View RSS Feed

Questions from Coaches

Education Director Bill Brenner answers your questions

  1. Time to renew.

    by , November 19th, 2019 at 05:40 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    'Tis the season to ask your members to renew their USMS membership for 2020. I recognize having to face the reluctance of some to renew or register is more than likely not your favorite coaching responsibility. Membership, however, is the leading source of revenue to operate our organization at the national and LMSC levels, allowing us to provide the services our clubs, coaches, and members request.

    For swimmers reluctant to join because they don't participate in USMS-sanctioned events, ask them to join not for themselves but to support the good work our organization does reducing the risk of drowning with our ALTS initiatives, providing structure for healthy lifestyle choices, and encouraging adults to swim for a lifetime.

    When your swimmers do register, please be sure to thank them for supporting an organization that supports you and brings the joy of swimming to thousands of others, now and in the future.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  2. Club contacts, coaches and ALTS instructors.

    by , November 19th, 2019 at 05:35 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Are club contacts, coaches, and ALTS instructors recognized differently in the USMS registration database?

    A: Yes, and it’s important to know how they are different. Each provides an essential function and plays an important role within our organization.

    Club contactsare the individuals who identify themselves as such during the club or workout group registration process. The club contact is given access by USMS to edit club information in the USMS database and to perform the annual club renewal. These individuals access their club’s database via a dashboard located on their personal My USMS profile.

    The club contact is the individual who receives important information from USMS that relates specifically to clubs and workout groups. All inquiries from prospective members generated by the USMS searchable database Club Finderor from USMS marketing campaigns such as Try Masters Swimming Week go to the club contact. It is the responsibility of the club contact to respond to the perspective member or notify the individual at the club who is responsible.

    Clubs represent our organization at the local level and are often the first contact for a prospective member. I hope you’ll treat that individual in the same manner you would like to be treated under similar circumstances with a timely, professional, and courteous response.

    USMS certified coaches and ALTS instructorsare the beating heart of our organization.
    Both, if applicable, should be listed by the club contact on the club’s profile. When a USMS-certified coach or instructor is listed in the club profile, a corresponding badge is posted on the club’s Club Finder page. Currently, coaches and instructors do not receive information emailed directed to the club contact unless they are one and the same person. Therefore, if they are not the same person, it is imperative that the club contact share pertinent information with the club’s coaches and instructors.

    Enhancing the swimmer experience remains our North Star. Teamwork between all responsible parties will help ensure our direction stays the course.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  3. Pools are closing. Is yours next?

    by , August 22nd, 2019 at 12:46 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    As Masters coaches, we strive to improve the health and well-being of our athletes, priding ourselves on keeping them active in the sport of swimming for a lifetime. However, many of us have a derisory account of the health and well-being of the aquatic facilities hosting our practices.
    Recently, my community in Sarasota, Fla., was shocked with the unexpected news that our YMCA was permanently closing two fitness centers, including the aquatic facilities. This closure will displace thousands of Y members, including me, who have counted on the Y as their retreat for health and social activities.
    No warnings or calls for help were communicated before this abstruse decision was made to cease operations, just an email outlining the financials struggles that led to this cessation decree. While my shock turned to anger and ensuing sorrow, I contemplated how often this travesty is happening within other Masters communities.
    How much do you know about the financial health of your aquatic facility? If very little, investigate now. Do you have sources within the facility to ask? Is your program represented at the highest levels within senior management or the board of directors?
    Getting involved, educated, and in a position to respond accordingly will help ensure and secure the longevity of your Masters program.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  4. Expanding your program to triathletes

    by , May 20th, 2019 at 02:03 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I’d like to expand my program by including triathletes. I’m not a triathlete and have limited knowledge of the sport. What can I do to gain the skills necessary to be a successful coach for this group?

    A: Many of us have had “Do a triathlon” on our bucket list for quite some time. This item has become buried at the bottom of my bucket, covered with other items with a higher priority and many layers of excuses. Maybe my triathlon experience will be relegated to teaching my grandkids to swim, ride a bike, and chase me around the playground.

    Does my lack of participating in the traditional triathlon disqualify me from being an effective swim coach for triathletes? Not if I believe that my skills as a Masters swim coach can help the triathlete get better at their sport.

    My philosophy is to train all triathletes to be swimmers. This builds their confidence, swimming endurance, and stroke efficiency. Proper training should also reduce the risk of injury to the athlete.

