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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!

 

 

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Swim Parent Newsletter – Subscribe Today for Less than $0.50 Per Week!

Every week over 40,000 families receive the Swim Parents Newsletter through their head coach.

It is such an easy and inexpensive method for parent education.  For less than $.50 a week, every week we will send you an article you can actually use “as is” to help your parents understand more about our sport and ease your role in parent education.  Receive it, Open it, Review it, and with a couple of clicks forward it to your whole team.  Easy.

One of our most praised articles, “The Awesome 8 Year Old,” was recently published and I would like to present it as an example of the type of article we send out.  You can view it here for free.

If you would more articles like “The Awesome 8 Year Old” you can subscribe by calling us at 800-356-2722 between 8 AM and 5 PM Eastern Time or you can subscribe on line at https://www.swimmingcoach.org/ecom/store/comersus_listItems.asp?idCategory=83

The cost is only $25 per year.

 

For More Info, Please Contact:

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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

Don’t miss out on the Central States Clinic!

ASCA Schools at the Central States Clinic

There is still time to sign up for ASCA Schools!   AND…There are still spots available for COACHES and SWIMMERS at the CENTRAL STATES SWIM CLINIC!

Don’t delay – REGISTRATIONS can still be mailed at the pre-registration rate until May 6!!! Door registrations will be accepted on site.

Additionally, the hotel has extended the special clinic rate until Friday as well. Rooms are still available, but they are going quickly. Be sure to call soon to guarantee yours – rooms can be booked as available until Friday May 6 at the special clinic rate by calling (630) 573-8555.

The Central States Swim Clinic on May 14-15, 2011 will be held at the Oak Brook Marriott, in Oak Brook, IL.

If you wish to register for these additional courses, please note in the appropriate space on the clinic registration form and include payment payable to Central States Swim Clinic. These courses may be attended separately or in conjunction with the clinic.

Click below to register

http://www.swimclinic.com/central_registration-form.html

Listed below is a list of ASCA Schools

*Age Group Sports Psychology
(May 12th: 1-5pm) $50.00

This course is designed to give coaches a clear and concise approach to developing their own mental training program for age group athletes. Areas covered are: organizing a program for your team and teaching methods; developing peak performance skills (relaxation, mental rehearsal, concentration) and how to practice these skills; and the teaching of life skills. (15 education credits)

*Working Successfully with Swimming Parents
(May 12th: 6-9pm) $50.00

This course is designed to provide you with “instant experience” and successful options in working with parents. Offers over 20 actual case studies and seven chapters of immediately useful, practical suggestions on how to be effective with your swim team parents. (15 education credits)

*The Physiology School
(May 13th: 9am-5pm) $60.00

The course is designed to give coaches a broad understanding of physiological principles and a working knowledge of season and workout design. Presented is the physiological basis for performance of the cardiovascular system, energy metabolism, swimming economy, type of training, fatigue mechanisms, and nutrition. Specific applications are presented including periodization of work and rest, workout design, taper, over training, strength and flexibility training. The school is conducted in simple, coach-oriented language that concentrates on conceptual understanding of the processes that lead to faster swimming and more effective training. (20 education credits)

*Creating Team Leadership
(May 13th: 6-8pm) $65.00/person

Previously ASCA has taught a class for just athletes. This course is for both coaches and athletes. Concepts to be covered will be what leadership is all about, how it applies in swimming, teaching the tools of being a leader & when to apply those tools. We will both teach the coach and teach the swimmer about leadership. This course is applicable to both real life and a swim team. It is designed so the coach & athlete can go home and educate their team about the skills of leadership.

Main Program

The 2011 Clinic proudly offers the following prestigious line-up of speakers and Olympians:

  • Dave Salo: ’08, ’04 & ‘00 Olympic Coach, Author, Head Coach USC Men & Women
  • Brett Hawke: 2 time Olympian, Head Coach Auburn Men & Women, Coach of Cielo
  • Rick DeMont: Assistant Coach to the South African Men’s Swim Team at three recent Olympic Games
  • Dave Durden: ‘04 Olympic & ’03 Pan Pac Coach, Head Coach UC Berkeley men
  • Jackie Berning Ph.D: Nutrition Consultant, Author and Educator
  • Brendan Hansen: Olympic Gold Medalist ’04, Bronze Medalist ’00 & World Recordholder
  • Kristy Kowal: Olympic Silver Medalist ’00, 8 time American Record holder & 1 World Recordholder
  • Lindsay Mintenko: 2 time Olympian, American Recordholder & USA Swimming National Team Managing Director

Our clinic offers you a special opportunity to be with top age group & university coaches as well as ASCA, USA Swimming Facilities Planning and USA Swimming club certification courses.

You can find more information about the clinic, here: http://www.swimclinic.com/central_details.html

Registration forms are available here: http://www.swimclinic.com/central_registration-form.html

Thought for the day

Care more than others think is wise,

Risk more than others think is safe,

Dream more than others think is practical,

Expect more than others think is possible.


Swimming Psyche Outs: How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!).

Swimming Psyche Outs. How to be in control, confident and composed when faced with psyche outs (and how to use them to your advantage!!). Part One.Posted: 17 Mar 2011 12:08 AM PDT

by Wayne Goldsmith

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it.” John Ruskin

How many times do you hear a football player or baseballer or basketballer say something like “It was tough out there today. The other team really psyched us out”.

