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  #1  
Old 04-15-2013
swimust swimust is offline
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swimust
Default Question to coaches

I have a question that may sound crazy to TI coaches, just curios.
Coaches, when you see a swimmer doing something wrong or not good enough, you can define the moment in time that the swimmer did something wrong. You know in what phase of the swim cycle the error occurred.
My question is:
Isnt it a good idea to stop the swimmer, and simply ask him verbally what was he thinking at the moment he made the wrong move?... I.E. - Maybe he was focused on the wrong body part and activated that part.
Just talk to him and hear his answer. Wouldn't it solve the problem better than predicting what he thought? His description will leave no doubt and will explain exactly what is the source of the problem. Your verbal reply will go straight into his thinking process and will come instead of his own wrong thinking.
Sometimes you think you understood the error by just watching but maybe you didn't really understood whats going on with the swimmer. So, just listening to his brain may shortcut your work.
It may also get you out of work because the students will learn too fast ;)
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Last edited by swimust : 04-15-2013 at 01:30 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2013
CoachNoel CoachNoel is offline
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Default Right & wrong

Isnt it a good idea to stop the swimmer, and simply ask him verbally what was he thinking at the moment he made the wrong move?... I.E. - Maybe he was focused on the wrong body part and activated that part.

I usually do not address my swimmers in terms of a 'wrong' move. Instead I restate and demonstrate the correct move. Sometimes I will try a different focus for the same skill. I think learning to swim well is a progression of skill building. When the skill or move is done correctly, I'll give them additional focuses to reinforce the skill.
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  #3  
Old 04-15-2013
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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The question makes a lot of assumptions.

But my swimmers are probably sick of hearing me say over and over and over, "How did that feel?" or "What were you thinking while you swam?"

Not sure if that answers a question you had or not.
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2013
swimust swimust is offline
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@CoachNoel,
Most coaches if not all are using your approach. Isnt it better to use a more aggressive and "bold" approach? The student knows you are doing it for his own good.
By asking him and getting to the bottom of the problem, you and other coaches may help him better in fixing the error.
My idea is like "performing a surgery" on the mind instead of "influencing" the mind. The student doesn't care. He/she will be happy to have a better swim.
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  #5  
Old 04-15-2013
swimust swimust is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
...."What were you thinking while you swam?"
Are you asking them this specific question (above) about the whole swim? Or, are you asking this about a one specific part (phase) of the swim?

My idea is to ask exactly this question only about a wrong part of the swim.

Example:
If a swimmer started the kick and then did a wrong thing (like pulling with the arm). In this case I suggest to ask him: "what was your first thought after you kicked?"
Simply stop him and ask him that question. He will reply "I pulled the arm" and you will know what is going on in his head.
Its like performing an accurate local surgery in his thought process.

My example from my swim:
If a Shinji style coach asked me: "when do you start the arm acceleration?" my answer a week ago would have been: "during the hip roll". Then, he as a coach would have told me that its wrong, and that I should start the arm acceleration only after the hip roll.
It could save me so much time and frustration that I may had (even if I had a coach).
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Last edited by swimust : 04-15-2013 at 04:55 AM.
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  #6  
Old 04-15-2013
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimust View Post
Isnt it a good idea to stop the swimmer, and simply ask him verbally what was he thinking at the moment he made the wrong move?...
Yes, absolutely. However, this is very rare. I'd say it's rule #1 of efficient feedback.

Here's how I am the most efficient as a coach when comes to giving feedback. Say that I'm coaching Swimust as part of a squad (since it's the context in which I coach people most of the time). Say I see you for the first time.

I have a little note pad. I have no notes for you, you're new. I see you swimming, I will quietly and silently analyze your stroke to see what the priorities are. Then at one point I will stop you, and listen to you (for sure). I will get you to speak first. I will ensure that I remain open minded as to your own beliefs. I will then reconcile my own take with yours, give you a first feedback and note it in my pad.

The last thing I wish here, is having to tell you "Hey mate you're wrong. You've been working on it for 3 years, but guess what, it was a mistake. I am a better coach therefore I have the Truth, etc...." This is counter productive, disrespectful, it's negative and I manage to avoid it most of the time.

I will have a quick look at your early attempts, and possibly quickly correct a few things. Then I'm out for other swimmers. I look in my pad, see what I said to this person last time, and will pursue in the same direction.

When I'm back to you, I will again look at my pad, and that way I will be very consistent.

If another coach is to interact with you (I have 5 assistants), that coach will be explained the notes about you, and will be invited to follow the line of the story (instead of starting all over from scratch).

All that is necessary I believe, as one of the most common issue that swimmers experience is to be told a bunch of stuff, which at one point ends up getting stuffed in their brain like too much mucus may get stuff in your sinus.

