimming year-round until I was a freshman in high-school and my parents supported me 100% but never ever pushed. I ended up swimming at the National level and in college as well.

I think my passion came from being pretty good and being very competitive by nature. Everyone's different, but I just don't see passion being forced on anyone...

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 08:54 AM
What are his top times right now?

Who cares?! 8 year old times are irrelevant and virtually no indicator of future success.

Pushy parents are the worst! All kids, even those who LOVE swimming, hate those kind of parents and gossip about them relentlessly. Stand back and cheer on good effort. Then shut up. Your only worry is getting them to practice on time, buying equipment and cheering some.

Young boys are notorious for finding swimming quite dull. It is compared to ball sports. They're swimming up and down a lane line and it might hurt to go fast. Some very young boys have that early passion, but I think it kicks in more around 11-12 for boys. If it doesn't kick in for swimming, let him find/pick the sport he loves. My boy, now 15, had natural swimming talent, but had NO interest in joining a USA team. He's intensely and passionately into running now.

My daughter, by contrast, was into swimming and racing at a young age and had early success. Her coaches encouraged her, but reminded her that there are "no elite swimmers who are 10." It's not what you do at that age, it's whether you have the temperment and tenacity and passion to stick with swimming over the long haul. You also have to be willing to forgo other sports and give up a big chunk of your social life. Not for everyone, thus swimming is a high burnout sport. If you start pushing now, you could see an early fry. 2x a week in an organized program is plenty for a boy of 8, if that. The emphasis should be on fun IMHO.

Every kid is different though. Some have fire and passion and competitive drive immediately, some develop it when they find their niche, and some just aren't jazzed by sports. Gotta experiment.

SwimStud
October 15th, 2007, 09:00 AM
Don't push. Encourage him. Don't let them give up at first challenge either.
Tell him to give his best efforts in the races/game but don't force him to play or race.
Never scream out from the bleachers about mistakes.
Ask if they have fun after the race/game.
Talk about things they can work on doing right after (but only if you know what you're talking about).
End the discussion on a positive note about something they did really well.

And last...Never wear anything remotely embarrassing...
:rofl:

swimmieAvsFan
October 15th, 2007, 09:02 AM
Who cares?! 8 year old times are irrelevant and virtually no indicator of future success...

2x a week in an organized program is plenty for a boy of 8, if that. The emphasis should be on fun IMHO...

too bad more parents haven't figured this out! pushy mini teamer parents make me sick (and it takes a lot of restraint to not get really really mouthy with them when i'm coaching!)

our mini teamers are encouraged to try and make 2 practices a week. definitely not any more than that. if they only make 1 a week, oh well! fun should definitely be the name of the game at that age!

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 09:04 AM
Talk about things they can work on doing right after (but only if you know what you're talking about).

Most kids hate this. I'd leave it to the coaches. On the rare occasion when I try to say something in a constructive way, I get the "look."

Mollie: Mini-Fort only swam 2x a week through age 10. As you know, no adverse effect. It's just not worth overtraining when young.

SwimStud
October 15th, 2007, 09:11 AM
Most kids hate this. I'd leave it to the coaches. On the rare occasion when I try to say something in a constructive way, I get the "look."

You have a teen...the "look" is de rigeur. :D You can still give advice...even if they pull faces...just never lead in with a checklist of what they did wrong.

It also depends on the kid. Lucky for me, mine plays soccer, and she has seen me play, and has asked me to help coach so she knows I understand the game. Usually it's minor things and I try to get her to explain what happened or didn't happen then give my input. My son is just too young at 5 to do anything other than go and run around...though he gave me a detailed play by play of his goal Saturday...
:lmao:

Warren
October 15th, 2007, 09:13 AM
Some pressure can be positive. The point at that age is to have fun but If you tell them to beat the kid next to them and try to get a time, that is encouraging. If they don't win just say nice job that was a good swim even if it was bad. Fortress, you know times at that age definatly matters :agree:, just kidding, but it does matter a little. Also I know times at that age times don't predict the future, I was just curious to see what they were.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 09:24 AM
Fortress, you know times at that age definatly matters :agree:, just kidding, but it does matter a little. Also I know times at that age times don't predict the future, I was just curious to see what they were.

Doesn't matter, IMHO. Times can change quickly at that age.

If good times at that age are achieved with virtually no effort, it may indicate some natural talent (or maybe just natural athleticism) that may continue to grow with time and proper coaching. If they reflect the fact that you're in the water on a daily basis, not so much. Plus, I've seen it time and time again. Someone with success as a youth because of pool time (or whatever) plateaus and doesn't improve much in their teens while other hit their stride. Very dependent on the individual swimmer.

