Blog Archives

ASCA and USA Swimming Team Up For The New England Coaches Clinic In Boston, October 7-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASCA will offer the FINIS-ASCA Level 2 Stroke School on Friday morning through afternoon, October 7 as a preliminary event to the USA Swimming Regional Clinic which begins on Friday Evening and continues through Sunday morning.

There is limited room in the USA Swimming portion of the clinic, but still a few spots available.

There is LOTS of room in the Level 2 Stroke School.

ALL coaches are eligible to attend the FINIS-ASCA Stroke School. There are no prerequisites and the course is open to Non-ASCA members and non-USA Swimming coach members. (Everybody means everybody!)

This special edition Stroke School focuses on constructing and correcting strokes, starts, and turns for developmental swimmers of all ages. The emphasis is on progressions and teaching techniques.  This is a great course for coaches of novice swimmers – regardless if they are 9th graders on their first high school swimming experience or novice 9 year olds on the club team.  Even if you have already taken the Level 2 Stroke School, this course will offer new information directed toward the developmental swimmer.

Registration for the Stroke School is separate from the USA Swimming portion of the clinic.  Call the ASCA Office today and register for the Stroke School (800-563-4930).

Click here for complete ASCA and USA Swimming details and registration information.

https://www.swimmingcoach.org/pdf/2011%20New%20England%20Coaches%20Clinic%20and%20Level%202.pdf

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The Top Three Reasons You Can’t Miss The 53rd Annual ASCA World Clinic

The ASCA World Clinic is a can’t miss event – each year, the World Clinic showcases coaches from the highest levels of our sport, willing to share with all their knowledge, insights and wisdom.  This year is no exception, with a lineup that includes Bob Bowman, Eddie Reese, Jack Bauerle and more.

But even more intriguing, this year, is what else is on the schedule.

Here are three must-attend talks for any coaching professional:

Councilman Memorial Lecture Series – Mr. Luis Lastra, US Navy Seals

The US Navy SEALS are sending Mr. Luis Lastra to the ASCA World Clinic to be the Doc Counsilman Memorial Lecture Speaker.  Mr. Lastra will discuss the SEALS methodology for teaching the components of composure under extreme pressure, mental and physical toughness and retaining Mission focus.  As swim coaches, we too are committed to building champions for life, and this talk is sure to provide meaningful lessons you can take home to your team.  The Councilman Memorial Lecture Series was formed in tribute to one of the swimming profession’s most revered figures, James “Doc” Councilman.  Each year, the lecture provides World Clinic attendees with a speaker from “outside” the coaching profession.  In this way, we hope to honor Doc’s concept that our best learning comes from outside our own immediate environment.

Age Group Track – Mission Viejo Age Group Staff

The Mission Viejo Age Group Staff, a combined force of young and dedicated coaches serving under the tutelage of Coach Bill Rose, will share the Nadadores philosophy and discuss how the team successfully promotes the development of a strong, well-rounded age group program that continues to produce elite 18 and under athletes.  The Mission Viejo Nadadores, one of the largest and longest continuously operating USA Swimming programs, recognizes the club development system as integral to achieving excellence.  Hear about the team’s unique organizational structure and the challenges and advantages of working within a large staff.  Learn how coaches Ad’m Dusenbury, Sarah Dawson and Bryan Dedeaux utilize coaching technologies and embrace positive teaching methods within dedicated peer-group practices.  From training sets to dryland, meet selection to motivation, these coaches will share intricate details of the very fabric that makes up the Nadadores Tradition of Excellence.

Technical Emphasis – Nort Thornton and the amazing things he’s done with breastrokers

After Coach Nort Thornton “retired” as coach of the Cal Berkeley Men’s team he stayed on as an assistant coach and focused on the breaststrokers.  The result?… His breaststrokers finished 1st, second, and fourth at last year’s NCAA Division 1 Championships.  Here is short article Nort wrote and a nice preview to his presentation at the ASCA World Clinic:  “My Thoughts of the New Breaststroke”… After coaching for fifty plus years as a head coach at the high school, country club, U.S. Swimming Club, Community College and NCAA division I levels, where I had sole responsibility of coaching the whole team on all of the four competitive strokes, I retired from the University of California at Berkeley where I have been for the last thirty-three years. I decided to volunteer to help out, and our present coach David Durden was kind enough to put me to work.   We decided that I could be the most helpful if I looked after the breaststrokers swimmers, so that is what I have been doing for the last two years.  It isn’t really work when you love what you are doing.

Don’t miss out on – register today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Five Strategies to Help Elevate Your Positive Mindset as a Professional Coach

Monday

Focus on “Get to” instead of “Have to” – While driving to the office focus on what you “get to” do instead of what you “have to” do. With gratitude realize that you don’t have to do anything. You get to go to coach while so many are unemployed. Coaching is a job you love.  A job you are passionate about.  Gratitude floods your body and brain with emotions that uplift you and energize you rather than stress hormones that drain you.

Tuesday

Don’t Expect your Board, Coaching Staff and Swim Parents to Make you Happy – Realize that happiness is an inside job. Our happiness has less to do with forces outside of us and more to do with what’s inside of us. The way we think about work, feel about work and approach our work influences our happiness at work. For instance, just by making yourself smile you produce more serotonin in the brain-which makes you feel happier. You’ll also be happier when you focus on what you are giving instead of what you are getting.  Again, remember to smile…it releases happy enzymes to the brain.

Wednesday

Don’t Seek Happiness – Ironically if you want to be happier don’t seek happiness. Instead share your strengths and decide to work with passion and purpose and happiness will find you. The research shows that people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a bigger purpose beyond themselves. Whatever your job, decide to bring passion to it and find purpose in it. I’ve met bus drivers, administrative assistants, janitors and fast-food employees who are more passionate about their jobs and happier than some professional athletes making millions of dollars. Every job will get mundane and “old” if you let it but purpose and passion keep it fresh and make you happier.

Thursday

Focus on Excellence instead of Success – When you focus on success you can easily fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, looking over your shoulder, feeling envious, playing office politics, and competing against your fellow staff members instead of collaborating. However, when you focus on excellence you measure yourself against your own growth and potential. You strive to be the best you can be. You simply focus on getting better every day and this makes work more meaningful and rewarding.

Friday

Celebrate Together – While we shouldn’t depend on others to make us happy, by building a positive team or support group at work we will be happier. So instead of expecting others to make you happy, you proactively create the positive relationships that enhance your engagement, productivity and happiness. One great way to do this to huddle with your staff at the end of the week and have each person share their accomplishments, victories, and great moments of the week. This will produce great feelings on each week that inspire you and your team to come back to each day, keep up the great work, and make a difference daily.

SWIMNEWS ONLINE – Time for a Coaches Revolution

 

 

 

SWIMNEWS ONLINE – The Future of FINA:  Part 2 – Coaches.

Change is coming to our sport…yet whether via inclusion or revolution, only time will tell.

Thought for the day

Unique Level 2 Stroke School Presentation for 2011 ASCA World Clinic

One of ASCA’s goals is to provide unusual “looks” at the concepts involved in teaching the ASCA Level 2 Stroke School.  On Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011 in San Diego, we’ll have such an unusual opportunity.

We’ll have co-instructors for the course. Coach Ira Klein will join Coach Terry Laughlin to teach the course.  These lifelong friends have two completely diverse views of teaching swimming to different populations.

Terry is the founder of  TOTAL IMMERSION SWIMMING, the leading methodology in the world to teach new swimmers, masters swimmers and triathletes to become better swimmers.  Terry focuses on balance in the water, reducing resistance and creating great swimming shapes, to move easer in the water and turn “strugglers” into beautiful aquatic athletes.  Before he started Total Immersion Swimming, Terry was an age group swimming coach of renown, and still continues to coach local swimmers near his home base in New York.  Terry will provide a very unique perspective on both the teaching process and the sequence of teaching skills in the water.

Ira Klein has coached in every USA-Swimming Zone.  He’s produced national level swimming in all of them, as well as serving several stints with National YMCA winning teams.  Ira coaches all ages of young swimmers and in addition to a short stint at USA-Swimming offices, he’s coached at Auburn University as well as club teams such as Las Vegas Gold, Santa Barbara Swim Club,  Joliet Y Jets, and  Sarasota Y.

Currently, Ira owns his own team in Sarasota, Florida and is one of the leading club coaches in the USA, with daily coaching/teaching experience in his own SwimAmerica Learn to Swim Program.

The chemistry between these two friends is magical and their teaching of the ASCA Level 2 Stroke School should be a special experience for attending coaches.

Join us for the 2011 World Clinic in San Diego, CA

Click on the link below for more information

https://www.swimmingcoach.org/worldclinic/asca2011/default.asp

Flexibility: The What, Why, and How

IHPSWIM – Flexibility Article

Many coaches and athletes perform static stretching because they believe it necessary. Many do not take the time to ask questions about how relevant it is to athletic performance. I believe that after this article you will be asking a lot of questions about how static flexibility should be used. – Grif Fig

Flexibility: The What, Why, and How

by

JC Santana, MEd, CSCS

One of the most controversial topics in fitness is flexibility.   Many personal trainers consider flexibility and stretching to be synonymous, and thus include some for of stretching exercises in their workout programs because they have always heard it is the right thing to do.   One of the most popular forms of stretching is static stretching.  Whether it is performed pre or post workout, static stretching is the most common form of flexibility training.   If one performs a Medline search for “flexibility” related research, the search will provide a plethora of conflicting studies on stretching and flexibility.  Field observations may also be equally diverse in their findings.  In spite of this diversity in theory, many educational organizations and trainers still espouse to static stretching when it comes to enhancing flexibility.