    To effectively coach a triathlete competing in open water, become more knowledgeable in the following areas:


    • Race strategy: start, pace, finish
    • Skills: sighting, buoys turns, drafting
    • Stroke technique: breathing, timing, propulsion, efficiency
    • Energy systems
    • The purpose of interval training


    You can find more information about training triathletes on usms.org.

    Thankfully for Masters coaches, on race day the swim comes first, and the other disciplines don’t have an impact on the outcome of their swim. While you can’t win a triathlon during the swim, you certainly can lose it by expending more energy than necessary or not finishing the swim at all.
  5. Why pay when you can barter?

    by , March 20th, 2019 at 06:36 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Not many of us are getting rich from the lucrative profession of being a Masters swim coach. Rewards for our efforts, in more cases than not, are smiles, not shekels, thank yous, not dinero. Ever try to pay for swim equipment or pool rental fees with a smile or a thank you? Your good looks and pleasantries will only get you so far.

    So, what can you do to pay for goods and services with something other than cash? Consider using the resources and talents at your disposal to barter/trade for what you need.

    Are you capable of delivering your coaching skills, organizational expertise, or technical knowledge of meet management software? What skills and resources are members in your Masters program willing to share that can be bartered for your club’s benefit?

    Here are just a few things aquatic facilities need that your club can provide:

    · Personnel to be lifeguards and teach lessons
    · Equipment
    · Volunteers to provide manpower at events
    · Donations of goods and services
    · Donations of food and beverages for events
    · Exposure to popular media outlets, social and otherwise
    · Programming for the aquatic community such as an adult learn-to-swim program or stroke, start, and turns clinics.

    Cull your resources while keeping your wallet in your pocket.
    Tags: coaching
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  6. Celebrate getting older

    by , January 14th, 2019 at 11:58 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Do you have Masters swimmers whose only concern is how fast they swim and fear the inevitability of getting slower? Remind them that swimming is about more than becoming faster. Medical research has shown that swimming slows the aging process, loss of muscle mass, reduction of cognitive brain function, and decreased libido as swimmers get older. Your swimmers might not be swimming as fast, but they're getting better.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  7. What's your gift?

    by , December 18th, 2018 at 05:34 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    The holiday season is a wonderful time of year to celebrate the joy of giving to and sharing with others. Coaches give of themselves throughout the year striving to make the experience of swimming the best it can be for those they lead.

    What gift do you have that you share with your swimmers? Don’t confuse giving with gifting. You give your time. You gift what you do with that time. You give a workout. You gift the promise of hope. You give the swimmers feedback on stroke technique. You gift the swimmers self-confidence and pride of accomplishment.

    This holiday, realize what gift you have that you can share now and into the future. Resolve to be better tomorrow than you were today. In sharing your gifts and enriching others, both giver and receiver benefit. Wishing you and your swimmers a happy and healthy new year.
    Tags: coach
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  8. Being the best at being you, not the best at what you do.

    by , November 19th, 2018 at 02:40 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Do you want to be the best at what you do? Are you waiting for an invitation?

    A: Consider my invitation to you is signed, sealed and delivered. Now let’s figure out how you can get started.

    What does being the best even mean? Is it reaching the pinnacle of an ability, expertise or skill as compared to your peers? Careful. In most cases, pinnacles can be have very little room for growth and very limited space to go any higher once the top is reached.

    Instead of being the best, think about being your best. Find time every day to get better and become excellent at what you do.

    Excellence is a choice – a life long strategy that requires commitment, dedication and effort. It starts with you having a positive mindset believing that every day begins with the opportunity to make it better than the day before.

    Each day, write down something positive that happened. This could be something you did for a friend, family member, stranger or something someone did for you. In addition, do something positive for yourself and write it down. Build your book of positive outcomes. Think of it as your Fitbit for mental health.

    Make finding positive outcomes an important goal of each day of your life. Be good at it, be great at it and you can become the best at being you.
  9. Are You a Masters Coach or a “Master of Coaching?”

    by , October 15th, 2018 at 01:16 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Are You a Masters Coach or a “Master of Coaching?”

    A: Maybe you’re both. Fantastic. If you’re not both, why?

    Most of us can stand on the pool deck and bark out a workout to our swimmers occasionally telling them what they can do to swim better.

    Some of us fill our coaching tool box with teaching methods to enhance our athletes’ swimming experience.

    However, only a few of us make the effort to become a master of our trade, coaches who look at each day as an opportunity to boost our skills, deliver a meaningful experience for our athletes, and improve the lives of others.

