Favorite Challenges and Drills by Bob Steele (2011)


Bob Steele: — And I’m looking around and I see a lot of familiar faces. But I see one that’s most familiar. Gordy, how old are you?

Gordy: 47.

Bob Steele: 47. He came to my swimming camp at Southern Illinois University in about 19.

Gordy: 73.

Bob Steele: 73. So I’ve known him. You were about eight then? Ten?

Gordy: Nine. Yup.

Bob Steele: Nine. He came from Minnesota to Southern Illinois for my camp. With Bob Kenoble, no not Kenoble, Bob Smith.

Gordy: Yup Bob Smith.

Bob Steele: Yup, Bob Smith. So I’ve known him since he was nine years old. So that you’ve been my friend for 30.

Gordy: 38 years.

Bob Steele: 38 years. Give Gordy a big hand. No no no! You got to be coachable. A, big hand.


Bob Steele: There you go, okay. You got to teach your kids that. And use it regularly. I want to start with a story. My best friend from grade school, high school and college is fighting cancer right now. And I want to tell you the story about him and me. When we were swimming in college. I tore my thumb off in a water skiing accident when I was 17. I graduated from high school and tore my thumb off. So we’re swimming in the Illinois AAU Championships. And I hit the gutter with my hand and I thought that I’d broken my wrist. And I gave him the name Sticks, Sticks Ballatore because he was so skinny. And I came from — my mother’s family was German. So I was Herman the German. So I’m hanging on a lane line, holding my wrist. And he was in the lane next to me. We both swam backstroke. And he said Herman what the hell happened to you? I said I think I broke my wrist on the finish. And a lady leaned over in my lane and said son, are you alright? And Sticks jammed my hand up in her face and said no, he knocked his thumb off. [laughter] And she fainted forward into the pool. So that’s one story.

Okay we’re ready to start. My name is Bob Steele. I’ve been coaching 52 years. I’ve spoken to thousands of coaches. I’ve written two books. And swimming is my passion, that’s all I know. I learned to swim as a sophomore in high school. And everyday since all I’ve done is swim or coach. So what I want to do is talk about my favorite challenges and drills. And we have some mundane things to take care of first.

As you know, on Thursday the electricity went off. So I didn’t really get to display my ads. So just in case the electricity goes off, you’re going to see my ads first, okay? So what I’m going to do today is the tip of the iceberg. You know, most of the iceberg is underwater. So I’ve sold 3,000 of these books all over the world in 31 countries in two years. So check out the bottom of the iceberg. Take a sheet of paper and put a line down the middle. And on one side, put NOW. Those are things you want to do when you get home. And then on the other side of the line put NOVEMBER. And those are things you want to do after November. Now everything you’re going to see is at this website, GamesGimmicksChallenges. And when you get there, just go to ClinicPPT. And those are the Power Points from this clinic and a bunch of others. Some materials are repeated. But it’s a great resource and a great coaching resource forever. If you want John or Ben checks threshold tables. If you want games and gimmicks. If you want balancing technique and yardage. No matter what you want it’s at that website and it’s free.

I also do, in addition to clinics and I’ve done hundreds of clinics, I do team camps. Camps for your team. I do swim art, this is my painting. I have six paintings in the Hall of Fame. And you can buy those on swim art cards. And use them to thank volunteers and donors for your program. I have skill drills DVDs. I have five with me, if you want them they’re 20 bucks. I have a stroke building gear but I’d rather you make it yourself. I’m going to show you that. And you can go online and get the information about that. I have newsletters that are free that go to coaches every month. And those go to 5,000 coaches all over the world that I’ve mined email addresses from. And then there are free resources for you to use as a coach. So that’s the ad.

Here’s a typical camp. If you’d like for me to come in, I go Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, all day Sunday. It costs 100 dollars for 13 and over, 60 dollars for 12 and unders. And it’s a great deal. Here’s a camp that I did for Indiana. That was the most innovating camp for myself, the swimmers and the coaches. I’ve sent this idea to every LSC’s general chairman, technical chairman and age group chairman to see if they’d like for me to do a camp. They’re not free because when you retire and go on a fixed income pension, the first thing you do is try to figure out how the hell to make money. So that’s my purpose.

Okay so here we are, we’re going into — the challenges. And a few things before we get to them. This is a way for you to monitor what you’re doing as the season progresses. You create your plans up here. It’s from a book called Periodization of Training by Tudor Bompa. So I suggest that if you’re a head coach, you have your age group coaches monitor the yardage they’re doing and skills and aerobic training. Because that’s what’s most important for young swimmers. And then you as a senior coach, monitor your aerobic yardage and anaerobic yardage. Because those are the components of success. This is a yardage guideline for age group swimmers based on yards to be swum. This will be online, don’t copy it down. Anything you see that you like, I want you to write on NOW or NOVEMBER. And there is a reason for that, okay. There is payback for writing down NOW or NOVEMBER and what you want. Then when you go online you can just click on what you want. And you don’t have to go back through silly notes that you’re going to try to take. Just write down yardage guideline. And you’ll be able to find it on the website.

This is one based on time periods spent in each of these areas for different age groups. This is a leveling system chart. If your kids are really good, they’re going to do a workout you write. And function in this column. If they’re a step slower than these kids, they’ll be in level three. If these kids are a step slower than them, they’ll be in level two. And if they’re really novice kids, they’d be in level one. But you just write the workout for this group and everybody then knows from the chart how much they should do. This is a way to monitor swimming. You tape this on the wall. You have all the kids’ names typed in down the line here. And I can — you can download this and just type in — make a copy, type in the names, make copies of it. And all you do is tape it up at the exit. And the kids write down whatever their times were in practice. And you start to create accountability. Or you can have kids go online to Edge. And buy a tremendous logbook. And this has got all kinds of things on nutrition that they have to answer on a daily basis. Motivation, visualization. It was written by five coaches and a nutritionist. And Nathan Manley, a club coach in Michigan sells that. It’s also on Ebay.

