Category Archives: coaching

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change the world


A retiring navy seal gives one of the most inspiring speeches I have heard.

If you want to achieve your goals…….start by making your bed in the morning.

Its only a little thing but if you cant do the little things right you will never be able to do the big things.

This is great advice for life and sport.

All those little things coaches push over and over are important – essential – if you are to achieve your goals.

If you can look back on each training session and know that you did the small things right, if you can face challenges and learn from mistakes, if you can set your sight on that one goal and never ever give up, then you will be successful.

I love this video, hope you do too.

Have a great sunday

(Go make that bed)

Measure EVERYTHING 


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…..it 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