View RSS Feed

Questions from Coaches

Education Director Bill Brenner answers your questions

  1. ASCA World Clinic educational opportunity

    by , September 14th, 2015 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Is the ASCA World Clinic a good educational opportunity for a Masters coach?

    A: Yes. The American Swimming Coaches Association hosts an annual conference providing educational opportunities for swim coaches. The six-day format includes certification courses--the USMS Masters Coach Certification Levels 1 and 2 course being one of them--keynote speeches, and presentations from the leading authorities of swimming from around the world.

    The 2016 U.S. Olympic swim team coaches David Marsh and Bob Bowman, along with U.S. National Team Coach Frank Busch, highlighted a group of 25-plus exceptional presenters at the 2015 World Clinic. Many, if not most, of the presentations were of universal value to any swimming coach working within the age-group, high school, college, or Masters ranks. The registration cost for the 2015 clinic was $450.

    During the 2015 ASCA World Clinic, USMS coaches Chad Durieux (Rose Bowl Masters), Jillian Wilkins (Central Florida Y Masters), and Rich Axtell (Minuteman Masters) delivered Masters-specific presentations on the following topics:

    • Learning the differences in training Masters
    • Growing with triathletes
    • Getting a team of adults to travel
    • Generating revenue from Masters meets
    • Creating one diverse pool
    • Hosting a clinic for Masters swimmers

    What I enjoy most about attending the clinic is the ability to network with other coaches. Any coach, regardless of status, can engage in conversation with any of the other coaches at the clinic. Every coach, including the Olympic coaches, are easily approachable and willing to talk and listen. It's a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and fellowship with others and recharge the coaching battery. I leave the clinic anxious to try new workouts, drills, and the latest swim gear with my swimmers and other coaches I meet.

    The ASCA World Clinic includes an exhibit hall with swimming-specific vendors. Many offer hands-on demonstrations, and most have samples of the products they sell. Several bulletin boards are displayed throughout the venue with job postings, creative workouts, and ideas to help you become a better coach and program leader.

    The 2016 clinic will be in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the week after Labor Day. Consider adding it to your calendar.
  2. Coaching beyond the workout

    by , May 15th, 2015 at 12:00 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What should I be doing to successfully "coach beyond the workout" for a Masters program?

    A: In many cases, developing a successful Masters program is more than writing good pool workouts. Good coaches take the time to familiarize themselves with their athletes, learning their names, abilities, goals, motivations, outside interests, and a little about their families. Each piece of information can be used to create the most positive environment and outcome possible for your athletes every day on or off the pool deck.

    Your workouts will be more impactful if you can customize the delivery of the workout to each individual. Are you going to write 30 different workouts for 30 different swimmers? Probably not. However, you can make it a point to speak to athletes individually during practice and ask them to work on something specific to their needs. This could be technique, pace, speed, or effort. Acknowledge success and commitment. Provide feedback. Point out something done well before addressing something that needs to change.

    Take the time to further your coaching knowledge. Read, research and write.

    • U.S. Masters Swimming publishes SWIMMER magazine bi-monthly, delivers monthly electronic newsletters, and maintains a website - usms.org - that's constantly updated with articles that provide the reader with valuable information.
    • Attend the USMS National Coaches Conference and learn from several of our organization's most successful coaches. Several LMSCs host regional coaches' clinics for the benefit of their coaches and members. If you're a coach, make sure you're included on email correspondence for information on all LMSC coaching activities.
    • Become a USMS-certified Masters coach. The USMS certification course was developed by Masters coaches specifically for coaches who work with adult athletes. The course is presented in a classroom setting and student participation is encouraged.
    • Consider becoming a member of the American Swimming Coaches Association, the leading advocacy group for all echelons of swimming coaches. Member benefits include a monthly magazine and newsletter. ASCA hosts a yearly World Clinic that brings the leading authorities of swimming to one location. Presentations are given throughout the clinic including several by Masters coaches. ASCA also hosts regional clinics several times a year.
    • Research other successful Masters coaches, make contact and ask if you can visit during a practice. Observe how they manage the deck and look for ideas you can bring back to your program.
    • Write an article and submit it to the USMS Coaches Committee for review and possible publication. Nothing cements an idea more solidly than having to explain it in writing. Share something you're doing successfully so that others can duplicate. The Masters community grows stronger from sharing ideas and stimulating creativity.
    • Read online articles published by services such as SwimSwam and Swimming World magazine.

    Other suggestions for activities outside the standard pool workout:

    • Host a clinic. I recommend a series of clinics each lasting no more than 2 hours. Stroke technique, starts, turns, and open water are all good topics you can cover. Consider a videotaping session for your swimmers. Many swimmers haven't seen themselves on film.
    • Take members of your program to a swim meet. Swim meets can be fun and a great way to measure the progress of each athlete. Make sure you market the meet as a social event with a team sitting area, relays, and a social event for athletes, friends, and family at the conclusion of the meet. Encourage 100% participation.
    • Host a swim meet. If you've never hosted a meet before, start with a 1-day meet with limited events. As you become savvier at hosting meets, you can expand the number of days and events. Developing a support team and group of dedicated volunteers is imperative to running a successful meet. Be in charge but delegate certain responsibilities to others you can trust.
    • Hold open water practices. If you don't have access to open water, take the lane lines out, put makeshift buoys in for turns, and hold an open water practice in the pool.
    • Celebrate accomplishments. Take time during practice to recognize the accomplishments of your athletes. Everyone is a winner even if they don't win a race. Maybe someone did well at a triathlon, swam butterfly for the first time, or competed in a first swim meet. It's up to you to know your athletes and their goals and when they achieve those goals. Having a year-end banquet is another social activity that includes everyone and their families. Don't underestimate the power of celebration and fun. If you don't have the time to organize social activities, appoint a social director. Depending on your program's practice schedule, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries after practice by going out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
    • Develop and maintain a website and use social media to attract and retain members. Your program should either have its own website or a page on a group website. Develop a Facebook page, use Twitter, and send pictures through Instagram. Contact the USMS marketing department for more information on how to maximize the benefits of social media.

    Don't limit yourself to this list only but use it as a springboard to becoming a better coach on and off the pool deck. Use your ingenuity and creativity to enhance your program for the benefit of your members. The key is to have fun in a positive environment. Once you know your athletes and meet their needs on and off the pool deck, you'll have more fun coaching than ever before.

    Updated June 19th, 2015 at 11:35 AM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized