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The Secret For Getting Things Done In Practice

A big challenge in coaching is getting things done in practice.


There are different aspects of physiology to train.


There are different strokes to work on.


There are different skills to work on.


Everything that swimmers need to do in a race needs to be developed in practice.


It can be really overwhelming.


It’s easy to get distracted, it’s easy to forget, it’s hard to be consistent, and it’s hard to create change.


Too often, I used to find myself writing practice sessions that wasted time and failed to consistently address what I knew swimmers needed to improve.


That changed with checklists.


I read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande and I saw a solution to my problems.


By taking the time to create checklists for what swimmers needed to do to be successful, I would be able to consistently develop the critical skills and abilities, without having to constantly remember what to work on.


So, I identified what I wanted to improve, and I wrote it down.


Then, it was simply a matter of checking the appropriate boxes for each practice.


It was a lot less stressful and a whole lot more productive.


Here are some suggestions for how to create and implement a performance checklist that allows for practice sessions that consistently address the most important aspects of performance.


The more often these types of practice sessions happen, the faster swimmers are going to go.


1. Write It ALL Down


The only way anything gets done is through intention.


You have to intend to accomplish something for it to be accomplished.


And the only way you can intend to make something happen is to know you want it to happen.


That’s certainly true with coaching.


The only way we’re going to help swimmers develop great turns is if we want swimmers to develop great turns.


The most important step is to write down everything you want swimmers to be able to do.


The strokes, the skills, the training, the race strategy, everything.


It doesn’t matter how big or how small.

Write it down.


The only way you can reach a destination is if you’re trying to get there.


This might take an hour or two.


However, it’s a huge investment in identifying WHAT matters.


2. Decide What’s MOST Important


Once you have a checklist of everything you could improve, it’s time to decide what you WILL improve.


There are a lot of different factors that contribute to performance.


Some have a bigger impact than others.


The most important factors should be developed.


The others should be ignored.


The position of the pinky finger during the pull might be relevant to faster swimming.


Effective underwater kicking is DEFINITELY relevant to faster swimming.


Working on the pinky finger is going to lead to a lot less improvement than getting faster underwater.


There is only so much time and there is only so much energy.


There needs to be focus on what matters.


3. Identify What’s Missing


Now you have a checklist of what should be improved.


Of what matters most, there are going to be some aspects of performance you’re already addressing and some that you’re not.


If you’re already got the training side down in terms of physiology, no changes need to be made.


If you know that underwater kicking is critical, yet you devote no time to it, there’s an opportunity.


When you can identify what’s really important AND is currently not being addressed within your practices, you have a big opportunity to get more out of each practice.


These are the aspects of performance that you want to find ways to build into practice sessions.


4.. Start Slow


Now you have a checklist of what you want to improve.


The goal is to get to the point where every single stroke and every single lap are positively impacting performance as much as possible.


It’s tempting to try to get it all done at once.


Just add one thing.


Check one more box.


But once you decide it’s going to be something that is part of a practice session, once it gets added to the checklist, make sure you check that box.


Get comfortable with that strategy.


Then add just one more thing.


Over time, you’ll have the ability develop a lot of skills all at once.


It just takes time.


5. Practice


Getting better at writing training sessions that check all the boxes is not easy.


Just like swimmers have to practice to improve, so do we do.


Write a practice, reflect on what happened both good and bad, and try to make it better.


With practice, it’s possible to get a LOT done in a training session and check a lot of boxes that are critical for helping swimmers go fast.


And the more boxes that can be checked in each practice, the more swimmers are going to improve, and the faster they’re going to go.


If you’re looking to make this even easier, and you want to know which skills are most important to focus on and train, I lay out the key skills swimmers need to create speed in each of the strokes in Stroke Fundamentals


I also show you the exact strategies I use to help swimmers learn these skills. 


If you want to improve your swimmers’ skills, consider grabbing a copy here.


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