You need to have symbols that your swimmers understand. So when you write a practice, it’s written with the same terminology that your senior coaches use. How many of you coach 12 and unders exclusively? Real high — hand high, real high. Okay. And how about 13 and unders? Anybody coached senior swimmers only? Okay. You’ll have some responsibilities coming up here. But everybody needs to write workouts the same way within your program. When I worked at US Swimming I tried to get Jonty Skinner and those folks to standardize everything we did. And Charlie Hodgson was willing to do it with high-tech. But we really never got it done. And it would be so easy for us to communicate if it were done.

Okay this is a sample of workouts for age group swimmers, 11 to 14. And you can see the strokes and distances across the top. You see — or maybe you can’t read it. This is early season, mid season, late season and taper. And the warm up for the entire group goes across like this. So if you download this that’s how you read it. Skills or strokes and events across the top. Mid season, late season — no early season, mid season, late season, taper. And then this is the warm up for everybody to do. And then they break up into their training groups. How many of you have everybody in a practice do the same thing? Okay. You got to get away from that. You got to do a little more specialization. And I think you do that at all ages.

I’ve talked to some high school coaches that are starting with novice swimmers and said let them specialize in one thing. One of the greatest high school teams ever had a outstanding 200 IM-er come in and start high school. He would win the state high school IM in his freshman year. And what the coach did was assign two kids to every stroke and said you beat Roger in freestyle. You two are going to beat Roger in breaststroke. And it went down the line. And he had a team of high schoolers that would have been third in the AAU Championships as seniors. So specialization doesn’t hurt.

Okay this is a fast feet descending distance. Now this is called a streamline noodle. These go in the water attached to the lane line plastic floats like this. On the push off end of the pool. And you put them under the pennants. Now you have to explain pennants to the kids. Because all they know is flags. So explain what a pennant is. And these go under the pennants on the starting side. And then on the turning side, they go on the other lane line. So you can do circle swimming. Now folks often put something all the way across the lane. But that prohibits circle swimming. So this workout is 25s on a 20 second send off. With a foot touched, are you with me? You can go any distance you want. We would usually go 1650, 1000, 500, 200, 100. 20 — not seconds rest, that’s wrong. It’s 25s on a 20 second send off. I made a mistake there, okay. So you’re going to start your watch when the kids push off. Let’s say you’re going to do a set of hundreds with 10 year olds. And you’re doing fast feet, okay. They’re going to push off, streamline, break out. When they get to the other end, do a flip turn, put their feet on the wall. You stop your watch with a stop button. On 20 or if they need to on 25. On 25, they’re going to push off, go past the other noodle streamline, do a foot touch at the 50. Stop your watch. What would be then the 40, start your watch again. Stop it on the foot touch. On the 60, start your watch again, stop it on the foot touch. You yell out what the hundred is and they’re ready to go on the next 20. So you can do 1650s, 800s, 200s, whatever you want to do. And you’re giving them their hundred times as they go. So they know how fast they’re swimming. That’s fast feet. You don’t have to do descending distance.

I’ve done — with teams I visited, I visited 125 teams for USA Swimming. And done this with most teams. With some teams the coaches wanted to go 10 300s. So that would be 12 25s on 20 second send off getting their hundreds every 100. Colorado Springs, it went five 500s like this. So you can do anything. But it’s a good way for slow swimmers to know they can stay with fast swimmers. Race Ryan Lochte or race the Olympian. Lochte in high school, long course, did this workout. Let’s look down here. Four times through he’d pull a 100 long course on 1:30. Well if you start on the 30, then the rest of their 50s are from the 60. The clock has gone around to 1:30. And they can leave on the 60. And it’s a little easier for kids to know where they are. And all that first 100 pull is to set up and oxygen depth. Then they go right into 2 50s fly, two back, two breast, two free. The even numbered ones, wait the odd-numbered ones are as fast as they can go. And they get their times and add them up. The even-numbered ones are over emphasizing the kick. So when they finish, what do they have? What time do they have? What’s the time they’re creating? Huh? Anyone?

Male Speaker: 200 IM.

Bob Steele: 200 IM. So they’ve got a 200 IM time. Now when Lochte did this in high school, long course, he went 1:52. Long course; 26 fly, 28 back, 33 breast, 25 free. So he went 1:52. So then when your swimmers are resting between that first and second round, they have to tell you how many seconds they’re over Ryan Lochte. And you’d create accountability. You’ve forced them to add their times up. And that’s so important for them to know what they’re doing. But you have to have a level of expectation and you’re going to have to help some. And put mathematicians with artists. So that the mathematicians can help the artist. Then on successive rounds, they would tell you how many — if they’re faster or slower than the first one. So again you’re creating accountability. Now with the ten and unders you can do the same thing without all the times and just do it by 25s. So they can say that they raced Ryan Lochte, but they did a fast 25 and an over kick 25. A fast 25 and an over kick 25. So they go fly, back, breast, free. And they don’t have to worry about adding up their times.

Race the American record. Here’s the set, five times thru. Pull three 100s on 120 for short rest. Now your kids may not be fast enough for 1:20, you got to adjust it. Make it 1:40, make it two minutes whatever. Then they’re going to go 4 50s brains out, that’s as hard as they can go on a minute. And they’ll add those up. And their goal is to see who can get closest to the American record. So these are long course, these are short course. These are long course, these are short course. You got to change some of this because of this last meet that we had. Then the swimmers have to tell you how close they were to the American record. And you can do this with ten and unders, they just have to learn to add times. And the thing that screws the little kids up or young kids up is the 60 second base. You know we’re all used to the decimal system. So with some classroom help or a dry erase board, you can help them learn how to add their times. And then they figure out who’s closest to the American record. And they do all the swims and their stroke.

Leftovers, I mentioned this on Thursday. You’ve got two kids that are moderate swimmers against one kid that’s really good. And maybe they’re going to go 2 100s with ten seconds rest. Oh wait, leftovers, sorry. That drawing doesn’t belong there. Leftovers is where they’re going 2 100s with ten seconds rest. And the first swimmer in gets the ten seconds. The second swimmer in gets what’s left. So the second swimmer is going to hump to stay with the fast swimmer. The first one in gets ten seconds, the second one in gets what’s left. This is two versus one here, I got the wrong drawing there. Guess and go; turn the clock off, give them a set of 50s to do. Tell them to swim even split. Just tell them when to go. And here we’re going 10 50s on 45 and the clock is turned off. So they have to decide what their time is, how fast they’re going. And you can run a stopwatch on them and just give them a little input. Here’re some breath control things. These are the number of strokes that they get on the swim between breaths. So 16 25s, ten strokes and breathe. 8 50s, eight strokes and breathe. Six 100s, six strokes and breathe. Four 200s, five strokes and breathe. So it’s just another way to do breath control. And when they get down here, then they go back to the 25s.