    Do you …


    • know your swimmers, their goals, motivations, and, most importantly, their name? Do you address each athlete every day, making it a personalized and positive encounter?
    • just write a workout or do you deliver a workout and engage with each and every swimmer at practice in an individualized, meaningful, and purposeful way?
    • offer stroke technique advice communicating not just the “how to do it” but the “why you should try it” method of inspiring improvement?
    • care about your athletes on and off the pool deck? Remember this quote from Indy Aquatic Masters’ Mel Goldstein: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
    • thank them for coming to practice and invite them to return?


    At some level, we all have a passion for swimming. Channel your passion into your coaching and become the best “Master of Coaching” you can be.
  10. The difference between Club Finder and Places To Swim

    by , April 13th, 2018 at 05:07 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    What is the difference between Club Finder and Places to Swim on the new USMS website?

    The Club Finder feature on the recently redesigned website is a tool for swimmers searching for U.S. Masters Swimming–registered clubs and workout groups. It’s a searchable database that helps potential members find Masters programs and current members looking to swim in a Masters program.

    Information on Club Finder must be populated by the coach or club contact (which you can do here). This helps ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is being presented to our visitors and members. Channeling current and potential members to registered USMS Masters programs serves the member, club, and USMS well.

    In the future, all club and workout group information with be captured or edited during the registration or renewal process.

    The Places to Swim database is now a USMS member benefit that can be accessed through your My USMS account. Historically, this listing has helped our members find an aquatic facility to swim at when traveling or relocating to a new area. (I use it to research aquatic facilities and potential new USMS clubs.)

    However, most of these listings don’t have a Masters program. Many that list a Masters program either have discontinued the program or have adult programming that is not registered with USMS. Often, the information in this database is not accurate and therefore not a very reliable resource for our members or potential members. Additions and edits are the responsibility of the facility or club contact and may now only be done by a current USMS member.

    Places to Swim doesn’t do enough to promote our coaches and registered clubs and workout groups. Why would USMS send potential new members to a facility without a registered USMS club or workout group? Why would USMS send a potential member to an unregistered Masters program?

    USMS must support our clubs and coaches, not facilities without our programming. USMS must support the lifeblood of our organization that provides the most important element, a coached Masters program.

    It’s a simple but meaningful value proposition. Clubs, workout groups, and members paying a membership fee to USMS means USMS returning benefits such as a searchable Club Finder database that channels members to their programs.

    If you are coaching or swimming at a facility without a registered club, please contact me for help getting your program registered and listed on Club Finder.

    Updated April 19th, 2018 at 05:04 PM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  11. SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Fitness Series

    by , February 13th, 2018 at 03:14 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Why should I encourage my swimmers to swim in the SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Fitness Series? All of my swimmers can already swim for more than 30 minutes and longer than 2,000 meters or 1,650 yards.

    A: As coaches, we aspire to inspire the athletes under our care. We motivate each individual to improve, reach his or her goals, and have fun every step of the way. The rewards for self-identified success are many, and we should all take pride in doing our very best to help others do their very best.

    Coaches are proverbial givers and the beneficiaries of coaches’ efforts are the athletes. Participating in the Fitness Series should be promoted as an opportunity for the swimmers to become givers. The time spent swimming the challenges should be used as time to self-reflect upon how grateful we are to be able to swim. Give thanks for our coaches, teammates, family, and friends who support us in our passion for the water. Give thanks that we are not fearful of the water and can enjoy the sanctuary the water provides. Give thanks that we can help others not as fortunate as we are by supporting the USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, which provides grants to teach adults to swim and become safer in and around the water.

    My challenge to you: Inspire your swimmers to swim, celebrate what they love about swimming, and support our foundation that brings the love of swimming to others.

    The challenge is not: Can you swim a time or distance faster or farther than others. It’s what can you do with the time while you’re swimming.

    (If you have any questions, check out our FAQs page for coaches. You can also sign up your club or workout group to host the Winter Fitness Challenge from Feb. 15-28.)

    Updated February 14th, 2018 at 10:55 AM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  12. Community Outreach

    by , November 14th, 2017 at 08:29 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: My Masters swim club wants to get more involved with the local community and host an event. What types of community events should our Masters program consider?

    A: Being a good citizen in the community can be rewarding for your members and can build goodwill with your swimming facility. Hosting community outreach events at your pool will require varying degrees of logistical planning, depending on the size and scope of the event. It's important to assemble a support team that shares in the planning and execution of the events. Don't try to do everything yourself. Have a goal of giving ownership to many volunteers. It will add to the overall success of the event when many hands are working as one.

