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  • SPI Staff

Am I pretending to be a coach?

I am fascinated by athletes of any kind, and I am amazed by the intricacies of the actions and movements the athlete’s body needs to perform to excel in the sport they have devoted their life to.

I am impressed by the insight a coach has to develop to assess and address what is needed to best optimise the talent in front of them. I also respect their expertise enough, to not think that I too can rise to their level.

- and why would I want to? I have my own area of expertise, and I firmly believe that if we work together, we can build an even better athlete.

Why then, am I working with a tool that - at least in part - assesses elements that fall within the expertise of the swimming coach?


Where there is overlap in expertise is also where we are more likely to overlook things, because we assume the other party will address it and only ask for input if needed.

However, as with all assumptions, they make us run the risk of all parties missing out on an opportunity for progress.

When I see a poor streamline position in a swimmer, I think and assume this is likely to be a physical limitation. A coach seeing this will assume the coaching cues have not been understood, and a strength and conditioning coach will assume poor muscle strength or coordination.

All these are again assumptions that may turn out to be right, but they could also be wrong. Unless everyone talks and indeed speaks the same language, the real reason and problem may never be addressed.

As a team around swimming athletes, we don’t want to miss anything that could be inhibiting their development. We therefore need to be able to discuss and quantify such factors to make it clear how they contribute to preventing the athlete’s potential.

To me, the coach is always the 'point guard' for everything their athlete is submitted to.

There needs to be someone all the information comes to and through, and who decides when different interventions are best timed in the progress of the season and the overall development. In my opinion, the coach is always the best person for this position.

To a coach, information is power. Without it, anyone can - and probably will - question your decisions. With the knowledge of all the strengths and shortfalls of each swimmer, the coach will be in a strong position to confidently steer the swimmer's talent and career.

The Swimming Performance Institute’s screening programme will allow everyone around the swimmer to understand the contribution each member of the team can make towards better results.

More importantly, it allows the coach to consider when is best to invite our contribution. The rest of the time we take a step back and enjoy the results gained from teamwork and communication.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

In that analogy, for the swimmer there is only one chef.

The rest of us are kitchen-hands with a good knowledge of the menu and the recipes used within it.


(sport & exercise)

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