6 Tips for New Swim Team Coaches
As we jump into September, we also jump into a brand-new school year and swim team season. Students and teachers aren’t the only ones trying to prepare for what lies ahead. In addition, swim coaches are using this time to develop effective ways to guide their team to success once the season begins. But, for new swim coaches, this new responsibility likely feels a little daunting right now.
Being a swim coach is a serious job and significant position. However, if you have experience swimming (which: of course you do, right?), you’re halfway there. Knowledge of proper competitive swimming technique is a massive part of your potential success. But, within the landscape of school swim teams, knowing how to interact with and manage youth is equally critical. Ultimately, you not only want them to win, you want to motivate them to apply the same work ethic and determination to succeed long after graduating. And that’s what makes coaching such a formative job – do it right, and your team will loyally remember you and your influence forever.
Before starting your season, you’ll want to acclimate yourself with some of the more difficult parts of coaching. Read on for six essential tips for new swim coaches entering the 2021-22 school year!
1. It’s About the Swimmers
First and foremost: remove yourself from the equation. Even if you have years of forging an impressive swimming career under your belt, this is when you become responsible for a whole new crew to guide yourself. Mostly, this means remembering to highlight what’s best for them instead of you.
Additionally, this includes identifying and remembering their weaknesses. This way, you can help steer them towards overcoming their mistakes and refining their technique. Show them optimal form, find out their individual preferences and reinforce the importance of developing their skills. are a few more factors you should apply to your coaching.
But, perhaps the most important thing to try and nurture, is your team’s morale and feeling of unity. Without cultivating loyalty amongst your team, and instilling a sense of spirit, you might as well forfeit every match now. Step one: order a set of custom team towels to give them a tangible symbol of your commitment. This will get your season going right off the bat with a step in the right direction. On the other hand, there are a few compelling reasons to give them at the end of the season, as well.
2. Be a Leader First, and a Friend Second
No, that doesn’t mean that you should treat the team poorly or be overly hard on them. In fact, you should pretty much do the opposite. Build a significant relationship of mutual respect so they know how supportive and invested you are in this team.
But, it’s important to remember that you can establish this relationship without giving the impression that you’re a peer and not an authority figure. They have to understand and respect your position. If they see you as a coach and not a peer, then they will be more likely to benefit from your advice. In the long run, demonstrating your authority might be better for them.
Helping them to organize a fundraiser without fully taking the reins will boost their morale and understand your role as a coach. Helping your swim team to raise money for custom sublimated towels makes you a mentor, friend and coach all at once.
3. Live Up to Your Word, Keep Your Promises
With younger swimmers looking up to you, it’s critical that you set a great example. During middle and high school, our positive role models influence us in impactful ways we never forget.
When offering incentives to your team for certain achievements, then deliver the incentive. For example, rewarding your team with custom team towels will help establish the kind of rapport you’re looking for. Allowing them to vote on the design is important, too. After all, your swim team will use the towels all summer long.
The other side of the coin is equally important. If a swimmer defies your rules with unsafe pool conduct or malicious bullying, then act accordingly.
4. Have an Open-Door Policy
Encouraging your athletes to consult you on matters they consider notable enough to discuss can have a huge impact on you and your team. No, it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything of colossal importance. However, the simple fact that they trust and respect you enough to establish this dialogue is really all it takes to reap the benefits of this dynamic.
Swimmers who don’t feel comfortable speaking with their coach aren’t going to improve their performance in the pool, period. Whether they’re having issues with another member of the team, your coaching style, competition, or difficulty with proper technique, you should always be there to listen.
If a swimmer on your team is having issues with family or friends, they may talk speak to you about it for advice. Even listening will help them to overcome these issues, and resolve them.
5. Ask for Advice
For many former athletes, the transition to coaching is a natural part of the trajectory. Swimming is no exception.
Coaches with more experience are usually willing to contribute their insight to coaches just beginning their new vocation. Whether you’re curious about handling internal conflicts or reinforcing technique, fellow coaches can give you priceless advice.
Similarly, you should feel free to ask your students questions. For some coaches, swimmer feedback is the best way to reevaluate your coaching style or outlook. Speaking to the parents may help you to realize what the parents are too afraid to say.
6. Stay Open-Minded
For coaches, there are some things that will simply never change. Technique, discipline, and the thirst for improvement are central to all sports, and they always will be. But, continuing to evaluate your coaching style will help you (and your team) to improve.
As you come to understand your swim team and their habits, you should adjust your coaching method. Adapting to their sensibilities will help them to respect you, and build a better relationship. And of course, few gifts are as practical for swimmers as custom drawstring bags. You can easily improve your relationship with your athletes by giving them a custom bag to carry around their athletic essentials.
Conclusion – Team Towels
There’s nothing that strengthens a team bond like custom sublimated towels. As you journey through your first year as a coach, keep all of these pointers in mind. And remember: you may have to pass this advice on one day, too.