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  #11  
Old 12-26-2012
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Default Gimme the rejects

This grief I felt with that father is the same for learning environments and teaching professionals in general. How many students are judged too early, and judged by a system that has a far too limited view of how effective learning happens?

This is why the books "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle, and "Mastery" by George Leonard are standard reading for TI Coaches.

I have become increasingly eager and bold to ask for the worst-case swimming students. There is very little competition for the attention of these swimmers. I've found that the TI tools and mindset allow me to do with these 'rejects' that no one can or wants to. With the insight and tools I've been given I can work with people on both ends of the 'talent' spectrum to produce results that please and amaze them both.

It is rewarding of course to work with swimmers who already show some talent, for sure. But 'success' with these kind of students only shows one skillset of a coach. I think an important measurement of a coach is what he can do with the worst cases that comes to him. This is one of the first things I listen for when a coach talks: how does he regard those lower on the talent pole? What kind of stories does he tell? A true master coach will be just as eager and just as capable of doing wonders with the least capable as with the most, and everywhere between.

Without picking on those who don't know how or won't try to work with the most troubled swimmers, let me just say that this rejected segment of the swimmer community (or market- if we prefer a business perspective) is possibly the largest need with the least amount of people trying to serve them. It's not glamorous, but it is very satisfying and it could really pay the bills for a coach business. A massive opportunity for a coach who can quit caring what other coaches might think and use their tools to expose the 'talent' buried in those rejects.

I had a coach friend I was partnering with temporarily one summer (he and his team were always watching to judge my coaching technique) and one day in frustration that I couldn't answer all his questions easily across the language barrier, he demanded, "Where are your champions!" Yet, in that week, I just finished working with a 16 yr old girl with serious cerebral palsy who would have drown on her own the first day of lessons, and in 8 sessions I had her able to hold her breath comfortably, confident to float and self-rescue, balance and roll to breath under her own ability, and stroking crawl, back and breaststroke adapted to her neurological limitations, and pushed through a few false ones. She swam her first laps for actual exercise to her and her mother's absolute amazement.

This coach's team handed this girl (and a few other troubled kids) to me because they didn't know what to do with her and wanted to get back to their 'normal' kids. They have one standard textbook way to teach swimming and could not think of any other way to do it. If someone doesn't fit into that system rather than conclude that there is a flaw with their system (then learn how to fix it) they too easily conclude that there is a flaw with the student.

Last summer, that same set of tools and insight allowed me to spend two 2 hour sessions with a very talented 14 yr old who was swimming 64 seconds for 100 meters free. I sent him back home (to Dubai) to train on the mindset and focus points I gave him, and taking his mind off the clock as I advised, he made 57 seconds for 100m three months later. He wrote to thank me for the breakthrough.

I love to work with the talented and the fully able bodied swimmers like anyone does. But I have a very special place in my heart for those students who know they are at a disadvantages, and for those who have been falsely led to believe they are. And I have a great deal of frustration at those 'professionals' who keeps labeling people this way and perpetuate the system that uses false measurements and rejection to cover up it's own shortcomings.

May we keep up the courage to help our children and our students always look for and believe the best in themselves and each other- and to never underestimate what good and great things their body or mind may be capable of.
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mediterraswim.com

My blog with over 400 posts on TI technique and mindful training: Smooth Strokes Blog

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  #12  
Old 12-26-2012
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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There's been so much good advice already given here that I don't have a lot to add. But here are a few thoughts:

1) Kids are notorious for thinking almost exclusively in the short term. I still remember attending a TI weekend workshop in February of 1999, and during our initial classroom session, when Terry asked us what had led us to be there, admidst the adults (like me) who had spent months trying unsuccessfully to improve the speeds and/or distances we could swim, there was a 9-year-old boy whose goal was to do well at his big race in 3 weeks. I also remember that in our closing classroom session, Terry said to this boy, "And James: At your race in 3 weeks, forget all this - just swim as fast as you can!"

Even for me, as an experienced adult, it still takes discipline to decide that I'm going to swim my race events at the fastest Stroke Rate at which I can swim with good technique - not the fastest SR at which I can swim.

2) Kids are used to doing what adults tell them to do - as opposed to making their own decisions. Few adults would try to swim another lap if their bodies were telling them to stop, despite what a coach told them, but it is quite possible that kids might. So it's important to let kids know that there are times when they need to listen to their own bodies instead of their coaches, and to give them permission to do that.

3) It can be very useful to impress upon kids that there are many different things that go into fast swimming, and that while they may not be as fast as some of their peers, there may be aspects of their stroke that they're actually doing better than those same peers. At a race, there are really only two standards by which performance is measured - time and whether the swimmer is disqualified, but in practices, you can create a variety of tasks in which performance is measured in other ways.