Flexibility is generally defined as “the range of motion about a joint” (1).  There is no doubt that healthy movement and proper range of motion (ROM) are necessary for normal function and optimum performance.  However, the question still remains, what is healthy and proper?  If one references any anatomy or rehabilitation textbook, one will find anatomical ROMs assigned to all joints of the body.  These ROMs are labeled “normal” and serve as references.   Traditional fitness and rehabilitation programs have been guided by these ROMs in order to provide “optimum” function.   However, applying this traditional approach allows a few very important concepts to be overlooked.

In order to provide some clarity to this discussion, we have to ask some important questions.

1)  Why are we stretching?

2)   Is flexibility related to injury prevention?

3)  Is the passive ROM (developed through static stretching) related to active ROM? OR – just because a can get 140 degrees of static (passive) ROM out of a joint, will the body provide that same range at high speeds and loads (i.e. during a functional task)?

4)  Is it healthy to statically develop a ROM that can’t be controlled at functional speeds and loads?   Is there a difference between anatomical ROM and functional ROM?

5)   Can we get flexibility through other methods of training outside of conventional stretching techniques?

6)  Which flexibility do I really need the most of in functional daily activities (FDAs) and sports, static or dynamic, anatomical or functional?

All of these questions are valid and deserve some attention.  However, getting to the absolute truth behind each question may be a different story.  Since any position on flexibility can be supported by some research, we would like to keep the discussion based on our observations, coaching experience and common sense.   I believe a simplified discussion will allow one to see flexibility from a more holistic perspective.

Most trainers stretch to gain flexibility.  There is no doubt that flexibility is important, we just don’t know how important it is.  The research from the armed-forces illustrates that the most and least flexible recruits are the most injured during boot-camp.(5)  Furthermore, all of the research reviews that have looked at stretching and injury prevention show no correlation between the two.  According to this body of work, more flexibility and stretching before an event does NOT protect one from injury.

Another aspect of flexibility one has to look at is the difference between passive flexibility (i.e. stretching) and active flexibility (i.e. functional ROM).  Working with many athletes, we have had the ability to see many different ways to develop and express flexibility.  Not all are tied into static stretching.  Based on our observations, static flexibility is not related to active ROM.   That is – the body will give you more ROM when it does not need to control speed, tension and stabilization in the ROM.  As an example, all of our fighers can exhibit more ROM through a controlled passive stretch than they can through a live kick, even when instructed to kick as high as possible.  What does it mean to us?   We interpret this as, “if you can’t stabilize and control ROM the body won’t allow you to use it.”   Therefore, our clients warm-up dynamically and incorporate full ROM training into their strength programs.  We feel our strength exercises move our clients through the ROMs they will encounter in their chosen activity.  Some research even indicates that it is the total amount of time at a given ROM is the predominant factor in providing ROM, and not the time of each stretch.   In practical terms, this could mean that 15 reps of a reaching lunge may provide the same hamstring ROM benefits as15 seconds of a sit and reach stretch.  However, the reaching lunge would provide additional stability, balance, strength, caloric burn and coordination not derived from the sit a reach stretch.    This approach to training develops all of the functional flexibility we need for health and elite performance.  All of our warm-up and training protocols inherently develop active ROM and if extreme static ROM is needed (i.e. as with our wrestlers), we make it part of our warm-up; holding the extreme position for 5-10 seconds.

To illustrate exactly how we integrate flexibility into our strength training programs, we would like to share two of our favorite exercises:  the reaching lunge (RL) and the T-Stabilization (T-Stab) push-up.  Both exercises include a unique blend of strength and flexibility.  Each can also be modified to match any application.  The bottom position of the RL resembles a static hamstring stretch.  It can be performed in all three planes of motion to address the multi-planar nature of functional ROM.  The stance, speed and range of movement can be tailored to meet the specific capabilities and training goals of any individual.   The RL can also emphasize any muscle group within the kinetic chain.  For example, reducing knee and spinal flexion can increase the ROM demands of the hamstring.  This concept of “isolated integration” was first coined by Gary Gray, the father of modern functional training.(2)   Using dumbbells with the RL can provide an excellent combination of ROM and strength.  The RL progression is a staple movement in our training model and, along with other exercise, is credited with our near-perfect record against hamstring injuries.