Right now, I see a lot of 12-13 year olds struggling with the commitment required by swimming. Most simply want to play other sports, and are frustrated by the fact that, if they really train for swimming, they just can't. I seem to see it more in boys, but my daughter is chaffing a bit right now. Swimming is a tough sport for kids.

Stud: You keep right on giving advice. I'm keeping my trap shut.

Rob Copeland
October 15th, 2007, 09:34 AM
USA Swimming has some great resources for parents.

Check out 10 Commandments for Swimming Parents
http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=400&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en

and other parent related materials at
http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=6&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en-US

As a swimmer and a parent who has struggled with these same questions, I found this material to be very helpful.

gobears
October 15th, 2007, 09:35 AM
Some pressure can be positive. The point at that age is to have fun but If you tell them to beat the kid next to them and try to get a time, that is encouraging.

I don't know. There was a dad on one team I coached that used to tell his daughter constantly that she needed to beat her best friend. He was really obnoxious. He would be obviously irritated if she didn't win. It was just so very obvious that HE was the one that needed to be in the water racing.

I think just being there for your kid 100% goes a really long way. Unconditional love and support are what kids need from parents. The coach can be the one to apply a little "pressure" or motivation if needed, IMHO.

SwimStud
October 15th, 2007, 09:36 AM
Stud: You keep right on giving advice. I'm keeping my trap shut.

Hehe I'm not saying you have to tell her anything, My one even apologised for not listening to me once when I was coaching her team. I can't remember the last thing I said to her about her play anyhow...beyond telling her to give 110%.

She needs a boot up the jacksie to get her going...her coach asked me if I was OK with him pushing her...I told him "He'd get no argument from me...and we tell her to give her all even if it's only 10 minutes and then come off and rest..."

Then there's the offside rule. They explained it, but how many kids will stand up in front of the friends and admit they didn't understand at training? We went through it at home and now she knows--I think. It's very different with teens.

swimmieAvsFan
October 15th, 2007, 10:00 AM
I think just being there for your kid 100% goes a really long way. Unconditional love and support are what kids need from parents. The coach can be the one to apply a little "pressure" or motivation if needed, IMHO.

amy, you've hit the nail on the head! especially at age 8, the parents need to back off and let the coaches apply the appropriate amount of pressure. which, for most kids, is basically none. we're the trained ones, not the parents, at least when it comes to the coaching aspect!

fort, our lower level 9-10s are encouraged for 2 days a week, just like the minis. the mid-level kids are encouraged to make it 3 days a week if possible, but again, if they don't, it's not the end of the world. our top level 9-10s, i think, are required 3 days, but most make it more. but a lot of these kids love swimming and don't want to mess around with other sports. (quite a few have realized that they're not quite cooridinated enough to make the same kind of progress out of the water!)

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 10:10 AM
but a lot of these kids love swimming and don't want to mess around with other sports. (quite a few have realized that they're not quite cooridinated enough to make the same kind of progress out of the water!)

The real rub is for the natural athlete who excels at swimming, but also excels at other sports. A 13 year old boy on our USA team, nationally ranked as a 12 year old, just quit swimming for other sports. Without the lure of other sports, it's easier to fully dedicate yourself to swimming because it's where you feel most comfortable. For others, it can be a huge sacrifice.

gobears
October 15th, 2007, 10:17 AM
The real rub is for the natural athlete who excels at swimming, but also excels at other sports. A 13 year old boy on our USA team, nationally ranked as a 12 year old, just quit swimming for other sports. Without the lure of other sports, it's easier to fully dedicate yourself to swimming because it's where you feel most comfortable. For others, it can be a huge sacrifice.

You have to remember, though, that being nationally ranked at 12 can be a result of a lot of factors that don't always get recognized. Many kids who are great as age-groupers are just ahead of the curve in growth and coordination. Eventually things even out and they aren't the biggest and strongest anymore. If ever there was an age group where the discrepancy in size was glaring it's the 11-12 boys. Some of them look 8 and others look 15.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 10:21 AM
You have to remember, though, that being nationally ranked at 12 can be a result of a lot of factors that don't always get recognized. Many kids who are great as age-groupers are just ahead of the curve in growth and coordination. Eventually things even out and they aren't the biggest and strongest anymore. If ever there was an age group where the discrepancy in size was glaring it's the 11-12 boys. Some of them look 8 and others look 15.

I am well aware of this phenomenon. I myself was one of those early maturing nationally ranked 12 years old. I didn't particularly enjoy the very rough transition from tallest to shortest, but I stuck with the sport because I loved it.