Bob
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  #13  
Old 12-26-2012
terry terry is offline
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CS Lee
In 1982 I was head coach of a highly-ranked age group team in Richmond VA. Our 'senior' women -- most of them 13 to 16 years of age -- were good enough to win a USA Swimming Junior National (ages 18 and under) team championship. We had many teenage boys and girls swimming at the Junior and Senior National Championship levels -- in US Swimming a very high level indeed. We also had several national age group champions in the 11-12 and 13-14 age groups. Our highest ranked swimmer was a male sprinter in his 20s who was in the World Top Ten rankings.

But the swimmer who would eventually outstrip them all was a 10 y.o. boy named Greg Burgess who was mostly 'playing at' swimming at the time He swam only 3x per week for 75 minutes at a time. He also played t-ball (a form of Little League baseball in which kids hit off a tee, rather than live pitching, and soccer. We worked with kids in that age range exclusively on skill development. We didn't give a thought to conditioning. In Greg's case, we figured that between playing three sports--at different times, not all at once--and being an active 10 y.o. boy he got more than enough exercise.

Fast forward 10+ years and as a fully-grown 21 y.o. he placed 2nd in the 200 IM in the Barcelona Olympics to Tamas Darnyi of Hungary. If he'd had another 5 meters he would probably have won the gold, since he was closing fast and lost only by a fingernail.

This will give you an idea of how unimportant swimming volume and intensity is at 10 years to creating the potential for a swimmer to realize all of his or her inherent ability.
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  #14  
Old 12-27-2012
CSLEE CSLEE is offline
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To Mat, Bob and Terry:

Your answers almost make me cry, truly, as if some of my other windows are now opened and I can truly see this sport at a much broader perspective for my son.
Honestly, it is my most remote intention to train my son to be even a national swimmer, let alone an olympian, but since he himself has the wish and motivation to compete competitively with the others, I am struggling hard to find a way to provide the most suitable training for him, so that he won't burn out, physically and mentally, way before the real competitive swimming starts.
As for other swimmers whom I can see and feel their potential, I also wish I know the correct way to explain and guide their parents to be patient and fully understand about competitive swimming, so that they won't "murder" the true talent and advantages gifted by God.

Lastly, thank again.
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  #15  
Old 12-27-2012
CSLEE CSLEE is offline
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To Mat:

You have done such a wonderful job to those "underprivilege" swimmers, hopefully you would always uphold what you believe in many years to come.
After discussing about this issue with you all, I start to see and think differently about swimming, to me, I truly feel that it is a blessing from God if we could get some kids who really have the passion to swim and achieve, we must not give up on them disregard how they "treat" the training at tender age, how they perform in swimming meets, how their times are way way off compare to the top 3 winners, because if they could just persist and persevere to keep swimming, they might emerge as true champions one day.
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  #16  
Old 12-27-2012
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSLEE View Post
I truly feel that it is a blessing from God if we could get some kids who really have the passion to swim and achieve, we must not give up on them disregard how they "treat" the training at tender age, how they perform in swimming meets, how their times are way way off compare to the top 3 winners, because if they could just persist and persevere to keep swimming, they might emerge as true champions one day.
CS
In the 40+ years I've been coaching I've seen countless kids whose star shone brightly at age 10 or thereabouts, yet who disappeared from the sport in their early to mid teens. In some cases they were faster than their peers because they matured earlier or had precocious coordination. In other cases because they were being driven by misguided coaches and/or parents. Those coaches and parents made the mistake of thinking that fast swimming at 10 to 12 yrs is a predictor of a future Olympian.
In fact, the opposite is true. For over 20 years, or 5 to 6 Olympiads, USA Swimming has surveyed Olympic team members on their early swimming experiences. Most were in low-pressure, low-volume, developmentally-oriented programs prior to their teens. It wasn't always by plan. Often it was just serendipity.
They typically began to show superior results and to reveal the great potential that was there, in their mid-teens and almost always as a result of discovering their own intrinsic motivation. When self-directed interest and passion, combine with the maturation process, even a moderate level of training will generally produce really impressive results.

I've seen far too many kids who became stale, injured or burned out from being driven to excessive volume and intensity, who entirely lost the sense of enjoyment and excitement about swimming. Not on teams I coached, but on other teams.
At age 10, an optimal amount of swim practice per week is 3 to 4 hours. At 11-12 years of age, perhaps 5 to 6. Anything more than that is wasted because it exceeds their physical capacity for adaptation. Training at any level above that is virtually certain to kill their ability to feel that swimming is a privilege and pleasure.

If you do a constant and focused job of teaching balance, streamlining and fluent movement, they will enjoy the learning process, make their parents proud with the grace and beauty of their swimming, outperform all but the very best among their peers. And have the ideal foundation to maximize potential when they reach physical maturity -- and to swim for life.
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  #17  
Old 12-27-2012
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Hey CSLEE,

Thank you for letting us be transparent to share our passion and joining us in it.

