Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marlins 2011 Holiday Invite Meet Info


Our Annual Marlins Holiday Invite is coming up fast!

You can find the Meet Info HERE.

Visiting teams: Here are the HyTek Files, and Lodging Information will be posted soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Parent – Coach Communication Guide

Both parenting and coaching are extremely difficult vocations. By establishing communication and understanding of each position, we are better able to accept the actions of the other and provide greater benefit to our student athletes. To be successful, communication is vital and requires involvement, dedication, sacrifice, and commitment from parents, student athletes, and coaches.


1. Coach’s and program’s philosophy.

2. Individual and team expectations.

3. Location and times of all practices and games.

4. Team requirements, i.e., practices, special equipment, off season conditioning.

5. Procedure followed should your child be injured during practice or games.

6. Any discipline that may result in the denial of your child’s participation.


1. Concerns expressed directly to the coach.

2. Notification of schedule conflicts well in advance.

3. Specific concerns with regard to a coach’s philosophy and/or expectations.

4. Support for the program and the attributes of dedication, commitment, and responsibility that are ingredients for success and excellence. Encourage your child to excel.


While your child is involved in interscholastic athletics, they will experience some of the most rewarding and inspiring moments of their lives. It is also important to understand that there might also be times when things do not go the way you or your child wishes. At these times, discussion with the coach is encouraged.


1. The treatment of your child, mentally and physically.

2. Ways to help your child improve and develop.

3. Concerns about your child’s behavior.


It is very difficult to accept your child not playing as much as you may hope. Coaches are professionals. They make judgment decisions based on what they believe is best for the team and all athletes involved. There are certain areas and issues that can and should be discussed with your child’s coach. Other things, such as those below, should be left to the direction of the coach.


1. Playing time

2. Team strategy

3. Play calling

4. Other student athletes


1. Call to set up an appointment with the coach.

2. Please do not attempt to confront a coach before, after, or during a practice or game. These can be emotional times for both the parent and the coach, and this situation does not promote resolution nor objective analysis.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hotel Info for Senior State

Spring HIll Suites by Marriott Athens

3500 Daniels Bridge Rd.,

Athens, GA  30606

Phone #  706-3538484

Rate :  $89.00 + tax

Breakfast included in rate.

Please use Group code when making reservation:  Sports/Team

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pre and Post Race Conversations with The Athlete

If you’ve been to swim meets, you will have noticed that both before a race and immediately after a race, the coach speaks with your child. This is an important part of the race experience.


Before the race, the purpose is to remind the child of the singular thing that  the coach wants the child to concentrate on in that race.


Or, in the words of famous Coach Confucius, “He who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” The purpose of the coach’s communication with your child is to make sure they are focused only on the item that the coach has chosen for that race. (This is based on what we’ve been doing in practice.)  The reason we practice, of course, is to prepare to race.


Post Race, the coach wants to meet IMMEDIATELY with the athlete once they get out of the water to discuss with the athlete if they achieved that singular goal.  Did they do what they set out to do?  If so, “great, good job!” If not, why not?  Or if the athlete can’t remember what they were supposed to do, that’s not a good and back to the drawing board in learning how to concentrate!


Both communications are critically important in the development of the athlete.


If a parent wants to know what the child is supposed to be concentrating on in any particular race, ASK THE COACH! We’ll be happy to tell you. You might check afterwards and see if your child also remembered, post race, what we said about it.  Then you can reinforce the need to focus and learn.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Towel List for last year

IF your name is on the list and would like to purchase a towel, then make check payable to Marlins Sports Foundation, if you do not want a towel do not pay.  See list and check if your name is on the list.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Do's and Don'ts for Sport Parents

By Michael A. Taylor

Gymnastics Risk Management and Consultation



1. Get vicarious pleasure from your children's participation, but do not become overly ego-involved,

2. Try to enjoy yourself at competitions. Your unhappiness can cause your child to feel guilty.

3. Look relaxed, calm, positive and energized when watching your child compete. Your attitude influences how your child feels and performs.

4. Have a life of your own outside of your child's sports participation.



1. Make friends with other parents at events. Socializing can make the event more fun for you.

2. Volunteer as much as you can. Youth sports depends upon the time and energy of involved parents.

3. Police your own ranks: Work with other parents to ensure that all parents behave appropriately at practices and competitions.



1. Leave the coaching to the coaches.

2. Give them any support they need to help them do their jobs better.

3. Communicate with them about your child You can learn about your child from each other.

4. Inform them of relevant issues at home that might affect your child at practice.

5. Inquire about the progress of your children. You have a right to know.

6. Make the coaches your allies.



1. Provide guidance for your children, but do not force or pressure them.

2. Assist them in setting realistic goals for participation.

3. Emphasize fun, skill development and other benefits of sports participation, e.g., cooperation, competition, self-discipline, commitment.

4. Show interest in their participation: help them get to practice, attend competitions, ask questions.

5. Provide; a healthy perspective to help children understand success and failure.

6. Emphasize and reward effort rather than results.

7. Intervene if your child's behavior is unacceptable during practice or competitions.

8. Understand that your child may need a break from sports occasionally.

9. Give your child some space when need. Part of sports participation involves them figuring things out for themselves.

10. Keep a sense of humor. If you are having fun and laughing, so will your child.

11. Provide regular encouragement.

12. Be a healthy role model for your child by being positive and relaxed at competitions and by having balance in your life.




