Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013: The Year I Abandoned Having a System

Every now and then on this blog, I feel compelled to write about coaching. This is one of those times. I believe that some day, when they wheel me off the pool deck for the final time, I'll look back on this season as one of the major milestones of my career. Here's what we have so far:

1998: Become completely obsessed with becoming a swim coach
2000: Coach my first summer league team
2002: Begin spending my summers coaching a USA Swimming club
2006: Graduate from college and get a teaching job to feed my coaching habit at a boarding school
2007: Despite, people, among them my head coach, trying to talk me out of it, volunteer on a college swim team
2009: Gain full time employment as a swim coach
2010: Gain autonomy over designing and implementing training for a group of swimmers. Immediately declare it a "low volume" zone.
2011: Ditch morning practice/doubles. (!!!!!!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

John Leonard Relieved to Find out that Lance Armstrong is Chinese

Tonight, Lance Armstrong is expected to make a stunning admission to Oprah Winfrey in the first part of a two and a half hour interview. Executive Director of the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) John Leonard is relieved that tonight is the night that Armstrong will finally admit the truth: that he is Chinese.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How is This Controversial? MIssy Franklin and High School Swimming

Last week, in the comments section of Swimswam's coverage of Missy Franklin's first high school meet, the haters came out. They suggested that the five time Olympic gold medalist should not be swimming high school. One poster, commenting under the name "Concerned Mom" said Missy was creatring an "unfair" advantage for the "vastly overrated" Regis Jesuit High school team. The comments were so hyperbolic that they were easily dismissed as the rantings of some online troll. Rational people everywhere could breath a sigh of relief. That is, until yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "I Have to Swim Against Her?".

Monday, January 14, 2013

Far From The Olympics: Coaching Tips For The Ground Level

"I'd love to hear your thoughts on the best training methodology for the real world. For high school coaches who get their kids four times a week for an hour and a half at the time and then lose them when the kids go on vacation"

Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine, a real swim nerd who coaches high school swimming. Most of my blogs come from conversations like this, where someone says "wouldn't it be great if someone did (this)?". In this case, I couldn't resist for a couple reasons. On the one hand, I had two high school swim coaches who taught me approximately 99.9% of what I know about coaching swimming, They provided great coaching for ALL the swimmers in the pool, whether they were junior national qualifiers or 1:54 100 freestyle malcontents who were scared to put their face in the water. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Must I Be An Extrovert To Be A Great Coach?

I once interviewed for a job where they voiced concern that I seemed to be too "low key" and might not be the enthusiastic motivator they felt their team needed.  It reminded me of a discussion in class while pursuing my PE degree that centered around the question "what makes a great coach?"  We made a list of traits that came to mind and then immediately got into stories about people who had no background or education in their sport who went on to great careers, and conversely, stories about people who were great athletes and had tremendous knowledge for whom coaching was not a great fit.  We can all point at these examples in our lives, I'm sure.

The conclusion?: It came down to personality more than any other factor.  My class, mostly full of former ball players, carried the same mindset as the administrators in that interview. They were looking for, or wanted to be, the gregarious, extroverted, take charge kind of guy that they envision makes a great coach.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is a 10,000 Fly a Good Idea?

No. That's the short answer. Of course, if it were that easy I wouldn't be devoting an entire post to the ongoing comment war over at sleepy, holiday time Swimswam. Last week, Swimswam contributor Chuck Warner devoted a "Lessons from Legends" column to great big challenging swims, among them Mary T Meagher, Madame butterfly herself, swimming a 10,000 fly.