[introduction, by Joel Shinofield]
We have a unique opportunity here to pick the brains of two icons of our sport: Dick Jochums and Jim Montrella. Both have coached the club and collegiate level. Between the two of them they have inspired their athletes to 20 Olympic medals, over 80 American Records, and dozens-upon-dozens of All America accolades. These are truly two passionate coaches, and now we have an opportunity to share in that passion and in their knowledge. This is going to be a very free session in terms of questions and answers, very informal; so please feel free to pick their brains.
[Jochums]: Okay, what Todd Hickman story do you want?
[audience member]: Any Todd Hickman story.
[Jochums]: I had Dr. Hickman and his son cook dinner at my house in Long Beach. And my wife looked at him; when he was a D.I. [Drill Instructor] in the Marines. And my wife said, “I see all those skinny guys.” She was working at a court right by where [Camp] Pendleton is. She says, “I see those guys; they couldn’t beat anybody up.” And he goes: five of ‘em could. That is what a team is about.
Anybody got a questions? That will help Jim think, and me to design the b.s., a little bit.
[Shinofield]: I think… you know just sitting there talking to you, you both talked about passion. And obviously the coaching that you have done and the athletes you have produced. How did you inspire that same passion that you have for the sport in some of your athletes you managed who may have reached the point when they were challenged with continuing with the sport or just were not in right mindset?
[Montrella]: It is hard to answer a general question, specifically; I can only tell you what I did that seemed to help. That is all any of us are worth, our own experiences. And then you have to interperlate that as to how it might fit you and your situation.
I was always very goal-oriented. When I first started coaching, all I thought about was Olympia the Olympian. I remember reading the history of the Olympic Games—and that is not just Peter Daland’s; well before Peter. And I just got enthralled with the whole early Greek concept and the modern day Olympics.
So from Day 1, I thought in quadrennials; I just… I had a very difficult time thinking anything less than quadrennial. Well, it just so happens when you start looking around at things… especially the normal club programs, not the giant club programs—as I am associated with now at Mission Viejo on the board of directors. (I remind Bill Rose every day that I have power over him.) But the fact is, at the collegiate level, you are working with kids on a quadrennial basis. Unless it takes them five years to graduate, which I think sometimes it could. And if you are breaking down your normal club program, which is generally no more than 50-60 kids, the best you can hope for is maybe work this kind of program for 12&Unders, something else for 13-15s, and so on. So you have groupings. And you can identify how long they will be in the program in advance, or get pretty close.
So giving you that as a background, I always try to say: where will you be when you are 12? If I am working with the young people I first started with. How good would you be? How can you help your teammate? How can you get the team better? I think that concept is just carried-on, and is similar to what I mentioned this morning: I always thought in terms of relays. I was not interested in one great swim or one great swimmer; I was interested in what kind of relays we could put together. And it carried me through my whole career, even through Ohio State.
In the early years, an NCAA or an AIAW—for those of you who are old enough to remember those initials—you were allowed to swim 5 individual events, if you were women, and 7 events total. NCAA men was allowed 3 individual events and 4 relays; actually it was 3-and-3 earlier, and then they advanced it. (It was 2 relays.) That is right: we only had 2—that is exactly right.
So you think in terms of relays because you can score there. If you are really into your coaching, you are really teaching, and mentoring 4-8 people instead of 1-2, you can end up with some pretty high dividends at the end of the season. I think that concept helped out because we related to where we were going to be at least six months from now, a year and six months, two-and-six etcetera.
Another thing, which we can talk about later, that makes it even more specific is a drill we used to do which I called STP. But we can get some more general questions first.
[Jochums]: When I left for college, that is when I had learned to talk so people could understand me—just not my mother, but my father could understand me finally and the classroom teacher could understand me. And they took me out to the dunce group and let me into the general group. Still told me I did not have a brain. But, anyhow, I was working trying to become educated.
My mother gave me a poem by Kipling called If—. If you have never read, it is a poem that he wrote for his boy—and his boy was killed in, I think, World War I. But it is a fantastic recipe on how to live. And that went with me and still is with me, and I try to live my life by those standards. Fail miserably every day, but I try to live by those standards.
When I decided to actually coach and teach, which I decided very young to be a coach… I wanted to coach because it was going to be a power situation: I was going to be the boss and the kids were going to love me. And you have to understand, that is important to somebody that has never been popular his entire lifetime.
And I am going to tell a little story about popularity. I decided, when I went to the University of Washington, that I would change, I would become popular. And so what I did was: I did everything that everybody asked me to do. At the end of my freshman year, I had joined a fraternity: was a good place to live, the food was better than the dorms and that was the reason I joined it. But they had a thing called an eye in a fraternity: that is where you stand-up in front of the whole fraternity group and they stand-up and they praise you or criticize you. I hold the record for the University of Washington, the all-time record; there has never been anybody close to it. And it will be there forever; I have one record that will be with me and my family, forever. They stood up for 47 minutes and crapped on me. And it is one of the best days of my life, because when I came out of that I was not mad, I just said: screw everybody, I’m going to… from now on, the only person I am going to please is me. And if they do not like it, fine with me; and if they decide they can tolerate it, that’s fine too. But that was the best day.
And I learned that you have got to do what is right by yourself. And then if you do right by yourself, you are going to start doing right by the people at swim for you. If you were in the other one [earlier talk], I never cheated a kid: we worked you every day, and we got everything there was to get. On the days that we had you so broken down, after [Tim] Shaw I had learned to send you home or stretch you out or be smart. Stop being the animal coach and start being a coach. And I have been a damn good coach since those days. And I was… poor Tim Shaw is the one I learned my lesson on.
But you motivate, and you sell a dream. And the other thing that I would recommend for all coaches is that Lisardis course in sales. Every coach should have to take the course in sales that the life insurance industry makes all their people take. If you last a year in the life insurance business, they will send you the seminar. It talks to you about the four quadrants of people: the friendlies, the drivers, the socials, and…. I have had a champion in every one of those four quadrants. So you have got to know people, and you have got to learn how to say things at least four ways—the same thing four different ways. That is good for anything you do in life, in my opinion.
