With so much swimming, racing, training, or coaching, motivating, teaching… when was the last time you just sat back and watched people swim.
To really learn what people do, and to become a better swimmer and teacher, I can’t stress enough how important it is to just sit back and watch people swim.
Why do it:
Typically when "swimming" people get around the pool, there is a goal involved. Because of that, we’re very focused on the direct line toward that goal, and that sort of tunnel vision, while very good, sometimes keeps us from learning from simple observation.
How to do it:
1) Really? Should this section even be in here? Sit back, take a deep breath, and forget what you know about swimming and observe.
2) Pick various vantage points around the pool so you can really see the details of what’s going on.
3) Watch various ages and abilities.
4) Watch the different strokes, and pay close attention to what the swimmers are doing instinctively that could be getting in their way.
How to do it really well (the fine points):
OK, just kidding. How do you "watch" really well? By simply allowing yourself the time to observe. This is a luxury for coaching and teaching, just as drills are a luxury for swimmers. It’s that time that you’ll generally rush through to get to the meat of the practice, but put observation on your list of weekly tasks. Look at the pool empty, and try to envision what you’d want it filled with.
To do this REALLY well… you have to ask yourself what you want to SEE when you WATCH your team.
Swimmers, you’re not off the hook either. I learned more from watching my teammates than from almost anything else. Momentum shifts during sets when technique changed. Gaining or losing ground on turns when you’re tired. How the person next to you connects, or misses the connection with the water. Observation is as key as an athlete as it is a coach.