"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by RunnSw » Fri, 10 Jan 1997 04:00:00


Our club (Golden West Swim Club, in Huntington Beach, CA) is considering
whether age group and senior workouts should be "open" (with parents and
others allowed to watch) or "closed" (with no one allowed within the pool
complex, other than the swimmers).  The club swims in a community college
50 meter pool, divided in the winter by a bulkhead, separating the senior
group from the age groupers.  One group of parents tends to hang around
the senior end, while another hangs around the age group end.  Some with
kid(s) in each group wander back and forth.

Arguments for having "open" workouts:

1. Improves safety factor for kids.  With a hundred or more kids working
out, it is not uncommon for individual kids to get sick, or hurt, or have
to go to the bathroom, and what not.  This leaves kids walking around, and
it is reassuring to have a lot of parents there to make sure that they are
safe and attended to.

2. Since age group and senior workouts end at different times, it is
difficult for families with kids on both teams to come to the pool at 2
different times to pick up the different kids.  It is convenient to let
the younger kids shower and play with their friends around the pool deck
(monitored by the parents watching the workout) and to have to come only
at the later time and pick up both age groupers and seniors.

3. Promotes a "family"-type of social environment, where parents get to
know one another by chatting on the deck during workouts, which is less
easy to do at the relatively infrequent and relatively hectic swim meets.

4. It is cruel and unusual punishment to make parents who come from a long
distance away (and can't conveniently go back home) have to go out into a
dark parking lot in the early AM or late PM and wait until their kids
finish the workout.

5. For a few swimmers and parents, there is actually a degree of "quality
time" bonding which goes on when the parent is there to appreciate the
fine efforts the child is making in workout.  In many respects, the most
important part of swimming is the workouts, and not the meets. Some
parents and kids may want the parent to be present for this, in the same
way that most kids and parents want the parent to be present for other
important occasions.

Arguments against having "open" workouts:

1. The parents disrupt the workout, by distracting the kids and
occasionally pestering the coaches.

2. The kids feel that they are under a microscope.  Not only do they have
to meet their parents' expectations in swim meets (bad enough), but they
are pressured every day in practice to: (a) lead their lane, (2) swim in
the "fast" lane, and (3) consistently outswim certain of their teammates.
This creates an unhealthy situation, where kids are unnaturally pressured
by their parents, rather than only by themselves and their professional
coaches.  This also may exacerbate intra-team rivalries and jealousies.

3. Even kids whose parents do NOT attend workouts may be adversely
affected by the factors listed above.

Balancing everything out, it is not entirely clear whether the "pro"
arguments outweigh the "con" arguments.

I would be very grateful to hear the experiences of other teams and the
opinions of other parents and/or coaches.  

-Larry Weisenthal

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by E. Anne G. Dida » Fri, 10 Jan 1997 04:00:00

My daughter would not swim for a team that held "closed" practices.  I view
as many practices as possible, and find the experience enjoyable and
informative.  If my daughter starts getting stale, I pick it up sooner.  We
then take a few days off.  I try to say nothing at swim practices to the
coaches, though the day a large boy grabbed my daughter and viciously threw
her was a notable exception. (The coach missed it, but pulled the boy from
the pool for a few minutes. The young man had "erred" several times
before.)  Also, though my daughter is not dumb as a box of rocks, she
frequently doesn't pay attention.  When this happens I try to make tactful
allusions to her perceptual functions after practice.  I agree that the
parent's presence is a subtle form of pressure on the child (and coach!).
The parent should not attend if the child feels highly pressured. (A caveat
here. Every parent must, to some extent, "pressure" his child to "practice
violin", "do your homework", "swim hard". Particularly for young children,
there is a fine line between the "little league" parent and the parent who
tries to balance the many competing and conflicting goals of parenting.)
If the coach knows this is happening, he should inform the parent.  If the
coach thinks the parent is too involved (I plead guilty!), the coach should
tell the parent of ways the parent can make a contribution to the team
without distressing the coach, swimmers, and other parents.  Also, parents
do not have to be at the pool to pressure their child.  The uninformed
parent, one who doesn't fully realize how hard his child is trying, can be
the worst demagogue.  I have visions of what some children must go through
at dinner time because their too busy parents don't "understand".
I did not find a single good reason for closing practices in your post.  A
coach who cannot handle "little league parents" and "prima donna" kids
needs to find another line of work.  Closing swim practices fosters
distrust and leaves the parents feeling as though they are being spoon fed.
 Communication will suffer seriously.  My daughter has the two best swim
coaches in the world, but she is still my daughter.  This is not 1950.  In
today's world, one cannot be too vigilant.  Good luck.  I hope you make the
right decision.-Robert H. Diday, Jr.