I trained with TI technique for many years for my own performance and satisfaction, but I become a part of TI community of coaches because I wanted to be a part of a revolution to see the mindset for teaching, for measuring, for training changed in the swimming community worldwide.

I think the resistance to new ideas is there because people are afraid. Afraid that a new system could come along to allow others to be just as successful and pleased (more so) with swimming without having to pay the price in suffering they had to pay. Oh, we pay a price for skill, but not by injury to body or damage to other areas of life. TI challenges the whole emotional economy of the sport. The resistance to the TI technique and mindset that I have observed is rarely rational, and never well-informed.

We are on a quest to remove physical, mental and spiritual injury from the practice of swimming (and from the value system of swim coaching), and instead infuse it with values for life-long wholistic health and empower it with deep intrinsic motivation and built-in reward. A far superior pathway to each individual's best performance- whatever they want that to be.

Of course, it does not stop in the water with us.

Please continue the conversation any time! I love talking about this stuff. I love living it more.
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~ Mat Hudson

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Mediterra International Swimming
mediterraswim.com

My blog with over 400 posts on TI technique and mindful training: Smooth Strokes Blog

Email: mat@mediterraswim.com
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  #18  
Old 12-27-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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If you're writing this thread during xmas holidays, it may simply be that you caught these kids in a training camp. And there, there's no actual rules.

A training camp traditionally isn't an event during which you'd usually count your kilos in order to ensure that you don't swim too much. And some coaches (I included) believe that they're actually very beneficial.

During the school, which is most of the season really, you very seldom see U12 both in very early am and evening session. It would be the first time I'd see this really. And hmmm, I'm not in favor of this, as I don't see this as being necessary.

The worst thing being that in order to be at school on time, you have to swim around 6am, in order to make it for 6, you have to get up at 5. If you swam in the evening, it leaves you with a microscopic window to do the homework, in order to be in the bed at 8PM to expect ending up with a full 8-9hr of sleep, which is the bare minimum for those among them who need the less sleep, and which is 2hours under the requirements for those who need more sleep.

Now the most serious swimmers among these kids will train 5-6 times per week, mostly evening. The pool early in the morning is usually reserved to 15-17 ag and 18+

There are billions of kids training for anywhere in between 3hr to 10hr per week all around the world. I do have examples of kids having succeeded with minimal volumes, and others who have succeeded at a price of very very high commitment. Our best distance swimmer for marathons country wide, was among those 10-12yo kids training 6 times per week 1.5-2h per session. Very hard swimming got him to the top. And sometimes it's the opposite (though lower volumes suit sprinters best).

Here, it's him here: http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Simon_Tobin

This boy used to swim in our team, part of the school/sports program. Therefore swimming every afternoon (no school) + saturday AM. So 12hr per week, by primary school. I can't think of anyone in our country having outperformed Simon in distances of 25k or more.

Volumes are dictated by the market, which is a bit of a pain. But hey, try to redesign swimming world... good luck. Volunteers are the one who lead most organizations (being non profit ones). They pay the coach. Unfortunately, sometimes (read...often) they expect results. Record here in canada for 12yo and less over 100m is 54.12. And record over 1500m is under 17min. That can't be done at 3times per week forget it. Coaches need to keep their job, being underpaid it's not as if they could put money aside that much. So they deliver.

It's a competitive sports. You compete against others. It's not as if you could actually ignore entirely this fact in favor of longevity into the sport. Your season as a pro coach is right here right now, and you're just not the one calling the shots. When parents (here in canada, they're the ones calling the shots) decide that a coach shouldn't be evaluated on results, and that winning is not at all important, then maybe room for new ideas will be made (writing this tongue in a cheek).

That's it as of now. Will someday a brilliant TI or SwimSmooth coach be bold enough to put together a complete development program from top to bottom in hope of developing a swimmer for real. Bringing someone to the Olympics, ideally to a Final. Because make no mistakes, good traditional clubs are aimed at this, that's what they do, today. And managing the youngest assets is part of their strategy. Here in Quebec (as a province) kids train at 10yo in Varsity clubs now. They want to develop their seniors their way, from very early age.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 12-27-2012 at 11:41 PM.
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  #19  
Old 12-28-2012
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hi Charles,

Quote:
...But hey, try to redesign swimming world... good luck. ...
Think for that Terry, Shinji, Charles, Suzanne, Ian, Andy, ... and most in this forum are needed and are even on a good way to do just that, aren't they?

Celibidache, my favourite conductor, once said (bumpy translation by me): Only if you search, you'll have the chance to find... this does not mean what you're looking for is existing anywhere...

Hope you all will go on on your paths and let us share your experiences!

Thanks and regards,
Werner
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