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  #41  
Old 03-02-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
These coaches likewise represent a small %age of coaches (types) as Phelps represents a small %age of swimmer (types). I'd agree the generalization is therefore accurate (and doesn't necessarily include) the top of the heap coaches producing consistently excellent swimmers.

one must also realize however, that many times the swimmers that "survive" to make it to be trained with these coaches are survivors of an eggs against the wall approach to swim training in the high school years.

Adult triathletes, fitness swimmers and burnt out 14 year olds (speaking) don't have access to that type of coaching experience in regards to technique anyway.

We can only hope that as those coaches produce technically excellent swimmers from well balacned training, that those swimmers may go on to be excellent coaches and pass the knowledge along. Unless Dave Marsh creates the "Marsh Swim Coaching school" and specifically focuses on training excellent coaches, (which is certainly not hsi focus right now) we can only cross our fingers that their knowledge will be osmotically transferred somehow to the coach for example who is teaching my 8 year old nephew already bad habits in hand entry. Or the pro -triathlete coaching my Sister in law who teaches that there are "3 sculling points" in the stroke and if it hurts your shoulder to do an early catch, "you're just going to have to work at it really hard"...

Sorry for the rant...not even a rant, really, just thinking out loud. Time for a bike ride.
CoachSuzanne makes a great point about TI, one that I've been thinking about a lot.

Many people are caught up in the "you suck i'm better" back and forth which is just silly and unproductive.

What I tell people is that yes, other coaches have produced great swimmers in certain instances, and some people are trying to emulate those methods. but the key difference between TI trained coaches and other swim coaches is quality of and training for teaching swimming specifically.

If you wanted to learn physics, would you go to your local community college or MIT? you would expect that at an institution like MIT, you would have exposure to teachers who had more experience, knowledge, etc. there.

but then even within MIT, there are good and bad teachers.

this is how i tell people about TI. we specifically teach our coaches how to teach, with proven methods to teach you how to swim better, whether its sprint, or OW, or to live a better happier life. you go to someone else to learn how to swim and you have to look at, how did they learn to teach swimming? or did they even train to become a swim teacher, let alone a swim coach - or did they just fall into the job because of some other circumstances?

and just like MIT, and god forbid i would say this about our own org, but there are probably some coaches who are better teachers than others for whatever reason.
  #42  
Old 03-02-2012
terry terry is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
some of swimming's most prominent coaches actually have asked Terry to be a guest coach for their teams. Dave Marsh and Bob Bowman..
Actually Dave Marsh and Eddie Reese.

The 'problem' isn't with coaches. It's with an inbred ecosystem that encourages calcified and uncritical thinking -- indeed seems to kill whatever brain cells are responsible for imaginative or independent thinking. On the part of both coaches and swimmers.

Case in point: I just returned from swimming with the St Petersburg Masters. I only went because it's the only time during the week when the pool is available for LCM swimming. I followed the basic structure of the 'workout' but converted it into a purposeful practice by adding critical metrics.
Here's what I found when I arrived.

The Coach -- someone who shall remain nameless here but whose name would be recognized to most who've coached swimming over the past 30 years -- had plastered little slips of paper on the deck at the end of each lane. He then spent the entire 90 minutes walking on a treadmill, occasionally cracking wise. Not one second of coaching occurred. Yet in his mind, he'd done his job.

The only difference here from dozens of other Masters or kids programs I've observed in my travels is that his legs were moving. Most coaches I've observed barely move. If they're not standing in place, they're sitting in place, perhaps gazing at a stopwatch or the pace clock. Perhaps calling out times or saying "Ready Go." None of this satisfies even the loosest definition of 'coaching.'

Meanwhile in the pool, 40 adults spent a precious 90 minutes engaged in what can only be called 'human gerbil training' moving in circles in a water-filled concrete box, rather than on a wheel in a cage. True enough there was a facade of purpose -- even science -- in the instructions printed on the pieces of paper that guided their actions.

What was printed thereon?
How many repeats. How far
Rest interval
Mode - Pull, Kick, Swim
"Energy System" - acronyms that were meaningless to me -- and exposed as pseudo science by Dr Mike Joyner.