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by Brian D. Hindso » Fri, 10 Jan 1997 04:00:00

Ah, the age-old question....let 'em in or make 'em stay out.  How about
this idea:  Give them something to do while they are there!!  Set up
aerobics or running or a walking group, or give them team administrative
duties to do, such as the newsletter, or meet entries or, well you get
the idea.  We allow the parents in the pool area.  I get a kick out of
it, when I correct[did I mean scream or yell at] their child, they
suddenly turn and listen intensely.  If a parent wants to be there, who
could blame them.  You do work for them!!  Find them something
constructive to do...for you!!

good luck,

Brian D. Hindson
Noblesville Swim Club

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by Chip Zemp » Fri, 10 Jan 1997 04:00:00

Larry-

I've coached in both situations, and all things considered, I prefer the
"closed" workouts. (That's from the coach's point of view. I suspect a lot
of the kids liked it better, too, but that's just a guess.) We had fewer
problems with parents AND kids. The team that had the closed workouts - the
Mountain View Dolphins, Mountain View, CA - had certain parents designated
as "Team Parents" and they were the only ones allowed on the pool deck
during practice. If a parent needed to talk to their kid or to the coach,
they would tell the team parent, and the team parent would come on the deck
and speak to the coach.

The team parents also helped out with taking daily attendance, handing out
flyers, etc. The system worked well.

Chip Zempel

==========================


Quote:

>Our club (Golden West Swim Club, in Huntington Beach, CA) is considering
>whether age group and senior workouts should be "open" (with parents and
>others allowed to watch) or "closed" (with no one allowed within the pool
>complex, other than the swimmers).  The club swims in a community college
>50 meter pool, divided in the winter by a bulkhead, separating the senior
>group from the age groupers.  One group of parents tends to hang around
>the senior end, while another hangs around the age group end.  Some with
>kid(s) in each group wander back and forth.

>Arguments for having "open" workouts:

>1. Improves safety factor for kids.  With a hundred or more kids working
>out, it is not uncommon for individual kids to get sick, or hurt, or have
>to go to the bathroom, and what not.  This leaves kids walking around, and
>it is reassuring to have a lot of parents there to make sure that they are
>safe and attended to.

>2. Since age group and senior workouts end at different times, it is
>difficult for families with kids on both teams to come to the pool at 2
>different times to pick up the different kids.  It is convenient to let
>the younger kids shower and play with their friends around the pool deck
>(monitored by the parents watching the workout) and to have to come only
>at the later time and pick up both age groupers and seniors.

>3. Promotes a "family"-type of social environment, where parents get to
>know one another by chatting on the deck during workouts, which is less
>easy to do at the relatively infrequent and relatively hectic swim meets.

>4. It is cruel and unusual punishment to make parents who come from a long
>distance away (and can't conveniently go back home) have to go out into a
>dark parking lot in the early AM or late PM and wait until their kids
>finish the workout.

>5. For a few swimmers and parents, there is actually a degree of "quality
>time" bonding which goes on when the parent is there to appreciate the
>fine efforts the child is making in workout.  In many respects, the most
>important part of swimming is the workouts, and not the meets. Some
>parents and kids may want the parent to be present for this, in the same
>way that most kids and parents want the parent to be present for other
>important occasions.

>Arguments against having "open" workouts:

>1. The parents disrupt the workout, by distracting the kids and
>occasionally pestering the coaches.

>2. The kids feel that they are under a microscope.  Not only do they have
>to meet their parents' expectations in swim meets (bad enough), but they
>are pressured every day in practice to: (a) lead their lane, (2) swim in
>the "fast" lane, and (3) consistently outswim certain of their teammates.
>This creates an unhealthy situation, where kids are unnaturally pressured
>by their parents, rather than only by themselves and their professional
>coaches.  This also may exacerbate intra-team rivalries and jealousies.

>3. Even kids whose parents do NOT attend workouts may be adversely
>affected by the factors listed above.

