Category Archives: swim training

The Purpose and Measurement of a Swim Meet

The Swim Meet Coach – Part II.

“Purpose and Measurement of a Swim Meet

by John Leonard

In the first part of this series, we identified that there are specific skills to develop in coaching at a swim meet as opposed to “practice coaching”. In this article, we’ll begin to explore those skills. We’ll begin with thinking about the swim meet experience conceptually.

Lets first answer the question, “What Do You Think The Purpose Of A Swim Meet Is?”

 To begin, lets make an assumption, and that is, that we are purpose driven human beings attempting to teach purpose to young people. If that is the case, then there are several possible purposes of packing up the family and going to a swim meet.

It is an opportunity to test the quality and durability of what you have learned in practice. Why practice if not to compete and test it? This is a universal, regardless of summer league meet, USA Swimming meet, or high school/collegiate competition.

It is an opportunity to enjoy racing with other swimmers. In most meets, athletes are grouped according to relative abilities, so you’ll be competing with people relatively similar to yourself in ability. While this is likely true in highly organized competition like YMCA, USA-S age group meets, the grouping of athletes is likely to be less homogeneous in high school or summer league competition. You may be in over your head, or you may not have sufficient competitive challenge in your event.

It is a quality opportunity to see if you are a better swimmer today than you were the last time you competed. Universally true. Test yourself. Don’t depend on the competition. Test Yourself.

It is an opportunity to grow to a new level in our sport. If you are an age grouper, a chance to get a new B time, new A time, new AAA time. If a senior swimmer, a chance for a new Sectional cut, Junior or Senior National cut, or, if a high school swimmer, advance to your district or state meet.

It is FUN! Go enjoy it. Make the experience exciting, positive and fun. Learn and appreciate.

The point here is, every swim meet, every swim at every swim meet, should have one or more of the above purposes in mind. The athlete needs coach leadership to understand and put in context, the purpose of the meet and the swim. Don’t let athletes get into the “same old, same old” rut. Set appropriate purposes for each swim in front of each swimmer.

Sometimes its as simple as scoring points for your team in a dual meet. Sometimes it can be pretty complicated. But Purpose is everything!

And the backside of purpose of course, is evaluation. Once the purpose is set, then the coach and athlete need to work together to analyze the result and prepare for the next race, next meet, next season. The good coach becomes skilled at evaluation.

Evaluation may come in various time frames. First, is when the athlete walks back from the blocks. There is an art to good communication with the athlete immediately following the swim, and in this series of articles, we’ll explore the nature and content of those communications.

Second, is more in-depth post meet evaluation to look carefully at the entire meet and performances in context. Third, is the sort of end of season analysis that looking back at each meet in the season can provide.

Good evaluation comes from data. Facts. “Feelings” and “opinions’ are certainly to be respected, and considered. But over time, most coaches have come to the conclusion that facts help form solid opinions and therefore, facts are important to assemble in as much depth as possible.

So, how do you measure results at a swim meet? Here are some ways.

  • Did you have a lifetime best time?
  • Did  you have a seasonal best time?
  • Did you swim the race with the effort pattern that  you had planned?
  • Did you swim the race with the technical elements that you had planned? (Stroke, turn, start, etc.)
  • Did you get the competitive result you sought? (Placing)

And of course, you can add others!

While certainly it is important to select ONE of the above as a primary objective of each swim, the fact is that sometimes swimmers, regardless of experience level, play “mix and match” (“I want to swim a best time and win the race.”) This makes it significantly more difficult to evaluate the race competently.

Now, as the coach, what do you measure?

Here are some ideas:

Measure percent of best times. (lifetime or seasonal)  “We swam 100 races this weekend. We had 42 best times. Our best time percentage for the weekend is 42%.”

Measure the number of new B, A, AA, etc. times on the team. “We had 14 new B times, 3 new A times and 2 new AAAA times, great job!”

Measure the  number of new  Sectional, JR, Sr. National qualifying times. Celebrate those!

Measure the percentage of best times in prelims. In finals. Track these. Compare over time.

Measure the total number of seconds improved by the entire team added together. This is a great “team incentive” that everyone can contribute to.

Measure the percent of best times by stroke. (“We had 22% best season times in backstroke.”)

Measure the percent of best times by distance. (“We had 46% best times in events 400 and longer, and 58% best times in teh 100’s”)

Measure best times by age group. (“the 10 and under girls swam 75% best ever times this past weekend! Congratulations!”)

Measure best times by gender. Then Gender and age group.

