Thousands of articles have been written about the qualities of the best swim coaches and the shortcomings of the worst. If you’ve been in this sport long enough every swimmer has had their share of the best, worst. and those in the middle. Sometimes swimmers don’t even realize what they have until they are gone.
Coaches who shine:
1. Are incredible teachers both in and out of the pool. They realize kids learn differently. They embrace the opportunity to bring out the best in every swimmer whether they are swimming recreationally or Olympic bound.
2. They teach that sportsmanship is more important than winning. Period. You never know who is watching. Character always matters all the days of your life. There is nothing worse than an arrogant winner.
3. They inspire love of swimming through their actions and interactions. They look for teachable moments. These are just coaches you want to know whether they are in summer league or the NCAA.
4. They stay positive even during the rough patches. Kids get sick. They get injured. Things happen. The very best coaches help swimmers navigate life’s bumps. They find the shining moments even on the dark days.
Coaches who do not shine possess characteristics too.
1. They tear swimmers down, and don’t build them up. They never realize the damage they do, and they don’t care. Very little is ever gained by coaches who are consistently negative.
2. They forget that they are mentors. Some of them yell and scream as if their swimmers wanted to have a bad race and add time. They just don’t realize that these are moments when their leadership is needed.
3. They forget that each swimmer’s journey belongs to them. Many forget to check their egos at the door. At the end of the day coaches want to win. But the very best ones want to leave a better legacy. They want to help swimmers grow into amazing citizens.
4. Lastly some of the worst coaches try to pit teammates against one another. This is not only an ineffective motivational strategy, but can lead to awful dynamics that encourage bullying and worse. To build a cohesive team the coach must lead the way — not only in public eye, but in private moments.
Coaches, which one are you? Swimmers seek out the coaches who shine.
About Donna Hale
Donna Hale has been swim mom for 16 years. Her daughter swims for Davis & Elkins College.