1. Base your self-esteem and ego on the success of your child's sports participation.

2. Care too much about how your child performs.

3. Lose perspective about the importance of your child's sports participation. - Gymnastics Risk Management and Consultation Michael A. Taylor



1. Make enemies of other parents.

2. Talk about others in the sports community. Talk to them. It is more constructive.



1. Interfere with their coaching during practice or competitions.

2. Work at cross purposes with them. Make sure you agree philosophically and practically on why your child is playing sports and what they may get out of sports.





2. Ignore your child's bad behavior in practice or competitions.

3. Ask the child to talk with you immediately after a competition.

4. Show negative emotions while watching them perform.

5. Make your child feel guilty for the time, energy and money you are spending and the sacrifices you are making.

6. Think of your child's sports participation as an investment for which you expect a return.

7. Live out your own dreams through your child's sports participation.

8. Compare your child's progress with that of other children.

9. Badger, harass, use sarcasm, threaten or use fear to motivate your child It only demeans them and causes them to hate you.

10. Expect anything from your child except their best effort.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Order form for CUSTOMIZED Swim Caps

Please download this Marlins -- Order form for Silicone Sept. 2011 in order to get personalized swim caps with the swimmers name.


Return to SooSee or Lim by the date specified.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parent meeting/Suit fitting and Inter Squad meet info

MVAC    -    Thursday, September 8, Suit Fitting 4-6 pm, followed by a Parent meeting at 6:30 pm.

BCC    -    Tuesday, September 13, Suit Fitting 3-6pm, followed by a Parent meeting at 6:30 pm.

ALL Swimmers - Saturday, October 1st,
Marlins Inter Squad Meet.
Location:  Brookstone Country Club
Warm up time:  8 a.m.
Meet Start time:  9 a.m.
Eligibility:    ALL Swimmers

Updated Practice schedules

NOTE: Please realize some of this is tentative and that some of the practice times during the week are generic on these schedules, please talk to your coach if in regards to setting up a time to come in if you are not able to make listed times.


Also, for swimmers @ BCC until the tent is up if there is inclement weather please be advised that we will train at MVAC for that day.


Updated BCC schedule

Updated MVAC SC schedule for Fall:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sports Psychology : "Are you a winning parent" Questionnaire

Reprinted from Competitive Advantage – Sports Psychology Services and Resources

Do you really want your child to excel and go as far as possible in his/her sport? Do you want him or her to have fun and feel good about him/herself? Would you like to help your child avoid becoming a dropout statistic? If your answers are` “yes” to these questions then it is critical that you play the “right” role on the parent-coach-athlete team. Be supportive! Be your child’s best fan! DON’T coach! (Unless you are the coach or your child comes to you and WANTS your feedback!) Take this questionnaire to see if you’re doing everything possible to help your child have a successful and healthy sports experience.

Answer each question with a 1, 2, 3 or 4. 1 = never true; 2 = occasionally true; 3 = mostly true; 4 = always true.

1) I get really frustrated and upset when my child performs below his/her capabilities.

2) I give my child critical feedback on his/her performance after each game.

3) If I didn’t push my child, he/she wouldn’t practice.

4) If my child doesn’t excel and win, I see very little point in them participating in their sport.

5) I can be very critical when my child makes mistakes or loses.

6) I set goals with my child in relation to their sport.

7) I think it’s my job to motivate my child to get better.

8) I feel angry and embarrassed when my child performs poorly.

9) The most important thing for my child’s sport participation is that they have fun.

10) I get really upset with bad calls by the officials.

11) Most coaches don’t know what they are talking about.

12) I keep a performance log/journal/statistics on my child’s performance so we can monitor his/her progress.

13) I feel guilty about some of the things I say to my child after they play.

14) I try to watch most practices so that I can correct my child when he makes mistakes.

15) When my child fails I can feel his pain and disappointment.

16) I think it’s important that my child gets used to having coaches yell at him/her to help prepare him/her for life.

17) My spouse and I argue about how I treat my son/daughter in relation to his/her sport.

18) I try to help my child keep his/her failures and the sport in perspective.

19) I’m never very concerned about the outcome of my child’s game/match/race.

20) I will not allow my child to be put down or yelled at by a coach.

21) If my child wasn’t so defensive when it comes to my feedback, he/she could become a better athlete.

22) It’s not my job to evaluate or criticize my child’s performances.

23) I feel that my child owes us a certain performance level given all the sacrifices we’ve made for him/her.

24) I believe my child’s sport belongs to him/her and not to me.

25) I just want my child to feel good about him/herself and be happy when he/she plays.


Add scores for questions #1-8, 10-14,16, 17, 21 & 23. (If you answered question #2 with a “mostly true” you add 3 points to the total score.) Subtract scores for questions #9, 15, 18-20, 22, 24, & 25.


