How to motivate our children to swim?

When your child begins to like swimming, it is almost impossible to make him/her quit. There are numerous benefits from swimming; teamwork, reliance, winning attitude, compassion, fair play, setting and reaching goals etc.

However, how many children have the option to choose swimming as their main sport or have the privilege to swim regularly? How many kids have their parents as swimming role models? How many parents could motivate their kids to engage in swimming? How could swimming become a lifelong activity? How parents could provide consistent constructive support to their kid around their practices, games and events? 

It is well accepted that parents are an essential drive for a kid to choose an activity. They are role models and if they are doing an activity it is very likely that their kid will follow their example.  Swimming, biking, hiking with your family are not just activities, it is a lifestyle.

Igniting the love of swimming leads to the next step, the guidance of a professional – a coach. Being in a team, teach children of the complete set of rules, quality technique and how to have more fun while doing the sport they love.  

Parents must show a genuine interest about how practices are going and how their children feel.  As we all know, the secret is in the good attitude and the support of children’s interests!

However, between work, school, and home life; it can get very hectic trying to get children where they need to be. Some swimmers could even play consecutive and sometimes concurrent seasons of football, basketball and track. Thus, the process to arrange that support could be super cumbersome, expensive and time consuming! As a result, children could be constantly late or missing practices and events. Overwhelmed parents provide less and less support; in this situation everybody suffers (athlete, parent, and team).

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The Hydrasuit is designed for regular swimming and offers a comfortable, durable fit. BUY this suit or other gear for you or your children from Speedo by clicking on the link and you will support the development of SwiMMinD’s automatic video analysis module.

This is a parent problem that everyone who raises/supports a child who swims can relate to.  However, despite that problem, parents continue to run down the side-lines because they love supporting their children and watching them swim. The joy of seeing of how children develop into leaders and team players both on and off the pool is immense. Therefore, no matter how hard it gets, parents must keep up with the swimming schedule of their children by seeking ways to provide their consistent support.  That is how parents become superheroes!

Relax, children acknowledge that parents do all that is possible to take them to practice, to do what they love, to swim. If a dedicated kid skips practice because his mom could not find a way to manage her day, that kid could find way to compensate that loss by putting her sports watch or just using an app at her mobile phone to track a run practice in the local park. The most important for kids is to have a great role model and motivation to continue forward because parents and children are also part of one team.

Show your children your dedication and you will see dedication!

Even though, participating in youth sports is expensive enough on its own, between travel, gear and the food; not to mention policies that don’t allow kids 16 and under to ride, parents should not give up on providing the best support they could give. They should even search for technological innovations. For instance, if a mom has four kids with four different activities, she could think of a trusted ridesharing community. There may be other superhero moms that could make the participating in youth sports not so cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive.

That is how Parents and kids both become superheroes!

In conclusion, be supportive, get your swim suit and dive into the joy of swimming with your children. When it gets tough, find ways to consistently provide to your children what they love because that helps them be more confident and excited about practicing their favorite sport, swimming.

Written by Lida Milkova

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Arm and hand actions for sculling – essential skills for all swimmers

Sculling drills may be used to develop a ‘feeling’ of moving effectively through the water. These drills are designed to emphasize four key stroke components:

  • body position;
  • core body strength;
  • kicking skills;
  • hand speed.

The sequence of sculling drills is ideally performed immediately following a series of basic Pilates core stability or Swiss ball exercises. The sculling sequence builds upon the principle of trunk stability initiated during the land-based exercises. Swimmers must maintain a strong, stable body position during the execution of drills, kicking exercises and sculling.

Core body strength drill

This drill involves rotating the body on land to develop strength and control within the body. The swimmer lies prone (on stomach) with the arms outstretched, then rotates onto back (supine position), pausing on the side before rotating fully. The rotation is the reversed, again with a pause on the side before the rotation is completed.

Introductory drills

Horizontal front skull – flat wrist

With arms extended with body in prone position, and head out of water, the legs gently kick alternately (flutter) to stabilize horizontal body position. Hands and arms with a flat wrist, the palms facing downwards. The body remains in the same position in the water.

