Category Archives: Sports

Dryland: Thoughts by Coach Kelton Graham

ASCA just started a focus group, comprised of roughly two dozen young, resourceful and dynamic coaches.  The topic of discussion this week — Dryland —

Here’s what Coach Kelton Graham, of Club Wolverine, had to say on the subject…

1.       Explain your general dryland plan.  (e.g., How many times per week?  How long?  What age kids?)

Coach Kelton:  Basically we start off with some dynamic stretching where we have the kids swing their arms and maybe some leg swings as well. Things like touch their toes and maybe arch their backs. Bend over and swing inside their feet and then swing outside their feet.  We do this maybe three times a week about 30 to 45 minutes ages 11 on up.  Depending on our location we like to use med balls.  I still use some of Mike Barroman’s exercises where the kids pass the ball back and forth and do chess passes, or over head tosses, between the leg tosses.  This is good for all ages, we have lighter med balls for the kids who are 11 and heavier ones for the older kids (up to 18).  We typically alternate between doing these sort of exercises and doing some core body work with a physio ball or just basic planks.  We also do pull ups and some of the older kids tend to use stretch cords as well.

I try to make my dryland follow the water portion of the season.  So in the beginning while I may be doing drills in the water and teaching.  In the beginning I am going over proper technique for maybe squats ( although I have to review this myself).  I maybe doing basic things such as sit ups and lunges etc. And just adding reps in order to build strength.  Not must need for speed yet.  And we ALWAYS ATTACK THE ABS.  We do as many ab exercises as we can in order to strengthen it.

As the season progresses, and I think the kids maybe getting bored, then I may add in the med balls and try to make them more explosive.  So mid season we may just be doing basic sets of 10,  I may ask the kids to increase the speed of them and become more explosive than before.


2.       Is your dryland plan for this time of year different than what you do in the fall or winter?

Coach Kelton:  Well yes and no.  Not to different than the fall, since that is also early season, but yes for the winter.  Right now, all we are doing is just dynamic stretching or just some basic ab work.  Our spring season just started today.  So we basically just introduced ourselves to the kids and that was about it.

3.       Where do you get your dryland information?  What is the best resource (e.g., book, website, person, course) you have used to improve your dryland?

Coach Kelton: Various places.  We are surrounded by colleges here in Ann Arbor. But I still like Mike Barrowman’s med ball training. I’ve  picked ideas from EMU and U of M.  Bottom and Richardson and Linn all have great ideas.  Vern Gambetta has some interesting things that he puts up on his web site.  Bailey Weathers has some good stuff.  There is even an old Scott Volkers video that I thought was really good that I some times peek at here and there. Bowman had some good stuff here that I still use.

4.       Do you have a specific dryland coach?

Coach Kelton: We’ve had some in the past, unfortunately they’ve all got other jobs because they are good at what they are doing they move on.

5.       Do you do dryland with your swimmers?

Coach Kelton: Sometimes, if I think it will motivate the kids to do a good job.  Like if I have a swimmer not doing a good job with a med ball, I may become his partner and do it with them and remind them that I am old and can still throw the ball harder than them. (That only works with boys).  Other times I may go running with some of the kids and just talk to them as we go around a track or just run through a trail of some sort, kids seem to like that sort of stuff.  Never play dodge ball with them, because they all just aim at you however.

6.       What do you want to know about other teams’ dryland plans and training?

Coach Kelton: Probably just seasonal planning.  And how do they keep it interesting?

7.       What do you want to share about your dryland plan that is not addressed in the above questions?

Coach Kelton: I think one thing that we do pretty well is that we mix it up quite a bit in order that certain kids excel at certain things.  Some of our kids are good runners, so every once in a while we may go for a run and you’ll see certain kids take off, while us coaches may be in the back with those kids lagging behind or if I am feeling good I may try to keep up with the fast kids.  Other days, we may see how many sit ups a kid can do in a minute and you’ll see another set of kids rising to the occasion and winning that competition as well.


Take on FINA



changetheworld (1)

Rebel coach starts campaign to get a say in FINA – click here for the full article from the Sydney Morning Herald

George Block, president of the World Swimming Coaches Association, sent an impassioned email to thousands of coaches in America and many more in other countries to ”change the world” if they failed to get representation on the FINA board.


Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick? Or maybe some better advice…”Working Successfully with Swim Parents”

Check out this great webinar by ASCA Technical Director, Guy Edson – “Working Successfully With Swim Parents”

Click HERE for the webinar recording

Click HERE for just the PDF slides

And, some related parent education:

Speak Up!


A timeless debate…”Quality vs. Quantity”.

How much is too much? We want to know how your club/team trains…more yardage? Less Yardage? Looking for info for a research project.

Coach John Douglass (Assistant Coach; UW-Milwaukee Swimming and Diving) is doing a research project looking at relationships between training yardage and swimming success. If you think you can contribute to the data collection process, or have information to contribute, please contact John at

Build Better Athletes with ASCA’s New Dryland Course

Check out this new edition of ASCA’s popular Dryland Training School (Oct. 2010).  This edition is almost 50% more extensive than the original school and has a number of new and useful features for coaches.  First, it comes with a DVD with 110 minutes of extensive demonstrations of more than 100 dryland training exercises. Second, there are three chapters that fully develop the place of dryland training in all programs from young age group novice athletes, to the elite athlete.  Third, it has a chapter that develops the idea of how we relate what we do on dryland, to direct faster swimming in the water.  The course also has information on developing a ‘cookbook’ approach if you lack the time to spend on extensive dryland development, and still want to do some dryland training.  And finally, there are five chapters that develop specific routines in different modalities such as stretch cords, Med-balls, Plyo-balls, hand weight exercises, and exercises with very limited amounts of equipment.  Whether you coach Age Group Athletes or Senior Swimmers, this manual is your basic primer on what to do, when and how to do it, and what it takes to effectively improve the athleticism of your athletes.