Friday, August 15, 2014

The Swim Smooth Model Of Squad Coaching


Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Salisbury SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis
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Lancaster SS Squad
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Lancaster UK, Video
Analysis Consultations

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Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
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Prague Junior Swim Club
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West Lothian
Video Analysis

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Acton Video Analysis
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Richmond SS Squad
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Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round
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Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
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For more info on SS Certified Coaches see here
Even for experienced coaches it takes at least a year of intensive training to become a Swim Smooth Certified Coach. Perhaps the most famous part of that journey is the compulsory trip out to Perth Western Australia for immersive work with the Swim Smooth Squads.

Our Perth setup is the perfect place for our coaches to train. Paul Newsome and his local coaching team run 12 separate squads totalling around 400 swimmers of all ability levels per week. Over just the last 3 years Paul has also personally performed over 5,400 video analysis and stroke correction sessions and our certified coaches many thousands more.

Together with our international clinics and coach-education work this creates a unique 'engine-room' of coaching which allows us to deliver you the innovative and supremely effective coaching system that is Swim Smooth.

One of the SS squads in Perth preparing for a CSS set.

During their trip each Swim Smooth coach works intensively to perfect their observation, analysis and stroke correction skills. But just as importantly, they see the Swim Smooth Squads in action and coach with them themselves to understand why they are so successful at developing swimmers of any level. It's very important that each Swim Smooth coach understands and has direct experience with this model so that they can re-create it when they return to their home location to work with their local swimmers.

The Swim Smooth Model For Squad Coaching

You can see our full list of Certified Coaches here but if you are not lucky enough to have a Swim Smooth coach close to you, here is an outline of some of the key training principles they employ from Perth. Whether you are training with some friends or operating a triathlon club, you can use this advice to improve the effectiveness of your own swim sessions:

Principle 1: A Constant Focus On 'The Three Keys'

The swimmers who improve the most follow a rounded program bringing together in unison the three key areas of swimming development:

- Stroke Technique
- Swim Specific Fitness (particularly a focus on CSS training for distance swimming)
- Open Water Skills

You can think of each of these as being worth roughly the same amount of time to you. For instance, if you wanted to take 6 minutes off your 1500m time you might look to take 2 minutes from your stroke technique, 2 minutes from your swim specific fitness and 2 minutes from your open water skills. This is far and away the most effective way to make large improvements in your swimming performances.

Practise your open water skills at least once a week all year round
- either in open water or in the pool (see here)

The simplest way to bring The Three Keys into your own training is to swim three sessions a week with one session focused on each one*. Consistency is critical, performing these sessions all year round (like Mega Mega) will constantly and progressively improve your swimming, take a break or skip sessions and you'll stagnate.

It's important to realise that this rounded approach to your swimming preparation is extremely effective for all levels of swimmer. Newer swimmers shouldn't solely work on stroke technique as with poor fitness levels they simply won't be able to sustain their stroke and being overly focused with technique can easily develop a stroke style that seriously holds them back in open water.

*To see how we structure things to maintain that balance if you are swimming more or less than three times per week see the skeleton structures in the Swim Smooth Book

Principle 2: Set Goals & Track Progress

We use a variety of apps to record multiple
split times within the squads.
Not setting meaningful short terms goals is one of the most common mistakes swimmers make. Set yourself specific and measurable goals over a fixed time period is extremely motivating and keeps your training focused. In a club setup you can set goals for a group of swimmers or a whole swim lane.

For example your goal might be:

Knock 5 seconds per 100m off my CSS pace over the next 8 weeks
or
Become comfortable breathing bilaterally over the next 4 weeks

Regularly measure your performances to see how you are progressing, a CSS test every 6-8 weeks might be the perfect way of doing this.

In the group/club situation announce a date for each test session and time each other's performances. Or if you are the coach, time everyone in the group and send out the results as part of your coaching service.

What do you do when you've met your goal? Easy - set another to keep yourself constantly moving forwards!

Principle 3: Don't Mix Coaching Philosophies

We see this a lot from self-coached athletes who pick different pieces of coaching advice from different sources and try and join them together to 'create the best of all worlds'. Unfortunately this just doesn't work! It's a bit like mixing different car parts - they won't mesh together and create a working vehicle at the end.

Instead commit for a period of time (perhaps 6 months) to a specific philosophy (in this case Swim Smooth) and follow every aspect of that approach diligently.

At the end of the period objectively assess the results. How are you performing relative to your goals? How much faster are you? Should you continue full-steam ahead or if you haven't improved do you need to change philosophies?

The Swim Smooth coaching philosophy works for a huge range of swimmers from
beginners right through to elite competitors. Make sure you use the whole package though.

In a club, a similar problem might exist where you have different coaches following different training philosophies and ideas - pulling the swimmers in different directions and likely overloading them with conflicting advice. As a club, objectively assess what really works for your swimmers and stick with it!

Remember that to see improvements from any program you need to be consistent with your training - do yourself and the program justice by not missing sessions or skimping on parts of your preparation.

Principle 4: Use Beepers!

A very practical tip this one: Use Finis Tempo Trainer Pros in lap-interval mode to set your training pace. The principle here is very simple, set a target pace per 25m and push-off when the beep goes, then simply pace your swim so you don't get ahead or behind the beep every 25m. This improves your pace judgement and improves the accuracy of your training intensity.

Megan waits 5 seconds before setting off behind the swimmer in front.

In a club situation have the lead swimmer in each lane uses the beeper with the other swimmers following behind at 5 or 10 seconds gaps. All they have to do is maintain the gap to the swimmer in front to swim at the target pace - if they drop off slightly then no problem, they'll rejoin the group at the end of each swim. As a coach it's critical to know your swimmers well to set the intensity accurately for them for different training sets.

Training in a group can never quite be as specific for the individual as training alone but the motivation and enjoyment of swimming in a group more than makes up for this. It could be just what you need to take some big strides forward with your swimming.

Principle 5: Get The Distances Right

With the exception of Red Mist sessions, our squad sessions generally run for an hour. Depending on your ability level you should normally look to cover the following distances:

1:50-2:20/100m CSS pace - approx. 2300m (Lane 1)
1:35-1:50/100m CSS pace - approx. 2700m (Lane 2)
1:25-1:35/100m CSS pace - approx. 3000m (Lane 3)
1:15-1:25/100m CSS pace - approx. 3300m (Lane 4)*

If you are swimming shorter sessions than that, then a lack of training volume could be a factor in what is holding you back.

* Swimmers faster than 1:15/100m are at the elite level and will generally swim for longer than an hour in a training session.

Principle 6: Use The Right Kit

As you might have noticed we're big fans of Finis swimming equipment for stroke correction and training purposes. We recommend their kit not because of any relationship with them but because we've found it very well designed and super-effective for improving swimmers' stroke technique.

The right kit makes all the difference.

If you are getting into swimming or starting up a club check out our Swim Smooth / Finis packs, they contain everything you need to get you up and running with your all round training:


Swim Smooth!

Special thanks to Janine Kaye for the awesome squad shots.

2 comments:

Anita Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stuart Harsley said...

Been a massive fan for years now.....but please, when is there going to be a coach in Melbourne!!!????