[Montrella]: How many people here are coaching at the collegiate level? (Jimmy, you are not going to learn anything here. I am only kidding.) Thank you, very much; we have got 2. How many are at the 12&Under level? How many at 13 and above? Okay, let us kind of see if we can move in the direction of something that relates to at least 16&Under, and maybe 12&Under, and ask whatever questions that relate to that, as opposed to…. Something that is going to help you immediately. Because, as much as both of us become emotional and philosophical, that is not going to help you tomorrow. I would like to think it will, but it will not. Because especially those of you under 30, you are not going to relate to that; you are going to relate to what is going to help you tomorrow. So let us see if we can get some questions moving in that direction, and we can cry later. Be courageous.
[audience member]: I want to know what you guys think about 12&Unders wearing tech suits?
[Montrella]: Do you want to take that one, Dick?
[Jochums]: I did not hear it.
[Montrella]: 12&Unders wearing tech suits; $300 suits.
[Jochums]: Their parents are wealthy. And you are going to have to deal with that parent eventually.
[Montrella]: I had an opportunity… and I have not been a head coach since ‘97 and I do not want to be again. But I had an opportunity to work with Mark [Schubert] at USC for three years, and then off-and-on with Bill Rose. And he offered me the opportunity to work with 12&Unders. Quite frankly, I told him I did not want to work with the girls, but I would work with the boys. And he said, Well, why? And said because they are the worst group you have got, and I do not have to work very hard. He convinced me to work with the girls and the boys.
So back to the 11+12 question, or the Age Group question, on tech suits: I absolutely said that they were not allowed at any meet, unless the parents wanted to spend it for the championship. So if they were going to so spend that kind of money, they had to qualify to get to the meet without the tech suit. And I did not break that rule even with 13+14s or when I helped him with his National group. Tech suits were not allowed unless they got to the championship.
Quite frankly, I had probably 3 or 4… Bev might remember better than I—my wife, Bev, is right here. I know I lost some kids to other clubs, but I did not care and fortunately I had the support of Bill Rose. And when you are a team of 600+, if you lose 1 or 2, that is normal, because you cannot be everything for everybody. But I absolutely would be opposed to them, even to this day, unless it is a championship and then I would probably bend.
[audience member]: As an athlete, I was used to the high volume training when I was younger, because my coach at that time believed that building was a big part, essential. But at the same time for my age—I was 11/12 year-old—I was really a good swimmer, but I felt like I was missing the fun out of practice. So now that I am coaching the same-aged athletes, I wonder: do I make it fun? Because now I feel like that training back then helped me be a better athlete now. But at the same time I feel like how does a mix of involving the fun in practices for those aged kids, who are competing and want to be better, but at the same time they want to have fun. You do not want to lose them when they are 15, 16, 17; you want them to continue and love the sport. I think it is more important that, than just being fast at the time. How do you make that balance?
[Montrella]: Did you compete for four years at the collegiate level? (Yes.) It was fun enough.
I personally think fun is swimming fast. Now in all honesty, you have to have a balance; the answer is yes. You have to have a balance; you have to figure a way to keep whatever volume you believe in—or you think you believe in—and balance it with something that might be a little different. But how do you get the volume done can be fun.
Chuck Riggs is the first one that I remember; started the train concept. You know, Swimmer 1 leads for six repeats, Swimmer 2 moves up, Swimmer 1 goes to the end of the line—kind of a fartlek training in a series. That was fun; the kids liked that. You find ways; there is no one way. I have asked Dick, because I know Dick had a lot of variety; even though he had some distance, he had a lot of variety in his practices.
[Jochums]: Age Group Swimming is about technique and finding out and learning what strokes work for you, what strokes do not work for you. If you are an I.M.’er, all the strokes should work for you. But you start to find out about yourself. I do not need the biologist or the M.D. to come in and tell me that this kid that has a resting heart rate of 60 is a distance freestyler; that is for the child and their parents to eventually decide, in combination with the coach. It is to give background. And you need yards.
In my program, we went on a day of freestyle and a day of IM, and we mixed. That is the way we went. And I did not see a lot of difference; and we had fun at every level in my program. As brutal as my workout sound, I let my swimmers bitch all the time, as long as they made the sendoffs. They could bitch right up until I said go, and if they had not gone, they had a problem.
I listened. The questions, you know, the one the people ask to get out of workout—they ask a question. I always answered it. And I had a rule: if I could not tell you why you were doing something, you did not have to do it. And you would be surprised at how many questions you would get, when you lay that out. But then you would be surprised how quickly you do not get those questions anymore when you stand the kid that asked the question up, at knee level in water or hip, and you start explaining it to them. And you go in-depth. And the rest of the people are swimming, and you are talking to them, explaining why you are doing and why this set that you have called is necessary for him to do. And he gets cold and he does not want to ask a question much longer. There are ways… kids are always going to play games on you; you have got to play games right back.
And so, they can be fun. And they used to… my swimmers said to me all the time: Coach, did you stay up all night thinking this workout up? This is the most boring workout…. “I am fine; get ready, go.” And they went. Or they then got another version of me that was never very popular.
And you go to the swimmers and they still… they tell Jochums’ stories: it is all about workouts, it is not about swim meets. Folks, listen to the great swimmers; they talk about workouts and what they learned in workouts. It is like being in the Marines Corps: every Marine, you know he was a Marine because the first thing he tells you before he tells you his name is “I was a Marine.” And I had this D.I…. He is not bitching; he is bragging.
