Monthly Archives: April 2011
Swimming Psyche Outs: How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!).
Resistance is the enemy to great work, says author Steve Pressfield. But with enemies come allies. Consider, who and what will push you through the dips and help you do the work that matters.
Here’s an excerpt from Do the Work about the champions on your side:
3. Blind faith
5. Assistance (the opposite of Resistance)
6. Friends and family
The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began.
Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.
How do we achieve this state of mind? By staying stupid. By not allowing ourselves to think.
A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.
Don’t think. Act.
We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.
Once we commit to action, the worst thing we can do is to stop.
What will keep us from stopping? Plain old stubbornness.
I like the idea of stubbornness because it’s less lofty than “tenacity” or “perseverance.” We don’t have to be heroes to be stubborn. We can just be pains in the butt.
When we’re stubborn, there’s no quit in us. We’re mean. We’re mulish. We’re ornery.
We’re in till the finish.
We will sink our junkyard-dog teeth into Resistance’s ass and not let go, no matter how hard he kicks.
Is there a spiritual element to creativity? Hell, yes.
Our mightiest ally (our indispensable ally) is belief in something we cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or feel.
Resistance wants to rattle that faith. Resistance wants to destroy it.
There’s an exercise that Patricia Ryan Madson describes in her wonderful book, Improv Wisdom. (Ms. Madson taught improvisational theater at Stanford to standing-room only classes for twenty years.) Here’s the exercise:
Imagine a box with a lid. Hold the box in your hand. Now open it.
It might be a frog, a silk scarf, a gold coin of Persia. But here’s the trick: no matter how many times you open the box, there is always something in it.
Ask me my religion. That’s it.
I believe with unshakeable faith that there will always be something in the box.
Picasso painted with passion, Mozart composed with it. A child plays with it all day long.
You may think that you’ve lost your passion, or that you can’t identify it, or that you have so much of it, it threatens to overwhelm you. None of these is true.
Fear saps passion.
When we conquer our fears, we discover a boundless, bottomless, inexhaustible well of passion.
We’ll come back to this later. Suffice it to say for now that as Resistance is the shadow, its opposite—Assistance—is the sun.
Friends and Family
When art and inspiration and success and fame and money have come and gone, who still loves us—and whom do we love?
Only two things will remain with us across the river: our inhering genius and the hearts we love.
In other words, what we do and whom we do it for.
by John Leonard
Coach Peter Daland frequently reminds me that swim coaches evolved from the old days of “bath attendants,” who spent all day at the (overheated) pool, in their bathrobes, providing towels to patrons. Naturally, since these gentlemen (no ladies to our knowledge) spent all day observing the motion of humans through water, they became a source of information on how various people succeeded or failed in doing so. Hence, the birth of swim coaching.
Not very glorious.
This humble beginning, combined with a recent conversation with an ASCA member, led me to consider the concept of a “profession.” I know, intuitively, that swim coaching is a profession. And, we know, intuitively, that we are professional coaches. But, under objective standards, is coaching a profession?
Here’s what I found:
The word profession comes from the Latin professio, meaning “public declaration.” Historically, when a person made a commitment to a profession, they were automatically branded a member of a religious community, by openly declaring a faith or an opinion. Sound familiar?
Nowadays, various things have been tacked on to that original concept. Today’s common understanding of a professional are individuals vocations requiring a highly specialized body of knowledge and experiences. Another factor in the definition of a profession today is its universality. Coaching swimming is indeed a global profession, with people practicing it on most of the continents. Additionally, the idea of a profession is imbued with the concepts of a “discipline” and an “order” to the vocation.
How do we measure up against this standard? What has ASCA provided that helps us meet those expectations from the public we serve?
First, is there a common philosophy?
I would say yes, there is. Quite simply, we are in place to assist those who wish to swim in a more satisfactory fashion. This can range from learning to swim, to setting world records. We exist to serve our clients. Within that context, multiple philosophies of “how to” exist, largely to the benefit of the public we serve. Diversity provides a learning process and improvement process for everyone we can touch with our collective efforts.
