It’s simple, Coaches and athletes have to have goals. However, you have to make sure that the athletes and coaching staff buy into those goals and are all on the same page too. How do you do that? How does it work? What does it look like before/during/after? Well, this season was all about that.
This season was a different monster; it was something I wasn’t quite ready for. I was responsible for practice development, discipline and general team maintenance. It was new and I was afraid of it, but I know that it helped me grow further than I thought possible in 5 months.
Meeting Challenges with Open Arms
Ask anyone around me, I was nervous (looking back on it, I still am). However, I knew that with hard work, dedication, research and a little luck our season would be a success.
The very first challenge I had to overcome was the fear of practice development and drafting meet lineups. This wasn’t an easy task by any means. For me, practice development takes a very long time. I’ve taken some advice from Glenn Mills from GoSwim.TV and GoSwimTV.com in regards to “write practices you would want to swim” and integrated that into my practice writing. My goal was to create challenging sets mentally and physically – mix it up and make them think about what they were swimming, instead of just doing it.
Gaining Respect and Faith in Leadership
While I say that practice development was the biggest challenge, I also knew that gaining respect would be difficult. Luckily, I worked with most of these athletes in the previous year. Consistency in a coaching staff created a very solid foundation with the athletes in our program. (It also helps to come from the former head coaches “tree”)
For some, it took weeks to buy into the program direction. However by mid December, after the Marion County Championship Meet, it seemed like people had bought in. This was clear by the success we had at Conference and Sectionals, but we had some great times at a variety of other meets along the path.
Respect is earned and cannot be expected nor forced. It’s hard gaining respect and I believe that a person’s character can lead to the success or failure of gaining that respect.
The season ended with a bang. The girls finished strong. We had many athletes finish within the top 16 at sectionals and we ended up finishing 4th overall, what impressed me more was the poise at which they swam. We didn’t have nearly as much fear as we have in the past. The girls were confident and calm; they swam like it too.
The boys finished the season strong as well, including having at least one swimmer in every event. The meet started and finished the strongest, with our 200 medley and 400 free relay setting new school records.
I’m extremely proud I was a part of these teams and look forward to continuing my coaching career.