Category Archives: Swimming

D is for…….


The next in my A-Z of coaching…..

d is for…..

Every child that joins a swimming club has a Dream. They want to win races, to get better and, ultimately, go to the Olympics.

Dreams  are aspiration desires. Dreams should be BIG, dreams that don’t scare you, dreams that don’t get you out of bed every single day are simply not big enough.

Those people who achieve their dreams are those who have the DRIVE to transform their dreams into goals.

The D in my A-Z is therefore Drive. 

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To be driven is to be compelled to act in a particular way, especially one that may be considered difficult.

There is no doubt that sport if difficult. No ‘normal’ people would do it. Its a lot of early mornings and long weekends. Its dealing with injuries and disappointments. Its antisocial.

It takes special people to stick at sport for the long haul, to reach the very top.

It takes people with Drive

Personally the thing that drives me is the desire to prove that I know what I am doing smiley-face-flat

I consider myself to have been incredibly lucky as a coach, I have coaches some athletes who have been exceptional Irish swimmers but there is always that little doubt at the back of my head. The reality that those athletes would in all likelihood have achieved at least as much, if not more, elsewhere.

If my desire is to become as good as I can be, to be as close to world class as possible, then I believe I need to assist athletes to reach their fullest potential on a consistent basis. It is this drive that wakens me every morning at 5am, that makes the decision to say no to nights out an easy one.

It is my belief that no matter what area of life you have ambition in, without drive your dreams will remain just that.

 

 

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C is for…….


This is an easy one for me.

is for

CONSISTENCY

The dictionary describes

consistency

as

noun

  1. consistent behaviour or treatment.

“the consistency of measurement techniques”

Or

      2. the way in which a substance holds together; thickness or viscosity.

“the sauce has the consistency of creamed butter”

Try as I might I couldn’t think of of a way to get definition 2 into a blog on coaching. Best I could do was a tentative link to the viscosity of water 😕

So I’ll just have to go with definition 1.

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Our program is built around a consistent, relentless effort. We work 8/9 pool sessions and 3/4 gym sessions and we train gets every day.

We live by the hashtag #TNDO

Now I understand the need to recover and those sessions are built into the program as and when needed. I monitor fitness and fatigue as closely as I can and back off when needs must. But, we don’t not train…..ever.

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If you aspire to be world class, you have to behave in a world class way – everyday, everywhere, in everything.

It’s no good deciding to world class today then tomorrow switching off and drifting through. There There is no point trying to be world class in the pool if your lifestyle doesn’t match.

The harsh (?) reality is that we are that which we repeatedly do.

There needs to be consistency before there will ever been success.

The good news is that this is something YOU control, you can decide at any point to adopt those habits that will help you achieve your goals.

If your goals and dreams are big enough they will drive you to make the hard choices and stand out from the crowd and to be exceptional.

It’s all up to you

B is for…..


not-giant-enough-letter-bis for……

Backstroke …. maybe. I seem to have quite a bit of success with backstrokers starting with having been lucky enough to coach an athlete onto the 2008 Olympic team. Then more recently athelets who have broken every Irish junior record both long and short course on the backstroke and I currently coach the fastest Irish backstroker in history (danielle)

Bravery … possibly. I believe it takes courage to stick to your convictions. There will be times that people question you and what you do. There will be times when you question yourself. It wont all be plane sailing. However, in my opinion, it is only really possible to properly assess the process at the end, so its essential that you see it through. I have found that reflection is an absolute must when it comes to what we do. (I started this as a way to assist me in doing just that)

Belief … In what you do. If you dont believe it you will never achieve it (cheeeesy)

To be honest I could have chosen any number of things for this but I have elected to go for

Balance

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How cool are these stone sculptures btw

Being balanced in swimming terms simply means being in the correct body position. cutting down on the drag. We spend countless hours working on body balance, drill after drill after drill specifically to work on the body position.

But……

That would be a little predictable so, for the purpose of this Blog (another B), the balance that I feel has the biggest impact on my coaching is the work/life balance. How do you give the time that is undeniably needed to a career that is not only relentless or the athlete but also the coach? And, at the same time, give the attention to your family that they deserve (and if im honest, I much prefer)

Harper is 9 months old now, she is incredible, crawling around, getting into everything. At the minute Louise is still off work but, come January, when she goes back to work, I effectively become a working, stay at home Dad.

The balance has to be right.

There is no 1 size fits all answer, each of us has to find what works for them but we all need a balance between work and family life or we will never be able to stay the course.

**sometimes making the right choice is the hardest thing to do**

A is for…..


I thought that I would try to start a new series of blog posts.

‘The A – Z of coaching’

Now I should point out that I dont intent for this to be a ‘how to’ manual, or even overly in depth breakdown of how I coach. Rather, I intend for it to be a series of thoughts about elements of coaching that I feel resonate with me.

So here goes….

Ais for……..

I could have went for Aerobic (or Anaerobic for that matter), then I thought maybe Attrition was a better word, a word that ment something to me personally. By attrition I was thinking the relentlessness of the grind, but when I looked up the meaning of attrition it said

the process of reducing somethings strength or effectivness through sustained attack or pressure

(kind of the opposite of what a coach does or tries to do)

But thats not the attritional bit for me, the part that gets tiring , the part that can reduce you effectiveness is maybe the relentless nature of sport, the no rest til we’re done approach, the no compromises.