The most successful 12 year old boys do look like "men." However, the boy I refered to was, as a 12 year old, small and skinny with the most beautiful flowing strokes ever. He was a natural in the pool.

Nowadays, I see monstrously tall 12 year old girls too. Swimming attracts the tall.

Lightning
October 15th, 2007, 10:32 AM
Please don't push! Remember the bigger picture. Your longterm relationship with your child is the most precious thing you have to offer.
Ulimately, it is always their choice and always will be - make sure they feel listened to, supported, encouraged, and connected to you, regardless of performance.

Warren
October 15th, 2007, 01:02 PM
I don't know. There was a dad on one team I coached that used to tell his daughter constantly that she needed to beat her best friend. He was really obnoxious. He would be obviously irritated if she didn't win. It was just so very obvious that HE was the one that needed to be in the water racing.

I think just being there for your kid 100% goes a really long way. Unconditional love and support are what kids need from parents. The coach can be the one to apply a little "pressure" or motivation if needed, IMHO.

lots of pressure from parents is not a good thing, thats why I hate watching the little league world champioship on tv. They are like these kids are just here to have fun. Thats bs, there is so much pressure on thoes kids, they are on national tv and its only the one of the most important moments of their life. They obviously can't handle that at age 12.

I think all of us know some raging alcoholic that yells at their kid when they mess up in sports, it's so ridulous that its almost humerous but its sad at the same time. A little pressure is good though but the coach needs to do it and the parents need to lay off a little but they should still encourage their child.

Some times little league gets out of hand. In swimming, not so much. But baseball and football are ridiculous. We just need to keep it undercoltrol and stick to the point of having fun but there should still be encouragement to win.

SwimStud
October 15th, 2007, 01:14 PM
I think all of us know some raging alcoholic that yells at their kid when they mess up in sports,


You make it sound like this is the sole province of alcoholics...;)
Yelling at your kid to do this or that in the game is not good, encouraging them is though. If I ever mention something to mine it's some time after the game when no others are around; embrassment of being "told" by your parents infront of others blocks any potential learning--it's also a good idea to know what the coaches are working on etc.

onefish
October 15th, 2007, 01:17 PM
I'd make sure he has FUN at it for now. Learn to do the strokes well, and efficiently, looking good. Lots of body changes going on, staying coordinate is a challenge. Rewards work to a point.

Make sure you trust the coach to apply the right amount of pressure and encouragement, and in 8 y.o. terms.

I've been working with my kids to get them to be more challenge-oriented. Something simple at first, they accomplish it, they get rewarded and excited, then the next challenge is ratcheted up a bit. If they don't bite, patience. Once they get motivated by feeling good about their accomplishments, they might go in any direction possible, even if it's not swimming. Every kid is different. It might have worked for us, so far, and we're looking at contributions to future car payments, etc. in exchange for serious, forward-thinking achievements at school, scouting, etc. that we think they will respond to. Otherwise, they get to sweat out their own financials on discretionary purchases.

My 2 cents,

DV

MAC swimmer
October 15th, 2007, 02:34 PM
Who cares?! 8 year old times are irrelevant and virtually no indicator of future success.

Pushy parents are the worst! All kids, even those who LOVE swimming, hate those kind of parents and gossip about them relentlessly. Stand back and cheer on good effort. Then shut up. Your only worry is getting them to practice on time, buying equipment and cheering some.

Young boys are notorious for finding swimming quite dull. It is compared to ball sports. They're swimming up and down a lane line and it might hurt to go fast. Some very young boys have that early passion, but I think it kicks in more around 11-12 for boys. If it doesn't kick in for swimming, let him find/pick the sport he loves. My boy, now 15, had natural swimming talent, but had NO interest in joining a USA team. He's intensely and passionately into running now.

My daughter, by contrast, was into swimming and racing at a young age and had early success. Her coaches encouraged her, but reminded her that there are "no elite swimmers who are 10." It's not what you do at that age, it's whether you have the temperment and tenacity and passion to stick with swimming over the long haul. You also have to be willing to forgo other sports and give up a big chunk of your social life. Not for everyone, thus swimming is a high burnout sport. If you start pushing now, you could see an early fry. 2x a week in an organized program is plenty for a boy of 8, if that. The emphasis should be on fun IMHO.

Every kid is different though. Some have fire and passion and competitive drive immediately, some develop it when they find their niche, and some just aren't jazzed by sports. Gotta experiment.

With the exception of the Boston Red Sox Logo, FOrtress is right on the money. My 7 year old is in the swimming program with other 7 year olds (very competitive age group team). It SHOULD BE ALL ABOUT FUN. If he wants 2 times a week great. If he wants to blow it off one day, fine by me.