>Balancing everything out, it is not entirely clear whether the "pro"
>arguments outweigh the "con" arguments.

>I would be very grateful to hear the experiences of other teams and the
>opinions of other parents and/or coaches.  

>-Larry Weisenthal

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by matt » Sat, 11 Jan 1997 04:00:00

Our club has always had an open workout and there has never been any
problems whatsoever.  The parents usually watch from a window overlooking
the pool area.  They are allowed down on deck if they want, but it usually
doesnt happen.  The club is 50 members large, and still growing(although
80% are 10 & unders).

Matt  

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by F. Todd Mille » Sat, 11 Jan 1997 04:00:00

Just my opinion, of course, but I think that parents should be allowed
to see what goes on in practice if they care to. Remember, we work for
THEM! Besides, it gives them an opportunity to see for themselves what
really goes on in practice and enables them to have a better
understanding for what our sport really entails. Let 'em in!

Todd Miller

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by Chip Zemp » Sat, 11 Jan 1997 04:00:00


Quote:

>Larry-

>I've coached in both situations, and all things considered, I prefer the
>"closed" workouts. (That's from the coach's point of view. I suspect a lot
>of the kids liked it better, too, but that's just a guess.) We had fewer
>problems with parents AND kids. The team that had the closed workouts - the
>Mountain View Dolphins, Mountain View, CA - had certain parents designated
>as "Team Parents" and they were the only ones allowed on the pool deck
>during practice. If a parent needed to talk to their kid or to the coach,
>they would tell the team parent, and the team parent would come on the deck
>and speak to the coach.

>The team parents also helped out with taking daily attendance, handing out
>flyers, etc. The system worked well.

>Chip Zempel

>==========================

Well, here I am "doing a Heenan" and replying to one of my own postings. I
thought about Larry W's question some more after I posted my reply and
thought I should expand a little:

The Dolphins was a fairly low-key team. (Especially when you consider that
we were in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 70s/early 80s with George
Haines at DeAnza and George French at Ladera Oaks, both up the hill from
us.) The really pushy parents on our team were encouraged to take their
kids to one of the power houses.

Our "closed" workouts meant no parents on the pool deck, but Rengstorff
Pool, where we trained, was surrounded by chain-link fence, so the parents
could watch from just outside the fence. And many did (some even brought
folding chairs). And parents were allowed to come on the deck between
workout groups, so they could talk to the coaches if they needed to (and
chase their kids out of the showers, etc.) So there are various degrees of
"closed."

Another thing that is quite different from the way we did it and Larry's
situation was that we had always done it that way (at least as far as I
know). Trying to _change_ to "closed" workouts could foster a lot of
tension and distrust if you've always had "open" workouts. The situation
should be approached with a lot of care.

A possible course might be to try having some open and some closed to let
people get used to the idea. My (9-yr. old) daughter's ballet class is open
to parents the first week of each month, closed the rest of the time.
(Really closed, with no opportunity to watch at all.) I asked her which she
likes better. She definitely prefers not having the parents around. It
makes everyone feel more self-conscious and she feels like they get less
done and don't get to learn as much. Nevertheless, as a parent, I like
seeing what they're working on. Especially since she recently got a new
teacher.

On the other hand, there isn't a chain link fence I can watch through the
rest of the time.

The rec league time which I now coach has open workouts. We have little
brothers and sisters running around dropping their toys into the pool,
parents walking up to their kids and asking them why the let that girl in
the lane next to them beat them, and trying to engage the coaches in
conversations about things completely unrelated to swimming. I do a fairly
good job of controlling this sort of thing (especially after 5 years,
people have a pretty good idea of where the lines are drawn). And it is
"only" a summer rec league team. If it were a year-round USS team, these
distractions would annoy me a lot more.

All in all, I prefer the way we did it at Rengstorff - no parents allowed
on the pool deck during practice, but they could watch all they wanted.

Chip Zempel

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by Adam Brid » Sat, 11 Jan 1997 04:00:00


Quote:

> Arguments against having "open" workouts:

> 1. The parents disrupt the workout, by distracting the kids and
> occasionally pestering the coaches.

We have a policy that coaches are open for casual conversation during the
warm-up phase of workouts.  It seems to work.  There's no reason that a
coach can't say -- this isn't the time to discuss this issue, I'm coaching
now, please give me a call.  That's a statement I can support.