No breath brains out. This is really good. At the end of practice, you put — if you’ve got a six lane pool, you put six kids up. And they swim 100 for time. Start them on the 60 so they get their time when they finish. They can’t breathe when they’re swimming. The only time they can breathe is if they’re hanging on the wall. Stay on the wall as long as they want but their time is slower. And you be surprised how fast they can go. The record for boys on teams I visited is 56 in yards. And girls, no no, that’s wrong. 53 in yards. And girls is 58. So it’s a NBBO. Next one is gators. The kids swim four 25s on a 30 second send off. They can breathe as much as they want when they’re swimming. But they can’t breathe when they’re resting. So their mouth and nose is underwater. The only thing out of the water is their goggles, so they look like alligators. And you have to stand on the end and remind them not to breathe, keep your mouth underwater. And they have to go fast.

Yardstick trials. Saturday afternoon in the fall we put cones on the side of the pool a yard apart. Whose goal time is 50 seconds? Up on the blocks. They swim 100, you blow a whistle at 50 seconds. And they see how many yards they are from their goals from the end of the pool. Okay who wants to go 51? You’re on the blocks. Who wants to go 52? You’re on the blocks. And you just keep blowing a whistle and they jump up there when they’re goal time is read out. Fran Crippen died, and guy named Rick Gunther and a coach at Bearcat in Oregon, Keith? Anyway they got together on a Saturday afternoon. And they had this thing and Rick told me about it so I said how about if we call it the Crippen challenge. And here’s the way it works. There are six swimmers here with these yellow smiling faces, that’s team A. There are six swimmers here where the red face is, that’s team B. You’ve got something floating like this. This is a water ski ball with a tab on the bottom. And you float that at these points. Here, here, here, and here. So the coach shoots a gun, blows a whistle. And the swimmers take off. The red team is going this way. And the yellow team is going this way. Each swimmer on the team has to catch three opponents or two opponents or whatever you set up. And when someone’s been tagged, they’re out.

The strategy is that the fast swimmers don’t always tag the slow swimmers. Because if they do, the slow swimmers on your team won’t catch the fast swimmers on the other team. They’ll get caught themselves. So it becomes a strategy kind of thing. And this is predecessor to open water. Where you’re chasing people and when you get tagged you’re out. You can use a swimming fender or a boating fender or whatever to mark the course. Rest and go is one I mentioned the other day. Is swimmers rest, one swim and then they have to lead. You always have slow swimmers at the end of a circle, slip streaming. And not really working hard. So in this case they’re going 2300s and the slow swimmer is going to have to jump up in front and lead a 300. Then after that swimmer — or those, swimmers, finish the 300, they all move back one and the next swimmer jumps up. So they rotate through the circle rather than always stay fixed in the circle.

Have a swimmer go ten 400s on five minutes. And they have to hold four minutes in this example. So they make three, they’ve got seven left. When they fail, they take and double the number seven. Half the distance and half the goal and half the send off. So they’re still trying to hold pace but now they’re going 14 200s. Because they failed after three 400s. Let’s say they make five so they’ve got nine left that means they’d have to do 18 100s on 1:15. So they make eight, they’ve got ten left. They’d have to go 20 50s holding 30 on 40. And if they make all 18 or they made 18 so they’ve got 2 25s left. But the idea is to maintain swimming speed.

Jim Ritchie, well he’s in Boulder Colorado now but he trained Larsen Jensen when he was in high school. And when Larsen was failing they’d go to a short pool and do this kind of thing. Here’s a good way to use tempo trainers with age group swimmers. Our goal here is to go 10 25s on 40 seconds. Set the tempo trainer at 1.3. On the odd 25s, they do an entry every beep. So they’re swimming at 2.6. On the even 25s, they do a left entry every beep. So they’ve shifted to 1.3. Now maybe too fast for your swimmers or too slow, you decide that. But what they have to do is count their number of entries going both ways. So with a long stroke, how many entries did you do? Maybe 14. With a faster turn over stroke how many entries did you do? Maybe 19. So there’s a difference of five. And what they want to do is try to even out the numbers if they can. So they’re turning over fast but they’re keeping a long stroke. Seniors can use that for pace work. 30 50s, set the thing at 7.5. Because they’ll only go to ten. So you can set it at 7.5 which means that it’s going to beep when they start, it will beep at mid pool. It’ll beep on the turn, it’ll beep at mid pool, it’ll beep at the finish. And if they stayed with the beeps, they went 30 seconds. They get seven and a half seconds rest because that’s what you’ve got it set at. So they push off on the next one. So you got a set of 50s and they’re trying to hold 30 seconds per 50. That’s a great one to get girls under five minutes.

This may be my legacy in swimming. I believe in prediction sets. Six 50s on two minutes from a push off. The swimmer figures their best average time. And now this is on the website with a form you can use to be able to do it with your swimmers. They write down what they think they could average and double it. And they see how close this is to their present time. Generally, it’s pretty close, especially if the coach has been willing to do this long rest set. Then they write down their goal time. So this swimmer wants to drop 4.8 seconds. So to go that goal time they have to average 26s. And this has a high correlation, .89. Now Richard Quick did this with Dara Torres and the girls in 2000. And [inaudible] [00:30:59], the researcher that was at USA Swimming. Suggested that when they plateaued at six, then you add four, so they went to ten. When they plateaued at ten, he went to 14. When Dara Torres plateaued at 14, she went to 18. So you add four. And Dara Torres started out holding 27 on six and ended up going 27s on 18 toward the end of the season. So you up by four.

