When I started coaching, I was mentored by Bob Gillett. Bob always told me to do it my way and add a bit of the unusual to everything I do. I have carried this forward through my coaching career and now understand what he meant by the “But what if factor”.
I will explain it a little for you — just think about it.
10×100 IM rest 30
Above is a very boring set in which the swimmer becomes a north south swimmer, swimming up and down the pool but getting nowhere.
10×100 IM reversed, sprint the free and fly count strokes in breast
Above is the same set all changed up with focus points and mind tricks to keep the children thinking about exactly what they are doing, when a child does this kind of session they tend not to get lost and tend to not get bored.
Ok, but when its high end aerobic every child should get bored as its very long distance e.g. 1000 free. How about 1000 free every 4th lap is sprint but of a secondary stroke — a lot less boring!
Many coaches come onto deck at the end of the day exhausted and do not have the passion to coach. They tend to give out the norm in training sessions, and then wonder why they loose children to other louder more inventive coaches. This is the one thing I have stuck by — change it every day.
Don’t get stuck with the “well this is how we did it when I swam 40 years ago and it made me good”, this is what we will do today. Children and parents have a different frame of mind from then until now.
If a child changes coach and suddenly starts to get faster, is it the new coaches doing? Perhaps mentally but physically no, well not for the first 6 weeks, the functional adaptation of the human body will not be obvious within the first 6 weeks, will the first 6 weeks of new training help? Yes! But you won’t observe that until the next 6 week block, so therefore each coach is only as good as the last 6 week block. The automatic change comes when a swimmer ramps up say going from 2 sessions a week to 5 or 6. Then the adaptation period is slightly quicker roughly 4 weeks but he swimmer will fatigue faster over that period also.
My challenge to all coaches and parents is be patient things will come around but it may take that first 6 week period before it does.
Change it, mix it, don’t be boring, one of the greatest coaches I have seen do this is my assistant. He is a very strange character and has the ability to turn 10×100 free into a game for the kids. What does this do? Well lets just say those 10x100s are much more effective than most coaches version.
This is where the magic begins, I could give you every single training session and while you would know what to do with them, would you know how to do it to get the results that I do? Well no, you wouldn’t because you as a coach have no clue what is going on within my mind, back comes the “but what if factor” but what if I do it this way but what if I do it that way? Open your mind to the new unusual and inventive and you will in turn become a great coach.
Bill Sweetenham once asked me what I do with my swimmers and how I do it, my reply was the same as you but I add a whole lot of me. Right there is my little bit of magic.