The more you measure, the more you have to think about. And you are thinking about FACTS. (Having facts also help in discussion with parents, who typically begin a conversation with “I think…” or “I feel…”  You have the facts.)

Having the facts allows  you to have intelligent post meet conversations with athletes.

“How do you think you did?”

“What was good? What was not so good? What can you improve on?”

“Why?”

“What can we do about it? What do you think we should work on in practice with you?” What can you do to get better?”

Facts also allow you to have intelligent conversations with the team as a whole. “Here is how we did. These are the facts. What do you think? What common traits do you see? What do we need to concentrate on? What simple things can we do as a group in practice to improve?”

Facts allow you to discuss performances with your coaches from a common ground. (if you have a staff.)

Facts allow you to give real information on athlete performance and improvement to your Athletic Director and Principal (whether he wants them or not!) and to your Board of Directors.

Having facts, means that you can be evaluated with facts. Most of us prefer this. (Though, sadly, not all….some want to get by on their charm and good looks…if you are not so blessed, facts can help.)

Summary: think about and have a PURPOSE. Develop and have FACTS!

 

 

Ten Day Dryland Training Cycle – Some Thoughts from Coach John Leonard

Dryland Training Cycle

This is a ten day cycle. On the 2nd ten day go-round, on the odd numbered days, add a heavier med ball to the routine. On the 2nd go round add WEIGHT to each exercise. Same on the 3rd go-round. Same on the 4th go-round. After 40 days of training like this, we should adjust the routine to incorporate some changes and new material.  You’ll start out needing 30 minutes a day on the first couple of days, (outside of running, which can be done in the same session or at a different time of day.  But it will rapidly increase to about 45 minutes/1 hour per day towards the end of each cycle because of the increase in numbers.

Probably good to take a 2-3 day Break from dryland at the end of each 10 day cycle.

JL

#1 – Run 30 minutes steady, easy

Med ball – standing – 25 chest passes, 25 overheads

Med ball – standing – 50 figure eights – change direction half way.

Med ball – “hikes” – 10 each partner.

Med ball situps – 4 x 25 sprint speed with ball.

Pushups – normal position – 3(10-9-8-7-6) 40 per set, 120 total.

Med ball wall throws – Overhead – 25, from side 25 left, 25 right, heavy ball.

#2 – Planks – 4 positions – 2 sets – 1 warmup 15 seconds, 1 full at 30 seconds.

Pushups with feet on med-ball – 10

Situps with feet on exercise ball – 30

Pullups – 5 x 5

Pulldowns with light weight on machine – 3×30

Dumbbell alternate arm flings – 30 each arm.

Bam-bams with med ball – 3 x 50

Swim Bench – 75 recovery strokes – Turned around backwards.

#3 – Run 30 minutes – 20 steady, 10 sprints.

Med ball – standing – 30 chest passes,  overheads

Med ball – standing – 60 figure eights – change direction half way.

Med ball – “hikes” – 15 each partner.

Med ball situps – 5 x 25 sprint speed with ball.

Pushups – normal position – 4(10-9-8-7-6) 40 per set, 160 total.

Med ball wall throws – Overhead – 30, from side 30 left, 30 right, heavy ball.

#4. – Planks – 4 positions – 2 sets – 1 warmup 15 seconds, 1 full at 40 seconds.

Pushups with feet on med-ball – 15

Situps with feet on exercise ball – 40

Pullups – 5 x 6

Pulldowns with light weight on machine – 4×35

Dumbbell alternate arm flings – 40 each arm.

Bam-bams with med ball – 4 x 50

Swim Bench – 100  recovery strokes – Turned around backwards.

#5 – Run 30 minutes – 15 steady, 15 sprints

Med ball – standing – 40 chest passes, 40 overheads

Med ball – standing – 70 figure eights – change direction half way.

Med ball – “hikes” – 20 each partner.

Med ball situps – 6 x 25 sprint speed with ball. (125)

Pushups – normal position – 5(10-9-8-7-6) 40 per set, 200  total.

Med ball wall throws – Overhead – 350, from side 35 left, 35 right, heavy ball.

#6. Planks – 4 positions – 2 sets – 1 warmup 15 seconds, 1 full at 45 seconds.

Pushups with feet on med-ball – 20

Situps with feet on exercise ball – 50

Pullups – 5 x 7

Pulldowns with light weight on machine – 4×45

Dumbbell alternate arm flings – 50 each arm.

Bam-bams with med ball – 4 x 70

Swim Bench – 125  recovery strokes – Turned around backwards.

