Category Archives: swimming coaches

Join Us In San Diego For The 2011 SwimAmerica Leadership Conference

Balancing School and Swim Practice

Nothing is more important that good performance in academic work in school for our young student-athletes.

Every practice, as children leave, and say goodbye, I say “Study hard, get smart, become an intellectual!”. Its done in a light-hearted way to remind them that after practice, that’s “what’s next” in their life, or should be.

Now we’re closing in on the end of school year, with upcoming tests and related “due dates”.

At the same time, we’re at the beginning of the long course season. The work we put in in the pool NOW, is paid off in July at various championships. Without consistency NOW, there is no payoff later on.

For the 60 years that Age Group Swimming has existed, it has been proven for literally millions of swimmers that they can uphold their commitment to training AND study well and get good grades. Its an exception in swimming when a child does NOT get good grades. Partially because there is real URGENCY to study when you can when a few hours each afternoon are taken up in training. When swimmers are NOT training, they get the attitude of “oh, i have all this free time now..i can goof around for awhile and get to studying later”. That never works out very well.

Everyday I ask children about their homework. Sometimes I hear, “I don’t have any.”  My response is always the same “YES, YOU DO.”  Get your books out and WORK AHEAD…even if you only comprehend 10-20% of what you are reading, that’s a 10-20% jump ahead rather than seeing/hearing it in class for the first time. When you’re in school, you ALWAYS have homework…open the book and “get ahead.”  Study is like any other habit….do it 2 hours a night EVERY night, and you’ll avoid having to be up and working at 11 PM or later on some of those nights……steady, consistent work is the key, in school and in swimming.

Homework EVERY DAY for all ages. Study Everyday. Swimming practice consistently as well.  Studying ahead removes anxiety and keeps the student on the leading edge of the class, not the trailing edge.

“Study Hard, Get Smart, Become an Intellectual!”  DAILY. Lets be equally consistent with both practice attendance and daily study. It’s hard work…but it’s so much better than being unprepared, anxious and upset later.

Parents, please share this with your children.

All the Best, Coach John

Transform An Idea Into An Outcome With Impact

The planning that goes into making any idea a reality involves five distinct stages – purpose, vision, brainstorm, organization, next actions.

In most situations coaches/boards/programs get bogged down with the organization of the project. I.e., “How will we do this? Who will take care of that? What’s our timeline on this?”

While these are all necessary considerations, in general, people need to spend significantly less time with the organization of a project.

Instead, they need to think more about the purpose, galvanize more the vision of how cool the outcome might really people, create and collect more potentially useful ideas and perspectives, and decide and distribute accountabilities for specific next actions more consistently.

Do we know why we are doing this? Have we fully opened our brains to consider what the end result should look like? Have we thought outside the box, stretching appropriately into a wild vision of success? As we move to thinking about how we are going to do things, have we surfaced all the potentially relevant details and perspectives?

Only after factoring in these considerations can we effectively organize into structures, major components, sequences and priorities. Purpose, vision, brainstorm, next actions – If those additional four levels of thinking are sufficient, you’ll have the right organization when you get to it and the appropriate moving parts actually in motion as well.

Remember, don’t mistake activity for productivity.

Professionalizing the Coaching of Swimming

Professionalizing the Coaching of Swimming

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?”)

Coaches: Sign up for ASCA’s Swim Parent Newsletter Today

Coaches — Add another tool to your arsenal today with an annual subscription to the Swim Parent Newsletter!

The Swim Parent Newsletter is a weekly publication coaches can use as a parent education tool.  Each week we publish a topic we think will be valuable to your swim team parents.

Recent titles include:

“Do We Really Want our Children Drinking Energy Drinks?”

“Guidelines For Going On The Road,”

“2 a Day Workouts for 12 and Unders?”

“Resolving Conflicts with the Coach”

“The Praise Craze”

“The Nature of Stroke Work”

“Enough Already With Kid Gloves”

ASCA’s Swim Parent Newsletter is emailed to 44,000 families each week by the coaches who subscribe to this highly relevant parent education resource. What do other coaches have to say about Swim Parent Newsletter?

  • “Wow! Good one! Thanks!”
  • “This is what I needed to send to one of my parents who pushes his daughter too hard,”
  • “The Swim Parent Newsletter is amazing. My team loves it! It’s so great that it can actually be applied to any sport!”

Subscribe at the ASCA online store or call us at 800.356.2722.  An annual subscription is only $25.  Click here for a advanced copy of the next issue. What are you waiting for?  Sign up today!