    Examples of community outreach events requiring pools:

    Adult learn-to-swim lessons
    Stroke development clinics
    Special Olympics
    Senior Games
    Police and Fire Games
    Wounded Warrior Project, Warrior Games
    Paralympics
    Triathlons

    Consider adding the USMS Fitness Series to your schedule of events. These events may be swum in your own pool during a regular practice session and may serve as a team bonding opportunity with the added benefit of fundraising for the USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation and the local charity of your choice.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  13. Avoiding problematic social media activity.

    by , August 15th, 2017 at 11:22 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How can I avoid problems with social media? What not to do with social media.

    A: As much as we would like to believe that we are entitled to coach at, swim at, or be a member of our preferred swimming venue, in most cases we are not. Participation is a privilege, not a right, and losing that privilege can be devastating. No Masters coach or swimmer wants to receive the news that they’re no longer welcome at their aquatics facility.

    While inappropriate behavior should never be tolerated at the pool, neither should it be tolerated away from the pool. This includes all forms of negativity on social media. While coaches and program leaders can't monitor every post every day, they can establish written standards that all members should agree and adhere to when interacting with other program members and stakeholders. Remedies should also be included in the swim program's standards and guidelines for program participation.

    The two most common misuses of social media are cyberbullying and negative messaging.

    Bullying may seem like nothing more than sophomoric banter but it's not. It's hurtful and has no place in a Masters program. If you're a coach who needs to tear down people to build your own ego or self-esteem, find another profession.

    If you become aware of others in your program who engage in bullying at or away from the pool, insist that they cease and desist immediately. No coach wants to have a member removed from the program. However, you as the coach, and leader of the program, must protect the integrity of the program and ensure the enjoyment and safety of all.

    Negative messaging and pejorative behavior on social media can lead to a multitude of potential problems.

    Here is an example of an email no coach wants to receive:

    "Coach Upacreek,

    “I regret to inform you that your Masters program is no longer welcome at the aquatics center. It has come to my attention that members in your program have disparaged our facility and staff by communicating negative, false and misleading statements in various media within the community. I've attached a copy of recent social media posts that have been brought to my attention.

    “The aquatics facilities' reputation within the community is of the utmost importance and I can no longer tolerate your member's inappropriate activities. Good luck finding another facility."

    Please don't have your members wage war with or air complaints about your pool or program on social media. Yes, we have First Amendment rights. No, one of our inalienable rights is not to swim where we please. If there are issues that need to be addressed, schedule a time to meet with the aquatics facility decision makers and resolve the issues. Your program's relationship with the pool, whether you rent pool space or you’re a program of the facility, should be a partnership. If you need help strengthening your partnership or need help resolving issues, contact the USMS national office and Club and Coach Services and resources will be provided.

    Keep the use of social media positive and uplifting. Use it to share program updates, information, and upcoming events. And, whenever possible, celebrate the accomplishments of your members in and away from the pool.
  14. USMS Clinic Course for Coaches

    by , March 14th, 2017 at 04:52 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Why should I attend the USMS Clinic Course for Coaches?

    A: Frankly, the demand from adults seeking stroke development clinics far outweighs the supply of clinics provided by well-trained coaches with stroke technique skills. USMS developed the Clinic Course for Coaches (CCC) to increase the supply of Masters coaches who desire the pathway and skills necessary to host a successful clinic. This course provides coaches with a proven method to build a more efficient stroke through a series of progressive drills isolating specific body mechanics.

    Many Masters coaches have strong stroke correction skills which serve them well during swim practice or a private lesson. However, the objective of a stroke development clinic is to provide a group of swimmers, of all ability levels, stroke improvement that is measurable both subjectively and objectively and is sustainable.

    Masters coaches attending the CCC receive:
    A classroom presentation that includes:

    • Instructions to conceptualize, plan and implement a successful clinic.
    • A detailed timeline for the clinic delivery leading up to and during the clinic
    • A proven instructional method delivered through a specific series of drills and skills that isolate specific body mechanics and progressively builds a more efficient stroke.
    • Narrated drill videos (available to the coach after the course.)

    On deck experience during a stroke development clinic including:

    • Watching a mentor coach deliver the clinic as instructed in the classroom and course textbook
    • Feedback from mentor coaches
    • Practical experience with actual Masters swimmers

    So, if you want to learn how to put on a clinic and what to do during a clinic, you should consider attending one of the CCC listed here.
  15. Hosting a registered swim program with USMS

    by , December 6th, 2016 at 09:02 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Why should my aquatics facility host a registered swim program with USMS?