Second, is there a common body of knowledge?
Yes, we’re improving. Within ASCA’s five required Certification Levels and 14 additional Enrichment Schools, ASCA has created and continually improves and evaluates and expands, the skills and abilities of its members. Globally, we are moving towards agreement on the foundational concepts of swimming and forming the basics of a common body of knowledge. Already, with international clinics, and the communication and learning possibilities of our digital age, information and education is increasingly accessible to any individual who really wants to be a swimming coach.
Third, is there a formal Education Process? Yes and no.
In the USA, thanks to our partners at USA Swimming, we have “required” education for our newest coaches before they get a coaching license. Above Level 1, education is required only for certification by the ASCA. The good news is that 12,000 (and growing daily) coaches have committed themselves to certification and the required education process it includes. This VOLUNTARY association clearly is superior to any forced mechanism we can create. The market for our profession – our clubs and employers – have a way to require and demand continuing education from our profession.
Fourth, are their standards of entry?
Yes. All new coaches, within one year of starting to coach, must complete the Level 1 Coaching School through ASCA and USA Swimming. Unfortunately, no such standard exists for NCAA coaching assistants or high school coaching (though individual states have some requirements for HS coaches).
Fifth, are their guidelines for behavior?
Yes. In 1991, the ASCA passed the first ever Code of Ethics in Olympic Sports coaching. (Since that time, twelve other sports have followed suit.) And, USAS requires coaches to pass a background screen, which is a key protection for those whom we serve.
Sixth, does the profession have consistent communication mechanisms in place?
Yes! With the American Swimming Magazine, the ASCA Newsletter, and the Journal of Swimming Research, we provide information from the anecdotal to the rigorously scientific, on a monthly basis, in addition to 18-20 live clinics a year. USAS conducts regional clinics, sends regular email communications and engages in on-site visits with coaches and teams. Both the ASCA website and the USAS website are forums for thought leadership and fast communications of ideas.
Seventh, do we have leaders who serve as mentors and role models and are they active in leadership roles both formal and informal?
Yes, the ASCA Board, and more recently the ASCA Fellows Program, provides a set of mechanisms to evaluate past efforts, think about and plan for the future of the profession and then pass on accumulated wisdom to future generations of leaders. Our leadership role and individuals are highly active, highly visible, and provide key links from our past into the bright future.
The work of creating, maintaining and improving a profession is never done. But daily, the collective coaching community is committed to doing what we do, and believing in what we say, and envisioning what will come. So, hold this close: As a coach, you are part of a profession…The Swimming Coach.
(evaluated from Crain’s Chicago Business Journal, “What defines a profession?”)
Sports Coaching Brain
Finding the Right Head Coach
Posted: 13 Mar 2011 09:29 PM PDT
With all the movements and changes in the head coaching ranks these days, it is worth having a closer look at how to go about hiring the right coach.
The most important step for any club, is to first clearly understand what they want from a head coach!
Do they want a leader – an inspirational head coach?
Do they want someone who is an expert in change management – someone who can make hard decisions and radical changes to the Club’s culture and performance environment?
Do they want a technical expert – someone with great skills in one element of the game, e.g. attack?
Do they want a coach skilled with dealing with the media?
Do they want a hard nosed, disciplinarian with a strong work ethic and uncompromising nature?
Do they want someone who can build effective teams and get people working together towards a common goal?
Do they want someone with knowledge and skills in sports science and performance enhancement?
Do they want someone who has played the game at the highest level and has an understanding and empathy for the playing group?
Do they want someone who can create leaders in the player group and create a player driven culture?
Do they want an innovator? Someone who can accelerate change and implement new ideas?
The answer most clubs will give is – “all of the above”.
Most clubs will seek a single person who can meet all of these expectations and more – and they are very, very, very hard to find.
However, most clubs do not NEED a head coach with all these attributes.
The head coach needs of a club will vary over time depending on a range of factors.
