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Thread: Conflict with new coach

  1. #1
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    Conflict with new coach

    My team just got a new coach about four months ago. Now personally, I don't have any major problems with this coach. He gives a pretty good workout, he is quite knowledgeable about stroke techniques, and he is trying to build some team unity. Admittedly, we have had some issues with him about showing up for workouts a few minutes late and relying too much on the pool lifeguards to provide us with a workout when he sometimes doesn't show (a much bigger problem for the newer/less experienced swimmers).

    The big conflict seems to be from the beginning/intermediate swimmers and the triathletes (I'm also a triathlete, but I have a pretty strong swimming background). Now, this may seem quite trivial, and even a little bit petty to those of us who swam in college and have an intense competitive drive and thrive on the thrill of a good swim, but many of our intermediate/beginners are complaining that they are not getting recognition for their efforts. Thinking back to my early age group days, I can remember when a coach simply saying "good job" to me meant everything. It's what kept me coming back for more painful workouts the next week. Now swimming Masters, I really don't care if a coach singles me out for accomplishing something. I'm happy with an occasional Top Ten or winning a medal at Nationals. But we are now losing a lot of swimmers because they feel they are working for nothing. They don't see why they should swim Masters vs. just lap swim.

    What's brought this to a head is that this morning, after workout, my wife sent me a text expressing how disgusted she was with our coach. She didn't go into specifics, but she ended with the statement "I'm done!". I didn't see what brought this on, but I did notice that halfway through workout, she was just swimming laps by herself. Back and forth, no stopping. I glanced at our coach, and he gave me a confused look, saying "so-and-so just wants to swim". While I'm not trying to make excuses for anyone, coach is a pretty young guy, with most of our members being 20-30 years older than him, and I think he might be a bit nervous expressing himself to some of us.

    So heck, now I'm stuck in the middle. What do I do? Do I try to talk to the coach? Do I stay out of it? Help!

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Bill Sive's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    I recommend that you speak with the coach. It does not sound like he spent any time exploring where the team is at and the teams expectations. If he is green under the collar, then help him out a bit. It will only benefit everyone in the end, himself, and the team. Do not be confrontational, if possible do this over an informal dinner.

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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Being late is kind of inexcusable, isn't it? I mean, you're supposed to be on time, and leaving you in the hands of the lifeguards, well, that's not their role.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    By all means talk with him about the "team"concerns. When he was hired, did the team have any say in what they were looking for?
    Yes --- being younger, he may be timid in dolling out corrections and praise.
    Do you have an assistant that can help with workouts when he is delayed?
    I think you need to step up team ideas before the team falls apart.

  5. #5
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseMW View Post
    Being late is kind of inexcusable, isn't it? I mean, you're supposed to be on time, and leaving you in the hands of the lifeguards, well, that's not their role.
    I think it can be excusable. At least in our club we don’t pay our coach enough to quit her full time job, so sometimes she works late or has other obligations that delay her. When she is late, we will typically do a regular warm-up and if she still hasn’t arrived then one of us comes up with a first set. It’s no big deal for our club; we’re all adults. I agree this isn’t the lifeguard’s job, but someone on your club should be able to come up with a set.

    …my wife sent me a text expressing how disgusted she was with our coach. She didn't go into specifics, but she ended with the statement "I'm done!".
    It sounds like a conversation with your wife would help to uncover the petty issues. After talking with your wife, then talk to the coach to express the concerns of other swimmers.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Very Active Member GGS5T's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    It is not good enough for a coach to be late, or not to show at all. And if he arrives at the pool on time - he is already late.

    It doesn’t look good.

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    is he the only coach or who hired him? Do you have a board or is it just a single coach team?
    "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters, actor and comedian

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    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by trident58
    many of our intermediate/beginners are complaining that they are not getting recognition for their efforts. ... we are now losing a lot of swimmers because they feel they are working for nothing.
    Personally, I don't feel that adults should be so needy; this seems childish. They should be "working" for themselves and their own fitness/competition goals. It's hard for me to believe that masters swimmers only go to practice for a pat on the head ...

    That said, I believe the intermediate/beginners should get coaching attention -- stroke correction, explanation of sets, etc.

    Being late is definitely a bad habit unless, as Rob notes, there is a specific reason. I always try to be early myself, but I certainly have gotten stuck in traffic jams/accidents on occasion.

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    Very Active Member aztimm's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Personally, I don't feel that adults should be so needy; this seems childish. They should be "working" for themselves and their own fitness/competition goals. It's hard for me to believe that masters swimmers only go to practice for a pat on the head ...
    I had to laugh when I read the OP about this. Yea I sometimes get a, "great swim," after a workout, maybe once a week (more likely every 2-3 weeks). But I certainly wouldn't change my swimming habits due to a lack of one.
    More often, I'll get one (or give one) to another swimmer who I just swam a tough set with.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    That said, I believe the intermediate/beginners should get coaching attention -- stroke correction, explanation of sets, etc.
    If the coach is new, he/she may be getting a feel for the way the group works. If I'm looking for feedback on something, I've never had a coach say, "no," when I ask. Especially if it is something specific. Maybe breaststroke pullouts...ask how they look, what I can improve, what drills I can work on to make them better.
    If I'm planning to swim in a meet and want to do block starts, I've asked for specific feedback on those.
    After the coach gets to know the swimmers (and vice-versa) this should be more natural.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Being late is definitely a bad habit unless, as Rob notes, there is a specific reason. I always try to be early myself, but I certainly have gotten stuck in traffic jams/accidents on occasion.
    I guess this partly depends on when the workout is happening. I normally swim early morning, before work, and traffic is rarely an issue. I can't remember a single time when our morning coach was late. He's normally there early, making sure lanelines are in, there are kickboards available, etc. I think once when I was there 15 min early I might have beat the coach.