And that is what I developed in my program, in Age Group all the way up to Senior level—it was the same. And there was a lot of laughter, they did waves and they did all kinds of crap, and they talked back to me. And I did that; that is not part of my ideal, that they could not talk back to me. And I did answer questions; and if the question pissed me off, it took me longer to answer it and you got colder while I stood you in the water and answered. But it is fun; Swimming should be fun at every level. Michael Phelps has fun in workout; he does not think he does, but when he finally retires he is going to remember it just like all everybody in particular remember the workouts.
I have heard Montrella stories, so his people did the same thing. And Jochums stories, I am famous for Jochums stories. And it is just a form of bragging; that is all it is.
[Montrella]: Taking off on what you mentioned about an I.M. day/a free day. I can tell you right/wrong, I would like to think it is more right than wrong. But for years, high school and under, and a little bit longer than I should have been in college, we trained 20% of our time in fly, 20% in back, 20% in breast and 40% freestyle. And that was a consistent, steady diet. And I was training all of them, at high school and under, to be the best they could be in each one of those areas.
Because I knew, having been in it long enough, that you really never know what their best is going to be until they get to college. That whole maturational process: the bones are still growing, apotheosis of the bone, the system of the muscular development, the nervous system. They are an amoeba that is still in the state of growth, and if we channel them too early, we are cheating on them. And we are not doing anything for their total body development, especially when they start walking around like this. You know right away that program has got a dramatic amount of freestyle and not a hell of a lot of breaststroke; breaststrokers generally sit up taller, their backs are more developed. So, you can identify bodies by how they have been trained. And sometimes you can look at somebody, knew they came from Southern California, and know which program they were in. I am not kidding.
So take that amoeba that you are working with and recognize: where will they be or where do I hope they will be. And then backup. If the goals is the Olympic Games and you are working with a 12 year-old today, the best you can hope for is having them in your program for about 8 more years. Because it is not like it used to be; you have got a lot of post-grads that are going to be dramatic. Now some people out here are going to say: did you see such and so; new World Record and she’s only, or he is. Okay: there is an exception once a generation. Are you only coaching the one generation exception? Probably not.
So the I.M.-concept, I just capitalized on it a bit more by giving numbers. But I think that is your best-bet, because I think you are cheating them otherwise. Now some people will say, “Well, my child is a sprinter.” Then there is another program down the street; I highly recommend you go talk to ‘em. And feel proud that you have identified that opportunity for them. Do not be hateful, do not be dismissive; just, Hey, if they are doing that well, then maybe you should give that a shot. But if you ever change your mind, we are here.
[Jochums]: You know what they say about sprinters, don’t you? When the going gets tough, they get out.
[audience member Debbie Meyer]: I got my kids… and with the technology today, every parent knows more than the coach. And they-
[Jochums]: They always have known more than the coach. The coach is a P.E. major—they are dummies.
[Meyer]: I am not as lucky as Sherm; I cannot say my way or the highway. Because, you know, I am on a board-run [team], I am in a resort town, that each one of the kids ski in the winter and I lose half of my team.
[Jochums]: Debbie, you have got to have them bring me up for half-day and we will have a parents meeting. We can straighten that right out, okay?
Sherm Chavoor…. Coach Debbie Meyer: this is one of the greatest female swimmers of all time—no question. And one of my heroes, by the way. But my coaching hero was not George Haines; my coaching hero was Sherm Chavoor. Now would you like to know why he was my coaching hero? This is something I should not admit, but….
There was an All American Football player that was a lineman and had his kids swimming for Sherm. And he had enough with Sherm: Sherm was a mouth, and Sherm got in your face and talked back to you, and he did not put-up with one ounce of crap from a parent. And Sherm happened to have been the middle-weight champion in the Navy in 1943, ‘44 and ’45. That is the whole West Coast, folks; that is the United States Navy during World War II. He was one hard, tough S.O.B.
And the guy came in, and he told the secretary: don’t call the cops, but there’s going to be… I am going to take that man apart and don’t come in. And he closed the office door, the secretary heard this commotion, and she heard a lot of falling and yelling. And then Sherm walked out and went: tell him to clean that up before he leaves. You do not ever get in a fight with a guy that knows how to fight, trust me. A boxer: that is a killer. Poor guy: he is still trying to find his teeth, I think.
But anyhow, that was my hero: my Age Group coach hero. And he was a great coach; great coach, because he sold dreams. He was a dream seller.
[Montrella]: Debbie, when you have that kind of a situation—where you are going to lose them at certain part of the time and want to do the best you can—I think you need to consider having two or three parent meetings a season, so that you pick them up from September to December and then January to March and then April to August. And let them know that you are going to do the very best you can in the time that you have them. And you tell them that upfront. And you are only going to have 8-12 weeks; and, you hope, on a regular basis. And you tell them what you think you can accomplish with them. And if they would like to accomplish more, then you invite them to stick-around for the second session from January to March, and so on.
[Meyer]: Yeah. The one I have had a real problem with is… the girl is home-schooled, and she is 11 and mom wants her in the Senior group. Because they do not get enough practice in the hour and a half, and her-
[Jochums]: Debbie, you have heard the famous George Haines story, haven’t you? And it is true. He had an M.D. that kept coming-in to see him because he had read the books and knew everything there was to know about Swimming; he did not think George was doing it the right way. And one day, the guy is washing-up in the morning for an operation, looks next to him and there is George washing right next to him. He says “What are you doing?” He said: I’m going to go in and cut today with you, man. I’ve read a text book and I figured out I can do this as well as you can. I will give the doctor credit: he goes, “I got the message.”
[Meyer]: I am about to do that with this one family. They just… you know, they want the perfect world for their child, which there is not. She had some warts on her hands and some girls… you know, 10 year-old girls make comments, they do; they are that age. And she goes: I want to know what you’re going to do to rectify this situation, as far as no bullying, this stuff and that. I said, “Well, there’s a difference between bullying and ruthfulness.” But they want to know why we cannot see every little nuance that happens with a kid, where someone splashes someone else, etc. And I have already said, “Come to our practice for a day-”
[Jochums]: Um, Jim said it to you already, that there is a time to say: Look, if you don’t want to buy me, that’s fine. Go… but you need to buy another program; see ya. Bye, bye.