The higher the score, the more potential damage that you are doing to your child. High scores indicate that you are playing the wrong role on the team and if you continue, you will increase the chances of your child burning out, struggling with performance problems and dropping out. Low scores mean that you are on track and doing the things necessary to insure that your child has a positive and life-enriching sports experience. If you scored a:

60 – 50: You are doing everything in your power to seriously damage your child’s self-esteem, ruin their sports experience and make them a candidate for long-term psychotherapy later on in their life. If you continue your ways, your child will most likely drop out of sports. If you force them to continue, chances are good that they will struggle with serious performance problems. On the off chance that they do achieve success, they will not be able to appreciate what they’ve accomplished. Finally, your long-term relationship with them will be seriously jeopardized because of your lack of perspective and behaviors.

49 – 39: You are not being supportive enough and are doing too many things wrong. You are over-involved and putting too much pressure on your child. You need to back down, chill out and let them enjoy their sport. This kind of a parental stance will drive your child out of sports.

38 – 20: You’re OK, but you need some help getting unhooked. You need to be more consistently supportive and take less of a pushing/coaching role.

19 – 16: You are pretty much on track as a parent. You are positive and doing most of the right things to insure your child has a positive youth sports experience.

0 – 15: BRAVO!!!! You are truly a winning parent. You can give workshops to other parents on how to help your child become successful in their sport.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

First Day of Practice for SC Fall 2011 Please Read!

Hello Swimmers,

Below is need to know information regarding the beginning of the new season.

For all Jr1 and Up swimmers first day of practice for East and West Cobb is August 23.

We have the pool from 4:30-5:30 pm (Aug 23rd-26th) and 2:45 pm- 6:30 pm (Aug 29th-Sept 2nd)

The official day of return for everyone and all remaining swimmers is Sept 6th for both locations.

2011-2012 Short Course Practice Schedule for Brookstone CC

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Check out Diversity Camp Video featuring Marlins own Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke at Diversity Select Camp

My Hero: Coach Lim by Mariah Prendes

Who is the hero of the year? You will find out. My hero is Yit
Aun Lim! He is the head coach of the Marietta Marlins. (My
swim team). I’m going to give you some reasons why I think
Lim my coach should be nominated for the new 2011 hero!

Dr.Yit Aun Lim is a professor at Life University. Not only
is he a full time teacher but he is the head coach of the year
around swim team. He prefers to be called coach Lim. Lim is
extremely dedicated as a coach. He holds practices 7 days a
week at 5:30 A.M and in the afternoons for everyone who
would like to come. A coach also requires being responsible.
Aside from his full time job as a professor he is always on
time, and ready to make the swimmers better than they are.
He always seems to know all the swimmer’s strengths and
weaknesses in swimming. When you ask him about how to
be better at a specific stroke he is ready to help you. How
does he know all this? He was a Malaysian national swim
champion when he was only 15 years old. Although our
team is much smaller than many other teams we have been
number one in Georgia for 6 years in a row!

When I was 7 years old I was on another swim team. I
hated the practices and I never learned any of the strokes. I
always wanted to quit! After three years of being taught
swimming by Lim, last summer I finished as a top 5
swimmer in 5 events in the Georgia Age Group

Championships! Now, I regularly swim 2-3 miles a day in
practice and I love it! Lim says that swimming prepares us
for life, it takes hard work, responsibility, and dedication to
succeed in swimming and in life!

Lim is a very interesting person and I would like to
honor Lim as my hero because he is very dedicated to his
family and he always works and plays hard with the
swimmers! Lim treats all of the swimmers as though we
were his children!


Mariah Prendes

Monday, July 11, 2011

Well-Meaning Parent Fuel Kids’ Sense of Entitlement

[In “The Secrets Of Leadership Are Often Found At The Bottom,” SportsBusiness Journal, June 6-12] Rick Burton and Norm O’Reilly accurately articulated an all-too-familiar sense of entitlement among today’s young adults. But that sense of privilege begins much earlier than college years.


As the article points out, their parents are “history’s most successful generation,” and many of those parents are sincerely determined to see that their offspring are never less than successful at any endeavor – academic, athletic, artistic, and others.



For some, it may be hard to believe but here’s a hard truth: Entitlement without hard work is a recipe for disaster.


Rick Burton ( is the David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University and former commissioner of the Australian National Basketball League. Norm O’Reilly ( is an associate professor of sport business at the University of Ottawa.



For those of us involved in youth sports, it becomes a real dilemma.


In Pop Warner, our rules prevent tryouts, cutting, and require mandatory play, yet, we’ve been forced to defend lawsuits that, at the most basic level, were filed due to playing time, or lack thereof.


Beyond the tremendous waste of our limited organizational resources defending lawsuits and the threat of suits, we often think of the values that the children are learning.


Instead of the positive values of team sports, they’re learning that Mom and Dad will fight their battles and will make any negative situation go away.


What a tremendous disservice to our children!


All of us learn that we win and we lose in life.  I’m not a psychologist, but I believe that lesson is most easily and less painfully learned while young.  Those of us in the youth sports world will continue to do our best to teach sports’ positive values.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It’s Not About Butterfly (or back, or breast, or free…..)

Coach (giving instructions to a group of above average ability 13-14 year olds):  “The next set is nine 100’s of fly on 1:30, descending one through 3, 4 through 6, and 7 through 9.  The purpose of this set is twofold:  first, controlling your swims, and second, facing the challenge and beating it.  We’re leaving on the next 60, get ready to go.”


Swimmer:  “I suck at fly.  It’s not my best event.  Why do I even have to do this?”