Horizontal front scull – flat wrist. Note hips and heels at surface level.

Horizontal front scull – wrist up

In the same position as for the flat wrist drill, the hands fingers drop down but the wrists are up. Using this sculling technique, the body moves forwards in the water.

Horizontal front scull – wrist up with fingers pointing down, swimmer moves forwards.

Horizontal front scull wrist down

In the same position as for the flat wrist drill, the wrists angle down and the hands fingers point up in the water, causing the body to move backwards.

Horizontal front scull – wrist down (backscull), with fingers pointing up, swimmer moves forwards.

Horizontal front scull – with maximum kick

In the same position as for the wrist-down-fingers-up, the swimmer kicks powerfully but sculls fast, wrist down, to prevent forwards movement.

Horizontal front scull – with maximum kick

Roll left and right – and right-left combinations

The body rotates in the water, with the legs gently kicking and the arms outstretched and sculling. The swimmer rotates from front to back and the returns. Rotations to both sides can be combined as a rotation drill.

Roll left hand and right – and right-left combination.

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Front somersault -with scull

The swimmer adopts prone sculling position with arms out in front and sculls before rotating forwards. Sculling continues after the rotation.

The swimmer may also practice this drill by pulling one arm at a time back first. They practice on both arms, alternating a different one pulling first.

Back somersault – with scull

The swimmer adopts the same position as for the ‘front somersault – with scull’ drill but rotates backwards. Again, the swimmer continues culling after rotations.

Intermediate-level drills

Knees out of water

The swimmer adopts a tuck position on the back with the head out of the water and vigorously sculls on to the sides to maintain body position.

Knees drawn to the chest and the arms pushing against the water – hands are relaxed and sculling.

Knees out of water – left 360 degrees

The swimmer adopts the same position as for the ‘knees out of water’ drill but angles hands to face the right and rotates to the left. The opposite hand to the direction of travel angles to create the rotations. The body travels in a clockwise direction.

Knees out of water – right 360 degrees

The swimmer adopts the same position as for the ‘knees out of water’ drill but angles the hand to face the left and rotates to the right. The body travels in an anticlockwise direction.

Flat body position – right 360 degrees

The body rests flat in the water (supine) and is quite still as the left hand creates the rotations to the right.

Flat body position – left 360 degrees

The body rests flat on the water (supine) and is quite still as the right hand creates the rotation to the left.

Body rotating on the long axis – note relaxed head position.

Vertical kick – straight arm scull

The body is vertical in the water and the swimmer flutter kicks to maintain position. The arms gradually rise above the head to an outstretched position and the scull to maintain body position. The flutter kick is faster as the arms rise out the water.

Reverse vertical kick – arms extended scull

The swimmer is upside down in the water and the arms extend towards the bottom of the pool. The feed are kept very still to maintain the inverted position. The arms then scull vigorously at the side to maintain this difficult position. It is also important to control breathing (exhalation) in this position.

Scull fly turn

The swimmer sculls out in front in a prone position, kicking gently, and then turns as if hitting the wall for the fly turn. The swimmer continues sculling after the turn.

Scull breast turn

The same drill as the ‘scull fly turn’ but the swimmer angles arm behind the head during the turn which is a recommended technique. The swimmer continues sculling after the turn.

Advanced-level drills

Advanced drills include a series of turns to improve turning technique and sculling efficiency.

Scull fly/back turn

Body start in prone position with arms sculling in front. The body turns from front to back and the sculling continues with arms extended.

Back/breast turn

The body is in supine position with the left hand and arm above the head and right hand at the side. The swimmer rotates from back to front, with one hand forwards from the body. After the turn the arms continue sculling and the body is outstretched.

Fly/breast turn

The swimmer starts sculling with arms outstretched and then turns. Arms continue to scull out in front of the body.

Breast/breast turn

The swimmer sculls in front of the body and the performs the breaststroke turn. Sculling continues with outstretched arms.

Fly/fly turn

Same routine as for the ‘breast/breast turn’.