[Montrella]: Another thing about the reality of coaching that we all need to recognize, whether we decide to identify it for the parent or not is up to you—but I said this somewhat this morning. Let’s say I have got 20 kids in the group and the practice is an hour long, under the best circumstances I will work with that child for three minutes. If your child does not grasp what I am saying in their three minute period, I am doing the best I can. And I am not going to spend six minutes with child B, and ignore yours; nor am I going to do the reverse of that. They have to understand that; look at the numbers. And it is their responsibility to get their child to listen, not necessarily your reasonability to get their child to listen. It is a partnership, and they have to do their part. And if you are spending six minutes with her, or 12 or 15, then you are ignoring everybody else; maybe they can grasp it that way.
[audience member]: At what age do you recommend that they start using, like, paddles?
[Jochums]: I use hand paddles… I do not use the tube until they get to almost the Senior level. But I use hand paddles that fit the hand—not bigger than the hand.
Fit the hand, you will never have a shoulder problem. In fact, if you are getting sore shoulders… and I pull more than anybody in the country—Sherm pulled… and I pulled more than Sherm, and that took some effort. But very simply, if we start having shoulder problems, we just pulled for form and guess what: shoulder problem went away.
Shoulders [problems] happen when the body comes out-of-line. If you have a bad stroke and you start coming out-of-line, you will have a shoulder problem. And it comes out of swimming when you are over-tired; it does not come-out of pulling, especially if you pull for form. All we had to do is pull for two days of form pulling and the shoulder problems went away. Never had a shoulder problem. We pulled 60% of our workout to start, 40% of the workout all during the season, and 20% of our workout in taper. You cannot pull more than me; it cannot be done. Never had a shoulder problem, ever had a shoulder problem.
A simple answer to the thing.
[Montrella]: Mine might be a little bit different; it might be a lot different. First of all I think hand paddles can be used in lesson programs. I think they can actually learn to swim—learn to swim—as long as there is no fear of the water, they can learn to swim more effectively with hand paddles if they are used 20% of the time during a lesson program. I think they will learn a lot and they will learn it a lot faster. Now, if they have a fear of the water in learn to swim programs, throw that out: forget it, it will not work.
In terms of the size of the hand paddle… and I was kind of surprised about what Dick said. But I know he has a doctorate in his field, I know he knows better. The college kids can handle that kind of pulling. When you are working with young people—and remember I defined that earlier as before they reach their maturational limit—you have got to remember that the size of the paddle may stay the same, but the epiphysis of the bone continues to grow.
The bone growth is the first thing that happens when people are maturing. After the bone growth slows down to stops… the ages very dramatically and the genders do not have a single identity—they are different. Then you lay the muscle tissue down. Bone growth has the most blood available; muscle tissue has the next-most blood available. The last thing that gets any blood—and that is highly questionable, right Coach—ligaments and tendons have little than none. Yet when that bone is growing, ligaments and tendons which are growing slower are getting stretched.
I hate partner stretching, because you are causing a problem with partner stretching: you are causing ligaments and tendons to be stretched beyond their normal maturation rate. The muscle tissue has not even developed and you see people doing partner stretching; it is insanity.
Now, how that relates to a hand paddle. If the paddle gets bigger—because they are older or their hands are bigger—you still have that bone growth and that ligament and tissue growth, but they are happening at different times. So I would put a small pair of paddles on somebody, and I would keep them small until about one year after their maturational growth is just-about topped-out.
So there is a different concept there, but I explained why.
[Jochums]: And one of us is right, and one of us is wrong. You will have to decide.
[Montrella]: That is right—that is exactly right. And that is the beauty of this, because it is a learning process.
[audience member]: I coach 12&Unders. Where is our line drawn when you have a kid that loves Swimming but their parents are forcing them to do multiple sports. Is it our job to step-in, because especially competition-
[Jochums]: 13 [years-old] for a girl, 14 for a boy: it is time to make a decision. That will be forced on them in every sport that they have got. I had no trouble with multiple sports; I had no trouble with three workouts a week. But once you decide… you are going to… you have to decide. 13 for a girl, 14 for a boy; you have to start making a decision.
[audience]: I would like to take it a little further with the question. When the swimmer comes up to you and does not want to do those other sports because they want swimming to be there, is it our job to step-in, talk to parents, because they are communicating to us because they are afraid to communicate with them?
[Jochums]: Yes, it is your job to step-in when the girl turns 13 and the boy turn 14. [laughter] But until then, that is their child. You are adding yourself into the structure of the family when you step-in and start trying to call shots. I think you ought to remember that because that can become very dangerous.
[Montrella]: You are a professional and you need to know you are a professional. And if you have kids of your own, you have got a bonus when you talk to those parents. If you do not, you have talk more carefully—that is just the way it is. Stepping-in and being an advocate, I think is very helpful. But do not ever think that you have any kind of power over the parent: it will never happen.
The best thing you can do is sit down and say, “Miss Jochums, we need to sit down and talk. Do you have time that we could sit over at coke at Denny’s down the street. I would like to talk to about your son.” You have got to get them in an independent location and have a heart-to-heart [talk]. And the heart-to-heart could end-up being that they may need to go somewhere else. But having the heart-to-heart, that educational opportunity, of shared interest, enthusiasm, love for the child’s development, it needs to be a partnership. So you walk that path very careful. But if you are younger and you do not have kids of your own, they already know that they know more than you do, no matter what. Whether they do or not is immaterial. But you can still have that talk; share your experiences as a college athlete, as a club athlete, as an international athlete. But it has to be a partnership, and you have to spin it differently with different people.