Quote:
> 2. The kids feel that they are under a microscope.  Not only do they have
> to meet their parents' expectations in swim meets (bad enough), but they
> are pressured every day in practice to: (a) lead their lane, (2) swim in
> the "fast" lane, and (3) consistently outswim certain of their teammates.
> This creates an unhealthy situation, where kids are unnaturally pressured
> by their parents, rather than only by themselves and their professional
> coaches.  This also may exacerbate intra-team rivalries and jealousies.

Haven't noticed this.  As the kids get older they drive themselves to
workouts and it's mostly the adolescent swimmer who often has the problem.
There ARE some parents who are SO clingy or who think they are coaches that
they create a problem -- but that's an issue for the coach and the team
admin to deal with.

Quote:
> 3. Even kids whose parents do NOT attend workouts may be adversely
> affected by the factors listed above.

> Balancing everything out, it is not entirely clear whether the "pro"
> arguments outweigh the "con" arguments.

> I would be very grateful to hear the experiences of other teams and the
> opinions of other parents and/or coaches.  

> -Larry Weisenthal

I support open workouts -- parents can have an idea of what is going on,
feel included, and there's lots of positive opportunity for communication.
For coaches who are insecure, control-freaks, or
communication-deficit-disordered then it might be a problem.  Or if team
management won't back what the coach needs if problems related to
separation become and issue.

If a coach isn't doing the job -- goofing off, reading while the kids work
out (and it happens) the parents will notice.

Adam Bridge

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by jimin.. » Sat, 11 Jan 1997 04:00:00

Quote:

> Just my opinion, of course, but I think that parents should be allowed
> to see what goes on in practice if they care to. Remember, we work for
> THEM! Besides, it gives them an opportunity to see for themselves what
> really goes on in practice and enables them to have a better
> understanding for what our sport really entails. Let 'em in!

> Todd Miller

I agree.  As a swim parent, I find that our club's policy of open
workouts is best.  Let me add another advantage.  Just as my daughter
has made friends in the pool, I have made friends on the deck while
watching practice.  The result is a very cohesive team of parents,
willing to eagerly bring our children to practice, volunteer, go to out
of town meets, etc.   I can't imagine a team where parents couldn't get
to socialize this way.  And I certainly wouldn't want to encourage her
to swim if I had nothing to look forward to while waiting for her to
finish.

Jim

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by Timothy W. Ki » Tue, 14 Jan 1997 04:00:00


Quote:
(RunnSwim) writes:

>Our club (Golden West Swim Club, in Huntington Beach, CA) is
considering
>whether age group and senior workouts should be "open" (with parents
and
>others allowed to watch) or "closed" (with no one allowed within the
pool
>complex, other than the swimmers).  The club swims in a community
college
>50 meter pool, divided in the winter by a bulkhead, separating the
senior
>group from the age groupers.  One group of parents tends to hang
around
>the senior end, while another hangs around the age group end.  Some
with
>kid(s) in each group wander back and forth.

>Arguments for having "open" workouts:

>1. Improves safety factor for kids.  With a hundred or more kids
working
>out, it is not uncommon for individual kids to get sick, or hurt, or
have
>to go to the bathroom, and what not.  This leaves kids walking around,
and
>it is reassuring to have a lot of parents there to make sure that they
are
>safe and attended to.

>2. Since age group and senior workouts end at different times, it is
>difficult for families with kids on both teams to come to the pool at
2
>different times to pick up the different kids.  It is convenient to
let
>the younger kids shower and play with their friends around the pool
deck
>(monitored by the parents watching the workout) and to have to come
only
>at the later time and pick up both age groupers and seniors.

>3. Promotes a "family"-type of social environment, where parents get
to
>know one another by chatting on the deck during workouts, which is
less
>easy to do at the relatively infrequent and relatively hectic swim
meets.

>4. It is cruel and unusual punishment to make parents who come from a
long
>distance away (and can't conveniently go back home) have to go out
into a
>dark parking lot in the early AM or late PM and wait until their kids
>finish the workout.

>5. For a few swimmers and parents, there is actually a degree of
"quality
>time" bonding which goes on when the parent is there to appreciate the
>fine efforts the child is making in workout.  In many respects, the
most
>important part of swimming is the workouts, and not the meets. Some
>parents and kids may want the parent to be present for this, in the
same
>way that most kids and parents want the parent to be present for other
>important occasions.