Vertical fly kick

The swimmer adopts a vertical position and starts the dolphin kick. As the swimmer stabilizes the position, the arms rise out of the water to an outstretched position and re-enter the water. Then the arms scull at the side.

Fly kick on side

The swimmer dolphin kick on the side. One arm is extended in front of the head, sculling, and the other arm is by the side. The swimmer then turns onto the opposite side to repeat the drill (left and right sides).

2-4-6 freestyle

The swimmer completes two freestyle arms before rotating forwards and continuing the stroke. The swimmer turns after two, four and then six strokes. After the drill is completed the swimmer sculls. This drill can be repeated after the first sequence is finished.

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Reference AUSTSWIM

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Communication Approaches for Coaches

Effective teaching and coaching is all about effective and appropriate communication. The ability of the coach to present information to learners in a format and manner that is meaningful for each individual is one of the key attributes of the successful introductory strokes development program.

A coach must be able to assess when it is appropriate to use certain presentation styles. In some instances, a combination of several styles may be called for.

It is crucial that the coach is aware of the teaching style they adopt in each situation; that is, they should be proactive in their application of coaching techniques rather than reactive to the stress and demands of the teaching environment.

However, in order to cater for the needs of all swimmers, a flexible approach for any session is essential. An effective communication style aims to get the best out of each swimmer. Coaches should not be concerned if they change their style. What is important is that the swimmer responds positively to the presentation style and progresses optimally.

The personality of the coach plays a big part in the presentation of each session. The age, level of experience and maturity of the swimmer will also have an impact of the presentation style. When a swimmer and instructor work together, there is a meeting of two different personalities. The coach has to assess haw the swimmer will respond best. As the coach learns more about the swimmers’personality, the communication process improves.

Friendly and approachable

Many swimmers respond well to a friendly and approachable coach. As long as the ground rules are set, this style of communication is popular and effective. If the coach is able to maintain discipline within the group, this style works well. The friendly and approachable coach must ensure that swimmers understand that their training behavior will be reflected in their results; their success will be based on their own motivation to achieve goals.

Using first names will help to create a casual and friendly atmosphere. Coaches should take time to learn the names of each learned by the second lesson in the program.

Clear, precise and directive

The coach’s aim is to maximise practice time by giving direct instructions. Swimmers respond well to clear and precise instructions. Good demonstrations and accurate, sharp instructions are what swimmers need in the busy and noisy aquatics environment. A direct approach allows swimmers to complete their tasks, maximize their use of the time allocated and develop their skills within that time.

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Humor when appropriate

Humor can help to create a relaxed environment. A joke can often relieve tension and contribute to the groups spirit and good atmosphere within the group. A coach who adopts a serious approach – without any flexibility – may cause swimmers to lose interest because they do not learn to enjoy their training. However, an overdose of humor can cause a decrease in productivity. Sarcasm is not recommended at any time. The challenge for the new coach is to establish a teaching environment that is conductive to effective learning, has defined, clear boundaries in terms of behavior standards, yet is fun and enjoyable to be involved with.

The use of group ‘nicknames’ can work well and create a close group of swimmers who enjoy the common bond of training and having their own swim group names. However, quite the opposite situation can develop if the ‘nicknames’ reinforce poor skill levels or highlight physical features such as body shape and/or size or some other negative aspect. The coach should monitor group dynamics and humor to ensure a harmonious learning environment is developed.

Casual when appropriate

A relaxed, casual coach style may help to dispel tension. However, if the coach is too casual and swimmers take advantage of this behavior, control can be lost.

A coach must create a situation whereby the swimmers respect the coach, and choose a presentation style that will bring out the best in the swimmers.

Organized and efficient

Planning and preparation are the key to any good program. The coach must strive to be organized in every aspect of swimming. This will relay a message to the swimming community that the coach is serious about achieving goals and is a well-trained aquatics professional. The high level of motivation demonstrated by the coach will set an example to swimmers. If the coach is well organized, time will be saved in moving from activity to activity. The efficient coach aims to increase productivity and minize disruptions in the group.