[audience member]: Where does kicking come in with you, if you have done that much pulling? Because everything now is telling you have got to kick to finish, cannot finish without kicking. And I go along with the pulling. I just kind of wonder where it fits in your program.
[Jochums]: We had an 800 warm-up—that was my warm-up. Ten minutes. And if they swam 800, they swam 0, made no difference to me; it was the 800 we counted, and we put it on our yard book and then we counted the yards. Then we went to kicking set. And we kicked 50s in the morning and 100s/200s in the afternoon, and we kicked 1,000 yards every workout. Okay? That is where my kicking is coming from. Then we went 200 loosen in the afternoon or 400 long-buster in the morning.
I ran one major set a day, and only one, and it was in the afternoon, never in the morning—that was just me. I had two workouts a day with the Seniors; Age Groupers could not go that until they moved [up]. We never had two-a-days for the little kids, but we had two-a-day for the Seniors. But the major set was always in the afternoon, and the major set was the thing we were going to accomplish that day. It was the most important, and I made all my adjustments off that set. Morning was always strength-building. We pulled, whatever we pulled, and we always finished a little bit of swimming and we got out and went to school. And then came back that afternoon and did the thing we were going to accomplish that day.
And let me add something: if we had a bad workout, that was my problem, that was not the swimmers’ problem. I was to worry about bad workouts; there were to go home and get ready for the next morning workout and put it out of mind, get rid of it. Go to school, decide what they did right or wrong, and then come back the next morning. But I worried about bad and good workouts, kids did not; and it was a plus for me.
[Montrella]: I agree with that. I think we need to program success. Now how we program it, you can see there is a difference here. And the successes have been, I think, really nice for both of us. But somewhere along the line, you program success day after day.
If you know that they can go 50s on 1:10, let them do it. And they are all going to make it. And then the next day or two days or whatever—not too long—let’s go 50s on 1:05. And they have success. And then go on… pretty soon you have got 50s on 45 and some people are failing. (By the way, I was thinking kicking just then, because the question was kicking.) And some of them are going to fail; those ones go back to 50 seconds. And you line-up your lanes by the speed that they are going. It takes longer to get that kind of a structure organized, but it pays dividends because everybody is getting something out of it and they are all having success. But they are also reaching failure.
And you [Jochums] talked about Tim Shaw. Boy, I will tell you, I know for me as a coach, not just one athlete but he has had a lot do the same thing, finding those breaking points, I think are important. You will hear people at this clinic say you do not want them to fail, or you do not want to break them. Excuse me, I want to know where there breaking point is. I want to know where they are going to fail.
And as an example of that, I know that when I convinced people to come to seven-days-a-week—and, yes, we did that—that after three weeks of doubles for five days, singles on Saturday-Sunday, I had over-50% of the team sick. So I knew that three weeks was too far; I broke them. So I went back to two. And then pretty soon you find out where your own personality is, how you design your programs, how much kicking you are doing. You say: where is the breaking point?
Coming back on kicking: I mentioned 20% of each of the three strokes and 40% on freestyle earlier. 25% kick, 25% pull, 25% sprint-type swimming, 25% absolutely aerobic swimming. Those numbers work for me. Would I make changes if I was working with a college athlete? Absolutely. I have made most of my comments aimed at 14&Under—for the most part. I made some big mistakes as a college coach; and I wish I could go back, but I cannot. But that answers your question on kicking: 25% of our work was kicking.
[audience member]: Yeah, I was going back to partner stretching and stressing soft tissue and tendons and ligaments. I found it interesting, because one thing I have had a lot of success with was… and we all have had the kid that is just a breaststroker, there is no up-and-down ankle flexibility/ankle flexion.
[Jochums]: Yeah, the pole vaulters of Swimming.
[audience]: Yeah. And so one thing that I do is I have the kid get out and either myself stretch their ankles, or they sit on the kickboard very gently and kind of rock back. One thing I found that really helps to loosen the ankles up, but from what you’re saying…
[Montrella]: I would continue it, but I would continue it very carefully. Almost to a point of massage, especially with the younger ones.
But (we both know) kicking for breaststrokers: if they kick free and fly, it is boring. It is much worse to watch than to have them do it. But their ankle flexibility will increase. Because most of the flexibility that is going to increase is not at the joint of the bones; it is going to be the length of the Achilles tendon, not at the tendon but the tissue feeding into that tendon. So you are really stretching out the fibers—if you can bring the toes back this way—then you are stretching the fibers of the muscle tissue, not the ligaments or tendons.
[audience]: Is that something you worked on, that kind of stretching?
[Montrella]: We never did… never is a dangerous word. Seldom-to-never was there partner stretching; there was some kind of stretching regularly. But when I say that, it was not for 14&Unders; we did calisthenic exercises at 14&Unders. The college kids, that both of us had the opportunity to work with for a quite a bit of our careers, there was no doubt we needed to stretch.
[audience]: Yeah, I am talking about for 12, 13 to 14 year-olds.
[Montrella]: I would be extremely careful with stretching with that age group. I would never say never, but I would be careful.
[audience]: What would you suggest to increase that ankle flexibility?
[Montrella]: More flutter kicking and more dolphin kicking.
[Jochums]: I agree with everything you just said; that is why I did not have to a dryland exercise. No program. Did not run it; did not stretch; we did not. We got in the water and we were there for two hours, and we got them gone—dinner was going to get cold and I had swimmers that had work to get done. So we did not run it, because it was not….
You have to understand I took… I went to Berkeley to get a doctorate degree and I got forced into two classes with a guy named Franklin Henry. Specificity: that is the only known principle in Physiology—the only proven point. And he is the one that proved it. That man, he was 5’5”; and he did not walk: he slid along walls and then he got in. He was the meekest man you ever want to meet. He got behind his desk in the lecture hall—it was not a little room—and then he started on you: Mr. Jochums, you just said in this paper you just wrote that such-and-such and such-and-such such and such-and-such happens. And I can tell you right now that so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so…—about 100 names—they tell you, you are full of crap. Which is it? He made me sweat into my underwear for one-and-half years; so I believe in specificity. If it is not specific enough, we do not do it. But I know I am a lone ranger on that one. The guy that I trained to coach, the Santa Clara swim coach, I know he is running dryland—shame on him, but he is running it.