The T-Stab push-up is also one of our staple exercises that incorporate functional strength and flexibility training.  It too looks like a chest stretch, accept with more versatility.  Like the RL it can also be modified specific to the capabilities and goal of any individual.  For example, the upper body support can be elevated (e.g. using a fixed barbell at about waist high) and the rotation reduced to attenuate the intensity of the movement.  Conversely, a lower support position (i.e. floor), the use of a weighted vest and increased rotation can provide a more advance training stimulus.

It should be made clear we do not feel that static stretching is not effective or does not have a place in fitness and performance training.  However, we have not been able to identify to what degree it is effective, if it is the most effective road to functional flexibility and performance, and where its exact place is in the training scheme.  We certainly acknowledge it as a tool in the rehab setting.  We can also accept it as a “feel good” modality and have no objections to it being used everyday for that purpose.  We often roll on medicine balls and biofoam rollers for a few minutes prior to workouts for that reason; it loosens us up and makes us feel good.  However, we do find it alarming when coaches and organization insist on static stretching as the “best” or “necessary” method of preparation, improving functional ROM and reducing injuries.   We believe the best flexibility method is still an ideological figment.

In summary, our field observations clearly indicate that static muscle compliance and active muscle compliance are not related (i.e. muscle compliance is a big component of ROM).  Our observations also indicate that active muscle compliance is more important to our fitness performance goals.   Over the last decade we have combined dynamic flexibility into our strength movements and have basically removed all static flexibility from our day-to-day training.  The results are without question; over 500 case studies show a better then 95% success rate against non-contact and overuse injuries in the absence of static stretching.   This is not to be taken as the best way to train.   It just illustrates that there may be many ways to do things right.

1) Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W.(ed). Essentials of Strength and Conditioning.  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2000.

2) Gray, G.W. Chain Reaction Festival Seminar.  San Diego, Cal., Sept 1996.

7) Jones, S, B. H., and J. J. KNAPIK. Physical training and exercise-related injuries. Surveillance, research and injury prevention in military populations. Sports Med. 27:111-125, 1999.

8) Knudson, D. V., P. Magnusson, and M. Mchugh. Current issues in flexibility fitness. Pres. Council Phys. Fitness Sports 3:1-6, 2000.

9) Kokkonen, J., A. G. Nelson, and A. Cornwell. Acute muscle stretching inhibits maximal strength performance. Res Q. Exerc. Sport 69:411-415, 1998.

6) Pope, R. P., R. D. Herbert, J. D. Kirwan, and B. J. Graham. A randomized trial of preexercise stretching for prevention of lower-limb injury. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 271-277, 2000.

3) Santana, J.C. Flexibility: More is not necessarily better. NSCA Journal: 26(1). 2004.

4) Schiilling, B., Stone, M. Stretching: Acute Efects on Strength and Power Performance.  NSCA Journal: 21(1). 44-47. 2004.

10) Shrier, I. Stretching Before Exercise Does Not Reduce the Risk of Local Muscle Injury: A Critical Review of the Clinical and Basic Science Literature. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 9:221-227. 1999.

5) Thacker, S. B., J. Gilchrist D. F. Stroup, and C. D. Kimsey, JR. The Impact of Stretching on Sports Injury Risk: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 371-378, 2004.

EXERCISE VIDEO

Here is one of our favorite exercises for developing functional strength and flexibility. This reaching lunge protocol was designed by Gary Gray. Click below to see the video.

CLICK HERE!


Monday, in the office, after attending a meet all weekend…

New National Team Director Frank Busch to Lead Off ASCA Clinic

Honoring a 35 year tradition, new National Team Director Frank Busch will lead off the ASCA Clinic on Wed. evening, 7-8:30 Pm (Sept. 7) along with Head Men’s Coach Gregg Troy and Head Women’s Coach Teri McKeever. (invited)

The three leaders of our 2012 Olympic Team are expected to discuss USA prospects and needs for 2012, as well as Coach Busch’s vision for the future of our USA National Team.

In every year prior to the Olympic Games dating back to 1975, the leader of the USA Olympic Team has provided the keynote for the ASCA World Clinic. We’re happy to see Coach Busch decide to continue that tradition.

The 2011 clinic, expected to draw roughly 1,500 coach attendees, will include more than 40 speakers, presentations and breakout sessions and over 120 exhibitors.

Registration information can be found here:  https://www.swimmingcoach.org/worldclinic/asca2011/default.asp