Get yourself some kind of a slide rule. And give it to the kids so they can convert what they’re doing in the short course to what they’re doing in long course. 200 prediction, five times 100 on three minutes from a push. This swimmer thinks they could average 58 five, you double that and it’s 1:57. Their goal time is 1:55 six, which means they go half of it. They have to average 57 eight to be able to go 1:55 six. And this has a correlation of .93, that’s a really high correlation. I’ve got this for swimmers from 30 years of coaching. Gordy?

Gordy: [inaudible] [00:32:20]

Bob Steele: How many days out?

Gordy: Three days before the meet.

Bob Steele: Oh hell we’d do this two weeks in a row and take a week off. Two weeks in a row, take a week off. They go 50s on Monday because they’re fresh. They could go 100s on Wednesday or Thursday depending on what meet is coming up. Because we have a busy meet schedule. And they have improve to this set. There are all kinds of ways to monitor the set but we’re not going to get into that. For a 500 swimmer, six times 250 on five minutes. Now probably nobody here is going 250s on five minutes. Because that’s crazy you know? Who gets that much rest? This is really accurate for girls but not as accurate for guys. So if this swimmer could average 2:33s, they’re capable of going 5:06. If they want to go 1:54, they have to average 2:27.

Now, there’s another one that I didn’t put up which is 20 100s on 1:30. Who has anybody that swims a mile? Or a thousand? Okay you go 20 100s on 1:30. They figure the average time and they multiply it by the distance they’re going to swim. So if they held minutes, they’d go ten minutes on a thousand. If they held minutes, they’d go 1630 on a mile. It’s 20 100s on a send off that gives them about 12 to 15 seconds rest. With the university men, we wanted them to be able to swim a mile and hold 53s. So they did theirs on 105 and they could hold 53s. They just couldn’t hold it in the race but they were pretty close. Okay this is called beat the clock. And we had someone use this on entering the contest the other day. But beat the clock is a great, great set. And it’s a way for kids to measure themselves against themselves but everybody on the team. This is what it looks like when you’re running it.

Anyway, their first swim starts on the 40 — with the feet on the 45. And they always have to beat 60. And they’ve got one second less rest per 100 swum. So they’re 100s on a 2:01 send-off. So on the first one, they leave on :45, they have 1:15 to come in. So they can cruise at 1:15. But some kids on your team may be humping on a 1:15. And with your little kids blended in with the big kids, maybe the little kids go 75s. That just irritates the kids going 100s because the young kids going 75 so getting more than they will 100s. When they fail, and they’re over the time, they’re over 60, let me go to the other slide. Here’s the first wave, second wave, third wave, fourth wave, fifth wave. If they’re over 60, they have to sit one out. This would be the second wave. If they’re over five, they sit one out. So after sitting one out, they get back in and they just swim 100s. But they can’t back in the contest. And you record the number that they made, not the number they went out on. And the next time you do the set, they need to know what they did. So just post that sheet. The record for girls is making 52 and missing on 51. That was Gillian Ryan from Parkland Zoom Club, she just did it at a training camp Fort Lauderdale. And the coaches called me and said hey Bob we’ve got a new winner, a new leader. So she made 52 and missed on 51. And then the record for boys is making 49 and missing on 48. That’s high school kids. My best swimmer made 47 and croaked on 46. And the least, any winning team — a winner had on a team that I’ve worked with. I had a 13 year old girl in Sacramento make 58 and miss on 57.

You have to try teach kids to compare a long course and short course and that’s why you need the slide rule. So they know what they’re doing. Because oftentimes they’re lost. This is the way to compare it. This swimmer in college went 1:46. Which converts to a 2:02. In Long Island, he went 2:03 which converts to 1:47. And at the end of the summer he went two minutes flat which converts to a 1:44. So he’s pretty excited about what he did in the summer. And you’ve got to learn to settle kids on long course training. Because they don’t have school and it’s a great way to get faster. So this is a way to convert the long course to the short — or short course to the long course. Because they’re all focused on swimming fast in high school. And I’m not going to spend time on this. But you need to teach them to convert next year’s goal time to what it is this summer, next summer. What their average time would be on that goal time converted to long course.

Kicking sets. You have to have a set named after yourself. So these are called kick stealers. You kick 20 25s on a 20 second send off. So you’re leaving on 60, 20, 40. 60, 20, 40. I’ve only had 3 people, two guys and one girl make this set without stopping. So if they stop, they rest one send off. So if they missed on the third one they’re going to rest from 60 to 1:20 and then on 1:20 start again. And they have to add one because they missed one. You’ve got to make 20. Sometimes it takes a long time. But they get a lot better kicking. Next one’s called Phelps’ 50s. You have them decide how fast they can kick on five 50s. So maybe they think they can — go five 50s kicking on 45. So that’s their send off on fast. Then medium is five seconds slower. So that would be 50. Slow would be on 55. So the first time through they leave on 55, 50, 45. 55, 50, two on 45. 55, 50, three on 45 and so on until they do five on 25. Now you’ve got to adjust it and massage it to make it work for your kids. But this is a great way to kick. Phelps does hundreds like this. With the University men, I tried hundreds the first time we did it. And their legs fell off, they couldn’t do anything for about two days. So you’ve got to kind of work them up to it. Another fun kicking thing is I have points based on how fast the kids are kicking. And the lane they’re has to score so many points in order to be finished. So there’re some kicking things.

Here’s pulling things. Whistle pools, I started this in Wichita and it was really well received. We do a warm down and they’d all have a pool buoy on and a rubber band. Or a pool buoy without a rubber band. We usually pull just with rubber bands. So they’d put a buoy on and anytime I blow a whistle, or anytime you flash down the water lights, they drop the pool buoy and sprint. As soon as they hear the whistle again, or you can tap on stainless gutters with a lane line wrench. When they hear it again they grab the closest pool buoy and start pulling again. When they pull it’s distance per stroke recovery kind of stuff. The sprints are only about 20 yards. So you’re blending that in. And here they could pull an 800. And they drop the pull buoy here and we did the 800 with breath control breathing 2, 4, 6, 8 by 25s. They can pull or swim a mile. 11 lengths, rest 10. 10 lengths, rest 10. Nine lengths, rest 10. And you keep going down to one length. And since they’re getting ten seconds rest at each break. That’s a mile. You reset the clock on 130. And then they get their times when they finish. Minus their send off. But it’s a way to get them to where they can handle a mile. They can do 11. And they can sure do one. So everything in between over at two. Take it off. Put on all the pulling gear you’ve got. And to give them a set here we’re going five 200s with ten seconds rest. And ten seconds rest is just enough time to take off whatever they’re wearing.