>Arguments against having "open" workouts:

>1. The parents disrupt the workout, by distracting the kids and
>occasionally pestering the coaches.

>2. The kids feel that they are under a microscope.  Not only do they
have
>to meet their parents' expectations in swim meets (bad enough), but
they
>are pressured every day in practice to: (a) lead their lane, (2) swim
in
>the "fast" lane, and (3) consistently outswim certain of their
teammates.
>This creates an unhealthy situation, where kids are unnaturally
pressured
>by their parents, rather than only by themselves and their
professional
>coaches.  This also may exacerbate intra-team rivalries and
jealousies.

>3. Even kids whose parents do NOT attend workouts may be adversely
>affected by the factors listed above.

>Balancing everything out, it is not entirely clear whether the "pro"
>arguments outweigh the "con" arguments.

>I would be very grateful to hear the experiences of other teams and
the
>opinions of other parents and/or coaches.  

>-Larry Weisenthal

Hi Larry,

This question has come up with a team where I have coached.  I think
the "pros" regarding "open" practice win out, but I think it's
important to make a few rules: (1) parents should not talk to the coach
during practice, or expect his/her attention to be focused anywhere but
the pool; (2) parents should avoid providing a detailed critique of
practice to their swimmers, and make sure all comments are positive if
at all possible.  Let the kids tell you how practice was that day,
rahter than vice-versa.  You can add positive comments then, or slip in
a little advice in a good way.  Of course, if your kid is observed
*** upside down from the 3-meter board throwing m&m's at the other
swimmers, this may be a difficult rule to follow...

As a coach, I don't mind open practices, and I like interacting with
parents right after practice most times.  Parents just need to keep in
mind when observing practice that you may have longer-term goals in
mind, and that your practice may be designed to meet those goals, and
not their "concern of the day".

Regards,

TK

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by Stephen G. Thral » Wed, 15 Jan 1997 04:00:00




| I support open workouts -- parents can have an idea of what is going on,
| feel included, and there's lots of positive opportunity for
communication.
|
| Adam Bridge

My opinion is that of open workouts.  Reasons abound and there are some
disadvantages, however, what is most important is that the parents who show
up also support the entire team.

My idea of an ideal open workout includes parents being supportive and
participating as volunteers.  More important, if the parent(s) feel they
are a part of their child's development and need to communicate to the
coach for guidance and support from their parental perspective, then the
coach and club needs to ensure a time and place for this opportunity.

Yes, there are some parents who are overly involved and it has dramatic
impacts at times, yet this can be dealt with effectively when addressed by
more experienced parent volunteers who are in the administration.  The
parent volunteers of the administration need to make themselves available
and provide information for the newbie age grouper parents that will help
them assume their position in the club administration in later years.

The coach has the toughest job.  I know that when the kids are not
improving, not dealing with swimming as they used to, or any other myriad
of issues, the coach is the one the parents usually find when their child
is not responding to their parents questions.  Coaches should remember that
not all parents are "extreme" and that most want the best for their child.
Coaches should place themselves in the parents shoes for a brief moment and
address the issues raised.

When the extreme parents need to be dealt with, effectively communicating
their potential interference (by being on deck, talking to their kids
during practice about their stroke and acting as a coach would, by talking
their kids down when they are not meeting the parents level of performance
expectations and the list goes on) as a distraction to their coaching
capacity or position and may be interfering with the other swimmers time in
the pool and under their coaching expertise.  If the "control" parent
becomes upset and thinks they are offended then they will move to another
club.  If the parent sees their actions may be interfering they will back
down and learn to watch.  Communication works best.  Feelings of parents
will heal in time and they may respect the coach more for his or her
honesty.

Hope my .02 cents worth makes sense and that this helps some of the
coaches.

Steve

 
 
 

"Open" versus "Closed" USS Workouts

Post by jp.. » Fri, 17 Jan 1997 04:00:00

I agree with open practices but would like to point out an advantage of
closed practices from the swimmers perspective since we did this a lot in
college.  It gives the swimmer a sense that they are working in secrecy
on new training techniques that shouldn't be stolen by other clubs.  
(other clubs probably don't really care but that's beside the point)  We
always felt like we had a few secret weapons going into meets which gave
us a big psychological advantage.