Kids that start young are in grave danger of burning out. Also...don;t let the team pressure you into year round participation! There is a season for everything.

PS--Kurt Grote started swimming at age 15!!!

imspoiled
October 15th, 2007, 02:38 PM
I agree with much of the sentiment posted so far--especially about letting the coaches do the coaching (with the appropriate level of "push") and parents do the parenting.

Too many parents think their kid is not getting their due attention from the coach. Most coaches make a great deal of effort to challenge each of their athletes in the most appropriate manner for the individual. This is no easy job, so there may be times when coaches miss something, but parents should not try to fill that gap.

Parents should bring their concerns to the coach--and then be prepared for honest feedback from the coach! I've seen many parents shocked to learn that little Sally does not want to work harder and is being encouraged to just have fun. Of course, mom & dad think Sally is just about the best swimmer on the team. Reality checks can be a good thing for both swimmers and parents.

quicksilver
October 15th, 2007, 02:40 PM
Please don't push! Remember the bigger picture. Your longterm relationship with your child is the most precious thing you have to offer.
Ulimately, it is always their choice and always will be - make sure they feel listened to, supported, encouraged, and connected to you, regardless of performance.


Great advice. Ages 8 thru 12 should be spent having fun and making stroke improvements.

Teenage years is when the choice can be made to get serious. 13 to 17 is a big window of time to become scholarship material ...or beyond.

imspoiled
October 15th, 2007, 02:52 PM
With the exception of the Boston Red Sox Logo, FOrtress is right on the money. My 7 year old is in the swimming program with other 7 year olds (very competitive age group team). It SHOULD BE ALL ABOUT FUN. If he wants 2 times a week great. If he wants to blow it off one day, fine by me.

Kids that start young are in grave danger of burning out. Also...don;t let the team pressure you into year round participation! There is a season for everything.

PS--Kurt Grote started swimming at age 15!!!

Here, here! The kids have to want to do it for the right reasons.

My 10 year-old told me after spring clinic that he wasn't sure he wanted to swim this fall. We talked about why (wanted to spend more time hanging out with non-swim friends) and he agreed to swim summer team because the season is short and he only had to race 50s. We let him skip summer practice as desired--just so long as he went 1-2 times per week.

By the end of the season he was talking to me about not being in the "fast heats" and I told him the coaches were not going to put him in the fast heats just because he's a nice kid. He'd have to earn it if he wanted it. The coaches knew he was in danger of giving up swimming, so they weren't pusing him hard, nor were they rewarding him for slacking off.

Fast forward to champs, and he swam his fastest 50 free to date (after only making the "B" cut) and was talking about which practice group he was going to make for winter team. He's swimming now beacuse he wants to, not becuase I'm making him.

Letting them be kids is important. So is teaching them about committment and hard work. Parents have to help them balance these two (at times) opposing forces.

SwimStud
October 15th, 2007, 03:04 PM
Letting them be kids is important. So is teaching them about committment and hard work. Parents have to help them balance these two (at times) opposing forces.

That's the only thing I mandated with my daughter when she whined about wanting to give up soccer, so she could do a bigger part in the ballet. I told her she doesn't get to ditch her team halfway through the season--I don't think that's pushing I think that's teaching her commitment and respect.

Of course after we highlighted how her social life will be impacted if she's not with the team too, she weighed it all up a little more. It's great she's in the Nutcracker but I don't want her to blow off one thing just to get a bigger part in the show. After the final curtain comes down then she'd be moaning about giving up soccer.
If she really doesn't want to play that's fine but she has to make the call before the season starts.

I honestly don't think there is anything wrong with helping your kids with a sport in your spare time if they want to listen, and you're not contradicting the coach. You just can do it from the sideline etc. If I see something I don't like, I ask my kid if that's what the coach showed them...invariably it isn't and it's a skill or something you can help with. Maybe I'm different like that, I ask her what the coach said to do etc and, I know the coach too and know how he teaches them--which helps.

aquageek
October 15th, 2007, 03:57 PM
I'll try to keep this on subject and avoid the "my kid is better than your kid" discussion. I agree with Stud in that there is nothing wrong with coaching your kids. It's something you can do together, provided it stays healthy.

Having an 8 year old swimmer and being around them most days, I think, just like adults, they come in all shapes and sizes and needs for swimming. Some need the push, others don't. A good coach can figure this out and step up or back off.