Coach:  “This is not about butterfly.  It’s about your mind.  It’s about mental toughness.  It’s about learning how to deal with the very difficult.  Swimming practice is not designed to be accommodating to what you like, it’s designed to be relevant to what you need, and at the top of the list of relevance is dealing with adversity and learning how to approach the seemingly impossible.  This set is an unabashed challenge to your ability to tough it out. Get ready to go.”


However, the swimmer walks out of practice and later complains to her father who comes to the next practice and confronts the coach.   “How does an impossible butterfly set help her breaststroke?” he demands.


What can happen?  The coach can give the same answer to the father that he gave to the daughter and if the he buys into it, then we have a partnership – coach and father:  the coach presents the challenges and the dad provides the emotional support to the child.


If the father doesn't buy it, the child will lose an opportunity to challenge themselves, convince themselves "I can" rather than "I can't", and the coach will recognize an athlete who is not ready to step up and "take a chance" yet, which is the first step to long term success."


Is there anything more important in this coaching and swimming endeavor than learning to deal with adversity?  Are you giving your coach the authority, the freedom, support, and the blessings to prescribe workouts which enable the swimmer to develop resiliency?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prelims and Finals Swims

Every so often we are presented with the tremendous opportunity to swim in a meet that has prelims and finals sessions. These meets are structured so as to present the fastest 8, or 16, or 24 swimmers from the morning or afternoon prelims sessions with another chance to swim again at finals in the evening. The number of swimmers advancing to finals in this fashion depends on the meet, their age group, and sometimes the events themselves. Some meets offer finals for all age groups, except for the 10 and unders. Some meets offer one heat of finals for 11 and 12 swimmers, but two heats of finals for 13 and older swimmers. Distance events are usually swum just one time, and sometimes the 11-12 200 fly, 200 back, and 200 breast are Timed Finals also.


These types of meets provide a valuable learning experience for our swimmers and encourage them to swim at a high level of competition. These types of meets are valuable tools to prepare our swimmers for their end-of-season Championships. Either they get a taste of swimming finals, or get a better appreciation of what it takes to qualify for finals next time.


Swimming the same event twice in one day is quite a challenge; making finals in two events doubly so. And you can imagine qualifying for three. Yet we don’t want to wait until our biggest meet to face this challenge. The more experience you can get trying to qualify for finals, and swimming finals, the more confidence you will have, the faster you will swim, the stronger you will be.


A swimmer should enter a prelim race with the goal of making finals. To expect anything less would be to sell yourself short. To expect not to make finals would be self-limiting.


As a swimmer develops and reaches this level of competition, we would like you to keep the following information in mind.


What is Involved? Be prepared! Clear your calendar for the entire weekend. When participating in prelims/finals meets, just expect to be there all day. Ideally, we would like our swimmers to go home to rest and refuel between prelims and finals. Swimmers need to be back in time for warm-ups in order to prepare for their final race(s). Please plan accordingly to assure a successful swimming experience for your athlete.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere at prelims is very different than during finals. The fastest swimmers have a hard time swimming best times during prelims especially knowing that finals will take place only a few hours after their initial, qualifying race. The goal is to swim fast enough to make finals. However, in the history of the FISH, we have had swimmers swim best times during prelims and they were totally surprised when they realized, they had just secured a spot in the A Final.

Pressure: After a long day of swimming the athletes return one more time to the pool for the final races, the fastest races. Who will touch the wall first? Though the pressure it tense, athletes handle it better when participating in these types of meets more frequently. Therefore, when a swimmer qualifies, participation is a must. In addition, the team spirit among the athletes can alleviate some of the pressure. Teammates cheer each other on and the FISH spirit takes on a life of its own.

Reaching Goal Times: Prelims/finals meets create an environment for our swimmers to reach their goal times in December. Representing your team in a final race, scoring points for your team, and getting that time you worked so hard for, is all part of the learning experience.

Friday, June 3, 2011


By Lisa Liston

Lynchburg YMCA Swim Team

Nutrition is important ALL THE TIME to keep the tank full for athletic training and performance. Athletes need to EAT TO TRAIN, not train so they can eat. In general, the athlete’s diet should be composed of 60% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 25% fat. Carbohydrates are necessary as the dominant fuel in moderate and high intensity activities. Carbohydrates provide the energy to keep your engine running through those long practices and intense races! Protein is not an energy source, but it is important because it builds and repairs muscles, produces hormones, supports the immune system, and replaces red blood cells. Fat plays a critical role in the overall functioning of the body; it aids in digestion and energy metabolism, helps maintain body temperature, and plays a part in regulating hormone production.