(There’s two back there first.)
[audience member]: Can I ask about your experiences with any college-age or Senior athletes. When they have some success, not real success but some—they are on the verge making the team or making the team—then they come back and they are a little-bit too big for the boots. How do you handle that?
[Jochums]: I came to Southern California when Jim was running Southern California Swimming. And the next thing I knew [Mark] Schubert was running it. So I never had any say in Southern California swimming. Jim got me in trouble [for] holding a swim meet in my swimming pool, Belmont Plaza, and we did not enter the meet. And then I had the papers after me, because we took Shaw and Furniss and those guys out and I got nailed big time. But we have been friends since then.
But listen: I sell the dream—and that is what we talked about this morning. Very simply, it is the kid’s trip. And if you have a swimmer that decides there might be an easier way, or he gets a big head or something, you just stand-up to him. There is a right way to do things; and if he is not doing it, as his coach, you have to point it out and you have got to nail.
And very simply: if they are not going to take correction, they need to find another program. I had a rule: if you left me, you would never beat me. In all the years I coached, nobody ever left me and beat me. Now that sounds vicious and it sounds like we were after them, but I believe my program was that good and so did my swimmers. And after the guy transferred programs and found out how much easier that other one was compared to what we were doing, my kids let him have it. You know, a lot of races are won in that ready room, with guys looking at each other and winking at each other and laughing at each other. And if you believe you are going to win a race, you have got a chance to win it; if you do not think you are going to win it, you are never going to win it. So that, in my opinion, is how you treat it.
[Montrella]: I have a question: you said the young man was out of swimming for a while and then came back?
[audience]: No, no; I meant… I said when a college athlete goes away and leaves the team, and then for summer comes back and is just far too big for the boots. Thinks they are the next-best-thing since sliced bread, and trying to sell the dream. I just wondered if you had that experience with your athletes, and how you dealt with that and what you learned from dealing with that.
[Montrella]: I made a commitment this morning which I am sure there are going to be a number of coaches that will be very mad at me, but except for the consistent top-20 in the country at the college level, they are probably not getting enough work. Now my mind is setting, I am thinking collegiately/nationally/internationally now, not 14 and under, so I am going to answer your question related to you.
I believe that you have to ask that athlete a question: What were you doing four years ago? Three years ago? Two years ago? When did this great success take place? Now, what will you be doing the next two years? The answer they are going to figure out, because they will not last more than two years with a volume that is decreasing—they will not make it. Everybody else is increasing volume or increasing intensity, or increasing in some way: knowledge, intellect, whatever it is. Improvement in mechanics, dolphin kicking off the wall, streamlining with the shoulders instead of just the elbows and the wrists; there is always something that they are improving on. Can that kid continue to improve in that area with less volume? That is something the two of you have to figure out. I think the volume has to continue. But it does not mean I am disregarding the rest of it.
[Jochums]: Volume is not measured by yards, folks; not really. Work is equal-to—and the scientist like to say power, but I consider power and work the same word—is equal to yards times the intensity it is done with. The key ingredient is not the yards; it is the intensity that it is swam at.
How many of you get… have sprinters that can even get to a 40-second 10-second heartbeat? Well I tell you right now: not many. My distance kids could get 38, 36. George DiCarlo had a resting rate of 50. Could get to… I saw him at 40 one time. Not the 38, 36; I mean, that is a high-level heart rate. Guess where you race, if you want the gold medal and two guys are tied? And my kids lived there every day, and your kid lives there once a week. Who are you going to bet on? My untalented one or the talent?
Talent is not enough; it has never been enough. But the beautiful thing about Swimming, and the reason we should keep swimmers around longer than we do, is because the untalented keeps the talent honest. Because if the talent is not honest, it gets whipped. Tom Wilkins, my last swimmer, could not find his butt with both hands; you put hand paddles on him, he was the strongest kids I have ever had. Stronger than Shaw, stronger than Fr… strongest kid I have ever had. But he could not find… he came-off an I.M. at Pan Pacs in Australia and took 57 strokes the last 50 freestyle. He went 30.2, and he won the race by-accident because he got far enough out in the breaststroke leg of the I.M. But, you know, we slowed him down, taught him how to swim freestyle and feel water. That is all we did, was technique him. But he had a heart and he had a brain, and he put them together. That is what you are supposed to be training people to do. And that includes Age Groupers; it is not too early for Age Groupers to learn about their brain, how it is tied to the body.
[audience member]: In the earlier session you were saying that you do not like to require practice, such as morning practice.
[Montrella]: If you have the opportunity to have a hammer, meaning that if somebody does not meet a requirement, they have some kind of discipline; then you can have required, because you have discipline for that requirement. In Age Group coaching, you do not have a hammer: the parent will find a reason, the uncle, the aunt, the grandfather, the brother, the sister, the tire fell of the car, whatever it is. You do not have a hammer. So you can have an expectation: I expect you to be here on time; I expect you to learn this in the first 15 minutes, this in the next 15 minutes. We had a land program for 11+12s; it was 30 minutes long, before they got in the water. And then this is what our warm-up is, and then this is what our sets are going to be—kicking, pulling swimming, whatever it is. You tell the parents that in advance: if your child is late, this is what they are going to miss; if they leave early, this is what they are going to miss. So, again, it is the educational things, so you have the expectations.
If anybody is involved in teaching, you know what lesson plans are. We both started-out in education. Boy, I tell you, you got some of those teachers in the old days, everything was to-the-minute on a lesson plan. And when you are being charged by the hour, like Kevin from England, and you are paying $80 equivalency per hour for a lane, you learn to become very effective and efficient and you have an expectation for the use of that money.