World class sets. These are sets that Olympians have done. And I’m just going to gloss through these. Because I want to get on to the drills. You can go to the website and get these. Here’s the impressive one though. I’ve got it wrong, but I’ll tell you. Five times 1,000 on 50 minutes, not 60. That’s Jeff Kostoff, he’s still — no I think maybe someone just broke his American record for high schoolers in 500 free. But five times 1,000. That’s five swimmathons on 50 minutes, that’s humping. Okay, Aussie analysis. Have the kids — I don’t know how to do vertical lines on my computer. Okay so if you download this, take your ruler and draw in some lines. Okay so you just draw a bunch of lines down here. And you put their name across the top. And their best 100 plus 15 seconds. And that’s what they want to hold through this set. Their best 100 plus 15 seconds. I got this from Nort Thornton. They go 100 and they’re going to give you as soon as they finish: their time, their pulse and their entries per 25. Not strokes but entries. Then they go right into a 200 on four. A 300 on six, a 400 on eight. And then they go a 100 just as hard as they can. And after every swim they’re giving you their time, their pulse and their entries per 25. And you know on pulse work, the first beat is a zero. And then numbers after that because you’re measuring the space between beats. You’re not measuring just beats.

Okay so this is a lot of recording. But I did it in Jamaica in May and I just had some moms recording. And they caught on to it pretty quick. So if moms can do it, you can get it done. These are our total team sets. I use to use this for threshold but our band check said I’m nuts, this is too hard. 20 100s freestyle on 130. And we’d figure the total team average and we’d do it at least one a month. And the total team average had to get faster as the season progressed. Active training is the sets that I explained already. Over distance, five times 400 by stroke on five minutes. Breaststrokers would go on 436 — 536. Touch pad 25s. Put in your touch pads and let them do 25s. You get brutal competition. Reese’s Pieces, that’s five 100s ten seconds per 25. And whoever has their average time closest to their lifetime best gets a bag or Reese’s Pieces for each stroke. So it’s going to cost you four bucks. Unless you go to Wal-Mart, then it’s far cheaper.

Get-out swims. Five 100s alternating in three groups. Two breaths the first 25, three the second, three the third, one the last. Now you don’t give this to your eight and unders. But you’ve got to adapt to it somehow. But the breath control stuff. So what’s your set. Name a set after yourself, I’m not going to take anymore time with this. I’ll just tell you that Shoulberg’s icebergs, that’s kicking with a piece of rebar. Okay so here’s one. My assistant came in when I was coaching on a high school team and he said here’s a new warm up. Its buckets of blood. Kick a 25, leave the kick board. Pull a 25, leave the pool buoy. Swim a 25, pick up the kit board. That’s one bucket of blood. So if you go four buckets of blood, that’s 12 lengths. I said why do you call it buckets of blood. He says it’s easy: when I write the workout it’s BOB, he was an ass kisser. So name a set after yourself. Here’s one from Bob Jenkins; this is a Christmas tree set for the holidays. And it’s 10,000 yards. When the kids leave practice, have them give you a high five and say I hope tomorrow is harder. Okay these are favorite drills. In order to learn, a swimmer must fail. The coach must critique. The swimmer must refine to become more skilled and swim faster. And that’s down and dirty from the talent code. Kids have thousands of miles of nerves in their body. And every time they fail, and every time you correct them, they build a mile in. And the more miles in they have, the faster they become and the more skilled they become. They have to have ignition in their brain from your master coaching. And master coaches and some guy that coaches seniors, it’s a quality coach at any level. They must have deep practice and then they develop talent.

These are hotbeds. That this guy studied to find out why people developed talent. And I thought one of the interesting ones was this first one. There’s an elderly lady in Russia that teaches tennis in a rusty old barn. And she takes 27 eight year olds. And they all work together for three weeks. And then every week she kicks one off the squad. When she’s down to seven, that’s her group. You’d make a lot of friends with moms if you did that, wouldn’t you? These are things that you need to think about when you’re developing strokes. We’re not going to spend time with them. This is a teaching sequence. It’s the key to teaching. Explanation, demonstration, practice for mastery, evaluation, reinforcement, re-explaining in simple or new words. This is the one that’s always omitted. And then you just repeat it. Explanation, demonstration, practice for mastery, evaluation, reinforcement. What you say to the kids is critical to their improvement. Kids don’t know that what they’re going to do is develop a sensitivity to pressure, that’s proprioceptive or feeling their stroke. The only way to develop that, they need to know, is to come to practice, a lot of practice.

Proprioceptive, 90 percent of the swimmers don’t know this. If I put my hand in the water and I’m swimming that way. And I hold the water and then make the pattern that my coach wants me to make. How many of you, raise your hand, if you think my hand stays in one place? How many of you think my hand moves backwards through the water? So how many of you think my hand moves backwards through the water? How many of you think my hand stays in one place? If it didn’t stay in one place, I would stay in one place. If their hand moves backwards to the water, then they’re not moving. Because what they’re trying to do is put their hand on the water, hold the water, and have their hand come out ahead of where it went in. So try to teach your swimmers that what you’re trying to get them to do is hold the water. And again the only way they can develop that skill is with lots of practice. This is part of a chart. I was on a committee of coaches in Olympia, Greece, coaches from all over the world. And we tried to get FINA to adopt a chart. This is only a part of it. And put it in their rule books so that coaches had a guideline. And they didn’t want to tell coaches how to coach. So they never put it in. But if you coach nine and ten year olds. And they’re going to go 2500 yards. About 35 percent or 875 yards should be aerobic swimming. That’s the only system they have. Five percent a lactate, 125 yards. And you are teaching them this so they learn to race. And then 1500 of the 2500 yards is technique work. That’s why I like for age group coaches to monitor technique yardage and aerobic yardage. Because those are their components.