#7 – Run 40 minutes – Steady

Med ball – standing – 50 chest passes, 50 overheads

Med ball – standing – 70 figure eights – change direction half way.

Med ball – “hikes” – 25 each partner.

Med ball situps – 7 x 25 sprint speed with ball. (175)

Pushups – normal position – 6(10-9-8-7-6) 40 per set, 240  total.

Med ball wall throws – Overhead – 40, from side 40 left, 40  right, heavy ball.

#8.  Planks – 4 positions – 2 sets – 1 warmup 15 seconds, 1 full at 50 seconds.

Pushups with feet on med-ball – 25

Situps with feet on exercise ball – 60

Pullups – 5 x 8

Pulldowns with light weight on machine – 4×50

Dumbbell alternate arm flings – 60 each arm.

Bam-bams with med ball – 4 x 80

Swim Bench – 2 x 75   recovery strokes – Turned around backwards.

#9 – Run 40 minutes – 20 steady, 15 sprint, 5 steady.

Med ball – standing – 60 chest passes, 60 overheads

Med ball – standing – 80 figure eights – change direction half way.

Med ball – “hikes” – 30 each partner.

Med ball situps – 8 x 25 sprint speed with ball. (200 )

Pushups – normal position – 7(10-9-8-7-6) 40 per set, 280  total.

Med ball wall throws – Overhead – 45, from side 45left, 45  right, heavy ball.

 

#10. Planks – 4 positions – 2 sets – 1 warmup 15 seconds, 1 full at 55 seconds.

Pushups with feet on med-ball – 30

Situps with feet on exercise ball – 70

Pullups – 5 x 9

Pulldowns with light weight on machine – 4×60

Dumbbell alternate arm flings – 70 each arm.

Bam-bams with med ball – 4 x 100

Swim Bench – 2 x 100    recovery strokes – Turned around backwards.

Swimming Psyche Outs: How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!).

Swimming Psyche Outs. How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!!). Part One.Posted: 17 Mar 2011 12:08 AM PDT

by Wayne Goldsmith

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it.” John Ruskin

How many times do you hear a football player or baseballer or basketballer say something like “It was tough out there today. The other team really psyched us out”.

Sportspeople talk about the psyche out as something someone else did to them – that someone somehow did something mystical or magical that impacted on their performance.

Lots of people talk about psyching out…………..so what is it?

What is a psyche out?

A psyche out is the words, actions and behaviors of another person trying to increase pressure on you and as a result try to negatively influence your performance.

Pressure is a misunderstood concept in sport.

  • Pressure is not the race;
  • It is not the crowd;
  • It is not the gold medal;
  • It is not the opposition.

It is something you put on yourself – it is something you create: it is something you generate.

The psyche out has one goal – to convince you to put more pressure on yourself.

Even the best swimmers will perform poorly if they lack confidence and can not deal with the pressure of competition.

Think about swimming in your home pool on a warm summer morning with your friends. It feels great. It feels relaxed. It feels comfortable.

Now imagine 50,000 people sitting in the stands around the pool watching you swim.

How do you feel? Nervous? Tense? Uncomfortable? Under pressure?

Why?

The pool hasn’t got any longer. The water hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is you – and your perception that swimming in front of 50,000 people is different (and more pressure) than swimming in front of a few moms and dads.

Pressure is something you generate in response to your perception of the situation.

Why do some people try to psyche out others?

Nothing impacts on performance like pressure! The main reason people try psyche out others is to artificially create pressure by increasing doubts, fears and insecurities in their opposition and try to erode their confidence.

Remember this…………Pressure places people in positions for poor performance.

Why are psyche outs such an effective strategy?

Your attitude and your confidence determine your destiny. Anything that impacts on your attitude and destroys your confidence is potentially damaging to your performance.

The psyche out is a tool some people use to attack attitude and kill confidence to get you to increase pressure on yourself.

What kinds of psyche outs are there?

Psyche outs come in two basic forms – the Dirty Downers and the Positive Power Plays.

Dirty Downers (DD) are those psyche outs which focus on bringing people down through criticism, sarcasm and down right meanness.

Positive Power Plays (PPP) are psyche outs which give you strength and confidence without putting anyone else down.

Dirty Downers: Where do they happen?

Dirty Downers can happen any where – the locker room, at the end of the pool during warm up, in the ready room, in the marshalling area, behind the blocks…….you name it, the Dirty Downer can hit you anytime…anywhere.

Who does them?