While I agree that you don't have to excel at a sport between 8-12 to become good at it, I also believe if you stink at a sport at that age, you probably won't develop into something more than average. I believe this to be a general principle, with obvious noteworthy exceptions. Many of my friends play/played college or pro sports and none started after the age of 12.

hofffam
October 15th, 2007, 04:16 PM
I think an 8-9 year old should experience a variety of sports. My three kids all swam summer league (mostly to make them drown proof), and two of them continued on to year round programs (around 10-12 yrs. old). I agree that pressure on an 8 yr. old is a bad thing. I will say though a child that age is just about old enough to understand that they joined a team, and being part of team involves some basic commitment. So I would not let my child just blow off practice anytime they wanted to.

I would be very wary of the team and coaching. If you see any sign of pounding yardage with kids that age - change teams. Swimming does have burnout and I would aim for the child to stay somewhat relaxe about swimming until middle school or so. If they really like the sport - that is the time for them to make a bigger commitment to it.

I would also make some effort over time to help them appreciate the uniqueness of swimming. Kids will get pressure from their non-swimming friends to play basketball or football, etc. and some kids have difficulty with being in a slightly less common sport. Take 'em to a championship meet in your area. Watch swimming with the upcoming Olympics. Etc.....

gobears
October 15th, 2007, 04:16 PM
I'll try to keep this on subject and avoid the "my kid is better than your kid" discussion. I agree with Stud in that there is nothing wrong with coaching your kids. It's something you can do together, provided it stays healthy.

Maybe so, but I'd wonder how many parents with this philosophy were "coached" by their parents and liked it. I know there are probably some. The parents I knew who felt the need to "coach" their kids usually went overboard in my opinion. There's a fine line and I have to watch it with swimming more than any other activity with my kids. I really think they just want me to tell them I'm proud of them for getting in there and doing their best.

dorothyrde
October 15th, 2007, 04:18 PM
We have had a few boys that have been able to excel with a starting point of high school, but I think these boys were exceptional athletes.

When watching the little kids, you can tell which ones are naturals and if they stick with it they will be good. My son was one of those 8 year old naturals, good feeling for the water, good athletism, kinda small and scrawny which hurt against the boys who matured faster, but he always kept up. But Fort is right, High School brings choices, and our high school has no swim team. He decided to quit swimming to pursue other things when he was almost 17.

I have seen too many kids quit earlier than that because their parents push them to go to too many practices, too many meets, pit them against their friends. Let the kids be kids and have fun.

I have so much fun with my daughter at meets. She is middle of the pack, but she usually has a realistic goal she wants to achieve, if she misses it, it is not the end of the world, and then we get to go.......shop!

pwolf66
October 15th, 2007, 04:21 PM
Most kids hate this. I'd leave it to the coaches. On the rare occasion when I try to say something in a constructive way, I get the "look."

Mollie: Mini-Fort only swam 2x a week through age 10. As you know, no adverse effect. It's just not worth overtraining when young.

I have a 9yo fishgirl.

I give advice on little things but I ask for her permission before I mention things and I let her know that if she feels I am being too 'pushy' to say something. She has spoken up once so I hope that I am helping not hurting. Considering that she has turned down other sports to swim, I feel good right now.

BUT, and this a HUGE one. I continue to tell her that I want HER to enjoy it and if it comes to a point where she no longer enjoys swimming (as opposed to not wanting to practice occasionally, we've all been there) then it's time to move on. But so far, in the 2 years since she started competing, she's loving it so I keep my fingers/toes/etc crossed.

Paul

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 04:31 PM
Maybe so, but I'd wonder how many parents with this philosophy were "coached" by their parents and liked it. I know there are probably some. The parents I knew who felt the need to "coach" their kids usually went overboard in my opinion. There's a fine line and I have to watch it with swimming more than any other activity with my kids. I really think they just want me to tell them I'm proud of them for getting in there and doing their best.

I agree. It's one thing to give your kid a few tips in rec soccer, as Rich has done, explaining off side rules, reminding them to use their left foot, etc. But it's easy to go over the line. When they get to travel soccer or travel whatever, it's better to shut your mouth. This applies to swimming, which is likewise professionally coached. If you feel the professional coach hasn't addressed a particular issue, speak with the coach or get the kid a private lesson on the side.

It's fairly easy, I find, to be a good swim parent for young kids. I think it's more challenging when they get older. It'd be nice to have a set of "ten commandments" as to how to deal with teenagers on the rollercoaster wailing about whether and when they'll ever improve.

Personally, I'm pretty burned out myself, LOL, so my youngest just swims 1x a week with her summer swim league group. I coach, but never her lane.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 04:42 PM
While I agree that you don't have to excel at a sport between 8-12 to become good at it, I also believe if you stink at a sport at that age, you probably won't develop into something more than average.