Here’s the book that everybody should read. This one, or mindset, or outliers, or talent is overrated. There are four great books for coaches. You’ve got tons of things to teach. I read this week that a child with an ineffective classroom teacher learns half as much in the first year as if they have a good teacher. A child with an ineffective teacher for three years in a row is likely never to catch up. Think about that with your assistants. With fellow coaches. And then regularly assess or have someone assess your effectiveness. How effective are you with your staff? Are you helping new coaches become more effective? And every staff member must focus on coaching what the senior coach wants swimmers to look like. And teach the skills and drills to get there. Tim Hill from What Swim Club in Houston Texas has a great plan that he’s working on with his coaches to do this. I visited one team and I was doing a talk for parents, swimmers and coaches on what it takes to be the best you can be. And the age group coach didn’t like the topic or the other coaches or me, I don’t know what. But she insisted that her ten and unders workout rather than watch a video that’s been seen — or a presentation that’s been seen by thousands. So you’ve got to make sure your staff’s on the same page.

Stroke building. What percentage of your team learns a skill the first time it’s presented? Anybody here get a 100 percent? 90? 80? 70? 60? 50? 40? 30? 20? 10? 0? [laughter]. Anyway, I don’t know what the number is. But it’s something to think about. You got to say it a thousand different ways in order for it to be understood. And remember that if you just give it auditorally, 25 percent will understand. Visually, 75 percent. That’s why demonstration is important. Kinesthetic learners, 90 percent will pick it up. If you manipulate the hands or have them do tubing or whatever, they’ll pick it up. And I’m showing this because the swimmers need to know what you want. US Swimming sent out a DVD on open water swimming. And Beijing Olympics in January of 2009. Most coaches I visited didn’t know they had it. It’s an incredible video to teach kids how to swim. And in the background here is a breaststroke off of that video in a Dart Fish format.

You have to go and look at race analysis. And your kids need to know that these are the things you’re trying to teach them to do. They’re the things that are assessed by USA Swimming at the national championships. And international meets and the Olympic Games. You’re trying to teach them breakout times, breakout distances. Running times, drop off between 50s in this case. Cycles of strokes. What their splits are? What their tempo is? First third, middle third, last third. Distance per cycle. Forget velocity. Turning time, no turn should take more than a second. So this is just a sheet that I use on visits to compare a high school age swimmer to the American record holder. In all those characteristics. And you can do that, you can go online to the website and get a recording sheet that enables you to record these things on just a memory stop watch. Here’s an example, this girl was turning over at 1.0. And went 30.9. Missy Hyman was turning at 1.1 and went 28-3. This is a little more efficient. If this girl, Courtney, did more distance per stroke pulling with paddles, pulling with band, pulling with tube, pulling with parachutes. And pulling on different send offs. And she got down to 1.1. She’s going to save 2.4 seconds in her 50. These are coaches that are demonstrating what they want.

Here’s a report card. This is on the webpage. You can get a report card and assess strokes. You can score practices. You can check on streamlining. Stand at the backstroke pennants in warm up. And count the number of swimmers whose feet start kicking on the surface. And arms start stroking before the feet are past the pennants. And then tell the swimmers, we’ve got 35 swimmers and 27 did it wrong. That one doesn’t count. So you start over again. And they’ll catch on real quick that they should be taking at least three fly kicks to break out beyond the pennants. Do-overs work.

The swimmers I coached in the 70s asked me how come people are so fast now. I think it’s because of race-paced training and streamlining. I timed — well Michael Phelps set a world record in his breakout on the last 50 meters in the 200 free world record, 1:42. He was underwater 13.4 seconds. And he’d already swum a 150 faster than the world record pace. Ryan Lochte, I timed him at the Florida State Championships which for Ryan Lochte is just another meet. He was underwater 19 seconds on a 41 second 100 free and a 47 second 100 back. 19 seconds underwater. In the 200 back, he was under 43 seconds in the prelims. And 45 seconds in the finals. Underwater streamlining hurts. But it’s critical to being faster.

Okay, so we would teach three different standing starts, four different relay wind up starts. One foot set forward, stepping with that one foot. Shuffling with both feet and then hopping or jumping with both feet. Then we’d teach five different streamlines. Ten big kicks and be at 15 meters. 15 small and fast ripple kicks at 15 meters. 15 ripple kicks on the side to 15 meters. Four big, ten small to 15 meters. Ten small, four big to 15 meters. And they have to get their times to know what’s best. So you can create — when you create stations, have one be a times push-off station. This is a thing I started with the team in March. I started the team where we live. It’s a four lane, 20 meter pool. There’s 108 kids in the school system. We have 21 on the swimming team. These are stones with their names on them. And there’re six different colors per lane. That’s their stone. These kids no nothing about swimming. They are just raw. But they hold their stone, they kick their three kicks or five kicks. Whatever we want them to do. And when they’re head hits the surface, they drop the stone. And then in practice, they have to push off to the stone. And if they’re really good, they get to move their stone further out. And these kids don’t know squat about swimming. They — we trained for three months and they still can’t do buckets of blood without getting mixed up. But they can go past their stone. So this is a pretty neat thing.

Have them do a start. And then tap on the aluminum gutter or stainless gutter with your lane line wrench in seconds. And when they hear the tapping or they hear a whistle they have to pop up and see how close they got to 15 meters. World class swimmers are under seven seconds at 15 meters, all world class swimmers. From a start to 15 meters under seven. The fastest high school boy is a sprinter from Phoenix and he was 3.8 seconds. He was on the surface too a little bit. But they need to know what their times are. So Kevin Kenel in Indiana does this at the end of warm up everyday. Seven seconds starts, six seconds starts. [pause] I got this kind of messed up here. You can have them do starts and get times to 15 meters. Do six seconds starts. Jump down here to the winning lane. Take all your kids and put them in four lanes or three lanes. So you’ve got about eight or ten kids on the team. Have them be against people of even ability across the lanes. And then start them. And the first swimmer to 15 meters with fly kicks scores a point for their lane. And you see what lane can win the starting contest. But they start thinking about how fast they’re getting there. Because they’re being compared to two or three other teammates. And it s a fun way. And then you take whoever won and they all go against each other so you find out who the starting champion is for the day.

