Courtesy of and written by Chad Castillo – A.K.A “Coach C.” Read more of Chad’s Work at SwimCoach.org.
After being a swim coach for 14 years and a science educator for 7 years in sunny Tucson AZ, I know the value of free. I also know the value of good, actionable coaching and teaching information from trusted sources. Unfortunately, those 2 values do not line up most of the time.
The base price for a yearly ASCA (American Swimming Coaches Association) membership is 80 dollars. The ASCA offers some “ok” free material but in my opinion you have to pay to get to their “good stuff”. After you do bite the bullet and fork over 80 bucks, one of the better videos on their coaches resource page is a video from the 1960’s (or was it 50’s?) when Mark Spitz was in high school. (Not exactly the cutting edge of our sport)
A base ASCA clinic registration fee is $75, and the clinics are usually held in large cities where travel and lodging expenses need to be added to the bill. Doing the quick math, that $75 registration fee quickly balloons to $475. (That is being generous with airplane tickets and lodging)
DVD series start at the low low price of $39.99 per video (that’s for one stroke) and if you want to get the whole set that will cost $229.99.
Sorry if I sound like a penny pincher, but over my 14 years of coaching at the high school and club level I have found that reasonably priced trusted resources for up and coming swim coaches are hard to come by. Before you ask: I consider an up and coming coach as anyone who is interested in the coaching profession, wants to coach/teach to the best of their ability, but has not made the “all in” decision just yet. An ex-collegiate swimmer that is on staff as a full time assistant at a division one university is NOT an up and coming coach in my opinion. They have made their decision to coach as a career and are on their way to do so.
Up and coming coaches usually loved their experiences in the water and hope to help others do the same. They may not have achieved success at the greatest heights of our sport, but they have had some success and appreciate what the sport teaches young athletes about sacrifice and reward.
Since up and coming coaches have not made that mental switch to career coach, they usually do not want to drop 40 dollars on a product that may only contain superficial information. They definitely do not want to spring for $475.
I began to understand how underserved the up and coming swim coaching community was when I began coaching basketball at the High School I was teaching at. At this point in my career I had been a swim coach for 11 years, had won a state championship with my high school swim team and had only found a handful of free trustworthy resources. The first time I typed “basketball coaching resources” into Google I was amazed by the amount of quality sites I found. I clicked one link after another and found detailed plays, practice plans and actionable drill examples from coaches like Buzz Williams, Roy WIlliams, Bill Self, and Bob Knight. Not sure if you follow college basketball, but that is like finding practice plans from Jack Roach, Frank Busch, Bruce Gemmell and David Marsh. A lot of times contributing writers to the basketball websites would post detailed instructions of defensive drills introduced just a week prior in a clinic held across the country. FOR FREE! I was blown away.
Why was there such a different level of support for the basketball coaching community? Why are basketballs cutting edge ideas available for free at the click of a mouse and the swim communities were buried below passwords and entry fees? My best guesses would only serve as conjecture here.
Admittedly I have made the mental switch to “career coach” and have bought books, DVD’s and memberships. I still haven’t been to a swim clinic tho. (500 dollars?! – I’m a teacher and a coach) I can say that some of these paid resources have helped me grow as a coach, but in my opinion most are not go-to resources that I always reference.
To all of the young up and coming coaches out there; below are 5 of the best free resources that I have seen over my coaching career. I have used these resources multiple times and they have given me great insights into our sport.
- USA swimming has maintained a useful and comprehensive list of coaching tips dating back to 2011. The resources are broken down into: Long Axis Strokes, Short Axis Strokes, In Water Skills, Out of Water Topics, and Training Philosophy
- Developed by the former CAL swimming strength and conditioning coach. The blog, website and mailing list provide useful and actionable dry-land information. Videos are included and can be sent to athletes via email or link.
- Facilitated by Gary Hall Sr. this site has great video resources and blog posts. Coach Hall Sr. explains drills and their usefulness exceptionally well and the athletes he is working with demonstrate the skills to perfection.
- You can find great resources here if you dig. Any elite level race video is worth watching if you want to analyze stroke count, race strategy etc. There is underwater video of Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Ryan Lochte among others. These videos are great for studying how the best in the business do it.
- Some videos that I have been spending some time with are the Speedo International Series of Ryan lochte, Tyler Clary, Jessica Hardy and Nathan Adrian
- I have been lucky to grow up in the swim crazy city of Tucson AZ. Many high level swimmers who have become coaches have entered my life and I have learned a great deal from them. I advise you to seek out and contact any coach that you respect in your community. With the internet it is easier than ever to contact coaches and try to form relationships with them. Just remember to add more value to your relationship than you take.
*Bonus* Swim Swam Training:
- Of course our favorite site adds considerable value to up and coming coaches. They are adding new articles every day. For example the new Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps series is something that I am looking forward to. I can’t wait to see what is added tomorrow.
Let me know if I missed any great resources that you use. Our community can be much better served and an open dialogue is a start.
Courtesy of and written by Chad Castillo – A.K.A “Coach C.”
Check out my Swimming Wizard blog: swimmingwizard.blogspot.com. Totally free.
Ritter Sports performance offers a great podcast asking numerous coaches questions and searching for great content, and the Coaches Corner is filled with great information.
Disagree entirely…. ASCA has over 4 decades of World Clinic audio and transcripts with timeless wisdom. $1.99 for an hour long audio talk is a small price.
Coach, you raise some excellent points and offer helpful suggestions for support. I hope the up and coming age group coaches take your advice
awesome article–thank you for sharing!