With measures being taken worldwide to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many sports activities have been put on hold. For USA Swimming, that meant cancelling or postponing the organization’s hosted events and meets through April 30th. Several club swim teams throughout the United States have cancelled practice for at least a few weeks.
While practices are cancelled due to the coronavirus, there are a few tools teams can use to stay in touch remotely. Before we dive in, here’s a refresher on the related points of USA Swimming’s MAAPP Policy on electronic communication with swimmers:
- When communicating with a minor through electronic means (including social media), a coach must include the minor athlete’s legal guardian in the communication. That means CCing a parent on e-mails, including a parent in text threads or other electronic correspondence. This includes college recruiting, where an adult coach (an “applicable adult”) is contacting a minor athlete and will need a guardian on the thread with the athlete.
- When communicating to a group or an entire team, a coach must include another adult in the communication. (Copying another coach, parent or other adult).
- Coaches can only use electronic communications between 8 AM and 8 PM.
When using any of the services listed below for remote communications, athletes’ legal guardians need to be included. For example, if coaches are using video services, a parent or guardian should be present with the swimmer for the duration of the call. Any activities should take place between 8 AM and 8 PM.
SKYPE – Skype has upped their maximum for group video or audio chats to 50 people, so teams could communicate in large groups with their assigned coach. This is one way for a coach to be able to monitor swimmers’ dryland activities to make sure they’re performing them with the correct technique and holding exercises for the right amount of time. It’s a way for coaches to communicate real-time and ask questions that swimmers can answer.
GOOGLE HANGOUTS – This offers similar benefits to Skype. The group size is slightly smaller, though, with 25 as the maximum. There are some benefits to that. If coaches engage in multiple sessions with smaller groups, they’re able to focus more on each individual swimmer. The 10 most active people in the call are shown at the bottom of the screen. Teams could assign swimmers into small groups and assign each coach a number of those small groups.
OOVOO – This is another service offering connection via small group video chats. You can have up to 12 members at a time in a video call. Again, this might be useful if you want to assign smaller groups to certain coaches. For example, you could have one coach assigned to cover one age group, and have multiple groups set up within that age group.
VIDEO LIVE STREAMING
There are a number of services out there that offer live streaming, which could be used by coaches for lectures on stroke drills and technique. We’ve highlighted a couple of the more popular streaming services below.
YOUTUBE – Coaches can record videos of themselves talking about different focus points for swimmers while they can’t be in the water. Videos of swimmers executing technically correct turns, drills, and strokes can be shared with swimmers and their parents. YouTube also offers a live streaming service, where coaches could interact with viewers during the stream. They can ask and answer questions, make comments on different techniques and drills, etc.
VIMEO – Like YouTube, Vimeo offers live streaming. You can set it to automatically archive videos at the end of the stream so families can view it later if they aren’t able to be there for the live stream. Coaches can organize videos under different topics. The videos can also be instantly published across the team’s social media platforms. This is another way to make sure all families get access to the content.
While email is often used to communicate in small work groups, it can get difficult to keep track of all the responses when you have larger groups. These services make it easier to communicate in large groups and offer the ability to quiz athletes and organize topics.
GOOGLE DOCS – Through Google Docs, coaches can include videos on technique and training attributes and quiz swimmers to sharpen their attention to detail. This is one way to keep swimmers engaged outside of the water. Here’s one example by Eastern Iowa Swim Federation’s Megan Oesting. It outlines ways to improve streamlines and dolphin kicks. It also offers examples of dryland exercises that can be done at home to strengthen the muscle groups needed to make those improvements. Even though swimmers can’t be practicing their streamlines and dolphin kicks in the water, they’re still able to do those exercises at home to prepare them to make those adjustments in the water.
SLACK – This is a tool used for workplace communication. It could be a good option to communicate with families during the remote period. Topics can be organized into different channels and video links can be shared through the service. One way to use this would be to invite legal guardians of the team’s swimmers into the slack, and have the guardians and swimmers engage in the slack chat as a family. Coaches can create different channels for different strokes, drills, or dryland exercises. They could also create different channels for different days so they can better organize topics.