So again, the difference between required and expectation is: do you have a hammer. And really, at the college level, we used to have hammers. Not anymore. You do not have hammers at the college level, because the athletic directors are looking at every child worth so much money after graduation and money is where it is going. So it is really hard, even if you have people who are… you have to develop a paper-trail, at the collegiate level, to get rid of somebody. And you better have a good paper-trail. Then you are going to get your job done: you are not going to have any people hanging on and hurting their teammates and hurting the program. But you have got start the trail from day one. Put a file in your top draw and keep them alphabetized so you can pull them out as you need them.
[Jochums]: I never had a required workout, unless you told me you wanted something. I want an Olympic medal. Then those words were going to come back and haunt you if you missed a workout. I mean, it is really simple: you pledged to yourself and if you let yourself down, you have to have a consciousness. You as a coach, you are the consciousness. And it is called the truth: you just tell the person the truth. If they do not like the truth, they can leave. I had no such thing as a required workout/mandatory workout—none of that crap.
[inaudible audience question on parent meetings]
[Jochums]: Parent meeting: I had one year. And my office was always open, and they could call me. You have already—I believe—if you were there for the last session, you heard how I handled phone calls. For every hundred, there was one that was valuable. But I listened to them all, said I would take care of it, put the phone down, said a dirty word about them, and I got complimented. Within two days, they would say hey coach, thanks for making the change; I had not done a damn thing. Okay?
But parents… I love the little execs, especially in Silicon Valley. In Santa Clara, you know, they are high-tech folk, and they have answers for everything. They just did not have an answer for me.
Let me tell you what they said about me—I heard it over and over again. They would be talking… two parents would be talking, they said: “We hate the S.O.B., but my kid loves him. What are we going to do?” Well your client is not the parent; the parent is just a money bank that pays to let the kid come in.
And I understand parents because I was one. I am the guy… when my boy went and played his first football game as a freshman, and they did not play him and they were doing the quarterback-drop on the other side and they did not even put him in the game; I met that coach at the 50-yard line. I was one of those, that I hate. But I did notice that next time I came to a game, as I came in the fence they ran him on; so it worked. If it works, parents are going to bug you; if it does not work, they leave you alone.
[Montrella]: What was the question again?
[audience]: What would be your expectations, like you have said, if there was a requirement. But how do you communicate that to the parent?
[Montrella]: You also mentioned something about email and texting and so on? Okay, keep in mind that I do not email, I do not have texting—I have a flip phone, I am still learning how to use it. I answer telephone calls—I am really good at returning calls. And I think I am good… not letters; but if I get a letter, I will make the call and we will meet. I find time to go one-on-one. And, quite frankly, I think I am really good at that.
I think, again, falling onto education. I had one meeting a year, way back when. And then I bumped to two: one at the beginning of the short-course season. Which for us started, back in the old days, in September; sometimes November, because we played water polo for eight weeks or so—would I do that today: hell no. And then we had one at the beginning of the long courses. When I went to help-out at Mission Viejo after collegiate coaching for years, I broke it down to three different seasons: one in September, one late-December/early-January, and then one just before the long course season. And I had the kids there.
The first meeting, and this is something that I do not know that you can get away with it, but you look like you are old enough you could—do you have children? (Good, good.) You get the parents there and you get the kids. And have the kids in the front row: do not let them sit in the back row. Kids in the front row, parents in the back row. And this worked for me, at that time of my life. And I just said… first I was introduced, and then I said “You have to understand, I feel really sorry for every one of you.” And I explained that I had not coached Age Group for thirty years, and they are going to be saddled with a coach who has no Age Group experience for the last thirty years. But I did have some collegiate experience and a little bit at the world level. And, unfortunately, I am going to have the same expectation for your son and daughter: I am going to be thinking of them as though they are 18 to 26/28. And that is really tough, because here these poor kids are as 11-year-olds. And you are going to have help interpolate what I am saying to them, and you are going to have to understand: where will your child be in four years. And I said this, this morning: do they have a retirement program; are they thinking 30-years out? If they are not, they are in real trouble. Where will their child be? Are they going to save for their child’s education.
So I could say those things… (and I am kind of boring you by going into that much detail). But the concept of education was there constantly, and that made my job a lot easier. The one thing I have to mention, that made it even easier, is at Mission Viejo we had—I cannot remember the instructor’s name that we had there for years, the novice coach—Krista, and then Siga, and then Bev coached 9+10s, and then I got 11+12s. I had an easy job: I had three world-class coaches who had these kids before I ever got them. So it was easy. You will have to work harder to get away with that. But the concept of constant education and looking long-term can help.
[Jochums]: Uh folks, it is almost 4:20 and we are on overtime here. So anybody that feels obligated to ask a question, I think Jim and I would be glad to sit here and answer any questions you have, but you are not obligated to show courtesy to us any longer. You can flip us off now. [laughter] Okay?
[audience member]: For Jim. You just were talking about Mission Viejo, and I saw you on-deck at Mission Viejo after many years of not coaching Age Group. And those kids were falling all over you like they could not get enough of you. They were coming to you before every race, after every race, in between, having snack-time with their parents—I do not even know if they ever saw their parents. But the last thing I remember, when I swam for you, was you swatting Clay with a kickboard. So what are you doing… are you doing anything different with the Mission Viejo kids?
[Montrella]: Um, the Mission Viejo kids were a whole lot younger than you and Clay. I remember grabbing Clay by the shirt and literally knocking him over a bench. But you also remember that I bailed some people out of jail, and Clay was one of them. And Clay is one of the finest coaches in the country today and an excellent business man. Majored in architecture, but he got back into coaching.
So, you know, you cannot beat kids up. Things even… even saying things that would be considered questionable then, today would you get you arrested. You have to be careful putting your arms around kids. My God, you put your arm around one of the boys and say “We need to talk”; and depending on who is looking at and going to interpret that, you are in deep trouble before you even get started. So you have to have somebody else there: Dick, come with me; we need to talk with this kid. So nothing is different; maybe a little more patience.
