I coach a fairly new and young Age Group YMCA team and have been involved in
competitive and instructional aquatics since 1975. Some may disagree with
what I have to say others will not.
* First remember that at your childs age swimming should be fun. He's not
going to the Olympics any time real soon. Children of equal age learn at
different rates. They also develop motor skills at different rates. While we
try to teach all of our swimmers the best swimming technique - there are some
things a youngsters body just will not do until it is ready. Trying to force
that motor development could cause physical injury. Also, 2 years is not a
lot of time in a swimming program. There are many youngsters beginning
competition at ages 4 - 6, they have a distinct advantage over the swimmer
beginning at 7 or later, though the older beginners have advantages as well.
* When you say "the coach" I assume that you have only one coach - what an
incredibly tough job he must have to keep up with the training and teaching
plans of numerous children of widely varying ages. Now, if this coach has
been with the team for the entire two years your child has been on the team
then he must be doing something right. It doesn't take long for a poor coach
to be replaced or his team to fall apart.
* Some useable advise: Parents need to understand what the children are doing.
Ask your coach to put you through a night of practice with the kids - the
kids will like that - you may not. 2500 - 3000 yards is a long way.
* Learn about competitive swimming technique - get books on technique,
training, sports psych., and try to understand the philosophy of your coach
and why he does what he does. Don't challenge him - just understand his
philosophy. This is a question you can ask him outright. Ask what is your
philosophy, what is the program philosophy, what is your vision. If his and
yours are not the same you may need to change teams or philosophies. As an
example - my vision for my team is "to produce the highest level of
sportsmanship and technical ability in my kids while still having fun. Safety
is first, Doing your best is next, winning races is far down the list..."
with the exception of my seniors (each has come to their coach and asked for
that designation) who have accepted a far greater commitment to the sport.
For them my vision is to "help each swimmer achieve and exceed their highest
practical goal." Because my seniors (youngest is 7) have committed to
swimming and the team - my committment to them is greateras well. This has
less to do with their ability as it does their motivation.
* Once you understand the team philosophy and vision you must agree to accept
and support it if you are to stay. Make sure your child understands the
philosophy and vision. Help him to set goals - both long term and
intermediate. Make sure that he is committed to his goals. If his goal is to
have fun with his friends - so be it. Ask him to share his goals with the
coach and to ask the coach to help him reach them. This is swimmer:coach time
and not parent:coach time. The swimmer must set the goals with the help of
the coach and not the parent if they are to be met. This is part of team
One last thought: And this is to all swimming parents - with very few
exceptions (ours is one) swim teams do not have the time or resources to
operate a swimming lesson program during practice. This is swim team practice
and not individual or group instruction. If your child needs individual
instruction (I know few that wouldn't benefit) and you are that dedicated -
hire an instructor to teach him/her. Do not substitute swim team for swimming
lessons unless your team has a teaching group for that purpose.
Just a few of my thoughts for what they are worth...
>My child, has been swimming competitively for 2 years - he does it 2 - 3
>times a week, each time for 2 hours in a club. However, the coach does not
>correct him very much but concentrated mostly on the older swimmers. Thus
>he gets little attention from the coach. He does not mind the routine but
>does not seem to be very focused at the pool. At times, he is playful at
>the pool and skips some laps. He is also not plunging far enough at the
>start. I am at a dilemna. How can I help my child to improve and move
>forward with his peers. The coach appears not really interested or have no
>time in helping him to improve. Should we drop him from competitive
>swimming? Or he needs a different training routine? Any advice.