Why You Should Listen to your Swim Coach

by SwimSwam 10

April 27th, 2015 Masters, Opinion

Courtesy of Swim2Win4Life. Featured image: NBAC Coach Bob Bowman and Michael Phelps.

I don’t always know what it is, but sometimes I just don’t want to listen to my coach. Maybe it’s my independency or maybe I’m just hardheaded or maybe I think that I know everything. Whatever it may be, listening to your coach is something that every swimmer needs to learn to do. Athletes that have a coach that they can rely on and have confidence in will become greater swimmers in the long run. Yeah, your coach might be completely new to the sport or even “old school”, but that doesn’t mean that everything he or she tries to tell you won’t apply to your future in the sport at all. Reasons you don’t/ won’t listen to your coach and how to fix them:


It happens with teens and their parents. As you get older, you want others to stop worrying about you, stop telling what you have to do, controlling your every move. Understandable, you want to be on your own, be free. You feel that you don’t need someone to be in charge of your swimming career. Remember though that you are still young. You still have a lot to learn. You might think that you don’t need a coach, but he is only there to help you get better.


You are not subject to change. You like everything exactly the way it is right. You think your technique is flawless, dive is extraordinary, and your flip turns are perfect to the exact angle. It would be nice, but it’s not true even if you think it is. Your coach will give you corrections, and you should consider them. His words shouldn’t go in one ear and out the other. If you don’t understand his corrections, ask him about the reasoning behind it.


The “I know it all” attitude brings this one. You believe that you are too good for your coach. He knows nothing; you know everything. However, your coach does know something, a lot of things even. If he’s a newer coach, give him a chance or chances are your coach has been through the grueling practices, even if it was “back in the days”. He knows what he’s talking about, so just have a little confidence in him and open your ears.

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Ken Baker
8 years ago

I am curious – is there a college or USA Swimming program out there that is emphasizing a program more towards less yards – higher intensity?

I hear all the crap about how a swimmer needs endurance and aerobic training – but when you see people like Josh Davis still killing it – and relying primarily on USRPT tactics – you have to wonder if these coaches have the ability to think on their own – without following the doctrine of USA Swimming.

I think if you swam 30 50’s on 25 — and you failed on #22 one week – but you kept progressing each day – and the next week you failed on #24 – would this not… Read more »

8 years ago

We trusted our swimmer’s coach. One shoulder injury, six months out of the pool, and $10,000 in medical bills later I will have to say I’m skeptical.

8 years ago

Lots of good points but I can sympathize with Ben. I think its a two way street and I would say many many coaches can learn the same lessons listed above.

8 years ago

If your coach has earned your trust, then you and he/her will be a team …
Champion teams talk and listen to each other ………..
If you coach is a team player you will find a way together….
Every athlete is different , your coach can do this with each athlete then bond all together if the Swimming club is there for the good of the club rather than the individual.

8 years ago

Is this a proof by contradiction?

These are reasons why you’re wrong if you don’t listen to your coach.

8 years ago

Sound like your college doesnt know how to prospect coaching. Your coach being there for 3 years says something. I am almost certain that any respectable athletic department would not keep any rubbish coaching if enough complaints were submitted to the athletic director.

Reply to  john
8 years ago

athletic departments don’t know anything about swimming… so Ill just say “politics”. coach has been there for at least 10 years

8 years ago

what if your coach legitimately doesnt know what they are doing? First 3 years of college my coach made us get up at 5am for morning practice during taper and I swam poorly. Senior year I faked being sick and didnt go… ALL of my times were a big drop senior year. I only wish I had stopped listening to my coach sooner

Reply to  Ben
8 years ago

I would argue that you didn’t do well because you didn’t trust your coach and believe in your training. It’s easy to put the blame on others, but in reality, you’re only going to do as well as you are prepared to do. If you walked into your championship meet thinking you were disadvantaged because you woke up early, you weren’t going to perform well, because you already counted yourself out. You made excuses. The only thing that changed your senior year was that you believed in what you were doing. My guess is had you trusted your coach instead of doubting him or her, you would have done well all four years. The article directly talks about swimmers with… Read more »

Reply to  Tony Carroll
8 years ago

Why are people so against admitting the possibility that there are coaches that hardly know anything about swimming? Why do so many people preach that coaches are always right and that athletes couldn’t possibly know what’s going on with their bodies?

I’m willing to admit that almost all of my previous success is because of the coaches that got me there. If it’s possible for a coach to be mostly responsible for an athlete’s success, shouldn’t it also be acceptable to entertain the thought that a coach deserves (even just a small amount) of the responsibility for failure?

I realize that in the search for improvement, it’s usually a waste of time to look for things outside of your… Read more »