In order to maintain optimal training and performance energy levels, it is important that athletes eat early and often! Athletes should have a carbohydrate snack before morning workouts -- even if a small amount. (While some don’t like to eat early in the morning, you can train your body to begin accepting food.) You should never go 3 or 4 hours without a snack during the day. It is better for swimmers to eat 6-8 times a day rather than just three meals a day. Athletes MUST have a carbohydrate snack immediately after practice. For proper muscle repair to begin, you have about a 30 minutes window to get some food in after practice. Within 1-2 hours of practice, swimmers should have a full meal. Without adequate fuel, swimmers will become fatigued and are more prone to injury as they are not helping their muscles recover.
Some excellent choices for your post-workout recovery snack might include chocolate milk, power bars, yogurt, bagels with peanut butter, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   The more you weigh, the larger your snack should be.  For instance if you weigh 120 pounds, 1.5 power bars may be sufficient, but if you weigh 175, then you might need 1 cup of chocolate milk and a bagel with peanut butter.
Not only is getting adequate food important during regular training, it is also critical during meets to maintain peak performance. After racing, swimmers need to replenish fluids and eat a small snack. Sometimes a swimmer won’t have quite enough time to warm down after a race and eating some food to help the recovery process along is just plain smart.  Stuck at a summer league meet with no warm down at all? Keep moving around and eat a few peanut butter crackers before your next race!
Check out USA Swimming’s nutrition tracker on the web to be sure you’re getting enough! As we head outdoors into the 50 meter pool in just a few days, training demands will become greater and swimmers are likely to need more calories to sustain successful training.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Awesome 8 Year Old

I have never met a coach who didn’t want all their athletes to be the best they can be.

I have never met a parent who didn’t want their child to be the best they can be.

So why do we have so many conflicts between coaches and parents? The simple answer is that each sees a different path.

Let’s take the case of the unusually advanced 8 year old whose parents want their child to swim with the next group of 9-12’s. “After all,” the mom says, “my son is faster than half of the kids in the next group.” (And she is correct.)

Why wouldn’t the coach give a wholehearted “Yes,” and say, “I’ll move him up right away. In fact, I believe he can make the send off intervals that the 11-12’s are making so I’ll put him there. In a year he may be ready for the senior team.”

Why not?

Because every good coach sees the importance of long term progressive development and views their young swimmers as long term endeavors. Coaches should take a patient and a progressive approach to the development of their young swimmers. Coaches want swimmers in the program through their teen years and into their 20’s when they are physically mature and have the greatest potential for life changing participation.

Ask an adult who dropped out of swimming by age 12 or 13 what they remember from the sport and chances are, they remember very little. Now ask an adult who swam through college what they remember and chances are they will tell you it was one of the most important life changing experiences of their life.

So how do we keep a swimmer in the sport that long?

Many parents also will echo the importance of long term development. However, they just want to speed it up. There is a sometimes verbalized refrain, “The better he is now, then the better he will be in the future.”

This is not true in most cases. Parents who are otherwise well-meaning, sometimes push their budding stars to excel too early at almost any cost. And that cost is frequently failing to finish the long term.

Parents should take note: A 2001 study by the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 70 percent of American kids who sign up for sports quit by the time they were 13. The reason? They said it wasn't fun anymore.

A study done by the ASCA staff years ago and repeated several times since shows that only 17 to 20% of the aged 9-10 swimmers ranked in the top 16 are still swimming at the national level 5 years later. USA Swimming also did a study using the all time Top 100 list and found that only 11% of the top ranked 10 and unders are still ranked as 17-18 year olds.

What is the primary reason we lose swimmers? The number one reason according to a survey done a few years ago is simply that swimming stopped being fun.

And what are the elements of fun? Friends, caring coaches, and absence of undue pressure from mom and dad to achieve their goals for the child.

When we move an 8 and under to an older age group we…:

…take them away from their friends. (“Friends” is the number one reason why young swimmers stay on the team in the first place.)

…take away their opportunity to be the leader of their peers. Good coaches build core groups of swimmers around leaders and move those core groups up through the program very nearly together.

…take the edge off of that wonderful, playful, crazy style of an 8 year old – because now, they are with older swimmers who usually do not share the same traits as an 8 year old.

…place tremendous pressure on the swimmer because now it’s not about having fun and being with friends, now it is about the serious business of work and achieving the goals mom and dad are setting for the child.

…change the progression and move the swimmer to a program which they may not be able to handle physically, developmentally, or mentally. Dryland training for an 8 and under is vastly different than for an 11-12 year old. The amount of fundamental kicking is less for an older age group swimmer. The amount of stroke work is also less for an older age group swimmer. Skip a proper progression of these and you risk developing an incomplete athlete.

…provide less time for games and relays.

…ignore the fact that the 8 year old may be better than the other 8 and unders because he is simply older biologically and developmentally than his peers and in all likelihood his peers will catch up to him at some point and many will pass on by. When that happens it is very difficult for the swimmer to understand why they aren’t so “good” anymore and lose interest in the sport.

…identify the 8 year old as a “talent” with tremendous pressure to live up to it. Some parents even identify their young swimmers as “our talented little butterflyer” or backstroker or breaststroker, etc. The problem is, as swimmers grow and body proportions change, they frequently lose their ability to be very good in one specific stroke. If their identity is attached to a stroke and they lose their stroke, then they lose their identity. Good coaches don’t create specialized age group swimmers and try very hard to create well rounded IM swimmers. When parents push a certain stroke upon a child, it adds to the stress.

…place the child in a socially difficult situation. Chatter among swimmers between sets and before and after practice – the so called “locker room talk” -- may be very inappropriate for an 8 year old to listen to.

…change the focus of the coach as the coach now has to take special care for an under-age swimmer in the group who might not make all the intervals or understand all the instructions.

Neither parents, nor coaches, can MAKE a child be a great swimmer. We can only provide the environment with the proper emotional support (parents) and challenges (coaching) in a well crafted progressive program aimed at the long term development of the child (coaching). It looks like I have reduced the role of the parent to that of providing emotional support – correct! That’s what you can uniquely provide and that is what is most needed from you.