A “critical friend”

Some swimmers do not respond well to criticism, whereas others will use the feedback as a learning experience and strive to improve. However, without constructive criticism a swimmer can’t improve. Swimmers need a coach to point out what they need to work on. They can then focus on their weaknesses until they become strengths. As long as the criticism is constructive, swimmers will respond positively to the stroke development challenges suggested by the coach.

It is important to assess how each swimmer respond to criticism. How it is delivered will have an impact on how the swimmer responds. Any criticism should be done in private. Present criticism as a positive challenge to improve. Some swimmers respond well to harsh criticism, becoming more motivated and thus achieving good results. The good coach is able to use criticism in a productive way. Never underestimate the ‘I’ will show you’ attitude that some swimmers have – it can help them to achieve great goals. This is particularly so with high-achieving swimmers.

It can also be useful to talk as a group when addressing any faults. For example: ‘‘How about trying to get our hands in line with our shoulders when entering the water. This will stop us zigzagging.

Motivational and encouraging

A coach who shows enthusiasm and energy on the pool deck is likely to motivate the swimmers. However, the training environment will rearely provide a stimulus more exciting than that encountered at a competition.

Motivational words from the coach can have enormous impact on th eswimmer. Motivation is a major factor in determining successful performance. When swimmers understand that true motivation comes from within they are more likely to achieve success.

A swimmer’s motivation is likely to decrease if personal goal are not being achieved. Motivation to improve skills should be high all the time, not just for a short period before any given competition.

The coach should maximize motivation by giving praise sensibly. As swimmers learn and develop, praise must be generous. Every swimmer should receive some positive words in every lesson they have. However, praise must also be earned – and felt to be earned – in order for the swimmer to respect it.If used all the time, the impact diminishes.

Disciplinarian

Some swimmers performing at high levels respond to a regimented approach. A rigid, disciplined approach is sometimes necessary for elite performance, when the difference between winning and losing can be a millimeter. Champion swimmers respond to a disciplined training environment – they need it to perform at an optimum level. Many high-level coaches are good disciplinarians – they create a productive atmosphere in the group. However, the nature of the discipline needs to develop not destroy.

As with most teaching tools, discipline when used intelligently and with a logical purpose is an important aspect of an effective teaching program.

However, coaches must be flexible enough to allow fun and relaxed period in any group. Their training must be enjoyable and challenging. It is the coach’s role to achieve the right balance – a disciplined yet enjoyable training environment.


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Feedback

Instructors provide important information for swimmers in the form of feedback. Feedback can be verbal, written, visual and tactile. Video analysis has become a crucial part of feedback for any level swimmer (www.swimmind.com). Swimmers are often surprised when they see themselves swimming, not realizing that their stroke often appears different from how it “feels.”

The learner’s brain will learn the correct and incorrect technique equally well. In the early stages of learning, the instructor should correct the swimmer by providing positive, constructive feedback as often as possible. Lack of supervision or quality control at any step makes the next step more demanding or more difficult. This is common mistake in many Learn to Swim Schools that do not provide much individual attention to its swimmers, having large groups of swimmers without following any system. In this respect, it is alsoimportant to maintain the quality of previous skills as a drill progresses or moves to the next step. Thus, if swimmers do not get enough attention from their instructors they could use video analysis which, now, with www.swimmind.com is not only for competitive swimmers.

The instructor must feed regular information to each swimmer. Generally it must be positive, constructive and effective for the swimmer. Giving a simple ‘good‘ is not adequate. The skill practice may be ‘good’ but why is it ‘good’ and can it be improved? If so, how can it be improved?

As long as the instructor is giving effective feedback and the swimmer is progressing steadily, the swimmers is productive.