Not a single reference to any of the metrics that have actually been documented as having a strong correlation, and predictive value for performance: How many strokes. At what frequency.

The behaviors and mindsets that lead to Excellence and Mastery and brain optimization - the elements of Deliberate Practice - are by now well documented and widely known. And the ecosystem of Traditional Swimming blithely violates every one, every day, in pools all over the US and world.
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  #43  
Old 03-02-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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I can echo most of Terry's post with my swim this evening. I am in my parents home town and the junior section of the swim club (8-13 yr olds) were having a session so I stopped to watch for 10 minutes hoping to learn something.

I learned that although out of 40+ kids only 3 didn't have excess high position, rushed strokes and individually a chorus of basic errors, the 5 coaches/ helpers were only calling out to people to who were getting the set requirement wrong, there was no stroke analysis or support.

Amazing.
  #44  
Old 03-03-2012
swim2Bfree swim2Bfree is offline
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Originally Posted by terry View Post
The Coach -- someone who shall remain nameless here but whose name would be recognized to most who've coached swimming over the past 30 years -- had plastered little slips of paper on the deck at the end of each lane. He then spent the entire 90 minutes walking on a treadmill, occasionally cracking wise. Not one second of coaching occurred. Yet in his mind, he'd done his job.
Yet curiously, this same nameless coach runs a phenomenally successful USA Swimming program out of the same facility. This coach's resume - his record of developing swimmers, from elites on down - is among the most impressive of any American swim coach. Quite a conundrum!

Like Terry, I prefer a bit more interaction from a Masters coach. But it's important to realize that to some extent, Masters coaches are defined by the demands of their swimmers (i.e., their clients). The power dynamic between coach and swimmer differs from that of a USA-S program catering to 18 & unders.

Masters swimmers come from wildly differing backgrounds, and have wildly differing goals. Some Masters swimmers are not looking for advice on their stroke technique. Some Masters swimmers, I daresay, aren't even looking to become better swimmers. They're looking for a workout - to raise their heart rates for a while, to burn some calories. Some Masters swimmers are triathletes and have no interest in doing strokes other than freestyle - or even flip turns.

Anyone who has ever run a Masters swimming program will tell you it's impossible to please everyone. Give an IM or stroke set, and the triathletes will complain. Give a set of 25s or 50s on long rest and the distance people will complain. Give a set of 500s on short rest and the sprinters will complain. Work on starts, turns, or drills, and the fitness swimmers will complain. Give people feedback on their technique, and you may get a look as if to say, "I didn't ask you" -- or more likely, you'll just be ignored.

One common solution is to assign a "theme" to each day of the week, so swimmers can choose when to attend based on their needs/interests. Monday is distance day, Tuesday is IM day, etc. Another (somewhat less elegant) solution is to settle on something vaguely in the middle, most likely to please the most people -- usually this means mid-distance freestyle on medium rest, and swimmers can choose to do strokes as they please.

I know there are TI coaches out there who run Masters programs. How do you approach this? It's easy to criticize the St. Petes Masters coach and armchair quarterback, but what would you do differently? It's a serious question. You have swimmers ranging in ability from "able to complete 100m of continuous swimming" to, in some cases, former Olympians. How do you design a workout that's useful for everyone? The beginners might be best served by 50s with a Tempo Trainer, but the former college swimmers might just want to knock out 30x100 on 1:10. And who are you to tell them otherwise? It's not an easy bridge to gap.
  #45  
Old 03-03-2012
terry terry is offline
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Originally Posted by swim2Bfree View Post
Yet curiously, this same nameless coach runs a phenomenally successful USA Swimming program out of the same facility. This coach's resume - his record of developing swimmers, from elites on down - is among the most impressive of any American swim coach..
First of all your description of him as "phenomenally successful" is wildly overstated. Since Nicole Haislett made the Olympic Team 20 years ago, SPA has been in steady decline and today is only a 2nd-tier team even in FL Swimming, let alone nationally.

Secondly, you keep wanting to make the discussion about this team or that coach. I've been unequivocal in saying my criticism is about an inbred system where mediocre outcomes are the rule, where there's no link between efforts and outcomes, where every rule of Deliberate Practice is routinely violated.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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