    For evening workouts, there have been a few instances when the masters coach was late (traffic, them working late, etc.) However, they've let someone know and typically another coach on deck (one who is coaching kids) will get us started.

    Since I've been swimming with my current team (I think about 6 years), I could count on one hand the number of times a coach was late. I can't recall a single time they just never showed. Heck even when there's inclement weather and we won't be swimming, the coach is there anyway to let us know (along with sending out email, posts to FB, etc.)
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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Personally, I don't feel that adults should be so needy; this seems childish. They should be "working" for themselves and their own fitness/competition goals. It's hard for me to believe that masters swimmers only go to practice for a pat on the head ...
    This, for sure.

  11. #11
    Very Active Member GGS5T's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm View Post
    Since I've been swimming with my current team (I think about 6 years), I could count on one hand the number of times a coach was late. I can't recall a single time they just never showed. Heck even when there's inclement weather and we won't be swimming, the coach is there anyway to let us know (along with sending out email, posts to FB, etc.)
    I understand this. I was with my last coach for 6 years too. He never once missed a workout. Never.

  12. #12
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Personally, I don't feel that adults should be so needy; this seems childish. They should be "working" for themselves and their own fitness/competition goals. It's hard for me to believe that masters swimmers only go to practice for a pat on the head ...
    Children with checkbooks is how I phrase it.

    I thought I had heard it all until one day I opened one minute late at 5:16 am and was asked why I was "so late," and not in a nice tone. The workout began on time at 5:30 am. No one gets rich coaching Masters so giving the coach a little benefit of the doubt seems to be the avenue to take. Having said that I always tried to be at the pool 30 minutes before the workout began. Hardly anything annoys people more than a late coach.

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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm View Post
    I've never had a coach say, "no," when I ask.
    I have. Actually, the answer I got was "Masters don't want feedback." clearly I did, but I didn't matter.

    A conversation needs to be had in a friendly manner by the affected swimmer(s) to the new coach so that everyone can get on the same page. And if the new guy can't seem to get on board, then maybe it's not the right fit. But he needs to be given a chance first, with communitcation.

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    Very Active Member jroddin's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by trident58 View Post
    ... my wife sent me a text expressing how disgusted she was... She didn't go into specifics, but she ended with the statement "I'm done!".
    You probably should first make it clear your wife is done with the coach and not you...

  15. #15
    USMS Member since 2003 gull's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    I believe that a good coach is engaged in the practice. At Longhorn we may have fifty or more swimmers in the pool, yet Whitney will call out to me, "You're breathing late," or "Your fingers are separating." Having a coach that is engaged is not about receiving praise; she certainly doesn't give it gratuitously. When I was trying to refine my track start, she said, "That actually wasn't terrible." And that made my day.
    Last edited by gull; August 21st, 2015 at 09:01 AM.

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    I had to giggle a bit when I read this "...many of our intermediate/beginners are complaining that they are not getting recognition for their efforts." As a solo swimmer who only competes with my team but trains alone, I receive no recognition for anything I do in the pool six days per week. Any recognition I get is from within, and I literally tell myself- out loud- "Good job!" when I swim well on a set or swim a fast (for me) time. The giggle part comes in when I hit the wall, look at the clock, and say "Good job!" out loud to myself forgetting there are sometimes other swimmers on each side of me resting at the wall. I get the strangest looks, and sometimes, I have even received a response of "Thank you!"

    I guess what I am saying is that I agree with Fort: "
    Personally, I don't feel that adults should be so needy; this seems childish. They should be "working" for themselves and their own fitness/competition goals. It's hard for me to believe that masters swimmers only go to practice for a pat on the head ..."
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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Of course there's a difference in not receiving praise and being ignored. If these beginner swimmers are expecting feedback, and it's not forthcoming, that's a legitimate gripe.

  18. #18
    Participating Member au-girl98's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Personally, I don't feel that adults should be so needy; this seems childish. They should be "working" for themselves and their own fitness/competition goals. It's hard for me to believe that masters swimmers only go to practice for a pat on the head ...
    While I would tend to agree I also know everyone likes to hear "good job" every once in a while. Even the swimmer at Master's that doesn't compete is still probably working hard. I don't mean every set, every day - this isn't a participation award - but after a particularly hard workout it is nice to hear.

    Maybe it's different as an adult-onset swimmer? I have been swimming solo for 10 years, just started competing a year ago and started going to coached Master's workouts 2x/week in January. When the coach would say stuff like "your breastroke is looking better" or "you are definitely getting faster" it was nice to hear. It meant all the hard work I had been putting in (solo and with the team) was working.

    To the OP, a conversation is probably in order. (before/after practice) Coaching Master's is definitely different than coaching age-groupers and maybe he doesn't know how to give constructive feedback to adults?

  19. #19
    Very Active Member gobears's Avatar
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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    I think there is a big difference between those of us who have swum for years and don't need a whole lot of reinforcement from a coach and those who step out of their comfort zone to try on the sport of swimming. I can't tell you how many people walk onto my pool deck with all kinds of anxieties about their speed and abilities. Wanting some positive reinforcement is not indicative of a lack of maturity. It seems to make a big difference in confidence - which translates to better swimming.

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    Re: Conflict with new coach

    Quote Originally Posted by jroddin View Post
    You probably should first make it clear your wife is done with the coach and not you...

    No problem there. We talked last night, and yes, I'm safe!

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