Sportspeople talk about the psyche out as something someone else did to them – that someone somehow did something mystical or magical that impacted on their performance.

Lots of people talk about psyching out…………..so what is it?

What is a psyche out?

A psyche out is the words, actions and behaviors of another person trying to increase pressure on you and as a result try to negatively influence your performance.

Pressure is a misunderstood concept in sport.

  • Pressure is not the race;
  • It is not the crowd;
  • It is not the gold medal;
  • It is not the opposition.

It is something you put on yourself – it is something you create: it is something you generate.

The psyche out has one goal – to convince you to put more pressure on yourself.

Even the best swimmers will perform poorly if they lack confidence and can not deal with the pressure of competition.

Think about swimming in your home pool on a warm summer morning with your friends. It feels great. It feels relaxed. It feels comfortable.

Now imagine 50,000 people sitting in the stands around the pool watching you swim.

How do you feel? Nervous? Tense? Uncomfortable? Under pressure?

Why?

The pool hasn’t got any longer. The water hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is you – and your perception that swimming in front of 50,000 people is different (and more pressure) than swimming in front of a few moms and dads.

Pressure is something you generate in response to your perception of the situation.

Why do some people try to psyche out others?

Nothing impacts on performance like pressure! The main reason people try psyche out others is to artificially create pressure by increasing doubts, fears and insecurities in their opposition and try to erode their confidence.

Remember this…………Pressure places people in positions for poor performance.

Why are psyche outs such an effective strategy?

Your attitude and your confidence determine your destiny. Anything that impacts on your attitude and destroys your confidence is potentially damaging to your performance.

The psyche out is a tool some people use to attack attitude and kill confidence to get you to increase pressure on yourself.

What kinds of psyche outs are there?

Psyche outs come in two basic forms – the Dirty Downers and the Positive Power Plays.

Dirty Downers (DD) are those psyche outs which focus on bringing people down through criticism, sarcasm and down right meanness.

Positive Power Plays (PPP) are psyche outs which give you strength and confidence without putting anyone else down.

Dirty Downers: Where do they happen?

Dirty Downers can happen any where – the locker room, at the end of the pool during warm up, in the ready room, in the marshalling area, behind the blocks…….you name it, the Dirty Downer can hit you anytime…anywhere.

Who does them?

Thankfully not many swimmers are Dirty Downer Do-ers!

Dirty downer do-ers are often swimmers who lack confidence in themselves and decide their best tactic (and their best chance of winning) lies not in developing their own confidence and self belief but in destroying the confidence of others.

Make yourself psyche out proof.

Here’s the secret……………………..psyche outs only work if you let them!

It’s not the psyche outs that are the problem – it’s how you respond to them.

Dirty downer do-ers can find fault in your appearance, your clothing, your hairstyle, your club, your friends, your family, your coach, your training program, your swim gear, your body odor, your dog………but the important thing is to learn to control how you respond to the comments and criticisms.

A Dirty Downer Do-er is trying to get you to lose confidence and get you to create pressure on yourself by making you feel inadequate in comparison to them.

Forget comparing yourself to other people – compare yourself with how close you are to your own full potential.

Some of the best (and worst) psyche outs:

A few leading swimmers were asked to talk about the best and worst psyche outs they have ever heard. Here are some real beauts!

“Is that swim suit really small or have you just put on weight lately”

“Are you still swimming? I heard you gave up a long time ago”

“You look really tired – are you ok?”

“Those goggles are really old. I can’t believe you still wear them”

Regardless of the psyche out – remember the secret – the psyche out only works if you respond to the pressure it is trying to create!

What they say and what they mean………………………….

Often the Dirty Downer Do-er will give hints about how they really think and feel in their psyche outs.

If they are feeling a bit flat, tired and fatigued, they might try to hit you with a “hey you look tired and worn out” comment.

Listen to what they say but also listen to what they mean:

For example:

They say: “I have been doing 10 sessions a week and I am in the best shape of my career” .

They mean: “I am not really sure how i am going to go today”

They say “We’re swimming through the meet. We’re not even tapering for this meet”

They mean: “I need an excuse in case I don’t swim well today”

They say:“We’ve just done a hell week”

They mean: “I am really tired”

They say: “We’re doing 50 miles a week”

They mean: “I am really tired”

They say: “I’ve just done a huge pb in the gym”

They mean: “I need to make you think i am stronger than i really am”

So………what do you do when a Dirty Downer Do-er strikes??????????????

Read Part Two later this week which starts with Ten things you can do to respond to a psyche out-er!

Wayne Goldsmith

A New Swim Power Test

A New Swim Power Test

By Genadijus Sokolovas, Ph.D. Senior Physiologist

Global Sport Technology, Inc.

www.globsport.org

Introduction

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:

  1. Pull with buoy (Figure 1)
  2. Kick (Figure 2)
  3. 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:

  1. Reduction of time at slow phases of the stroke
  2. A smaller drop of swimming velocity at slow phases of the stroke
  3. Maintaining higher swimming velocity for a longer time at fast phases of the stroke
  4. 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.

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!