Last swimmer swimming. All the kids put their name on a dry erase board. And if they make a mistake you erase their name. And they see how long their name can stay on the board. And then you have a prize for whose name is last on the board. Teach them the hardest drills. Underwater recovery in fly to work on timing kicks. Vertical catch up, backstroke with a hard kick. The wheel kick drill. Right hand to the left foot and then switch it to 25. Freestyle front quadrant, not a catch up stroke. And every swimmer needs to know what drills they need to improve all their strokes. And they’re in pure stroke set. You have two swimmers in a lane here and one here. One swimmer swims to this end and this swimmer critiques him. Then the critiquer swims back and the swimmer too from this end critiques him. And then swimmer three or two from this end swims down and he gets critiqued. And then they just keep going and they help each other. And it’s the underwater stroke that you’re working on. So if you want 110 degrees, they need to know that. And know to look for it. And if you do, you’ll make Jan Prins happy.

Now here’s a gear head circuit. This is all is jazzed up here. And you can use it for all four strokes. This is the way it’s set up. You’ve got five kids per lane. They swim on their own side of the line. Okay? They stay on their own side of the line. Especially if they’re little kids. You go for maybe five or six minutes per station. And then they just go under the lane line into the next lane or across the lane marker into the next side of the lane. The leaders know how to do all the stations. You store it in a plastic container, you roll it out. The kids know where everything goes, they put it out. And you’re ready to roll. The send offs could be for grade school kids. The tail wags the dog. The first swimmer leaves, the next one goes when the one ahead is at the pennants. And they keep going. And when the last swimmer is in, the first swimmer goes. That’s called the tail wags the dog. They stay on their own side of the lane. Middle school kids might do it with ten seconds rest or high schoolers might go 50s on a send off. We’re going to skip using the pace clock, you can go to that on the website. So here’s some gear. Here’s the bounce board to improve turns so they’re faster. Scott Spann was the best turner ever. And he bounced off the wall. He never grabbed the gutter.

Catch up with a band. I was working with a team and I had these on one side of the starting block. And these on the other side. So these were for catch up. And these were for pulling without a pull buoy. An eight year old got mixed up. He put the rubber band on and grabbed the tube and started pulling to catch up. So he’s only moving with one arm. And I thought to myself why the hell didn’t I think of that? It’s a great way to develop a front quadrant freestyle. The only thing is when we’re teaching catch ups, some kids catch up way too much. Front quadrant freestyle. 16 to 20 gold medals in the Athens were front quadrant freestyle. Four were straight arm. And 43 out of 60 medals were front quadrant freestyle. So it’s a good thing to teach. Tech paddles are great for a high elbow. These are called skip kickers. It’s just a two foot piece of tubing. And they have to put it on with no twist. They just have to kick so hard it doesn’t come off. And green is for little kids. Red is for big kids. Streamline noodles, I already explained that. And you can use this in so many ways. We put these on — we made 16 of them in Casper, Wyoming. Dean put them on in — on January first he never took them out. And he had a back stroker go from 1:03. A girl from 1:03 to like 58 seconds. And all he did was force her to stay down and come out further up.

Start over noodles, back stroke. A stroke belt which is just a bungee and it’s great for breaststroke. Because it’s fastened to a ladder or the end of the pool or a backstroke handle. And anytime the swimmer loses the water between the pool and the kick, they get jerked backwards. And you can use it will all four strokes but breaststroke is really good. Breakout at cones, scoring. This is really an expensive flashcard you know? It’s a folder, a file folder. It’s being used so much, it got mold on it, permanent mold. So you can score kits. Tempo trainer I’m not going to spend time on that. This is the best piece of dry land equipment you can make. It’s just a pair of paddles and a bungee. And when I first started coaching, I had kids use that. We had 50 sophomores, freshmen and sophomores on the team. And they were pulling on a bungee like this. And the red mark, the red line is just a piece of chalk. And that’s a pattern for fly. The green lines are the patterns for breaststroke. So you just draw the pattern you want them to follow. And they’re swimming their stroke. It’s so specific. And you can manipulate them. So you got kinesthetic 90 percent of the learning would occur. And you get the bands at Ebay. You get the hand paddles from Dick Hannula.

But anyway these — we had 50 kids pulling on this railing and after a month they pulled the railing off the balcony. There’s a lot of tension. Pulling with wheelbarrow inner tubes, rubber bands with or without a pull buoy. Clickers, you know you can pay 40 dollars for these or you can make them for three. Or you can buy them from me. I make all this stuff and sell it to teams if they want it. But you just take pictures of this stuff today. And go home and make it. Or give the pictures to a dad and say I want five of each of these and you’ve got yourself a gear head circuit. Gear head circuit is you use gear and you’ve got to use your head. And this stuff forces correction. You don’t have to coach. You can sit and watch. I’m just kidding. This is just PVC with a 5/16 nut in it. A ball bearing I found moves too easy. So it’s for long excess pivoting.

This is for starts. You take a clothes pin or you can take a little plastic gizmo that you buy at Wal-Mart. You take an 18 foot piece of polypropylene rope in yellow. Because it will float on the surface and no one will get rope burn or hung. You put the 18 foot piece on the swimmer’s waist. This is plugged in to your Colorado system. When they get to 18 feet, this pops out, closes the circuit and they see their times. I had eight of these. And then use them four at a time. And it would get brutally competitive on starting. Kicking V’s. You just make these. Big kids have to kick with their head out. Little kids can put their head in. We use them for fly and breaststroke because that’s kind of the position there. So it’s a really good tool. And we would have these things in every swimmer’s bag. Or you make five of each and you set up a gear head circuit. This is a turning tube. It’s a inch and a half, or inch and a quarter PVC. The swimmers pull it in to their waist and flip around it. So they work on fast feet. They can’t use the bottom of the pool. They have to spin so hard that they get around and they have fast feet. And then they’re doing six turns per 25. So this is one of your gear head station circuits. Hitch the head to the rope. And we’ve used this rope in many ways. I use to use it trying to get kids to look like Tracy Caulkins. So we had it about this high off the water. And they’d had to come up really high. Because that’s the way Tracy swam. Then breaststroke changed. Now we’ve got it down about this high off the water. So they look like Rebecca Soni. Okay?

