For Coaches of Novice Athletes: On Deck Energy


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Coaching novice swimmers consists of selling the sport of swimming to young people who are as yet unconvinced that this is what they wish to be doing with their afternoon, morning or evening.

Selling them on the wonderfulness of our sport is the primary job of the coach of novice swimmers. In sales, one of the primary concepts taught to all potential salespeople, the act of a sale, is the transfer of an EMOTION from the salesperson to the client. Emotions make the sale, and then the salesperson provides a rationale for the client to use to justify to all his friends and family why he made the purchase.

What emotion? Well, any powerful emotion will do. Joy, excitement, happiness, a feeling of this is right! and all the good things that come with the idea of mastery. (As you drive away from the dealership in your soon-to-be-new Mercedes, you experience the most profound sensation of being a Master of the Universe! Mercedes counts on that emotion, and builds on it in all its ads.)

What does this have to do with coaching? Well, emotion is also a transfer of energy. High energy tells us that things are lively, gives us a positive mood and feeling, and gives us confidence in the outcome of any activity. The energy of the novice coach is critical to the development of the child in swimming. High-energy people create energy in swimmers, and energy breeds success and success breeds happiness. Happiness encourages coaches to do more, and the cycle repeats itself.

If you want to do a good job as a coach at any level, your commitment to high energy coaching, utilizing every available minute to work with athletes to help them improve, is a critical success element. If you come slowly, slouching out to practice, it will be very hard to motivate your athletes to move swiftly and decisively to the tasks at hand, and get started on an enthusiastic practice to improve. If you come out moving and shaking, greeting everyone by name, and being excited about what you are doing, you can’t help but succeed. Children gravitate to the high energy ball and run away from the slug. All the pied piper coaches are high-energy people.

I have had young coaches tell me they are too tired at the end of the day to be lively. The bad news is that if you can’t rally real energy or fake false energy, you are not likely to make much success of coaching. The good news is that if you live in America, no one will make you coach. Find a job you can be enthusiastic and energetic about, so you can succeed. Some of you may be aghast when I say fake false energy but anyone who’s coached more than a couple of days will tell you that there are days they don’t have it for whatever reason. That’s fair.

The professional sucks it up and fakes the energy needed to make the practice a fine experience for the children who have come to practice innocently expecting your best effort.

Put energy in your walk, your talk, your corrections and your mannerisms. Energy releases positive emotions and moves you forward, make it your coaching friend.

Don’t leave your office without it.

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