Mapping A Young Coach’s Education by John Leonard

Yesterday, an ASCA Life Member, John Dussliere of Santa Barbara Swim Club, told us that we should have a “roadmap” for young coaches education.  Great Idea! Thank you, John. So, while nothing is “mandatory” about doing it this way, and members are free to take what they want when they want, here is the ASCA Recommended Road Map to basic coaching education and competence.

First, take the ASCA/USA Swimming Level One Course.  It is the general philosophy and coaching of our sport – hence the title “Foundations of Coaching.” Included are starter materials on teaching strokes, training athletes, working with parents, etc.   Quite simply, it is Coaching 101. It makes you competent to step on deck and assist swimmers and other coaches.  It’s minimal, but it’s the START. Test is taken on-line and reported to USA-Swimming for your coaching membership there, and to ASCA, to start your certification process. You do need to also complete a Certification Application with ASCA to activate this. You can find one on our Website…www.swimmingcoach.org

Second, take the ASCA Level 2 – The Stroke School.  This course is designed to make you aware of world class strokes today, and more importantly, teach you to Construct Strokes in practice. That’s the primary thing that parents bring their children to you to learn…how to swim better.  This is the BEGINNING of your education about strokes. ASCA provides Advanced Courses in each stroke, both live and in manuals.

Third, comes the ASCA Level 3 – Physiology School. This is all about the planning and execution of training for athletes of all ages from 8 and unders to the elite. Along the way, you are “reminded” of some basic science.  Once you can teach strokes and understand the philosophy of our sport, it’s time to have a coherent training plan for your athletes of every age. Long term development of athletes is key to good coaching.

 Fourth, the ASCA Level 4 – Administration School.  We recommend that you take the Administration School, which teaches you ways to conduct and run your program, even if you don’t have the performance standards to meet Level 4 Certification  Use this info as timeless wisdom….Don’t reinvent the wheel…..swim teams have been in operation for many years…Lots of good ways to do things have already been found and documented.  Rather than trial and error, learn from past good ideas to operate your program…whether you are an assistant coach or a head coach, this is important information.  Special sections on high school and college teams.

Fifth, Level 5, the Leadership School. We’re thinking of “flip-flopping” this course with our current Level 4 since every coach needs to be a leader.  This teaches you how you become a leader and what to do with it once you have that remarkable ability. You lead your group, you may lead your team, you may lead your parents, you may contribute leadership to y our LSC or High School association.  It’s swimming specific and a great way to focus on your daily tasks.

Next, once you’ve done the basic 5 Required Courses, ASCA has 23 “Enrichment Courses” that cover many facets of coaching in an advanced and specific manner. Take them in any order you wish, as your interests dictate…much like when you were in college. We add an average of 1.5 courses a year.

SOMEWHERE IN THERE…..along the way, GET A MENTOR. Nothing is a better coaching education. All it takes is the simple question “Can I ask you some questions?” to a coach you admire and respect.

That takes some courage. But take heart. I’ve never heard of anyone rejecting anyone in our profession.  Suck it up…ask someone for help. And when they help you, ask the next question…”Can I stay in contact with you so I can learn some more?”

Do you have to take the courses in that order? No. Do we “encourage it?” Yes. They are specifically ordered to provide an orderly progression of basic information for the framework of your coaching career.

One FINAL NOTE……HOW you take the course, matters. LIVE CLINICS (typically one day for required courses, and ½ day for some Enrichment Courses) are FAR BETTER learning experiences. You benefit from asking questions, listening to questions and answers from others, and the general interaction of live education.  Yes, it costs money to travel and takes time. Not everyone can do it. If you can, try to do it. It’s much better. You get the “two for one” of presenter and manual.

On-line Seminars – ASCA/USA Swimming Collaboration – more than 30 a year. See USA-Swimming website for schedule. One hour in length, mid-day. Saved for later, non-live presentation.  Avail yourself of these…worth ten ASCA Certification units per seminar. Experienced coaches sharing their information.  Free.

Home Study is convenient and easy.  Manuals are “loose leaf” to encourage you to ADD materials over time, as you find more articles you want to save  on the same topic. Young coaches often don’t get “respect” from parents….and they ask me how to sell “their” ideas.  You can’t. You’re too young for a parent ten years older than you to listen to you…but you CAN sell “expert power”.  Expert power is what an experienced coach who is not you, says. You can pull out an article from David Salo on Breaststroke, or Jon Urbanchek on middle distance training, or Ira Klein on age group progressions and they have “instant credibility” with your parents…if you educate your parents on who those coaches are.  You use “expert power” rather than, “in my opinion”. Parents aren’t interested in the opinions of young coaches very much, are they? With Expert Power in your corner, you’re ready to meet those challenges. And very coach in history before you, who succeeded, used Expert Power before you. We all do. Help yourself.

Coming soon….ASCA Level 2 School will be available “on line” with lots of video.

All the Best, John Leonard

About SwimmingCoach

The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) is the only organization that brings together swimming professionals, across all specialties, to collaborate and inspire one another. Through relevant information, comprehensive training, and targeted networking, ASCA helps those in the aquatics industry deepen their expertise, elevate their careers, and ultimately, achieve better results. With our central theme of "leadership, education and certification," we provide a professional umbrella for synthesizing ideas and information from throughout the swimming community into a coherent direction for action.

Posted on May 23, 2011, in American Swimming Coaches Association, Best practice, Coach (sport), coach education, coaches, coaches education, Coaching, coaching swimming, Education, swim coach, swim coaches, thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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