And you can use it for breaststroke here, for butterfly here, for freestyle here, for backstroke here. I’ve got teams that I visited that drilled holes in the deck, I mean in the wall at the end of the pool. So they could just latch the rope on it. Whatever they were going to do. And backstroke, the kids hitch their hands to the rope. At freestyle, we tied it to a ladder underwater. I had a kid named Travis Lensing who’s now a coach. Came in and his best time was 47 flat. Our first meeting took 21 strokes per 25. Short course yards. A big strong college man, okay. He was just whaling. So my wife coached with me. And I said Travis is your project. So we tied the rope from ladder to ladder. Every morning practice, he swam the rope. And his hands got so bloody we had to put gloves on his hands. There’s a knot every four or five feet. So he’s just swimming like this. And he changed his stroke count from 21 to 14. And went from 47 to 44-50 in one year. So swimming the rope can really help.

I don’t like to use parachutes because they cost too much. We use flower pots. Now this is something that Bill Sweetenham gave Dick Hannula a month or so ago. And Dick and I have two different ways to use it. I call it the out sweeper. World class breaststrokers get to 130 degrees, most do. Rebecca Soni is a little narrower. But world class breaststrokers get to 130 degrees. So this helps them force the hands out and then pop through. Speed in breaststroke depends on the power of the kick and how fast the hand moves from here to here. So that’s really important. If you look at your videos of Rebecca Soni, I think she’s got the nicest stroke of anyone right now. Except that I’d have a bigger pool. But she’s doing pretty well without it, she’s just fit. And here’s one for bigger guys. And you really have to push to get it out. But I like mine better. Just like a software writer. And this is a balance pole. I had a kid named Kyle Simes whose best time in 200 free was 1:41. We went to Olympic training center and Genadijus tested him. And his head position was too high. So he put this on him and he swam freestyle and then this banged on his head when it was too high. Or it massaged the back of his head. And it’ll lower the head. So that you have a more neutral body position. So I think that’s it for the gear.

We do reaction drills, different things in the warm up. My favorite breaststroke drill is swimming across the pool with all the lane lines in. They get one stroke in each lane. When they breathe, they should be looking at the next lane marker. Not mom and dad up in the balcony, okay? So they’re looking at the lane marker or looking at the water. When they breathe, they force their hands forward. With the elbows, they don’t take their hands forward. I think they’re more powerful if they force the hands forward with the elbows. And then they go in to the next pull. But they glide into the next lane and their butt hits the lane line as they go under it. Our 400 IM-ers, our 200 IM-ers and our breaststrokers. At the end of practice when everybody else left, we’re training in the long course pool so we’ve got 21 lanes. They had to swim a 400 breast stroke. And they had to take one stroke per lane. And they got better at it. If kids on starts won’t use their arms very well, give them a pull buoy and have them throw the pull buoy out. And enter the water.

So what’s your legacy going to be? You have to name a set after yourself. And remember your level of expectation and attention determines swimmers’ success and yours. The number one component of success is self-discipline. Ford Portman who is a business presenter, a presenter in the business world says that you need to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it. Now these are our Olympic coaches. And all the places that they coached before they got to be an Olympic coach. And anybody can’t do it. Not just anybody can do it, I never did it. That was one of my shortcomings. But in order to do it you have to have commitment, passion, organization, creativity. You have to sacrifice, you have to be a salesman. And you have to have a high level of expectation. These are our winners from a councilman creative coaching contest. Is McKenzie here? Anybody know McKenzie? She’s in Fort Collins. Okay. But those were nice presentations. And this is my slogan, it’s been that since the early 60s. You’ve got to want to.

Thanks for spending an hour and 15 minutes with me. I appreciate it. And [applause] I’ve got to catch a plane back to Seattle and then on to Denver. So if you’d like to take pictures of this stuff, we’ll leave it out. You can come up and take pictures of it. It’s in the book if you got the book, all the dimensions. You can go online to the website. And just — let’s put them on that green carpet over there. Then you have good contrast.

Male Speaker: Bob remember that kick sticks of years ago?

Bob Steele: Kick sticks, I remember the word.

Male Speaker: It was straight there with plastic and wooden rod. And it’s got a tape on the thigh and the ankle to keep the leg straight when kicking.

Bob Steele: Oh yeah.

Male Speaker: Just like what we’ve done in Louis, do you have anything like that? Or did you see anything like that who has a record?

Bob Steele: No. I had a guy that swam for me — hey here’s one more while you’re walking out. If you have a kid that does something really right. Then you push this — oh come on! Five bucks at Home Depot. It’s not flashing. You push this and it flashes if they do it right. Then if they’re doing it really right then it’s all green. Here can you see that? No.

Female Speaker: Will it work down for like the water?

Bob Steele: No. But then if you want them you just go [whistle blowing]. So go to office — or Home Depot when you’re buying all your PVC and buy some of these. Or they’re at Office Depot too. Yeah, just throw those over there please.

Male Speaker: Thanks Bob.

Female Speaker: What’s that website?

Bob Steele: Yeah. Pardon?

Female Speaker: What was your website address?

Bob Steele: GamesGimmicksChallenges, one word, dot com. Yes? Great thank you. Here, you’d take a book too. And then — hey wait these work — these are drills demonstrated by college swimmers. And then there’s no audio with the DVD. But you got a book so you can just go through the book and remember the ones that you saw. Or show the kids the ones that you want them to do. And it’s a down and dirty deal. Okay.

Male Speaker: Today’s presentation, it will be only on one night?

Bob Steele: Yup.

Male Speaker: Which website?

Bob Steele: Games — wait wait wait, here. Coaches, if you want my website. Here’s a flyer about team camps or if you’re interested in a team camp, take one of these and you can get in touch with me. So there you go. It’s GamesGimmicksChallenges.com. Oh one more thing. Hey! Remember you wrote down the number of things that you wanted to remember or go back to. You got to count and see how many you had.

Male Speaker: 46.

Bob Steele: 46, Susan?

Male Speaker: Donna.

Bob Steele: Donna? Donna got 46. Did anybody write down more than 46 things they want to come back to?


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