Next time you come to practice, bring an extra towel for your child, and bring a book for yourself. Allow your child to get lost in the fun of a practice with their buddies while you simply watch them for the sheer joy of it without worries about their swimming future… or, just get lost in your book.

Friday, May 20, 2011

FAQ’s For Parents Training and Workout

1. Sometimes my child doesn’t want to go to practice. He wants to play with his friends. Should I force him to go?

You should not force your child; you want his participation to be his decision. Reinforce the choices and decisions he has made to start his sport. For example, your son chose to go to practice on Tuesday and Thursdays, on other days he has the freedom to do other activities. As a parent, explain your expectation that he fulfill the commitment he made by joining the team. You don't want to force your child into a sport that he does not enjoy, yet you want your child to be involved in a 'lifetime sport', to learn about making and keeping a commitment and to interact with peers So, what are you to do?

Instead of allowing your child to make a daily decision about going to practice, allow him to decide whether or not he wants to participate for the season. Once the decision is made to participate, he is making a commitment to the team and needs to follow through on it by attending practice on a regular basis. A haphazard schedule is detrimental to the athlete’s overall development.

Interestingly, when asked to reflect on the role of their parents in their swimming, athletes from a recent USA Swimming World Championship team talked about being pushed to swim by their parents on a weekly basis but knowing they could quit if they stopped having fun with swimming.

2. My child has a lot of interests and activities so he only attends about half of his practices. What will happen to his competition results?

Children involved in other activities can benefit in the areas of coordination and balance, as well as improved social and intellectual development. Specialized training in one activity does not necessarily need to take place at this stage of development. Will your son’s teammate who makes all practices have better results? Probably he will because his teammate is working solely on developing one sport skills. It is up to you to explain to your child that making the choice to participate in other activities can have its consequences. Tell your son that he should not compare his results to that of his teammate, but to focus on the fact that he is benefiting from and enjoying other sports.

3. It looks like my child is having a lot of fun at practice. Shouldn’t she be working harder?

Be happy that your child is having fun! According to a recent study conducted by USA Swimming children who experience fun while participating stay in sports longer (Tuffey, Gould, & Medbery, 1998). At this stage of the game, the most important aspect of development is the mastery of skills, which means learning the proper technique. Fundamentals must be established prior to true “training” taking place. And, if she is having fun in the process of learning, she is more likely to continue to the sport.

4. It looks like all they do at practice is drills. Shouldn’t they be training more?

Your child needs to develop a solid foundation in mechanics. Drills and drill sets serve the specific purpose of teaching skills and fundamentals. Drills develop motor coordination, motor skills, and balance. In fact, your child’s coach may prescribe a particular drill, just for your child, in order to improve an aspect of her technique. In addition, she may actually be experiencing a “training” benefit from drills. Drills require concentration and aerobic energy to do them correctly.

5. My daughter’s coach sometimes makes her “sit out” for disciplinary reasons. Isn’t that a waste of her time?

The coach has set up expectations of proper behavior. Hopefully, your child is aware of the consequences of testing these boundaries. Obviously the coach is reinforcing what is expected of the children at practice. We encourage you to reinforce the coach's practice expectations by discussing your child’s behavior and the consequences of that behavior. Hopefully, this “time out” begins to reinforce self-discipline, accountability and respect for others.

6. My son complains that some of the kids cheat in practice. What should I tell him?

Praise him first for completing the workout the coach offers. Remind him that he is there to improve himself and he can’t control what his teammates do. Tell him however, that his best course of action is to continue to do things right and others may actually be influenced by his good example. By committing to do his best at all times, over the long haul he will reap the benefits of his hard work.

7. My daughter just moved up to the Senior Group. Now the coach wants her to train twice a day. Is this really necessary?

Your child has established proper technique and fundamentals by progressing through the levels of the team. It is appropriate at this stage of your daughter’s career development to increase the training loads. This includes adding the two mornings per week. Although morning practices come extra early, most coaches feel that this level of commitment is necessary for your daughter to reach the next level of her career.

Training for competitive sports is demanding on young athletes. As athletes develop, they need to understand the upcoming time demands. One specific principle of training that applies is the progressive overload principle. A person must be stressed slightly more each day over time to continue to improve. In order to do that, the coach must plan additional time. The addition of morning workouts often becomes necessary for the coach to develop young athletes to their maximum potential.

8. What type of commitment is needed for higher levels of competition?

While an athlete’s performance is influenced by numerous factors, there are three that exert the greatest influence: physical, technical and mental. As athletes progress, a greater commitment, of both time and energy, is needed to enable an athlete to address all of these factors.

Additionally, the athlete is asked to take more responsibility for and ownership of his practice and competition performance. One way of doing this is by accepting responsibility for leading a lifestyle conducive to performance, i.e., proper nutrition, adequate sleep, time management and managing extra-curricular activities.

9. Is my teenager sacrificing too much to train?

What you may consider a sacrifice, such as missing a school dance, football game or simply going out with friends, your child many not consider a sacrifice at all! Instead, your child has chosen to commit to his sport. By doing so, he realizes that a certain level of training is necessary for him to achieve greater goals and does not look at these activities as missed opportunities. Keep in mind that your child realizes missing a workout is like missing sleep, it cannot be made up. If, however, your child is expressing sentiments that he is missing these chances, then it is time to re-evaluate the balance in his activities.

