Coaching the Dryland Coach Within You: A Guide for Swim Coaches

When’s the last time someone trained you to be a dryland coach? Probably never. Or, if you have gotten training, it’s been quick and shallow education to accommodate for lack of time and resources. Coaches are so busy training their swimmers that they often overlook the most important member of the team: themselves. This is a problem.

Coaches are the glue that holds their program together. Responsible for the wins and losses, coaches unlock potential in their athletes. It is the most important job. It’s only through experience that coaches gain their reputation as a dryland coach. But it’s education that produces better coaching skills. So why are we leaving out the educational piece for dryland?

Nowadays, dryland coaches at the professional and collegiate level have credentials in strength and conditioning AND insider knowledge of the sport. This is now trickling down into club and high school programs as recruiting becomes a bigger factor for youth programs. Most swim coaches at the youth level are either getting educated in dryland or hiring a dryland coach with the proper skills. At SURGE Strength, we are bridging the gap between swim coaches and dryland coaches.


Dryland Through the Decades

 “The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

Have you encountered a coach that does the same dryland program with their swimmers every year? They have ten years of experience, but their program still reads as one year old. This leaves the swimmers underserved and ultimately costs them their potential.

Dryland should evolve as the sport of swimming evolves. If you think back to the 1960s and ’70s, dryland was almost non-existent. People did a few wetland circuits here and there. They were mostly doing “garbage yardage” and some abs on deck. Moving into the 1980s and ’90s, some people started mixing in dryland workouts, but they were still not the norm. As we move into the 2000s, people started taking dryland more seriously. They began “cross-training” for swimming and following fitness programs. Fast-forward to the 2010s: There are people becoming purely dryland coaches and recognizing the leap forward that dryland can give their swimmers. Although it took a while, swimming has finally caught up to other sports in the strength and conditioning realm.

As we turn over a new decade, people are now expected to be certified or specialized in dryland. Look at the physique of a swimmer. Take away the block they are standing behind, and you won’t know what sport they play. They are true athletes – at least, the best ones are. Exceptional dryland coaches know that training swimmers to become better athletes will exponentially help them become better swimmers when they translate their skills to the water. They achieve this by implementing strength and conditioning principals beyond the scope of a traditional swim coach. This requires a new skill set, which we help you develop when you become SURGE Strength Dryland Certified (SSDC).




Progressive Programming

Once you have attained the skills to be a dryland coach, your programming should evolve as well. Most strength and conditioning coaches cringe when they look back at their old programs. This is because research is constantly unlocking new scientific principles and discovering better ways to apply them. Dryland coaches should easily identify why they chose the exercises in their dryland plan. Each part of their program should tie into their team’s long- and short-term goals.

At SURGE Strength, we unpack the key scientific principles that help you create a periodized dryland program. We break down training phases throughout the season and for each day. We explain how to apply workout variables (Learn More – 8 Workout Variables Every Dryland Program for Swimmers Needs) to match your team’s goals. Most importantly, we teach you how to program better dryland designed specifically for the sport of swimming.




Programming vs Coaching

While optimal programming is important, it’s only as good as the coach running it. Anyone can lead a group of athletes through a workout. However, it takes an additional skill-set to coach them. A program in real life looks different than a program on paper. An injury pops up and an athlete needs a modification. You get kicked out of your training space and now you don’t have the same equipment. Coaching requires adaptability and the ability to not only listen to an athlete but truly hear them. Good coaches can modify the workout without compromising the goal of the session. They know how to execute the plan in a way that speaks to each individual on the team. This partially comes with experience. However, it also comes with proper training.

The process of Becoming SDDC trains coaches how to give proper coaching cues. You learn how to execute programs for each phase in the training season. We help you scale each workout to accommodate various fitness levels within your team. Investing in your craft is more than just learning how to write an exercise program – it is acquiring a skill set that develops buy-in from your athletes and helps you connect with them in a unique way to create elevated dryland coaching.

As the sport of swimming gets faster, the pace of dryland training for coaches also gets more intense. Gone are the days of pulling a workout off the internet and giving it to swimmers to do on their own. Dryland now requires periodized training plans and the ability to coach them well. That’s why our mission at SURGE Strength is to develop swimmers into better athletes. Better athletes will always become faster swimmers.




dryland certified coach





dryland certified coach

dryland certified coach




dryland certified coach

dryland certified coach



The goal of SURGE Strength is simple:



SURGE Strength - Dryland Training for Swimming

Courtesy of SwimSwam’s exclusive dryland training partner, SURGE Strength.

SURGE Strength, a strength training brand created by Chris Ritter, CEO of RITTER Sports Performance, aims to build better athletes and faster swimmers through dryland programs and educational courses.

Get started with a SURGE Strength Dryland Program or enroll in a dryland course in the SURGE Strength Academy today!

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About Chris Ritter

Chris Ritter

Swimming has always been a part of the life of Chris Ritter, founder of RITTER Sports Performance What Chris discovered after his swimming career, as he entered his swim coaching career was how important dryland training for swimmers can be. Chris has earned numerous strength and conditioning certifications, including: CSCS, NASM-PES, USAW …

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