    A: U.S. Masters Swimming values partnerships with aquatics facilities, programs, and the swim coaches who are bringing the sport and joy of swimming to adults across America. Together we encourage adults—diverse in age, background, and ability—to swim for health, wellness, fitness, and, optionally, competition.

    Together, we service our missions in an effort to make aquatics available as a meaningful, valuable, and fun experience for our customers, members, stakeholders, and communities. Swimming is a lifesaving skill that lasts a lifetime. Together, we can inspire adults to swim and live a safer, happier, and healthier lifestyle.

    Hosting USMS Masters Swimming and USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim Programs brings exciting adult aquatic activities to your facility and will enhance current programming. Professionally trained and certified USMS coaches and instructors provide the passion, leadership, and technical skills needed for a successful campaign. They have the knowledge to work with a diverse cross section of adults across all ability levels. They understand the adult learner and how to motivate, encourage, and bring fun to the sport and skill of swimming.

    The first step to developing a successful program is to register a club with USMS. Once you’re registered, you’ll begin receiving all the benefits of membership from our organization. These benefits include:

    • Your program and aquatics facility listed in the searchable database on usms.org—swimmers looking for pools, Masters programs, and adult swim lesson providers use this site to locate valuable information about aquatics facilities and programs.
    • Expert advice from the USMS professional staff. The Club and Coach Services staff provides phone, email, and on-site support at no additional charge. CCS provides marketing materials and club development guides and resources to help foster successful programs with our partners. CCS will help recruit, train, and certify your Masters coach through the USMS Masters Coach Certification Program.

    The USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim Program staff will help you launch or enhance your swimming lesson program for adults. The USMS ALTS certification course teaches adults the skills needed to teach other adults how to swim and become safer in and around the water. This adult-specific training will enhance any certified swimming lesson program your instructors currently teach.

    • Access to post job listings and recruit coaches and swim instructors

    These and many more benefits are part of the commitment USMS makes to ensure that our program partners have the resources necessary to establish, develop, grow, and maintain vibrant Masters Swimming programming.

    Please contact any staff member at the USMS National Office for help. Together, we can share our love of the water with others.

    Updated April 12th, 2017 at 10:11 AM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  16. How can I encourage my swimmers to join USMS?

    by , November 11th, 2016 at 04:31 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What suggestions can you give me to convince the non-competitive members in my program to join or renew their membership with USMS?
    A: Are you a believer? Seriously. Take a moment to reflect and ask yourself if you believe in U.S. Masters Swimming’s mission to promote health, wellness, fitness, and competition for adults through swimming? The answer may come from your beliefs, love of what you do as a Masters coach, passion for swimming, and commitment to being an advocate who encourages adults to swim. This same answer may help you formulate your own response to your original question regarding membership in USMS.
    Masters coaches have the unique ability to provide more than an on-deck “transaction.” We have the opportunity to create a “transformation”—motivating each of our swimmers to set goals, feel positive, and have a meaningful swimming experience. In many cases, this transformation is a life-altering event; your swimmers may finally become who they always wanted to be or who they never thought they could be. We’re helping them transform their lives to a healthier, happier lifestyle.
    The enthusiasm we as Masters coaches display on the pool deck, day in and out, transfers to the swimmers in the water. Many swimmers carry this positive and enthusiastic attitude with them beyond the pool to their daily lives and are genuinely grateful for their improved self-esteem. Knowing this, use your enthusiasm, and the gratefulness your swimmers feel towards you, to promote membership in USMS.
    Swimming Masters is a journey, not a destination, and membership is a valuable component to enrich the journey. USMS membership gives swimmers valuable tangible benefits and, more importantly, gives swimmers the feeling of being part of something bigger than just a swimmer on a swim team. It gives them the chance to contribute their time, talent and resources to an organization that gives the gift of swimming to adults across America.
    Pledge—and ask your swimmers to pledge—to support our organization, which is working to:

    • Provide more opportunities for adults to learn to swim and swim for a lifetime
    • Educate Masters coaches and instructors, creating a better swimming experience for those they coach and teach
    • Expand the number of aquatics facilities with programs for adults to swim and exercise