Well, Geek, triathlons, as you know, are one of those noteworthy exceptions to this rule.

I'm sure my kids will all be better triathletes than your kids. :thhbbb: :thhbbb: :joker:

aquageek
October 15th, 2007, 04:45 PM
My kid and I swim together 2 or 3 times a month. It is good time we spend together. I let her write the workout and be the "coach." This means I do a whole lot of fly while she does a whole lot of nothing or the "Hawaiian" breastroke. If fitness is part of your family routine together it doesn't have to be coaching, it can be plain ole fun (and they might even learn something).

Triathlon is three sports, not one. And, Fort, I have no doubt your kids are faster, stronger, and smarter that just about everyone's elses.

SwimStud
October 15th, 2007, 05:31 PM
I agree. It's one thing to give your kid a few tips in rec soccer, as Rich has done, explaining off side rules, reminding them to use their left foot, etc.

Hey my little Mia Hamm is on the travel squad! ;)

Our coach is another dad, but he's great with the kids, and is as professional as any paid coach.. We don't have much "coaching" shouting at our games. He pulls them off explains and then sends them back on.

It's a good thing to help them practice away from the game, but another to bellow contiually from the sidelines at little Suzy. I say little at games beyond giving my "hustle" siglnal.

Rob Copeland
October 15th, 2007, 05:31 PM
I agree with Stud in that there is nothing wrong with coaching your kids.I hesitate to disagree, but unless you okay it with the real coach it is often not a good idea to coach your kids. Be engaged in their swimming, yes. Ask the coach what you can do to help your kids, yes. But second guessing the coach or providing coaching that may be different from the real coach is not good for the swimmers.

As someone who has swum and coached for most of my life, it was difficult to not provide personal coaching to my kids, without first asking permission from the coach. But I have learned to always ask my kids what did the coach say about your swim, instead of breaking down their race and critiquing their pace, tempo, starts turns, technique, etc. Iíve also put away the stop watch, so I no longer review splits with my kids; I ask what the coach said about your pacing. I leave all of this up to the coach, however I do ask the coach what I can to help and I always make sure my kids know they are lucky because they have one of the best coaches in the world.

I am very much engaged in my childrenís swimming and their life in general, but I do not provide unsolicited coaching. And this seems to be working. My son has gone from a novice to an Olympic trials qualifier in 6 years and my daughter has gone from novice to decent middle of the pack swimmer, having fun and making friends. And I couldnít be prouder of both of them.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 05:35 PM
Triathlon is three sports, not one. And, Fort, I have no doubt your kids are faster, stronger, and smarter that just about everyone's elses.

Well, prior to the fun in the pool and the Hawaiian breaststroke, you were speaking of actually coaching your kids.

And I have no doubt that your aim is to make your kids the fastest and strongest swimmers possible, Geek. And, after all the coaching from daddy and David Marsh, maybe they will be.

My aim is to have well-adjusted active kids doing well in all areas of life (academic, athletic and social), whether they're swimming, dancing in the Nutcracker, playing rec soccer or taking guitar lessons. For the record, my youngest doesn't show much competitive fire or prowess at the moment. But, since I practice what I preach, I'm not sweating it. I do hope they end up smart so they can grow up to spar with the lofty likes of you on their own sports forums.

Crew and cross country are further exceptions to your 8-12 rule.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 05:38 PM
Hey my little Mia Hamm is on the travel squad! ;)


Outrageous braggart!!

aquageek
October 15th, 2007, 05:54 PM
Well, prior to the fun in the pool and the Hawaiian breaststroke, you were speaking of actually coaching your kids.

Fun and coaching aren't mutually exclusive.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 06:05 PM
Fun and coaching aren't mutually exclusive.

Perhaps not at a very young age. When they're older, good luck with that.

I could recount many anedotal incidences of parental coaching backfiring, but you dislike the anecdotal so intensely, I won't bother.

aquageek
October 15th, 2007, 06:19 PM
I'm not sure why any parent would put their kid in a program that wasn't fun, regardless of age.

If my kids and I enjoy working out together, not sure why you are so opposed, but hey, whatever. It seems to work fine for me and Stud.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 06:33 PM
I didn't say it shouldn't be fun, although no way is serious competitive swimming a non-stop laugh a minute fun fest.

I said "good luck with that" because, once kids are older, you can't cloak coaching under the guise of fun. Family workouts are lovely. I often kick the ball around in the backyard with my youngest and race her around the house and whatnot.

aquageek
October 15th, 2007, 06:57 PM
Fortunately, the experiences of competitive swimming families, including most of my friends with teenage kids, here in Charlotte are much different. If you aren't having fun doing a sport, what is the point? Grueling, hard, difficult, definitely but also fun. I'm glad the fun police haven't busted the programs we have here on felony charges of assault with a dreadful swim team.