But those things are the things I like about sport, they are the reason I coach, I like the honest of it. I guess I dont find it attritional at all really. So back to the drawing board….

Then it struck me….. Attitude.

Wonderful-Attitude-Wallpaper-Attitude-Is-Everything-Life

In the squad system we have adopted in Larne, the difference between being in the Junior National squad and the age group program comes down to attitude.

I dont believe in talent as a concept, I believe that everyone have the potenial to achieve all they wish to in life if they work towards it.

It wont be easy, there will be challenges, there will be failures along the way. How close you get to achieving your goals depends on how you react to these things…….and that comes down to attitude. 

The right attitude makes athletes coachable, and it makes coaches approachable. 

Your attitude impacts on every area area of your life, your performance, relationships and everyone around you.

We have a choice every day, we can choose to have an attitude of self-encouragement and self-motivation or we can elect to have one of self-defeat and self-pity, we all face this choice and the important thing is to remember that its not what is happening to you that is important but how you respond to those things. (easier said than done)

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is key to success

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents in Sport Week


Date :- 2nd – 8th October 2017

 

This is week is parents in sport week

The primary focus of parent in sport week is to highlight the valuable role parents play (and the positive influence they have) in ensuring that young people develop to their full potential and enjoy their time playing sport. Parents play a pivotal role in sport and young people depend on their support and encouragement.

I have, in the past, possibly been a little tough on parents (see my last post maybe). If this is the case then it is only because, as a coach of a youth team, I know 1st hand how important parents are in the development of their children. I witness the positive influence many, many, great parents have on their young aspiring athletes.

I understand the power a negative word or a negative outlook by parents has on the dreams and ambitions of many children.

Larne Swimming Club is an athlete centred, coach driven program designed to help every child reach their full potential in a safe and encouraging environment.

This would not be at all possible if it wasn’t for the tireless work that goes on behind the scenes by a small number of parents who sit on the committee and run the administrative and financial sides of the club. These parents set aside the personal ambitions they have for their own children to help the club develop every child within it. The coaching team is very ably augmented by a team of parents who come on poolside to help deliver the best program possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every volunteer parent who assists with the smooth running of the club, without you youth sport in general, and Larne SC specifically, would cease to exist.

 

I would also like to thank my own mum an dad for everything

The Coach is always right…….


I originally posted this in 2015 but a few things have been playing on my mind in recent weeks and I thought I should maybe revisit it.

Obviously I can really only speak about my experiences in my sport but, the vast majority of swim coaches in Ulster are largely volunteers, parents who started coaching because there was a need, ex swimmers who love the sport and wish to put something back. People who put aside their personal ambition to help fulfill the dreams of the athletes under their guidance.

When I started swimming in a club at the age of 10 my mum took me and my sister to every practice, she sat and watched and listened to every word the Coach said (probably to make sure that I didnt misbehave)

One of the greatest lessons that she taught me, was that my teachers and coaches are always right…even when they are wrong

I know for sure there were times that I felt that I was hard done by by decisions made by coaches.

I know also that there were times that she felt like I was not being treated fairly, and I suspect that that hurt her.

The thing is i never once heard my mum talk negatively about any of my coaches or teachers. She kept up to speed on what was going on and what was being said, but never voiced her negative thoughts, that would have certainly influenced how I viewed my swimming and my role in the team. 

She was teaching me a respect for authority that I have never forgotten.


Now I did witness some parents who took a different route and looked for any and every opportunity to jump down a coaches throat, when something didn’t go perfectly for their child. 

It seemed like those kids just went from team to team every year in search of the “perfect” coach. 

There is only one problem with this approach, there is no such thing.

I believe that today, there is very little respect given to the coaches and teachers of youth sport. Parents are quick to defend their kds and voice their disapproval during the car ride home after training or meets or at the dinner table. 

How can we expect our young athletes to return to training and not mirror the attitudes their parents have taught them?

If parents show disrespect to the decisions that are being made in their kids sporting careers by people with more knowledge and who have the long term best interests of their development at heart, why should they then respect any authority figure?

The long term problem is that these young athletes may not learn to cope with setbacks and the truth is, life at times will have setbacks! 

How parents  handle those disappointments can set their kids up for success if the teaching opportunity is recognised.

The last point is this…

Coaches and teachers have studied and spent time gaining experience in their chosen field and parnets (myself included now 😊) must learn to trust that what the coach does is for the best of each and every young athlete under their tutilage. 

Coaches will largely have a better understanding of the long term development of athletes then parents. We (parents) may not understand why certain decisions are made but do we need to understand? Surely the need is to trust that the coach knows best.

Youth sports clubs must always be coach driven, athlete centred and supported by parents/friends/family etc when parents start to dictate and thinking it is about them then we have a problem…

The flip side of this is obviously that as coaches the onus is on us to always act in a way that builds trust, we will undoubtedly make decisions that upset people and we should always be willing to discuss, in the appropriate setting, the rational behind these decisions.

We are very good at policies and practices that protect the children and young people in our programs (and rightly so) but this at times throws into stark contrast another question…….who protects the coaches?

Now ……….. that’s a question for another day

P
till next time