Enough Already With Kid Gloves

News For

SWIM  PARENTS

Published by The American Swimming Coaches Association

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chasing squirrels

Enough Already With Kid Gloves

By Christina Hoff Sommers

Purple is replacing red as the color of choice for teachers. Why, you may ask? It seems that educators worry that emphatic red corrections on a homework assignment or test can be stressful, demeaning — even “frightening” for a young person. The principal of Thaddeus Stevens Elementary in Pittsburgh advises teachers to use only “pleasant-feeling tones.”

Major pen manufacturers appear to agree. Robert Silberman, vice president of marketing at Pilot Pen, says teachers “are trying to be positive and reinforcing rather than harsh.” Michael Finn, a spokesperson for Paper Mate, approves: “This is a kinder, more gentle education system.” Which color is best for children? Stephen Ahle, principal at Pacific Rim Elementary in Carlsbad, Calif., offers lavender “because it is a calming color.”

A calmer, gentler grading color? Are schoolchildren really so upset by corrections in primary red? Why have teachers become so careful?

It seems that many adults today regard the children in their care as fragile hothouse flowers who require protection from even the remote possibility of frustration, disappointment or failure. The new solicitude goes far beyond blacklisting red pens. Many schools now discourage or prohibit competitive games such as tag or dodge ball. The rationale: too many hurt feelings. In May 2002, for example, the principal of Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, Calif., sent a newsletter to parents informing them that children could no longer play tag during the lunch recess. As she explained, “In this game, there is a ‘victim’ or ‘It,’ which creates a self-esteem issue.”

Is anything OK?

Which games are deemed safe and self-affirming? The National PTA recommends a cooperative alternative to the fiercely competitive “tug of war” called “tug of peace.” Some professionals in physical education advocate activities in which children compete only with themselves, such as juggling, unicycling, pogo sticking, and even “learning to … manipulate wheelchairs with ease.”

But juggling, too, poses risks.

A former member of The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports suggests using silken scarves rather than, say, uncooperative tennis balls that lead to frustration and anxiety. “Scarves,” he points out, “are soft, non-threatening, and float down slowly.”

Is the kind of overprotectiveness these educators counsel really such a bad thing? Sooner or later, children will face stressful situations, disappointments and threats to their self-esteem. Why not shield them from the inevitable as long as possible? The answer is that children need challenge, excitement and competition to flourish. To treat them as combustible bundles of frayed nerves does them no favors.

Anthony Pellegrini, a professor of early childhood education at the University of Minnesota, has done careful studies on playground dynamics. I asked him what he thought of the national movement against games such as tag and dodge ball: “It is ridiculous. Even squirrels play chase.”

Children who are protected from frank criticism written in “harsh” colors are gravely shortchanged. In the global economy that awaits them, young Americans will be competing with other young people from all parts of the world whose teachers do not hesitate to use red pens. What is driving the new solicitude?

Too many educators, parents and camp counselors today are obsessed with boosting the self-esteem of the children in their care. These adults not only refrain from criticizing their young charges when they perform badly, they also take pains to praise them even when they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

But two decades of research have failed to show a significant connection between high self-esteem and achievement, kindness, or good personal relationships. Unmerited self-esteem, on the other hand, is known to be associated with antisocial behavior — even criminality. Nevertheless, most of our national institutions and organizations that deal with children remain fixated on self-esteem.

The Girl Scouts of America recently launched a major campaign “to address the problem of low self-esteem among 8- to 14-year-old girls.” (Never mind that there is no good evidence these girls suffer a self-esteem deficit.) With the help of a $2.65 million grant from Unilever (a major corporation that owns products such as Lipton and Slim Fast), its new program, “Uniquely ME!,” asks girls to contemplate their own “amazing” specialness. Girls are invited to make collages celebrating themselves. They can play a getting-to-know-me game called a “Me-O-Meter.”

Uniquely ridiculous

One normally thinks of the Girl Scouts as an organization that fosters self-reliance and good citizenship. Me-O-Meters? How does that promote self-reliance? And is self-absorption necessarily good for young people?

Yes, say the mental health experts at Girl Scout Research Center. The Uniquely ME! pamphlet tells its young readers, “This booklet is designed to help boost your self-esteem by celebrating YOU and your uniqueness. … Having high self-esteem … can help you lead a more successful life.”

The authors of Uniquely ME! and the executives at Unilever who funded it should take a careful look at an article in the January issue of Scientific American that debunks the self-esteem movement. (“Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth.”) The authors, four prominent academic psychologists, conclude, “We have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today’s children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.”

The good intentions or dedication of the self-esteem educators and Scout leaders are not in question. But their common sense is. With few exceptions, the nation’s children are mentally and emotionally sound. They relish the challenge of high expectations. They can cope with red pens, tug of war and dodge ball. They can handle being “It.”

Reprinted from USA Today.  Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the co-author of One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance.

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.