It's How You Do It
In several posts, I have described an approach that relies less on verbal coaching instruction. I have also advocated for an approach that presents movement problems for swimmers to solve, as opposed to providing swimmers with movement solutions to rehearse.
The impression I have created may be that all swimmers have to do is perform the designated tasks and learning will magically take place.
This is not the case.
To actually achieve these specific task goals, there will need to be VERY high levels of engagement. The tasks are very challenging, and need to be so to facilitate progress. Swimmers must be very highly engaged in the process of problem solving if they hope to successfully complete these goals.
They must consistently try, adjust, and try again.
Swimmers must be actively engaged in attempting the accomplish specific tasks as opposed to achieving specific technical positions/movements. In the former case, effective skills are a part of the process that is requisite for accomplishing a performance goal. In the latter case, the skills are the goal.
From a coaching perspective, the process is no less energy or engagement intensive. While there may be less instruction, there is no less interaction.
Coaches have three key duties.
1. Design Effective and Appropriate Tasks
By designing effective and appropriate tasks, coaches can set the stage for effective learning, or not. The right task can make learning much easier. A poor task will do the opposite. This process requires a lot of forethought, planning, and awareness of what each individual requires to be successful. As much as possible, tasks should provide clear feedback about success, or not.
2. Clearly Communicate Task Goals and Intention
Swimmers must know exactly what they have to do and they must understand the purpose of what they are doing. Coaches must clearly communicate to ensure that everything is understood. When swimmers know the purpose of the task, they can better understand how to navigate the challenges they will face.
3. Require Engagement and Problem-Solving
Training will be tough. Coaches still need to create the environment and atmosphere for swimmers to want to challenge themselves. They must provide the encouragement needed to move through these challenges. In addition, coaches can help swimmers work through the problem-solving process by helping to focus attention on the key aspects of performance.
There are no magic tasks. Both swimmers and coaches have to put the work into design effective tasks, engage in the process, and work together to solve these tasks.
How you work this process determines the results that process yields.