Category Archives: Club Development


As Galileo said ‘measure the measureable, and make measureable what is not so’

This current season I have made a concerted effort to measure as accurately as possible how much work we do and at what intensity. Now obviously I have always recorded this, but this season I took it to the next level (for us) and tracted intensity, volume and rest for every individual athlete. 

We got nice wee graphs like this

For the overall cycle.

And this for each individual

Which is kinda cool. It showed very clearly where people where getting sick for example. 

So having this information is great and it got me thinking, what else can I record that will provide me usefull information about the state of the athletes in my program.

A few day thinking and I came up with a list of things that, if I could record and track them,  could potentially provide useful insight.

(I am 100% sure that there are better coaches than me out there already recording this stuff and much more)

  1. Hours sleep
  2. Sleep quality
  3. Mood
  4. Resting Heart Rate
  5. Hours of training
  6. PRE
  7. Weight

Hours sleep is easy, every morning they tell me how many hours they had.

Sleep quality is rated out of 5, with 5 being excellent and 1 being insomnia. Right now we are going with them rating it but I think that some sort of sleep tracker and a raio of restlessness to sleep would be better. To give me a figure I can track I simply multiply the hours by the quality

Mood is done a day behind so they give me a rating on how they felt yesterday.

I plot a graph of Mood and Sleep quality to see if there is any correlation

(Blue is mood

Orange is sleep)

Resting HR they take in the morning before training on an app on their phone.

PRE and Hours of work I collect after each session. Hours of work is not how long the session lasted but rather how  much time was spent working (session length – rest intervals)

After a quick google search I found that I could use this information to measure Acute (ATL) and Cronic (CTL) training load or Fatigue and Fitness. Lots of formulas later and these combine to give a Training Stress Score (TSS) or ‘form’ so in theory I can see at a glance when they are getting more fatigued and I need to back off a little or when I can push them. 

The blue bars are fatigue and  the orange line is fitness. When the orange line goes above the blue bars this represents a more rested state (very basically) 

Anyway… takes weeks of collecting this stuff for it to be at all representative of whats happening so I have started now hoping that it proves usefull next season.

As yet I havent started recording weight as I cant beside if using base metabolic rate and body composition is providing me useful enough information for the time spent collecting it


With much power…….

Uncle Ben’s words ring so true….not my uncle Ben,  I don’t have an uncle Ben…..Peter Parkers Uncle Ben.


“With great power comes great responsibility” 

Only problem with being the Head Coach is that  I get all the responsibility and none of the power LOL.
I don’t enjoy the non coaching responsibilitiesthat are thrust upon me as Head Coach.  

The reality in age group swimming (maybe all age group sport) is that when a swimmer performs well it’s because that swimmer is naturally talented or has worked incredibly hard. When they don’t perform it’s because the Coach has messed up. I am discovering more and more that as Head Coach the ultimate responsibility for athlete performance rests on my shoulders, even when I don’t coach them directly. 
I had thought for a while that the solution would maybe be to bring in a new head coach and allow me to move to a coaching position with the senior squad. The truth is though that I would probably hate that too. A new head coach would want things done their way…..I would want things done my way……conflict would be inevitable.

I think a better solution would be to get better at the stuff I hate, the planning meetings, the parents meetings, the committee reports, the budget planning. 
I have a vision for where I want the club to go (every year feels like year one of the journey at the minute) so I need to be better at selling that vision to the parents who want instant gratification, the coaches who have come through a system that conflicts with the vision and the athletes.
If I can’t sell that vision then what is the point in even having it?
Ohave before I forget, I am adding an International Potential Pathway within the Club.  Trying to think of a cool name for it anacronimfor it but all I can think of is





And let’s be honest, no one wants be on the LIPP Squad 😕




A Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working group practices, personal efficiency etc.

This sino-Japanese word simply means ‘to change for the better’, with no inherent meaning of either ‘continuous’ or ‘philosophy’ in Japanese dictionaries or in every day use.

Made up of 2 words

Kai meaning Change &

Zen meaning Good 

According to the website kaizen is

‘the practice of continuous improvement. The concept was originally introduced to the West my Masasking Imai aiming in his book Kaizen: The key to Japan’s Competitive Success, in 1986. Today, kaizen is recognised worldwide as an important pillar of an organisations long-term competitive strategy’

Now, long term progression has been at the centre of sports performance for as long as there has been sports….it’s kinda the point of coaching.

The power of marginal gains has become the holy grail, finding that edge that makes the difference between Gold and Silver, between qualifying and missing out.

But there is still a lot that sports can learn from principles like Kaizen.

Our sport, swimming, in Ireland, is run by professional people paid to oversee the development of the club throughout the country from regional through to international level and also maintain a participation and a masters level.

However, the day to day running of our clubs is done by a committee of parents and, in the majority of cases, a team of volunteer or semi professional coaches. 

If we are to take our clubs, and therefore our port,  forwards we must get the bUK in of these incredibly dedicated people who are involved because of their love for swimming.

In some cases this could result in a few awkward conversations about how things are done and the need for improvements.

Till next time