A young club may want an experienced coach who can establish a winning culture, systems and structures to help the club get started.
An older club with a more established culture may want the injection of new ideas and energy to revitalise the club, players and program and recruit someone with a new, fresh approach to winning.
Regardless of the needs of the Club, there are some common principles to put in place to increase the likelihood of recruiting the right person.
Five essentials for recruiting the right head coach:
1. Clearly determine what your club needs right now
Don’t go on the coach’s reputation alone or what the coach has done for another team. Think about the UNIQUE needs of your club right now. A coach who has been successful at one club may not be able to replicate that success in the new environment because of differences in the player group, Club culture, resources, management structure, location etc. The key question you are trying to answer is “Can this coach deliver the outcomes we want at this club now and in the future”.
2. Think about the TOTAL COACHING SKILL SET you want.
Instead of looking for one man to deliver the “entire world”, look to employ a coaching TEAM who can deliver high quality, consistent coaching to the club. For example:
A STRONG INSPIRATIONAL LEADER HEAD COACH plus “attention to detail” type, methodical, systematic assistant coaches.
A YOUNGER HEAD COACH WITH A STRONG BACKGROUND AS A PLAYER plus a quality, experienced, older assistant coach with a long coaching background to play a role of guide or mentor.
A HEAD COACH WITH OUTSTANDING FORWARDS PLAY KNOWLEDGE plus assistant coaches with outstanding attacking knowledge and skills.
Think about the balance of skills, knowledge, character, personality and experience of the coaching and performance enhancement team rather than trying to find one person to do it all.
If you had a very skillful player, but then asked them to be captain, organise the tactical plays, lead on the field, do all the media commitments, be the player responsible for scoring all the team’s points and meet all sponsor commitments, it is highly likely their playing performance will suffer.
Head coaches are the same. Expecting them to be all things to all people at all times will eventually result in a compromised coaching performance.
3. Establish the appropriate INTERVIEW / RECRUITMENT process.
If you are looking for a coach with a strong technical background, have the candidates present detailed technical plans and programs at interview and have someone on the interview panel who can ask challenging technical questions.
If you are looking for someone with a new direction for the Club, ask them to present a detailed “VISION” for the future which covers critical areas such as recruitment, player development, playing styles, etc etc.
Match the interview and recruitment process to the outcome you want!
If you were recruiting a goal kicker – you would ask them to kick a few goals before signing them! Same principle!
4. The six C’S – CLARITY / COMPOSURE / CONFIDENCE / CREDIBILITY / CHARACTER / COMMUNICATION.
The six principles of recruiting a quality head coach are:
CLARITY – Are they clear in their thinking, decision making, vision and direction?
COMPOSURE – Do they deal with pressure? Can they provide leadership in tough times?
CONFIDENCE – Do they believe in themselves and what they say?
CREDIBILITY – Can they get players, coaches, staff, management, sponsors and fans to buy in to what they are trying to do?
CHARACTER- Does who they are as a person enrich the club? Are their values (honesty, integrity, sincerity, humility, work ethic etc) consistent with you want for the head coaching role?
COMMUNICATION – Does the coach communicate well? Can they communicate effectively with players, coaches, staff, management, media, fans, sponsors? Do they communicate well in groups and one on one?
As it is with most organisations, poor communication is at the heart of the majority of problems experienced by sporting clubs.
5. Establish clear expectations, time frames and deliverables.
It is vital that the head coach, the Board, the Management, the staff and of course the players have a clear understanding of what the vision for the club is, the time frame that has been established to achieve the vision and the specific goals and objectives for everyone involved in the program.
From the outset establish clear policies, principles and rules so that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, the standards they are expected to maintain and the time frame to achieve them.
The Head Coach role is an important one for any club. They are often the public face of the organisation and the person held responsible for winning, losing and dealing with the implications of both.
It takes a special person to do it well – and an intelligent, thoughtful organisation to find that special person.