10. What does the coach mean when she says that my teenaged daughter controls 80% of her own training?

At this stage it is important for the athlete to take full responsibility for her sport. Your coach is just reinforcing this concept. Having a good attitude, developing proper time management, and demonstrating a strong work ethic are important both in and out of the practice and competition. What your child’s coach is referring to is what we call “hidden training factors.” She is in control of what she eats, how much sleep she gets, her practice attendance, and even her effort on practice sets. This may really add up to even more than 80%.

11. My child used to compete in all of the events, but now her coach has her focusing on only a few.

Prior to now, your child needed to acquire a wide range of skills and the aerobic development necessary to allow for this specialization. At this point in her career, her physical development allows her to train for specific events. Children at this stage have reached the physical maturity necessary to specialize in particular events for which they are best suited.

12. I notice the coach having meetings with the older athletes at the beginning of the season. What are they talking about? Is he asking for input?

Typically the coach likes to share his seasonal plan with the group prior to the start of the season, as well as reviewing the previous season’s strengths and weaknesses. This plan highlights the major competition, tapering and the overall training plan. By presenting the athletes with information, the coach is making the athlete part of the process. This meeting may also be a prelude to individual goal setting sessions and an opportunity to begin to build team unity.

13. My child was very successful as very young child. How can I help her reach the next level?

When your daughter is making the transition, she needs to realize that she is participating at a higher level. Improvements are in tenths and hundredths, rather than seconds, due to biological and physiological factors.

Throughout her career, you have been very supportive. This support is still needed but it may have to be a little different than in the past. It is a good time to discuss with your daughter what she needs from you. Do not be afraid to ask her “How can I support you in your sport?” While you are an important part of her support network, realize your daughter, at this level, should be taking on more ownership of her athletic career.

14. I want my son to qualify for Nationals so badly, but he keeps just missing. What can I do to help?

It is important for you to acknowledge that this is your child’s goal, not yours. Your expectations may actually be putting undue pressure on his performances. There are two types of goals that athletes can set. Outcome Goals focus on the end result of performance such as “win" or "make finals.” Process Goals relate to the process of performance. Examples are “great technique" or "strong finish.”

Athletes have much more control over Process Goals. Outcome Goals are uncontrollable since they also involve the performance of other competitors. Athletes and coaches should concentrate on Process Goals since they involve aspects an athlete can control. Focusing on a time is outcome driven. Although you want what’s best for your son, encourage him to talk to his coach to clearly identify Process Goals to achieve improvement.

Monday, May 9, 2011

News for Swim Parents: The Praise Gap

Bringing Praising Strategies Used by Coaches and Parents Closer Together.

From Guy Edson, ASCA

From the point of view of many parents, coaches tend to under-praise their swimmers. One parent complained to me that their child would never rise above the level of “adequate” under my standards. This is the same parent I earlier saw heaping loads of praise on the child (a 12 year old) for having giving it a “great effort” when in fact the child had just completed a swim that was technically lacking, far off of a best time, and showed no interest in racing. Clearly there is a difference here.

Many articles cite studies that in the ideal learning environment there is a “magic ratio” of 5 praises to 1 criticism. Anecdotally I can tell you that most coaches are the complete opposite: 5 criticisms to one praise.

In good coaching those 5 “criticisms” are better labeled “critical feedback.” The role of the coach is to give critical technical feedback to the athlete – specific and objective information that helps the athlete perform better the next time. Praise is often given in levels from a simple OK (adequate) to “nice job.” Coaches are careful NOT to use words that leave little room for improvement like “awesome,” “excellent,” and “perfect.” A coach wants the athlete to feel that there is always work to do, always room for improvement. As long as feedback and praise are consistent, coaches can use the 1:5 ratio very effectively.

One of the difficulties for coaches is that we feel we are fighting against a larger cultural push of standardless self-esteem building. This is the mentality that “All efforts are good.” An article in the New York Magazine by Po Bronson cites research that says that self-esteem building by over praising can actually create underachievers. (How Not to Talk to Your Kids -- The inverse power of praise. By Po Bronson in the New York Magazine, February 2007.)

Since the 1969 publication of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, in which Nathaniel Branden opined that self-esteem was the single most important facet of a person, the belief that one must do whatever he can to achieve positive self-esteem has become a movement with broad societal effects. Anything potentially damaging to kids’ self-esteem was axed. Competitions were frowned upon. Soccer coaches stopped counting goals and handed out trophies to everyone. Teachers threw out their red pencils. Criticism was replaced with ubiquitous, even undeserved, praise.

Dweck and Blackwell’s work is part of a larger academic challenge to one of the self-esteem movement’s key tenets: that praise, self-esteem, and performance rise and fall together. From 1970 to 2000, there were over 15,000 scholarly articles written on self-esteem and its relationship to everything—from sex to career advancement. But results were often contradictory or inconclusive. So in 2003 the Association for Psychological Science asked Dr. Roy Baumeister, then a leading proponent of self-esteem, to review this literature. His team concluded that self-esteem was polluted with flawed science. Only 200 of those 15,000 studies met their rigorous standards.