For example, when Susie attempts a new stroke drill, the instructor says:

“Hey Brian, that was a great effort [start with something positive]. I liked the way you worked your kick during that drill. In this next lap, I want you to think about how your elbows are moving when you do this [give demonstration]. Can you show me? [swimmer gives feedback and demonstration of the key element of the drill before pushing off]

Participant input

To tailor programs to suit the needs of swimmers, instructors should encourage swimmers to participate in the program design. Swimmers and instructors can meet together to work out a program or seasonal plan for competition. Recent sporting successes of leading competitive swimming teams have shown that swimmer input is very motivating for individuals and the team as a whole. However, they must have the maturity to give useful input. The instructor should provide an opportunity for all interested swimmers to voice their opinion then judge whether their input is useful and worthwhile. This should be done away from the pool deck at group/team meetings to avoid possible conflicts between instructor and swimmers during training.

This is also a good time to have the group set behaviour and discipline standards for the group, such as the following:

GROUP RULES

Acceptable behavior

  • Being on time
  • Listening to instructions
  • Talking responsibility for own training gear
  • Bringing a water bottle to every session
  • Telling the instructor if I am sick or injured

Unacceptable behavior

  • Fighting
  • Swearing
  • Being late
  • Being rude or disrespectful to the instructor or anyone at the pool
  • Drinking from someone else’s drink bottle

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Modifications to style and method

Instructors must be aware that certain instruction styles and presentations are not effective in every instance. Experienced instructors can adapt their style according to the swimmers’ personalities, the type of swimming group, the swimmers’ level of motivation and what they are training for. The instructor’s main goal is to get the best out of everyone – to achieve productivity requires a flexible approach. Teaching at this level is ‘an experiment of one’ and the instructor must have the ability to modify group instruction to accommodate this fact.

Communication is feedback

The instructor’s body language operates as feedback for the swimmer. A ‘thumbs up’, a smile, a simple clap or a nod can reassure the swimmer, acknowledging the good work. The instructor’s ability to communicate can have a lasting impact on swimmers. It can help form their attitudes to life in general, sport, work and their interpersonal relationships. Therefore, the instructor acts as a role model, with the potential to help shape the life of the swimmers.

Characteristics of a successful instructor:

  • has great communication and listening skills
  • has a good knowledge of stroke technique
  • has good time management and planning skills
  • is imaginative and flexible when designing programs
  • is enthusiastic and able to motivate
  • gives constructive feedback and ground rules
  • has a good sense of humor
  • is able to manage staff and interact well with the swimming community, professionally and personally, seeking feedback from all members of the swimming community, from sources such as SwiMMinD, especially the swimmers
  • has good teaching skills – focusing on the educational outcomes
  • ensures that the program is swimmer-centered so that every goal is for the swimmers’ benefit
  • realizes that their own behavior will have enormous impact on the swimmers’ behavior, performance and attitudes
  • is able to clarify what a swimmer has learnt by questioning and observing any change in performance
  • sets up a time especially to discuss the program and encourages input from swimmers
  • solves stroke fault problems or suggest swimmers to use alternative stroke correction methods such as www.swimmind.com
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Who is your ‘critical’ swimming friend?

Some swimmers do not respond well to criticism, whereas others will use meaningful feedback as a learning experience and strive to improve. However, without constructive criticism a swimmer can’t improve. Swimmers need their instructor/coach to point what they need to work on. If swimmers do not have a coach, they should find one or use alternative means for improving, through video analysis. If swimmers have difficulties accepting criticism from their coach, they should not be in a hurry to drop out from swimming or change coach. Swimmers could check their stroke technique with SwiMMinD.

Only when swimmers identify and focus on their weaknesses, they could make them strengths. Swimmers improve the fastest if they see stroke development as a challenge, not a problem.  

Instructors have direct personal contact with their swimmers, and it is very important for them to assess how each swimmer would respond to criticism.  In this respect, SwiMMinD is no different from instructors. From the first uploaded video, SwiMMinD strives to create personal individual assessment for each swimmer and follow their progress through the different SwiMMinD Programs. The critical points/levels are presented as challenges which could be reached with the support of remote coaches, dolphins, mermaids and other relevant to the swimmer characters.  The Video Feedback is private, unless swimmers respond so well to criticism and want their feedback to be public. SwiMMinD as any great instructor around the world should never underestimate the power of “I will show you” attitude that some swimmers have.

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