Thankfully not many swimmers are Dirty Downer Do-ers!

Dirty downer do-ers are often swimmers who lack confidence in themselves and decide their best tactic (and their best chance of winning) lies not in developing their own confidence and self belief but in destroying the confidence of others.

Make yourself psyche out proof.

Here’s the secret……………………..psyche outs only work if you let them!

It’s not the psyche outs that are the problem – it’s how you respond to them.

Dirty downer do-ers can find fault in your appearance, your clothing, your hairstyle, your club, your friends, your family, your coach, your training program, your swim gear, your body odor, your dog………but the important thing is to learn to control how you respond to the comments and criticisms.

A Dirty Downer Do-er is trying to get you to lose confidence and get you to create pressure on yourself by making you feel inadequate in comparison to them.

Forget comparing yourself to other people – compare yourself with how close you are to your own full potential.

Some of the best (and worst) psyche outs:

A few leading swimmers were asked to talk about the best and worst psyche outs they have ever heard. Here are some real beauts!

“Is that swim suit really small or have you just put on weight lately”

“Are you still swimming? I heard you gave up a long time ago”

“You look really tired – are you ok?”

“Those goggles are really old. I can’t believe you still wear them”

Regardless of the psyche out – remember the secret – the psyche out only works if you respond to the pressure it is trying to create!

What they say and what they mean………………………….

Often the Dirty Downer Do-er will give hints about how they really think and feel in their psyche outs.

If they are feeling a bit flat, tired and fatigued, they might try to hit you with a “hey you look tired and worn out” comment.

Listen to what they say but also listen to what they mean:

For example:

They say: “I have been doing 10 sessions a week and I am in the best shape of my career” .

They mean: “I am not really sure how i am going to go today”

They say “We’re swimming through the meet. We’re not even tapering for this meet”

They mean: “I need an excuse in case I don’t swim well today”

They say:“We’ve just done a hell week”

They mean: “I am really tired”

They say: “We’re doing 50 miles a week”

They mean: “I am really tired”

They say: “I’ve just done a huge pb in the gym”

They mean: “I need to make you think i am stronger than i really am”

So………what do you do when a Dirty Downer Do-er strikes??????????????

Read Part Two later this week which starts with Ten things you can do to respond to a psyche out-er!

Wayne Goldsmith

Dryland: Stronger Shoulders for $2 and 6 Minutes Per Day

Grif Fig, of IHPSWIM.com, recently posted a great article on shoulder stability and prehab exercises.  Prehab – rather than rehab – is the coined term for sports injury prevention – i.e., make the body strong and mobile with functional and sport-specific exercises as a way to prevent overuse/overtraining injuries down the road.

Grif’s post shows a demo of these exercises using a flexibar.  A similar piece of equipment is the Bodyblade.  I don’t know much about the flexibar, but a Bodyblade will cost you somewhere between $50 and $150, depending on the weight/size you want.

Use is simple:  You push and pull on the pipe (basically waving it back and forth), which produces the oscillation or flex of the pipe, which then require force output from you to neutralize the speed and movement of the blade. You have to start, stop and change directions of your own body while controlling your mass.

Your athletes can get the same effect – at a much cheaper cost – through the use of PVC pipe.  Here’s what I’ve had my athletes do:

1. Go to Home Depot/Lowes/any sort of hardware store that sells PVC pipe.

2.  Purchase 1/4 inch PVC pipe at a length somewhere between 7 and 8 feet (long enough to be flexible; short enough to be manageable).  This will cost you less than $2.00.

3.  Bring to practice.  (Obviously, it’s much easier if you can store these at the pool, once acquired.)

4.  Daily, incorporate a prehab routine into your practice.  There are a multitude of routines you can follow, but I’ve had my athletes on a very simple plan that took us about six minutes per day.

- 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended overhead

- 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended in front of body

- 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended out to side – palm forward

- 30 secs left arm/30 secs right arm — arm extended out to side – palm down

The benefits are enormous – athletes increase core stability, shoulder stability and improve their overhead and lateral range of motion.  And incorporating these exercises with some regularity and self-discipline really does prevent shoulder soreness, pain and injury.

So, if you want less whining and “stretching” on the wall, and/or stronger and healthier athletes with far less susceptibility to injury, start some shoulder prehab – all you need is $2 for PVC pipe and 6 minutes per day.

(Note:  Although the shoulder prehab routine described above is a bit different from typical use of a Bodyblade, click here for a video if you need a little more insight as to how it all works.)

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