As a coach, you're at the helm of your team's success. What you do, and don't do, on a daily basis will impact everyone's performance. So take some time to assess your own skills and develop some of the areas where you need improvement. You'll see your swimmers flourish inside and outside of the pool!
1. Technical Knowledge
Your team looks to you and your coaching staff to be the experts on swimming technique, warm up routines, nutrition tips, and other specialized knowledge to help them be the best. Take time to develop your expertise in these different areas and do some continuing education to stay abreast of what is current in the swimming world. Use your coaching network, other staff and training experts, as well as online resources to help you improve your technical knowledge of the sport.
2. Professional Demeanor
If you want your team to be the best, you have to act like it! Set the example and always act in a professional manner. This means being on time, responding to parent concerns, and treating each player with respect. You'll also want to be accountable to your coaching staff and school professionals and produce any reports or updates in a timely manner. Don't be the guy who is always late or letting administrative work slip by. Work on your time management skills to manage your day and stay on top of the demands of your job as a swim coach.
3. More Than Your Sport
The best coaches know that a child or teen's success is not just what happens at the meet. Inspire your team to be better people after they leave the competition with pep talks on leadership, work ethic, academic success, and being a better person. Connecting your team to something more than the sport of swimming builds a positive culture and connects the team to each other. This type of team atmosphere will inspire each student-athlete to perform their best not just for themselves, but for the entire team as well.
As a swim coach, you're expected to wear many different hats. One day you're the cheerleader at the meet, the next you may be mentoring a swimmer through a life crisis, and later that same day you may be counseling someone through failure. Whatever the situation calls for, you'll have to be able to effectively multi-task and sort out what each teammate needs from you. Also, remember that you'll need to deal with the academic pressures that some of your student-athletes might be facing. Your team is balancing a tough training schedule with the rigors of a challenging school schedule, so be mindful of this and give them inspiring talks to help them see the value of succeeding inside and outside of the classroom.
As the great coach Bill McCartney once said, "All coaching is, is taking a player where he can't take himself." So use these ideas to definitely become a better swim coach and inspire your swimmers to go beyond their limits and reach for success!