After reviewing those 200 studies, Baumeister concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievement. It didn’t even reduce alcohol usage. And it especially did not lower violence of any sort. (Highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves, debunking the theory that people are aggressive to make up for low self-esteem.) At the time, Baumeister was quoted as saying that his findings were “the biggest disappointment of my career.”

So, what might be good advice for parents seeking to praise and build up their children? From Bronson’s article we read:

To be effective, researchers have found, praise needs to be specific.

Sincerity of praise is also crucial.

New York University professor of psychiatry Judith Brook explains that the issue for parents is one of credibility. “Praise is important, but not vacuous praise,” she says. “It has to be based on a real thing—some skill or talent they have.” Once children hear praise they interpret as meritless, they discount not just the insincere praise, but sincere praise as well.

With so much overflowing love for our children (I am a parent also) why not praise all efforts, even not-so-good efforts, as a way of boosting spirits? Why must the coach bluntly say that the performance did not match up with expectations – in short, tell the swimmer it was a failure? In the article, Bronson refers to a study that helps explain the importance of recognizing failures.

But it turns out that the ability to repeatedly respond to failure by exerting more effort—instead of simply giving up—is a trait well studied in psychology. People with this trait, persistence, rebound well and can sustain their motivation through long periods of delayed gratification. Delving into this research, I learned that persistence turns out to be more than a conscious act of will; it’s also an unconscious response, governed by a circuit in the brain.

“The key is intermittent reinforcement,” says [researcher Dr. Robert] Cloninger [of Washington University in St. Louis.] The brain has to learn that frustrating spells can be worked through. “A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

Bronson concludes:

Jumping in with praise is like jumping in too soon with the answer to a homework problem—it robs him of the chance to make the deduction himself.

I think it is appropriate to simply ask the child how they think they did, listen to their analysis, then add a ton of love and a big hug, and let it go at that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Perspective: News for Swim Parents from ASCA

Listening recently to a group of parents (Mom’s, specifically) discussing the challenge of dealing with the drama that gets created by their teenage girls, much of it fueled by an incomplete understanding of human interactions and artificially both “sped up” and “widespread” due to all the electronic communication tool every teenager seemingly has access to….I was struck with the “counter-points” that need to be taught to teenagers, pre-teens, young adults and related “young folk.”

Without going all “Hilary Clintonish” on you, it did strike me that it takes a combination of parents, teachers, coaches and better informed peers to work on educating our young people on this…if not “it takes a village”, it certainly takes a good number of friends.
What would constitute some of the parental/coach “talking points” that would address the self-absorbed angst of those challenging years? Here’s my personal “short list”. Please enhance it with your own.

#1. Look at your issue within the overall context of your life. (This is called “Growing Up”.) The fact that Billy ignored you in Math Class does not mean that your life is “ruined”. Nor does Mary being mean to you in study hall rise to that level….these are MINOR distractions that you are allowing to control your emotions and your temperament. Why give ANYONE that much power over you? Don’t you want to become independent? Actually, you have a roof over your head, food to eat, your life in a great country and a family that loves you. Get some context here, people! NO BIG DEAL. Your life is actually pretty OK. (or a lot better than that.)

#2. Recognize the marvelous stuff going on around you. Appreciate your surroundings, the talented people you are with every day and take some time to “smell the flowers”. There is far more light than dark in your life. (for most of us.)

#3. Reach out to others. One of the tried and true ways to “feel better” is to help someone worse off than you are. Reach out, get your head out of your own problems…..and do something that helps someone else. It creates instant Perspective.

#4. Associate with people who are positive and upbeat. Hang around with doom and gloomers, and you’ll soon become one. Look at the good side when you can, speak only with good intent, act by doing random acts of kindness and see how quickly it is returned to you. If all you do is hang out with people complaining about something, pretty soon you’ll think that’s normal and right. It isn’t. What’s right is DOING something to fix your problems.

#5. Every problem comes with a chance for you to challenge it, and GROW. Get better, Get stronger. If it was a struggle to get food to eat, you’d soon become very creative about getting food. Stop whining and get creative about resolving your issue. Accept and learn to enjoy the challenge of life. You’ll face it every day. Better get used to it and get a good attitude.

#6. “Chop Wood, Haul Water” – the rural Chinese say that 99% of life is the mundane task… ”Chop wood, haul water”. American TV shows life as an endless series of exciting, dynamic, thrilling ACTIONS. Not so. Most of life is mundane….interrupted by moments of sheer joy and sheer terror. Get used to your version of “Chop wood, haul water”. Learn to enjoy the rhythm and essence of your daily life and realize that without the mundane the special wouldn’t be so special. And having “special” all the time is NOT what it’s cracked up to be. (witness all the unhappy and dangerously ill Hollywood starts…….who may be living very “special” lives…..not a prescription for happiness is it?)

Unhappy teenager? Simplify your life. Turn off the electronic stuff once in awhile and get outside and experience the real world. Focus on what you can DO for others, not what they do for you. Find something you love and engage in it fully.

Parents, remember, your goal is strong, independent children. Every time you do something for them that they should do for themselves, you make them weak. Give them the opportunity to grow. It’s a great gift from Parent to Child. They need psychological tools to cope with the world. My top 6 are above. Teach them your own.