And yes, that whole process simply begins by letting the swimmer talk. A lot of adults have very interesting things to tell.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 04-15-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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  #7  
Old 04-15-2013
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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If you allow me double post, I have an anecdote in line with your question.

It was a quite monday evening. I'm chatting with our of my assistants. He's coaching our triathletes in 7 lanes (out of 8). There's a guy in lane 8, not one of ours. The assistant mentions how great his stroke is (he's an elite). He's booking reps of 100m fast. Most come down to 1:02 1:03. I notice that he's pushing a massive wall of water, making a big wave in front of him. His head is so low, that it's stuffed underwater. His head/shoulders are creating a *plate*, and the poor guy is pushing that *plate* against the water.

I'm like "I may as well have a quick chat with him".

- Hi I'm Charles. How are you?
- Are you swimming in a club?

----- No. I'm preparing to join one (Varsity level)
- You're booking reps of 100m? How do they feel (wink at Coach Sue here)
----- Feel good tonight
- I notice that you keep your head very low whilst swimming. Have you recently been told to do so?
----- Not recently. Way back then a coach explained me that in order to raise my legs, I need to keep my head low
- This is very true indeed mate. But do you remember if this feedback was related to normal swimming? Or sprint swimming?
----- I don't remember
- Listen. Head position may vary among swimmers, and depending on speed at which you swim. Since you're sprinting now, your kick is so high that you shouldn't worry too much about lowerbody position. The problem is that at that speed, your head being so low, you're pushing a massive wall of water. It's none of my business, but if I may, I would recommend that you try various head positions and see if it has an impact on speed!

At that time, I have no clue as to if this swimmer took my feedback the right way, or if he immediately forgot about me, etc. But his next reps gave me the answer. He was no longer pushing this wall of water. Times went down to 1:00 1:01 (improvement of a few seconds over 100m is compelling).

Long story short, I now work with this guy. He doesn't feel the need to train in a squad.

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 04-15-2013 at 03:01 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-15-2013
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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I like your coaching style Charles ! I think it is important to try to put yourself in the "students" place. I think you do this. There must be some ego at work and they are trying. Ego can be very sensitive and regarding their feelings will only help them to try and learn something from the coaches' suggestions. I bet you even might say ..." gee that looks pretty good ... why not try doing "..........." and see if that helps or not."
You know full well the suggestion will help but you want them to be receptive to your suggestion and to at least give it a good try. If I were in Montreal I'd like to look you up for a session of pointers ... but alas, Nova Scotia is home. Well ..... Id likely need many sessions ....... ;-)

Mike
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  #9  
Old 04-15-2013
gdmv77 gdmv77 is offline
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As CoachSuzanne stated, there are assumptions here, and this relates to coaching/teaching in general.

For someone new to something, coaching is directive in nature (e.g. how to do the task). Feedback from the learner is seen through incorrect technique and changed to correct technique - without why. Specific instructions are applied to fix the technique errors, and during the activity very little time should be spent on explaining why (save that for afterwards for a general feedback session at the end with accomplishments of the current session and goals for the next one). Sometimes it is beneficial to stop the learner in their tracks and sometimes it is OK to let them go so they can see over time why incorrect technique hinders their progress. It is always appropriate to tell the learner the "why" for a technique. The learner should give feedback, but it is also very apparent when technique becomes fluid that the learner is progressing.

Once the person has the correct technique down, directive coaching turns more and more to specific cues. The learner has the technique and subtle changes and cues help the learner progress. This is the point where the discussion begins between coach and learner and the feedback loop is better transferred through language rather than watching the task being performed. Instead of asking "Why?" asking "What should you be doing to correct this?" are great questions as the answer to the problem is the focus, not the excuse. Excuses are just that, while answers are fixers to a student's issues.

At the elite level, the person knows what to do with correct technique. Focus and flow are adhered to and "coaching" becomes very much a collaborative event with little more than motivation and slight modification being needed. The psychological nature of coaching is really the key focus at that point, and removing unneccesary cues becomes a focus.

I say this as a military evaluator/instructor pilot who has taught quite a few people how to fly aircraft in very demanding situations where split section decisions can be the difference between a great day and a horrible day. Swimming doesn't have that pressure on it, but the principles of coaching are the same.
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  #10  
Old 04-15-2013
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from NS View Post
I like your coaching style Charles ! I think it is important to try to put yourself in the "students" place. I think you do this. There must be some ego at work and they are trying. Ego can be very sensitive and regarding their feelings will only help them to try and learn something from the coaches' suggestions. I bet you even might say ..." gee that looks pretty good ... why not try doing "..........." and see if that helps or not."
Yes absolutely. And this is not even a tactic for me, that's how I am. Mind flexibility is extremely important in a Market made of 7 million persons living in a territory that's more than twice the size of the UK, and twice the size of France.

This I believe even created a bit of a cold with my friends from ss, but mind flexibility is extremely important for me, and shall live the remaining of my life being flexible.
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