Coaching Children Aged 8 to 11

Question by Ilana Tevet:
“I began coaching competitive groups of children 8-11. Want to know what is most important I need to do.”

What are the important things to know when coaching a new group of 8-11 year olds?

Here are a few things I’d consider for a new training group, at this age:

1. You are going to have to use many tools to be successful. Some athletes are going to learn by doing, and practicing a skill with repetition after repetition. Some are going to have to see a picture or video or what to do. A small portion of the group will be good at hearing instruction and doing what is asked. Stay patient, and remember that you may have to give any one instruction up to three different ways.

2. Start the practice with the same warm-up every day. Kids are good at routine, and will thrive in an environment where they know exactly what is expected. Give them that routine to kick off each practice. I’ve seen coaches start with 10 minutes of backstroke turns everyday with a lot of success. I’ve heard of starting each practice with a 300 meter exercise: 100 Swim + 100 Kick + 100 Swim. You could do 10×25 Freestyle on 1 minute to start each practice. Whatever it is, keep it simple and consistent through the first few weeks.

3. Have fun with the kids. If you are not having fun, then they are not having fun…and when they are in a state of enjoyment, they will do well at the beginning stages of their sport. Find a way to make the sport fun for them…and be sure to smile at them every day!

Input provided by Coach Paul Yetter.

Coaching Young Swimmers

Coaching children (or beginner swimmers for that matter) is sometimes a paradox. Although by nature we are all able to “float/swim” right from birth – water is an unnatural element for us humans. So when it comes to working with the young swimmers to me it’s most important that they feel comfortable floating (moving) and breathing in the pool. The more they actually enjoy being in the pool, the “easier” your coaching is going to be.

That said, this obviously is more for children even younger than 8-11 but we have new kids in our sport at every age almost every day and this principle applies at any age. When it comes to “real coaching”, I believe the important things have been mentioned above by Coach Paul Yetter. If you want to prepare your young swimmers for competition, you need to make it your priority, to give them the tools they need to have fun (succeed).

Make sure they know how to do a dive, master the turns, streamline off each wall, work on their underwaters, and teach them the skills to swim all four strokes!

Input provided by Coach Nico Messer.

External resources

Two Paths to Success by Glenn Mills on
When is it time to throw your practice in the trash? by Glenn Mills on

Leave a comment below and join the discussion and let us know what you think is most important when coaching swimmers aged 8-11.

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5 years ago

my son is 7 years and is participating in national competitions; and he’s practicing 1hour a day .

i am just wondering if this pace if fine for his age and heath

thanks a lot

5 years ago

Dear Sir,
My son is 7 years old. He does warm up exercise, and then four types of strokes of swimming everyday. Total work out takes almost 1 hours. and that is done 6 days a week. Kindly suggest us exercises what We can opt. Till now he do skipping, and stretching. Also he takes sprint 2 times a week. Is it ok?