© 2011, Sports Coaching Brain. All rights reserved.
Advice to Assistant Coaches on Selling Ideas to Your Head Coach (and Advice to the Head Coach on Selling Ideas to your Board)
Advice to Assistant Coaches on Selling Ideas to Your Head Coach (and Advice to the Head Coach on Selling Ideas to your Board)
by John Leonard
Let me state up front that none of this is “original thinking”. The sales literature in the world is so extensive that literally every idea comes from “someone else”. So with apologies and thanks to the “originators” of these ideas, here goes.
First, when you are selling to the “CEO”, you need to understand first what THEIR concerns are:
1) Staying “profitable”. The CEO has to make sure the paychecks get written and the bills get paid. They have to do this FIRST, or the organization goes out of business and you don’t have a job. So if you whine “but its always about the money!”, grow up and recognize that you are correct. It IS always about the money. Unless you’re planning on donating your salary to the club this month?
2) Keeping the majority HAPPY. The CEO has a lot of “constituencies” that they have to please. Make enough people unhappy and you’re looking for a new job. Bringing “correct” but wildly unpopular ideas to the boss is not going to win you a new friend. And it will, if repeated enough times, label you as “difficult”. After you read that, see the last sentence of number one again.
3) Value. How important is the idea to the success of the organization? CEO’s need to spend their time on the key issues.
4) Agility. How easy/how fast/how simple is your idea? CEO’s want clarity and simplicity. If you can’t explain it in about one sentence, your idea needs “refinement” before presentation.
So, now you have thought of those things. Lets work on describing your idea in a sentence. (or two, if you have a patient CEO.)
1) Current issues in our business….does my idea impact something that is important to my boss NOW? In the immediate future? Or is it something with a longer timeframe that should wait till a “planning session”?
2) Does your idea have a direct effect on the CUSTOMER you serve, the swimming family? Or is this idea away from the customer? Most CEO’s will be most amenable to something that positively impacts swimmers and/or parents on the team.
3) Impact – does the idea provide a lot of “bang for the buck?” if so, you’re in business!
4) ROI – What is the “Return on Investment” that the CEO will get if they invest money and time in your idea? Conversely, what is the negative ROI “risk on investment”. If return is high and risk is low, you’re in business. If return is low and risk is high, better think twice before presenting it. If they are about even, rethink. How can return go up and risk go down?
Now, you’ve analyzed your idea. Time for action. Recognize that your idea needs great presentation.
Make it fast. Literally try to explain your thought in one or two sentences. CEO’s time is valuable. Clarity is valuable.
- Review the financial impact first. Does it bring in money? Cost money?
- Review the return. Why should they “buy” this idea? This is the CONCLUSION you have drawn from your thinking.
- If the CEO is interested in the CONCLUSION, then they will ask you for the story itself.
- Be prepared to provide the story in either full oral or written fashion.
- In either oral or written, give FACTS that support your conclusion, not “feelings”. Decisions based on data are much more powerful than your intuition.
What else many enter into the decision?
First, your reputation. Do you traditionally bring the CEO good ideas? Is this the first idea you have ever brought to the CEO? Or, on the negative side, have ideas you have brought before been not exactly raging successes? If so, see number 6 above. You’re fighting an uphill battle, be VERY PREPARED with facts.
Second, the reality in life is that the CEO often likes to be the person with the good ideas. This is a about a little thing called ego. Sometimes, it has to become the idea of the CEO before it gets accepted. This outrages some people. In the real world, if you want to see your idea implemented, you forget that it’s “yours” as soon as possible and it becomes “ours”.
The nice thing about this progression is that over time, as you learn how to prepare your ideas by thinking like a CEO, you are preparing yourself to become one. And at some point, someone else will have their ego in play on your idea, and you will decide “gee, I can do this myself” and find a way to become the CEO yourself.
Then you’ll get to make all those cool decisions and live with the consequences of your ideas and the ideas of others. Congratulations!
