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How To Learn To Create Change FAST

If you want to be an effective coach, you have to be effective at getting change.

And the faster you can create change, the more effective you’ll be as a coach.


Skills don’t change?  Swimmers won’t swim faster.

Fitness doesn’t change?  Swimmers won’t swim faster.


Of course, creating change isn’t easy, especially when it comes to improving skills.


And that can make coaching very difficult, particularly when you’re working with many different swimmers at the same time.

There are plenty of resources for improving fitness and developing training programs.


There’s a lot less information available for consistently improving skills in a systematic way.


It’s easy to get lost and confused as to what to do.


I’ve always believed that improving skills is what’s most important for long-term development, and I’ve been focused on how to get change faster.


Here’s are the steps I’ve found to be really important for becoming effective at getting change fast.


If you’re able to improve in these areas over time, you’ll find that your swimmers will be able to improve their skills faster and more dramatically.


1. Understand What’s Happening


The more I understand what’s happening, the more effective I become at getting change.


I’ve talked about this HERE HERE, and HERE.


It all starts with understanding what’s happening.


If you don’t know which skills are important and why they’re important, nothing else matters.


2. SEE It


Developing a coach’s eye is critical for recognizing opportunities for improvement and recognizing when those improvements are occurring.


If you can’t see what’s happening, you’re literally coaching blind.


I’ve found the most effective solution is watching a lot of swimming.


In person, on a computer, at full speed, and in slow motion.


Once you understand what’s happening, learn to SEE it happen.


I’ve never regretted getting better at picking up what’s happening with my eyes, both at speed and in slow motion.


3. Simplify Communication


Swimmers aren’t biomechanics experts.

They only need to know what they need to know.


Too often, I’ve made the mistake of providing a physics lecture that only led to confusion, and certainly didn’t improve skills.


Swimmers can understand the basics of what needs to happen for fast swimming.


When they know exactly what they need to know and nothing more, it frees their mind and body to make it happen.


Keep it simple.


4. Have Multiple Solutions


When I first started working on skills, I had one solution for each problem, and it only worked some of the time.


As a result, progress was limited.


I needed better solutions, and I needed more solutions.


For any given skill and for any given problem, the more solutions that you have available, the more likely it is that you’ll have one that works.


Any given solution isn’t going to work every time, even the best ones.


Alternatives are going to be necessary.


If you have 10 different ways to help swimmers learn to hold water, you’re going to be more effective than a coach that has 2.


Fortunately, most coaches love to tell everyone about their solutions.


Talk to coaches, watch videos, listen to podcasts, go to clinics, read books.



Beyond simply using the solutions that others already created for you, try to make those solutions even better.


How could you adjust it to get a bigger impact?

What would you do if you couldn’t use your favorite solution and you still needed to get a result?


Having more tools usually means more consistent results.


5. Design Great Tasks


I learned pretty quickly that just doing some drills wasn’t going to get the job done.


They’re not magic, and they have to be used correctly.


Having great solutions doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be implemented effectively.


HOW they’re used matters as well.


A simple question I ask myself is ‘how can I help a swimmer learn a skill WITHOUT having to instruct them?’ 


That comes down to using the solutions we just talked about in great sets.


Skills need to be challenged, and swimmers need to be put in positions where they can successfully meet these challenges.


They also need to be presented in lots of similar, yet different ways.


Swimmers need to PERFORM.


The more effectively great skill development solutions can be used, the faster swimmers will learn better skills.


6. Individualize


It’s easy to treat every swimmer the same.


Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and it took me a long time to recognize and understand how swimmers were different.


This is where all the previous skills come together.

You have to understand what matters, what you’re seeing, and what strategy is going to get the job done.


In many cases, it’s just a small tweak that makes all the difference.


The skill is in knowing which tweak to use, when to use it, and which swimmer to use it with.


As your skillset develops in every area, it’s just a matter of using your options and figuring out what works.


Sometimes it predictable and sometimes it’s not.


You have to try, and the more you try, the more skilled you become in identifying what will work in each situation.


The golden rule I use is the following:


If you’ve chosen the right intervention, the positive effects should be evident very quickly.


Let that guide your efforts at finding the right solution for the right swimmer at the right time.


Take Action


I am always trying to upgrade my skills in each area.


To get the most benefit, I try to target one area at a time to ensure that I’m focusing on creating improvement.


However, it all starts with understanding what’s happening and why it matters.


The more clarity I get on what matters and why, the easier it is to figure out every other step.


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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