All 4 Years Part VII
We’re getting to the end, and hopefully closer to understanding some of the dynamics that can be limiting consistent, long-term performance improvement. It’s important to note that we’ve only covered the training aspect of this process. How psychology, culture, technique, and more are integrated into the entire process will significantly impact the effectiveness of any program.
We’ve explored some of the reasons swimmers fail to improve here
We’ve examined how training potential can be limited by poor training management or a lack of ingenuity here
We’ve learned how to assess what training potential remains for current swimmers based on their history here
We’ve discovered how to place swimmers into buckets based upon what we’ve discovered from their training history here
We’ve looked at the process of how to build progressions that meets the training needs of swimmers over time here
We’ve look at some of the steps required to put it all into practice, and actually execute these ideas here
With all of these ideas explored, I’d like to provide two bonus guidelines, that when followed, can make the entire process run much smoother. Failure to adhere to these simple guidelines can render all of the work put into planning and execution useless. Finally, I’d like to provide a brief, simple summary of what’s required to help swimmers make consistently get faster over time.
Don’t Get Hurt
This is pretty obvious. Injury prevents swimmers from training. Not only does it prevent them from doing what they need to do to improve, physical conditioning is actually moving backward during periods of reduced training. Maintaining training potential is the best way to not get hurt. Why? You don’t expose swimmers to loads they’re not ready for. Improper loading is the BEST way for a swimmer to get injured. When kept in check, increases in training load allow for steady progress with a reduced risk of injury.
If there are ANY signs that any type of overuse injury is beginning to develop, it’s worth being patient, letting the issue resolve after a couple days, and then moving forward afterward. A few days of light training (even a week!) is infinitely better than a ruined season. In the sport of swimming, injuries are a sure sign that inappropriate progressions are being used. If injuries are cropping up on an individual basis, individual adjustment need to be made. If injuries are occurring team wide, a serious overhaul may be required.
Technique is the Ticket
If there is whole process seems overwhelming, there is a ‘shortcut’- become a master at identifying technical weaknesses and helping swimmers learn how to overcome them. Of course, developing this skillset will take a LONG time. If you can become really good at helping swimmers learn skills that matter, the training aspect can become much simpler.
If you want to facilitate long-term development, there better be a long-term technical development plan in place. A consistent focus on improving skills provides an additional, and potentially more effective, compliment to physical training. Failure to do so will certainly limit performance ceilings. It cannot be an afterthought.
At the same time, if you can master the ability to aid in technical learning AND provide a progressive, individually prescribed training program, your swimmers are going to consistently improve, and do so that exceeds the rates of your competitors.
Some ideas about the potential challenges of enhancing skill acquisition have been addressed elsewhere on the site.
Hopefully, you’re convinced that it’s possible to provide a program that allows swimmers to consistently improve over their 4-year college career. While there are many contributing factors as to why swimmers don’t improve every year, a failure to create a progressive training program for each individual is a major aspect of this challenge. In this article, I’ve laid out 3 sequential strategies that can provide coaches with some tools to create solution
Create Buckets- Know your kids, identify theirs needs, and strategically place individuals in group with similar needs as much as possible.
Develop Progressions- You know where swimmers need to get to accomplish their goals, and now having determined where their starting point is, lay out the options, determine progressions, and then determine the path to continued improvement.
Execute- Develop a plan to put it all into practice, communicate effectively, and be flexible to bring that plan to life.
It’s a simply process, although certainly not an easy one. Clearly, there are a lot of considerations that must be made while working to facilitate continued development in all swimmers. This is A LOT of work, both intellectually in terms of planning, as well logistically in terms of actually making it happen. However, I believe that the effort is worth it in terms of consistent and significant improvement for a greater majority of swimmers for a longer period of time.
All of the planning and execution comes back to the same, simple statement, while counter-intuitive, can best help facilitate long-term development-
We want to provide the LEAST effective training stimulus that allows for continued improvement.