    The success of USMS depends on everyone who contributes to the organization’s wellbeing. Each of us—members, coaches, swimmers, volunteers and staff—has a role to play as ambassadors for USMS. Together, we control our destiny. Together, we pave the path for our journey.
    Be a believer in USMS and those you lead will follow.
  17. How to deal with “Coach’s Fatigue”

    by , October 10th, 2016 at 04:45 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How do I overcome or deal with “Coach’s Fatigue?”
    A: The first step to finding a successful solution to any problem is to identify the cause. For example, when you’re trying to make a correction to a swimmer’s stroke, you may need to look at the root cause before affecting a solution. If a swimmer has a wicked scissors kick, do you concentrate on her leg movement or do you look at body rotation, head movement during the breath, and the arm path of the stroke? Correcting these movements may eliminate the improper kick.
    Root causes of coaching fatigue may be:

    • Lack of sleep
    • Boredom
    • Feeling unappreciated
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Needing more time for self, family, or friends

    Most, if not all, of these causes can be overcome. Remember, as a swimmer and a Masters coach, you have great power. Summon up your competitive juices, your will to win, and your ambitious drive for success to take on these challenges. Lou Holtz, an accomplished football coach, stated, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”
    Coaching Masters swimming should be a challenging, rewarding, and fun endeavor. Make coaching fun. Like Masters swimming, coaching Masters shouldn’t feel like your parents are forcing you to the pool. It’s your choice and you should react accordingly.
    Try some of these solutions:

    • Change your sleeping routine or practice times
    • Set a new goal for yourself and your program
    • Understand your swimmers’ goals, and become an active partner in their achieving those goals
    • Be more engaged during practices—if you want to feel more appreciated, make sure your swimmers know how much you appreciate them
    • Take splits during practice and share the information with the swimmers
    • Video your swimmers and give them feedback
    • Take your program in a different direction
    • Add a new component to your practice routine such as open water, USRPT, or dryland training
    • Find a cause and rally the troops—host a fundraiser for a local charity or the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation
    • Continue your education—this can include reading, attending a class, or taking an online course
    • Visit other clubs
    • Find a mentor coach, someone with whom to share ideas and solutions
    • If you’re not swimming or exercising, get back in the water or find another form of physical activity you enjoy doing
    • Identify and mentor a volunteer assistant coach—this may allow you to take a break or take a sabbatical
    • Challenge yourself and the members of your program to recruit new members—coaching new athletes can be invigorating
    • Travel to away meets
    • Find a new challenge either inside or outside of swimming
    • Add a different dimension to your coaching—perhaps adult swim lessons
    • Host a social event
    • Eliminate or reduce the club administrative functions you dislike the most—hire a third-party company, such as Club Assistant, to help manage the day-to-day operations of your program.


    My advice to every Masters coach, no matter the size of your program, is don’t do it all yourself. Find people in your program or their family and friends who will share responsibilities and ownership. Shared ownership creates a stronger organization and the likelihood of a successful program. Will they do it as well as you? Maybe yes, maybe no. However, getting help from others could be the solution to coach’s fatigue.
  18. Club Newsletter Information

    by , August 11th, 2016 at 04:10 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I coach a Masters program with 55 active members. Should I send out a monthly newsletter and, if so, what should I include in it?
    A: I’m a news junkie. Albeit old fashioned, nothing is more routine or satisfying than reading a print copy of the newspaper with a cup or two of coffee each morning. Reading the news inaugurates my daily connection to the outside world—it’s my history, civics, and current events lesson du jour. Sure, I read plenty of news articles online throughout the day, and many are attached to my social media habits—Facebook, Twitter, and my family chat threads. Websites such as USMS.org, Swimming World Magazine and SwimSwam help keep me connected to our sport and issues that surround it.
    The articles I read—whether in print or online—are by choice. Information that is important and relevant to me should not be left to chance. It should be sent to me directly, preferably via email.
    A club newsletter can be a wonderful resource to keep your athletes engaged, educated, and excited about your Masters program. Many coaches outsource the newsletter responsibilities to a volunteer within the program who may have the time, talent, and resources to craft and publish the newsletter with routine frequency. Typical publication schedules are weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
    The key to a successful newsletter is to include and mention as many of your athletes as possible in every edition. People like to see their names, pictures, and details about their favorite topic—themselves!
    Once you’ve established a working template for your newsletter, it’s relatively easy to fill in the blanks. Your newsletter could include:
    · A welcome to new members (list their names and a brief biography including a fun fact).
    · A listing of any upcoming changes to the practice schedule and venues.
    · Upcoming events with an emphasis on the program’s focus events (explain where you are in your seasonal plan) such as:
    1. Fitness events
    2. Meets and open water competitions
    3. Social activities
    · Accomplishments of the program and individuals (be sure to include photos) such as:
    1. Event results
    2. Goals achieved
    · A drill of the week with an explanation of its purpose (videos are available for USMS certified-designated coaches online).
    · A swimmer profile. Choose an athlete in your program to showcase in each newsletter and include a picture.