I wasn't referring to running around the backyard as a way that families can enjoy fitness together, although I guess that's fine. There are competitive family triathlons, bike events, family running races, swim events, etc, weekly here we do together, same as most cities.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 07:31 PM
Fortunately, the experiences of competitive swimming families, including most of my friends with teenage kids, here in Charlotte are much different. If you aren't having fun doing a sport, what is the point? Grueling, hard, difficult, definitely but also fun. I'm glad the fun police haven't busted the programs we have here on felony charges of assault with a dreadful swim team.

I wasn't referring to running around the backyard as a way that families can enjoy fitness together, although I guess that's fine. There are competitive family triathlons, bike events, family running races, swim events, etc, weekly here we do together, same as most cities.

That's what I said: "fun" but also "grueling, hard and difficult" at times. So it appears we're in agreement and there is no difference between area teams. A kid cannot continue in a sport if it is not also fun. But presumably, unless you have a teflon kid or the mini-geeks are the best of the best of the best, there will inevitably be some disappointments or setbacks or injuries. For example, meets are fun. But becoming very ill before or during a big, long-anticipated meet or race is not fun. Though the adversity may reap other valuable life lessons.

Thanks for the attempted education on workouts. I've done plenty of family aquathlons, road races, turkey trots and fun runs. The little one just did her third one mile fun run. We're already planning the annual family turkey trot. Family or competitive fun is not the exclusive domain of Charlotte natives. Although brick walls may be.

aquageek
October 15th, 2007, 07:34 PM
You win, I agree, peace out. I shouldn't have abandoned my self imposed rule.

The Fortress
October 15th, 2007, 07:39 PM
Why thank you. You are very gracious in defeat. I'll just agree with you next time, so you won't have to bow out or ruin your self-imposed discipline.

gull
October 15th, 2007, 08:26 PM
Other fun family activities in Charlotte include paint ball, NASCAR and pig pickin's.

scyfreestyler
October 15th, 2007, 09:03 PM
Ryan Lochte is coached by his father, no? Certainly the exception to the rule, but I had to point it out.

ande
October 15th, 2007, 09:37 PM
be proud of him
encourage him
he's gotta want it
let the coach coach
get him to practice on time
make sure swimming is what he wants to do
he's only eight



Greetings all!!

A LONG time ago, I was an age group swimmer. Not all that good, really ... basically I was a 5-6-7 finisher from age 8 through high school. (Thus, no one wanted me for anything more serious!!)

My son, now age 8.5, started swimming on a team this summer and seemed to enjoy it. It was at an outdoor pool and it was a pretty laid back program. This month, we started him in a YMCA program that's considerable more organized. He seems to have a lot of natural talent (for his swimming, baseball, skiing, school work) but no PASSION for anything ... yet.

Now, I know that he's young and I definitely don't want to be a pushy parent, but I do have a question.

For those of you who had success swimming post-high school (college level or nationally), when did that spark of PASSION to really do something special ignite? Was it something your parents did ... or, maybe, did not do? Was it a coach? Happen young? Or late?

I want to encourage him but not pressure him. I had little talent, and thus wasn't able to do all that much athletically. But, he seems to have a LOT of natural talent and I don't want to see him pass up opportunities.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Cheers!!

Ken

TacJag
October 16th, 2007, 01:12 AM
Folks

THANK YOU so very much!! This turned into quite a valuable discussion.

Our son (Ryan) wasn't feeling well this afternoon, so we skipped practice. Therefore I can't get his times from last Sunday's meet. They were not much to write home about as he was clearly slower than some of the other kids. But, then again, he's really had only a few practices under this more formal system!! He's good ... but I realize it will take time!!

I guess some of my curiosity about PASSION really stemmed from this past meet. I noticed some of the kids, especially some of the little girls, seemed to be really serious about their performance. They watched the other races intently and I even saw some pestering coaches about different techniques at times.

Ryan, on the other hand, and several of his same-age team mates, were busy playing with some Star Wars spaceships on the deck in between races!! :) What other races???

I just hope I can help him find his PASSION (hopefully swimming, but maybe something else ...) so he can take advantage of his natural abilities.

One thing I know he enjoys is "racing" his Dad. We haven't done that for a while as my shoulder was acting up. But, when we last tried it, he could beat me IF he wore fins. No fins? His 57 yr old Dad won!! HA!!

