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Questions from Coaches

Education Director Bill Brenner answers your questions

  1. Q: What do successful coaches do beyond writing a workout?

    by , May 15th, 2014 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What do successful coaches do beyond writing a good workout?

    A: Often, the Masters coach is the leader of the program and has sole responsibility of managing the day-to-day affairs both on and off the pool deck. If there are other people helping to manage the off-deck responsibilities of the program, list and define the roles and responsibilities of each position in a written document. Meetings with all coaches, club leaders, and program support staff should be scheduled often to insure the duties of each role are being carried out to the satisfaction of the entire group.

    Once you have established what your role and responsibilities are as the coach, begin to list how you will fulfill those duties. Most successful Masters coaches across the country are responsible for the following:

    • Knowing your athletes. Do you know your athletes' names, goals, motivations, and outside interests? More importantly, talk to each swimmer during every practice.
    • Being supportive. Adults want to be treated with respect, and they want to have a positive experience during their time with you and your program. If they have a negative experience, they might not come back. Celebrate their accomplishments without pointing out their failures.
    • Embracing all swimmers. Adults choose to swim for a plethora of reasons and will show up with varying degrees of proficiency. Welcome swimmers of all ability levels and backgrounds.
    • Creating a seasonal plan. Keep a chart of all the events your athletes will be participating in during the year, including USMS ePostal events, pool competitions, open water swims, and triathlons. Write your workouts with the purpose of preparing your athletes for their scheduled events.
    • Planning events. Hosting events such as stroke and turn clinics, swim meets, virtual events, open water swims, and fundraisers provides opportunities to challenge and educate. Encourage 100 percent participation in each club-hosted activity, whether it's a meet or an off-site social.
    • Making swimming fun. As a Masters coach, you have the ability to make a positive impact on each swimmer you coach. Showing enthusiasm with words or gestures on deck is the first step in making swimming fun for your athletes. Smile, and you'll probably get one in return.

    Updated June 25th, 2014 at 12:32 PM by Bill Brenner

  2. Building relationships

    by , March 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How does my program build a relationship with elected and appointed political leaders in my community?

    A: Establishing political clout within your community can serve your program well-especially in the events of reduced pool availability, pool renovation, and new pool projects.

    Masters swimmers, unlike age group swimmers, have a political voice though their votes. In addition, adults contribute time, talents, and dollars to political campaigns. Although elected officials should fairly represent their constituency, often, the group with the loudest voice and deepest pockets gets the most attention.

    Most programs don't have loud voices and deep pockets. If you do, that's great. If you don't, however, that shouldn't stop you from building relationships with your political leaders. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

    • Invite an elected official to present a "Swimmer of the Month" award to one of your athletes. That adds up to 12 officials in 12 months.
    • Have an elected official be present at any grand opening or dedication events. This includes a new scoreboard, starting blocks, a pool renovation, anything. Get creative.
    • Recruit an elected official to be the announcer when your program hosts a community fundraiser event such as a wacky relay meet to raise money for a local charity or cause. Invite the local media to cover the event.
    • Recruit an elected official to hand out awards at your swim meet, open water event, and at your program's year-end awards banquet.
    • The more your elected officials know about your program-the diversity, the health and wellness benefits it provides adults, and how vital an asset it is to the community-the more political clout you'll build. Politicians champion great causes. Masters swimming is GREAT!
  3. Verifying membership when hosting swim clinics

    by , November 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: If I host a swim clinic, how do I verify USMS membership of the participants?

    A: It's important to make sure that your clinic information and marketing materials state that USMS membership is required to participate in the clinic. This protects your liability insurance.

    1. Require each participant to show a copy of current membership card at the clinic check-in.
    2. Require each participant to provide current membership number, name as it appears in the USMS database, and LMSC. Verify this information with the LMSC registrars.
    3. Use the third-party event registration vendor, Club Assistant, that can verify the participants as they register for the clinic.
    4. Allow non-members to register for USMS the day of the event. Have a device capable of connecting to the Internet so online registration is possible or have paper entries available. Make sure registrants are aware that online registration requires either a MasterCard or Visa. American Express is not accepted. Checks are accepted for paper registration.

    Any one of these options should ensure that all your participants are registered for USMS.
  4. Collecting dues

    by , September 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: My program is growing. I enjoy the additional time I spend on the deck coaching but collecting payments from my swimmers has never been fun or easy. Any suggestions?

    A: Consider using a third party club management company for billing and fee collection, such as Club Assistant. Many coaches resist adding additional costs to their business. However, there is a value to being able to spend more time doing the things you enjoy. With an increase in your productivity, you can spend more time coaching, which benefits you and your members.

    The billing of your members can be customized based on your criteria. I recommend billing in advance either monthly, quarterly, semiannually or yearly. If a member has prepaid the program fee, they are more likely to stay with the program or return to the program after an illness, injury or an extended vacation. Discounts may be offered for specific groups like families, seniors and juniors. I'm especially fond of the family discount. When one or more other family member is participating in our sport, the greater the chance all will continue to participate.