For those fortunate enough to grow up playing Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the like, you’ll remember that some of those games were hard.
At the time, there was no internet to research solutions. Your options were word of mouth, trial and error, and cheat codes. Depending on the game, cheat codes gave the user access to advanced levels, super powers, extra lives, and more.
Cheat code apply in coaching as well. I have questioned the use of augmented feedback in a previous commentary, particularly feedback related to limb displacement and position. However, for some swimmers, augmented feedback can be cheat code for when a swimmer is really struggling to achieve a desired skill.
When should you use it? Whenever it works!
Provide as little information as a possible to move the swimmer forward.
Provide information that as open-ended as possible. Ideally, re-framing the problem is superior to providing any sort of solution.
Use this strategy as judiciously as possible to ensure that swimmers rely primarily on their own problem-solving skills.
Minimize the use of augmented feedback until swimmers have developed the ability to rely on their own intrinsic feedback. Not only will this allow for long-term progression, the swimmer will be better able to process feedback they do receive from the coach.
As always, there are no rules, just results. If something works, it works. The caution is that what works over a shorter time scale may become problematic over longer time scales.
Be patient with the learning process, occasionally helping swimmers through roadblocks as necessary and appropriate.