[audience member]: I was waiting for you guys to talk a little bit about how you guys… like how exactly you guys went into program designs, your season plan. Because you have got different coaches… like just so over there, I was listening to the [Jon] Urbanchek and [Dave] Salo talk; and the difference between those two was like night and day as far as Urbanchek has every minute planned out, whereas Salo does not have a workout planned before he gets onto the pool deck. So I was wondering you know as far as your guys’ program design goes, do you guys follow the way ASCA sets-it-out with the energy systems and how to push them, or….
[Jochums]: So, yeah, I have workouts and I know what I am going to do. Kids know what I am going to do, basically. By the third week, they know what is coming, every day. It is a guess the first week; the next week they are down… it is two-out-of-three, it can be; and by the third week, they know what exactly what is coming. Boredom is not part of my game; this is a total ego game and variety has no place in it in my mind. (Of course, I have been married for 48 years and I have had no variety in my life. [laughter]) But I had a planned workout.
And David [Salo] is not telling you the truth, if he tells you he makes his workout up as he goes on the deck. Dave wrote… this new theory on… what I am understanding/hearing from a lot of coaches, is that there is a new guru in physiology that is preaching stuff that has already… folks that has already been done and tried all over the country and all over the world. David wrote the first book called Sprint Salo. Read it and what he talks about is right, he just did not understand. Physiologically, Sprint Salo is absolutely right on. The problem is, is there is this thing between the ears that is a key to sport, a key to athletics and a key to life; and you have to train that also and you cannot do that just sprinting. You have got to train it with some background, with some pain.
Pain is the name of the game; Swimming is about pain. To win a race, it hurts; especially if the other guy does not want you to win. You know, in all the years that I have coached—probably Jim has seen more, but—I have only seen three or four really-good races. What I see is: you get to the point, all of a sudden you know who is going to win, who is going to get 2nd and who’s going to get 3rd. They have made-up their mind during the race: who is going to get 1st, who is going to get 2nd and 3rd.
Every once in a while you find two guys who go at each other, Debbie Meyer had that problem with a girl named Vicky King. And Vicky King touched 2nd three straight times by less than a tenth-of-a-second. Vicky King was out of swimming the next year. And Debbie set the World Records and Vicky King did not get the World Records. Louisville, Kentucky.
But you know what: that is why you do not train your good against your good all the time. Boy, I had a kid named Furniss and I had a kid named Shaw–both pretty good. Shawn was the tough one; Furniss was the weaker of the two, Furniss was the better. I split them as soon as I saw Shaw decide he was going to win every workout. I did not let them train… one was in lane 8, one was in lane 1, and I stopped training them together. And I ended up with two great ones; whereas I could have ended up with one great one. And the guy that got me my first gold medal was Bruce not Tim, so it was a good call on my part.
[Montrella]: Similar to Urbanchek, I have got a plan and it is a four-year plan. And then I back-up. In other words, if we know… and whether it be college… now this is collegiate-age, this is not 14&Under/16&Under. You can do that with those kids; it is just how you do it. I mentioned S.T.P. earlier—probably will not get to it now. But again the concept of here is where I’m going, and I back-up and figure out how I am going to get there. If I am going to New York, there is a lot of variety about how I can get to New York. How long is it going to take? How I am going to get there? And you back it.
If you do not have a Plan A, it is hard to go to Plan B, C or D. And, quite frankly, you have Plan A and if that is not working, you go to plan B. But have a plan. And then the other thing is, as Dr. Jochums knows and Dr. Salo, there is a thing called statistics. And if you can get a 5% variance, then it is pretty significant; 10% is very significant. And if you had statistics at the collegiate level, you know what I am talking about.
I feel I need to measure things as constantly as possible. His main sets were always measured—always. Everything we did, I measured. If I did not control the variables, I would not know what to change next. If I have a potpourri of variety and make-it-up as I go, how do I know at the end of the season what was successful and what was not? I need to measure success, and if I keep track of everything then I will be able to go back and say, “Boy did I really screw up here” or “Wow, this worked”. And then you try to make fewer mistakes.
And that is one thing beautiful, I think, about the [World] Clinic. Because when you get to where we are, the reality is not what we know, it is: can you learn from our mistakes. And if you have got the courage to ask the question of what mistakes did you make?, you will learn a hell of a lot more. But if you are not courageous enough to ask that question, you are going to repeat the same mistakes we made.
[Jochums]: Too many of us only learn from mistakes, and you have got to learn from both wins and losses. The best magazine ad campaign ever was Volkswagen; probably none of you have seen it. But it used to have a Bug and then it will say the year of Bug. And they would have one next to it and it was another Bug, and they were identical if you looked at them. And the ad always said 32 improvements. There is no such…
Did we have set workouts for four straight years, which is called the Olympiad? The Olympiad is training, but you adjusted each year. At the end of year, I wrote a paper on what I did well, a page on what I did wrong; I read them for two days, and then tore them up and threw them away. I filed nothing because I was dealing with new people each day, let alone each year.
But we made changes. From when I started my program until I retired, I will bet you that it looked a lot different. It did not look any different to me—that is my program—but I did make adjustments. When I made mistakes, I corrected them; when I had good things, I put pluses. But I continue to develop and adjust to the athletes in the water; that is what you have to do. That is what programs do. There is no one way to do anything.
As I said before, you have got to learn to tell somebody the same thing at least four different ways. Otherwise, you are not… you are only going to communicate with 25% of your people. People are grouped into those four groups, that the insurance people and the sales people know. So you got to say the same thing, four different ways; it will solve a lot of problems for you. You say it the first three ways and you look at the people, and all of a sudden: oh! That is how you communicate.
[Montrella]: Thank you all very much. [applause]
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