By Genadijus Sokolovas, Ph.D. Senior Physiologist
Global Sport Technology, Inc.
A new Swim Power test was developed by the Global Sport Technology, Inc to analyze the changes of swimming velocity (m/sec), force (kg), acceleration (m/sec/sec), and power (kg x m/sec). All these parameters are recorded instantaneously 60 times per second (60 Hz) at specific points in the swim stroke. Testing results are synchronized with video software to superimpose them with underwater video in real time and then recorded later on a DVD for easy review.
The Swim Power test quantifies every phase of individual stroke. Swimmers have different strengths and weaknesses, which can be identified using the Swim Power test. Some swimmers may have very strong beginning of stroke, while others may be stronger in the middle or at the end of the stroke. There are differences between left and right arm stroke, between left and right leg kick, timing between various phases of the stroke, etc. There is no “perfect stroke.” Even elite level swimmers have plenty of room to improve their swimming technique. By identifying individual strengths and weaknesses using the new Swim Power test, we can develop drills and swimming sets to improve everybody’s swimming technique.
Testing Protocols for Swimmers Variety of testing protocols may be used testing the Swim Power. Depending on individual goals, swimmers may be tested in full body swim, pulling or kicking only, underwater kicking after turns and dives, swimming fully rested and under fatigue, and many other positions. Coaches and athletes can even test advantages and shortages of different swimming techniques. Swim Power test will reveal strengths and weaknesses of every type of swimming technique. The standard Swim Power testing protocol for freestyle and backstroke includes three 25 meters efforts at race pace in various positions unique to the specific stroke analyzed:
- Pull with buoy (Figure 1)
- Kick (Figure 2)
- Swim (Figure 3)
Figure 1. Pull position.
Figure 2. Kick position.
Figure 3. Swim position.
The vertical green line in the middle of the graph indicates swimmer’s position on the video. Real time velocity and force parameters at every point of the swimming cycle are displayed below the graphs. Kicking is done with a kickboard for freestyle, butterfly, and breaststroke. Backstroke kicking is tested in streamline position without a kickboard. In addition to these kicking positions, underwater fly kick may be tested for flyers, backstrokers, and freestylers (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Underwater fly kick.
Analysis of Swim Power Testing Results
Analysis of testing results is based on changes of swimming velocity (force, acceleration, and power) during the swim cycle. Since every swimmer has different strengths and weaknesses, feedback includes individual recommendations/drills to improve swimming (or water polo) technique.
Every swim stroke has specific changes of swimming velocity. The largest changes of velocity in swimming cycle are for breaststroke and butterfly. Normally, larger changes of velocity in swimming cycle are related to higher energy expenditure. In fact, studies in exercise physiology (Sokolovas & Woodruff, 2004, etc.) proved that butterfly and breaststroke are the most energy demanding strokes. A typical velocity curve in breaststroke is presented in Figure 8.
Figure 8. Breaststroke velocity curve (digitizing).
Individual recommendations from the new Swim Power test are focused on:
- Reduction of time at slow phases of the stroke
- A smaller drop of swimming velocity at slow phases of the stroke
- Maintaining higher swimming velocity for a longer time at fast phases of the stroke
- Minimizing fluctuations of velocity during the swimming cycle
Recently we developed Swim Power software, which quantifies/digitizes changes of swimming velocity in every stroke. The software analyzes many different parameters, such as average of swimming velocity during the fastest and slowest phases of the swim cycle, changes of swimming velocity during the swim cycle, velocity at various points of the cycle, timing of various phases of swim cycle, and many others. For instance, digitizing of breaststroke (see Figure 8) includes calculation of average velocity at every point of the stroke (at A, B, C, D, and E), velocities at all phases (A-B, B-C, etc.), average percent increase/decrease in velocity (from A to B, B to C, etc.), average percent time for each phase (A-B, B-C, etc.), and some other parameters. The number of swim cycle parameters is between 24 and 32 depending on the complexity of swim stroke.
You can find more information about the Swim Power test at www.globsport.org.