    Email the newsletter to your swimmers for free, and print a copy of your newsletter and post it on your Masters Swimming dedicated bulletin board at the pool. The newsletter should complement the other information available on the board, all of which should be designed to encourage other swimmers at the pool to join your program.

    Updated August 11th, 2016 at 05:53 PM by Bill Brenner

    Tags: club, coach, resources
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  19. Masters program information at my aquatics facility

    by , July 13th, 2016 at 12:00 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What information about my Masters program should I have available at my aquatic facility?

    A: Frequently, I visit aquatic facilities searching for Masters swimming or any form of adult aquatic programming of a horizontal nature. At each location, I picture myself as a swimmer with little or no knowledge of Masters swimming walking into a facility to swim laps or begin an aquatic exercise routine. I ask myself, “What information is available that would identify this location as one hosting a USMS program?” Furthermore, I assess the ease of finding and assimilating this information.

    In many cases, I know the facility has a USMS program and when the practices are scheduled based on the information I receive from the coach or the USMS Places to Swim database. But the availability of accurate information at the facility can vary widely.

    At most pools, my first stop is the front desk. As I approach the receptionist, I scan the area for any printed information about the programs and services of the facility, looking for clues that will assist my search. I introduce myself, present my USMS business card, and ask, “Do you have a Masters swimming program at your facility?” The replies, often accompanied by looks of bewilderment, vary as much as the accuracy of the responses and are too numerous to list here. Let’s just say I’m astonished that so many gatekeepers of our Masters programs don’t have a clue what the program is or whether the facility has one.

    As I pass the gatekeeper, I continue to scan for Masters swimming information looking to see if the information is prominently displayed. And if not, where and how would I advertise the program.

    Entering the pool area, I look to see what activity is taking place. If a Masters program is practicing, I envision a new or prospective swimmer’s first impression. In many cases, the first question to pop in their mind will be, “Will I fit in?”

    As I get closer to the practice, I start to zero in on the coach and how he or she is interacting with the athletes. I try to make eye contact with the coach to gauge their interest in a potential new swimmer to their program. Nothing is more welcoming than eye contact that produces a smile projecting an invitation to get closer to say hello. Coaches that initiate this welcoming approach make even the seasoned Masters swimmer feel at ease.

    In the event no Masters practice is taking place, I look to have a conversation with the aquatic director, head lifeguard, or any other aquatic employee with information about the adult programming at the pool. In most cases, the accuracy of the information is an improvement from what I found at the front desk. If lap swimmers are present, I look at their caps for clues about their swimming involvement. Amazingly, it’s easy to approach a lap swimmer, strike up a conversation, and gain valuable information when you can identify something about them. I look to see whether these swimmers are wearing a USMS cap, a cap with a Masters or age group swimming team logo, or a cap signifying their participation in a pool, open water, or triathlon event.

    I walk the pool deck looking for anything that gives me information about a Masters program at the pool. Many Masters coaches write the daily workout on a board and leave it out for swimmers who missed practice and may swim later in the day. If I see this, I read it and make sure I understand the workout. As with other foreign languages, swim workouts come in a rainbow of local dialects.

    If I’m lucky, I’ll locate a USMS banner or a bulletin board with Masters swimming information. Remember, if a new or potential swimmer passively wants to learn more about the Masters program, information on a bulletin board may pique their interest. The best bulletin boards I’ve seen include:


    • Welcome brochure
    • Program mission statement
    • Inclusiveness of the program, i.e.: "We welcome new swimmers of all ability levels,” or “try us for free.”
    • Coach’s picture and profile, pictures of swimmers, and pictures from events such as meets, open water swims, clinics, and socials
    • Practice schedule including the days best suited for beginners, triathletes, and stroke technique refinement
    • Website address
    • Team logo
    • Practice terminology
    • Practice and lane etiquette standards
    • Upcoming events
    • USMS mission statement and membership information
    • Sponsors
    • Contact information


    If you have a bulletin board, make sure all the information is current. Keep the appearance looking fresh by replacing faded pictures and printed materials.