Again, thanks for all of the ideas and suggestions.

Cheers!!

Ken

wolfie1961
October 16th, 2007, 01:19 AM
I wouldn't push too hard. I was a swimmer growing up. When I started swimming in high school I was really pushed. I had a couple college offers which made my parents and coaches push even harder.
One thing I remember most was burnout.
Since your kid is starting even younger than I had, you have to be careful of burning them out. If it's not their passion and you push them into it, they're going to rebel against it or again, burn out.

dorothyrde
October 16th, 2007, 08:01 AM
Ken, Ryan sounds like a normal 8 year old boy. 10 and under boys are notorious for no focus at a meet, missing their heats because they are playing, just being goofy. Girls tend to be better at focusing although my daughter was always goofing with the boys(and still does, oh my).

Sounds like he is doing what he should be doing, having fun!

SwimStud
October 16th, 2007, 08:22 AM
Ryan, on the other hand, and several of his same-age team mates, were busy playing with some Star Wars spaceships on the deck in between races!! :) What other races???


Hey if they had Star wars ships at masters meets I'd be playing with them too!

You're blessed, he likes swimming and Star Wars...you're doing something right ;)

Ken, Ryan sounds like a normal 8 year old boy. 10 and under boys are notorious for no focus at a meet, missing their heats because they are playing, just being goofy. Girls tend to be better at focusing although my daughter was always goofing with the boys(and still does, oh my).

Had this discussiong briefly this am. My 6 year old boy has had notes on his take home work to "focus." Mrs Stud is worrying he'll be left behind. I tell her he's a boy--they just don't focus. It's tough because our daughter went through first and we had none of this...

swimr4life
October 16th, 2007, 09:53 AM
I think just being there for your kid 100% goes a really long way. Unconditional love and support are what kids need from parents. The coach can be the one to apply a little "pressure" or motivation if needed, IMHO.

AMEN! I couldn't have said it better myself. Our jobs as parents is to love our children unconditionally. Let the coach do the coaching. Its very hard sometimes to do this! My oldest daughter (18 years old) made my day the other day when she thanked me for not putting pressure on her when she swam USS. She said she saw many of her friends stuggling with this and they ended up HATING swimming and quitting. My daughter is still swimming on the club team at UGA and swimming Masters! :banana: She loves swimming!

hofffam
October 16th, 2007, 02:50 PM
I think there IS a place for informed parental coaching. That is when the child's coach is inattentive or not very good. It isn't always easy to just change programs either - depending on the pool location, schedule etc.

I like my kids' club coach. But she seems to simply not emphasize streamlining on the start. So I talk about that with my kids. It's mostly a reminder.

Also - video taping is one thing a parent can do that a coach will not do. My boys really like to see video tapes of their races. We look at them together and the boys can coach themselves.

Slowswim
October 17th, 2007, 10:13 AM
If fitness is part of your family routine together it doesn't have to be coaching, it can be plain ole fun (and they might even learn something).

Triathlon is three sports, not one. And, Fort, I have no doubt your kids are faster, stronger, and smarter that just about everyone's elses.

Geek: its actually considered 5 disciplines, :thhbbb:but that's splitting hairs and I have too few.:rofl:

I agree that if fitness is part of the family routine, the kids will take to it easier. My dad was an athlete all of us kids are still doing something to stay fit. My daughter sees my run. Now she wants to run whenever we are out together. I hope she will pick up swimming, gymnastics, or even ballet. Anything that she enjoys and will help her be fit.:banana:

aquageek
October 17th, 2007, 10:36 AM
Geek: its actually considered 5 disciplines,

This might explain why I suck so bad in tris. What are the two sports I am missing?

Slowswim
October 17th, 2007, 12:05 PM
This might explain why I suck so bad in tris. What are the two sports I am missing?

T1 and T2 are practiced that same and as important as swim bike run. From my early days I've dropped 4 minutes off my transitions. That really helps on a 800m swim for me.:banana:

My friends would see how long I was taking in T1 & T2 and ask if I had a chaise Lounger next to my bike.:mooning:

aquageek
October 17th, 2007, 12:58 PM
I don't consider changing clothes a sport but I do see your point, those activities do impact your time.

SwimStud
October 17th, 2007, 01:10 PM
I don't consider changing clothes a sport but I do see your point, those activities do impact your time.

Just like a turn impacts your time on a swim. In theatre they have dress rehearsals for this very reason...you must practice these. It's not like you can avoid the transition like you can avoid turns in OW.



*snicker*

dorothyrde
October 17th, 2007, 02:54 PM
I am sooooo bad at transitions. The last thing I like to do is change in a hurry.........