    Take the time to keep the aquatic staff well versed in your program and the benefits it provides. Show the staff the USMS promotional videos. These videos provide an overview of what Masters swimming is and how important it can be to adults who’ve chosen aquatics as a form of exercise. Go out of your way to make the gatekeepers at your facility your program’s strongest advocates.

    And lastly, the next time you see someone new walk onto your pool deck, make eye contact and give your best “come on over and say hello” smile. I know I’ll certainly appreciate it.

    Updated July 15th, 2016 at 03:51 PM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  20. Safe challenges for all ability levels of Masters swimmers

    by , June 9th, 2016 at 05:57 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I coach a diverse group of adults in my Masters program. At most practices, I have swimmers of all ability levels with different reasons for swimming. Not everyone is motivated to compete or even get faster. What are some safe challenges I can give my swimmers?

    A: Understanding your swimmer’s goals and the factors that motivate them to swim is the first step of incorporating safe, new, and exciting challenges to your program. If you haven’t asked each of your swimmers what those goals and motivations are, take the time to do so. Next, ask each swimmer, “What would you like to change about your swimming?” Some may say they want to get faster, feel more comfortable in the water, improve stroke technique, or even fit into smaller clothes or impress their physician with improved physical metrics during their next appointment. If your program is as diverse as you say it is, you will get a wide spectrum of responses. These responses will help you integrate new and exciting challenges because they match the needs of your swimmers.

    Whether you’re a competitive swimmer or not, challenges help keep us engaged with the process of being in the pool. Let’s not confuse competition with challenge. To many, conquering the challenge builds confidence, is more important than measuring time and distance, and is more important than comparing results to others.

    The list of safe challenges is endless, but I’ve collected some ideas below:

    • Set attendance goals. Some swimmers may want to be challenged to attend a certain number of swim practices during a week, month, or year
    • Learn a new stroke. This could include learning the new stroke, swimming the new stroke in practice, and swimming the stroke in a meet.
    • Reduce stroke count. Counting the number of strokes to swim each length of the pool often results in more focus on better technique and less wasted energy.
    • Improve streamlines. All swimmers benefit from a better streamline off the blocks and walls. Even open water swimmers can practice streamlining.
    • Incorporate underwater dolphin kicks. Many swimmers with a strong small amplitude kick will benefit from adding this to their freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly starts and turns.
    • Speed up the turns. The purpose of the turn is to change direction. An optimal turn accomplishes this faster while using less energy.
    • Learn to dive. Many new and seasoned swimmers have difficulty diving. It’s something that should be taught and practiced in a supervised safe setting. Once they’ve mastered this skill, swimmers may be more willing to participate in a swim meet.
    • Practice bilateral breathing. If your swimmers don’t naturally breathe to both sides, teach them the proper breathing technique and have them practice breathing bilaterally.
    • Use ePostal challenges. A USMS ePostal event and the training leading up to the swim can benefit all swimmers in your program. Encourage your swimmers to pick the 1-hour swim or a long distance swim based on their ability and desire.
    • Try a swim meet. Find a swim meet, or host one yourself, that is welcoming to the novice swimmer or swimmers returning to competition after a long time away.
    • Go open water swimming. Introduce the freedom of open water (OW) swimming by organizing group swims—with proper supervision and safety—for swimmers new to the open water environment. Begin by teaching the skills necessary to swim open water in the pool.
    • Use test sets. Regularly scheduled test sets can help you measure your swimmers’ improvement. And rather than just having them swim a 500 for time, get creative and mix up the distances.
    • Encourage less reliance on equipment. Weaning swimmers off pull-buoys, paddles, kickboards, and fins might be more of a coaching challenge. Encourage the swimmers to use equipment only when the workout specifies its use.

    USMS promotes the Check-off Challenge, an ePostal event designed to motivate swimmers to complete 18 pool events and an open water swim during the calendar year. The pool events may be swum in a meet or practice in any combination of SCY, SCM or LCM.

    Some LMSCs promote challenges like the Florida LMSC Leather Lung Award. This award is given to swimmers who complete all 18 pool events in SCY or SCM, all 17 pool events in LCM, and/or all five USMS ePostal championships during a single season.

    As a Masters coach, you should celebrate the accomplishments of your swimmers. This celebration can take place during practice, on a website, in a newsletter, or at a team gathering. There’s a good chance that once swimmers have mastered the demands of one challenge, they will gain the confidence to take on another, thereby staying engaged with your program and swimming for a lifetime.

    Updated June 17th, 2016 at 02:07 PM by Editor

    Categories
    Uncategorized
Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast