Team Coaching of a Senior Group by John Ogden (2008)


Coming here, I was trying to determine which room I would be speaking in. I sat in this room when Bob Bowman was giving his talk and I asked the coach sitting next to me “where is this room, is it upstairs in the sky box?” and he says, “no dude – it is right here” and this is my first talk with ASCA and I said, “oh my God.” I called my wife up and I said “I think there are 700 seats in the room for my talk.” She responded “don’t worry honey, they won’t fill them up – don’t worry, it can’t be as bad as your first parent’s meeting at YNS.”

For 19 years I coached at Glens Falls YMCA. I built the team from 36 kids to 130 and my parent meetings were probably like most of yours with 20 or 30 parents who show up and do all the work. Everything is rosy and they lead the way. At YNS I had 600 swimmers and we had to put the meeting in the gym. We have a double gymnasium at the Sterling Center and my assistant director set it up for the parents’ meeting on a Sunday afternoon during my first week. I pulled into the parking lot and I thought there was a basketball game going on, I had 400 parents at my first parents’ meeting. So I was kind of ready for that, after I was introduced and I did my spiel about what I wanted for the team. I was very passionate and about 20 minutes later when I finished I asked if there were any questions? Nobody raised their hand, so I took my binder, slapped it shut and said “see ya later.” Before I got out the door I heard “wait, wait – we’ve got questions”, I left 2 ½ hours later.

The topic for today is Team Coaching a Senior Group and when you get a guy like me up here you wonder “what’s he doing there?” So I want to give you a little bit about my personal background and how I ended up in swimming. I swam for Bonaventure University. I never swam age group. I started when I was a sophomore in college and the only reason I did it was because I was cut from the basketball team at Bonaventure. I was a white guy who wore ankle weights and I could jump, but I wasn’t very fast. When I got cut from the team I was the last guy cut and I was in physical education and our chairman said “John, you have to do a varsity sport.” He also happened to be the swim coach and he needed some bodies. I could do a breaststroke kick. He said, “come on out for the team.” I said coach, “I don’t know anything about swimming” and he says “well, I will have one of my swimmers show you.” So they put me in the pool and for my freshman year I learned how to rotary breathe, flip turn and do a bad imitation of butterfly. The coach gave me workouts to do over the summer and said “come back in September and come and swim with us.”

So I got up to 2,000 yards in two hours at the Glens Falls Y and I think I am ready to go. The first day of practice at St. Bonaventure with Coach Skehan we went 6,000 yards. The only thing I remember is thinking about being in a washing machine. At the end of practice I drank about 5 gallons of water. Now I am a land guy, I was not a swimmer. You know, I had no feel for the water. The flip turns I learned, well forget about it after the first 100 I am dying and these guys are laughing like nobody’s business. I said to the coach after practice “you know coach this is not for me, I am sorry. I gotta go and do cross-country or something.” He says, “just give it one more day, just go one more day.” Coach Skehan was a great motivator. It was a non-scholarship team and I said “okay” as he is kind of reminding me that I have to have a sport.

I go in the locker room, first day of practice. I walk in and the Captain of the team, John Martin, was a butterflyer. Back in the 70’s, he was built like butterflyers, this big, wide guy who was just built. He takes me by the neck, slams me up against the lockers and says “what are you doing here, you are a disgrace.” I am thinking why does this guy have me up against the locker? After he sets me down and I get dressed and I got a little nervous, but you know I had been in tougher scrapes before so that day I made my decision to make the team. I am going to show him. I am a stubborn Type A obsessive-compulsive idiot so I said okay I am going to come back and I am going to do it. Two years later I set the school record in the mile and just from being a Type A guy and hard work and you just kept on going. To this day when I swim Masters the other guys look at me and I still do not have a feel for the water. I had a lot of fun and getting ready to graduate I had a great swimming job. I was getting engaged, two weeks outside of college graduation I get a phone call from the school administrator and they pulled the job on me. They hired a fellow coming home from the Vietnam War to take my job, so I didn’t have a job. I graduated from college with school loans and back in ‘75 there were no teaching jobs and never mind about coaching jobs. I had developed a love for the sport. I wanted to coach swimming and the powers that be just wouldn’t let me do it so I ended up working at Radio Shack and doing some kitchen cabinet sales.
I am a Type A guy and I played hard and I worked harder and I played harder. I got into a situation where I was a full-commissioned salesman for years and the three Martini lunch was popular and the Friday afternoon drinking. I turned it into Thursday to Wednesday to Tuesday to Monday and pretty soon I was drinking breakfast and I was a full-blown alcoholic. I watched the Seoul Olympics in Korea on TV. Right after the Olympics I had a doctor’s appointment and he brought me in and he said, “you have a year and a half to live.” I had jaundice in my eyes. I weighed 250 pounds. I had a full beard and hair down to the middle of my back and I said, “O.K., whatever” and I went to the bar. I had blown through two marriages. I didn’t see my oldest boy for 3 ½ years. On April 25, 1989 I got sober. That is another whole story I can tell you if you got time later on. By some miracle, two weeks later I saw an ad in a local paper for a part-time swim coach at the Glens Falls YMCA. Now mind you I still had DT’s. I locked myself in my apartment for almost two weeks without coming out, which I shouldn’t have done, and you know coming off any kind of drug or alcohol addiction you physically wreck your body. I did that on my own. Again, you know Type A stubborn guy and so I was doing okay, one day at a time and went to AA for a while. AA wasn’t doing it for me. I went to AA and I didn’t really like coffee at the time and I was listening to some stories and I see the high rollers in my community there and I just didn’t understand why they went to the meetings. I know now, but I didn’t understand at the time.

So I started the part-time coaching job. I had to quit my other job to get sober because I had to stay away from that environment. I interviewed with the swim coach in his apartment. He was a full-time coach, not part-time coach named Doug Gross. He was great guy and a great mentor. I am shaking during the interview, not as bad as I am shaking right now, but he hired me because I was the only body that came and applied for the job. I showed up on deck in a six lane, 25 yard pool with a flannel shirt on and long jeans and the pool was 90 degrees and I was cold. I came every day, but he paid me for Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. I said, what about Monday, Wednesday and Friday and he said, well, I don’t have any money in the budget. I said, “I’ll do it for free.” I just had to stay out of the bar so on went my life. What happened was every day I went to practice and that saved my life, so I am going to tell you guys thank you for saving my life because swimming did literally save my life.

My earliest coaching influence was the 1989 ASCA clinic. Now here, I am sober three months and Doug says, let’s go to ASCA. So now I am going to a coaching clinic? Okay great, I am into it. We get down there and it was right across the bridge from the “Three Rivers Stadium” in Pittsburgh. We check in and he didn’t know that I had a problem at the time and he said, “let’s go to the bar.” It was my first experience sitting there with all of you guys and everybody is drinking up and I am having a coke and I am dying. I am 5 months sober. I see Doc Counsilman sitting and I think he was in a wheel chair at the time, so I went over to talk to him for a while and Doug couldn’t believe that I went up and talked to Doc. He said “what are you doing?” Well, I am going to say hello to Doc because my coach knew Doc and we knew him when I was swimming. I talked to him and the point was that ever since then I have been coming to clinics and I am not afraid to walk up to the Joe Bernals and the Bob Bowmans of the world to start a conversation, even when I was a very inexperienced coach. I by far do not know everything there is to know and I never will, but you know when you have questions, just ask them. The best time to get them is when they are walking down the hallway and just walk with them. This is the only business that I have ever been in or been associated with where you can talk to the top. I am a Yankee fan and the analogy is where I can talk to Joe Torre, but Joe Girardi now. Imagine being a little league coach, being able to talk to the manager of a professional team and that is what we can do on a daily basis if we want.

So my education was as a coach, assistant age group coach for two years. Glen Falls had to hire a coach because Doug went off and got another job and I said, “I’ll do it.” I was more than happy to do it, morning practices. I was making $3,500 a year. I went back and got another sales job, but I built all my part-time jobs around the Y and coaching. So, I had to limit myself from my real money-making jobs so I could still do the coaching because I knew that that was the key to my sobriety. It actually still is, I replaced my bar time with pool time and my obsessions. I was really good at drinking and if I could be as good at coaching as I was at drinking I think I will have a pretty good career. Some experience for you guys, I have been a high school coach, I have been a college coach all at the same time. I have been doing the age group thing, so over the course of my career in Glens Falls, New York I did a number of different coaching gigs and my swimmers went to all the big meets. I haven’t had a swimmer go to the Olympics yet, but pretty soon.

When I came to YNS I really didn’t interview for the job, because the interviews were done when I was having colon cancer surgery. It was malignant and little did I know that my team was at a meet at this pool. It was the first time that we were going to the Massachusetts Shore and Kevin Trow was the coach and he invited me out there and I had to have emergency surgery to take out a tumor the size of a grapefruit. It was malignant and everything went great with my surgery, but the important thing for my coach education was that I had to send the college coach I was working with at the time with my team. My two part-timers had families and couldn’t go. It was the first time my team was without me, 99% best times. They rocked the house and I just knew that I had been training them to swim on their own to do their own warm-ups for years. It proved to me that they could do that. I wasn’t feeling too good about it and I said wow, I got a little pride or ego thing going in there, they went really fast without me. Maybe I shouldn’t go to the next meet, but I did and they kept getting better and it was an awesome experience for me.

At YNS, I have a contract with them. I was very happy in Glens Falls. When I went to YNS I knew it was a big team. They told me 400+ swimmers and you got a coaching staff and you swim out of three or four pools. I went to interview with the CEO, not the executives, I don’t answer to any execs only the CEO. I interviewed for the job. I had some great ideas and I was ready to roll. I came to New England and I had a map of where I was going to be. We have 6 YMCA’s that are part of my association on this one team. These six pools are probably within 15 miles of each other. I am going to take my senior group and train them all at once all together. Everything is going to be great and we are going to march up to greatness. When I got there I found out that to get from Marble Head to Beverly on the North Shore of Massachusetts takes about 45 minutes to go 5 or 6 miles, so that idea went out the door. I have been there two years and this September we started the concept of team coaching our senior group.

This was a big reach for us because I had been used to having two or three assistants and doing all the senior coaching myself. My assistants were very good, but they were not totally involved. They were part-timers, just keeping up the staff as we went along. In Glens Falls I called it a strong head coach format and it worked great for me. I am a control freak so it even worked better for me. Now I had to do something that I never even had conceived of, I had to allow 8 or 9 coaches to take part in coaching 82 kids in the senior group. I coach 82 kids and we use three of the training facilities. We use two 6 lane, 25 yard pools and my home base is an 8 lane, 25, 6 lane 50 meter pool. That is why I am in New England. I have an indoor 6 lane 50 meter pool and that is sweet by the way. I have tremendous support from the YMCA. This is not like your typical Y. I am sorry if you got some Y guys in here, but these people are committed to competitive sports. My title is Head Swim Coach and Director of Competitive Aquatics. I run water polo, synchronized swimming, and Masters swimming. I have a full time office staff and like I said, I have 34 swim coaches. We have two water polo coaches now, 6 synchronized coaches and 5 Masters Coaches that I personally supervise and administer. I am a swim coach and that is my love and that is my passion. I had to go from a centralized planning thinking that I know, to these new logistics and the travel time.

The team infrastructure when I got there was that the six sites, five sites at the time, were like little fiefdoms with a head coach and a team. When there is one team just because they put their cap on. They were all red caps so the team looked like a team only because they wore the same color cap. The kids didn’t know each other. We couldn’t get into half of the New England meets because we are such a big team. If you invite us to the meet then the meet is full. We had to get rid of the fiefdom and become a team and we had to do that by modeling ourselves in a business fashion. I took all the top people in each of the sites and I took away their title, head coach, and they were called site coordinators. Beside that title, site coordinators, some were senior coach or age group coach and they had a choice of what they wanted to do. They didn’t lose any money, but we got into a group. Some of them went along with it, but the ones that didn’t go along with it are no longer working with me. It is a shame, but you know, you have decisions to make in your career and when you have a vision and a desire to pursue excellence, then everybody has got to be on the same train. If they aren’t, they have to get off at the next station and they did.

Eight or nine coaches sat down and we started looking at the strengths of each individual coach. One guy loved to do distance and he was like me, we both had hammers and we would just go cranking. The other coaches wanted to be involved. They didn’t have a lot of experience, but they were very good with that age group – 15 – 16 – 17 – 18 year old kids so I took some and let them stay in the senior group. They gave me the hours they could work. So, we started out by taking three sites with 80 kids and divided them into the senior group 1, 2 and 3. Senior 1, the goals are making the Olympics and to get a NCAA D1 scholarship which are very lofty goals. They practice anywhere from 8 to 10 times a week. The senior 2 group, they want to be the senior 1 guys, basically. They practice 6 to 8 times a week. The Senior 3 group was a new group that we formed and we call that the high school training group with kids that swim high school and did not have any loftier expectations than being a really good high school swimmer. They wanted to be part of our team. They wanted to participate, but they only wanted to come three or four days a week. When I first got to YNS, all these kids that were on that group were quitting because the expectation was six days a week. The coach says you gotta come six or you are not going to get any better. I sat down with them and I asked a couple of them “what do you need?” They said, “we want to come three or four days a week and during high school practices get better.” I said “you know, you are not going to really have big gains” and they didn’t really care. It was only about 14 kids, but they paid full money. They can come as many times as they want. They can come ten times a week if they wanted to. Last year was the best percentage of attendance and best times, our Senior 3 training group.

It was you know, the attitude and they trained together in the same pool with three different workouts and actually a little bit more because depends on what we are doing meters or yards and depends on how many staff I have on deck. I generally have 3-4 coaches on deck and they each have the flexibility to work with what group they want to on any given day. We will stand at the end of the pool during warm-up and if I had a really bad morning practice because I run mornings and I don’t really want to deal with the top guys again, I am going to say “I am going to Senior 3 today.” Then one of the other coaches will say I will take the one group and the other coach will take the two group. When this first started I took the kids and I sat them down and I explained the problem. We have a logistical issue, okay? I am going to bring you together three days a week out of six. The best kids are going to train together three days. We are going to offer it three times. The three sites all were doing the same practice, three different workouts, nine coaches with three coaches at each site. I had to sell every kid. I sat down with every one of them, either one-on-one or in small group situations to explain to them what we were doing. They had to buy into the fact that no coach owned them. They own themselves and we work together and this is only 15 year-olds and older.

So we put all the kids in one site and I will never forget the first week of practice. Senior National kids had to go over to Ipswich to train. It is not a bad idea for these kids who are used to training at Sterling, which is a beautiful pool, to go to Ipswich. It is a big step down with 6 lanes 25 yards and crowded and you can’t breathe. I put all those older kids over there with that staff and something happened. They started training out of their minds. Any time the change of the rotation of the coaches allowed us to have more than two eyes on an individual swimmer at any point during the season. Now remember I have to check my ego at the door, okay? And you have to make sure the people working for you are as good or better than you are and as I was training them I made sure of that and I will explain that tomorrow. We had to give them the opportunity to go to big meets, we rotate our National staff. We had to give them the opportunity to coach on deck on a regular basis and to work with the different kids on a regular basis.

The one problem, I know what you are thinking, the one problem is well what about Suzy who says when I am working on her breaststroke in-sweep and Coach Matt talks to her, well John said this. I sat the kids down and explained “don’t ever do that” because I ran into it when we first got out there. Three different coaches would be on deck and the kids would be playing one coach against the other. Well you have got to remember, I have blown apart two families. I have been divorced twice. I know how kids play mom against dad so that is old news to me and I wouldn’t let them do it. Every kid has a YNS drill book. There is a book that we hand out to every coach with the same drills for all the sites and all the kids. The coaches have some flexibility on the training plans. You don’t have to do everything we say. Coach Matt here in the front just went to Harvard and he left my team. I will talk about that tomorrow, about training great coaches to make great decisions in their lives. When Matt had the group – I would give him a workout and Matt was just so passionate about it he would just get crazy and just do something, the same aerobic or anaerobic work, but a phenomenally different and creative set. The kids always love Coach Matt’s workout, whatever group he is working with. They are doing the same yards per minute and working just as hard, but he worked at it. He got creative and it was an awesome experience for him. First of all, for me to let him do that and second of all, for the return we got from all the athletes willing to work with us and get better.

I lost some kids. I lost my best swimmer last year starting out with this concept and it was pretty hard to do. She was Junior National level backstroker, IMer, good kid, but she didn’t want to get involved with the process that we were doing. We had a lot of meetings with mom and dad and we parted ways semi-amicably. She is happy where she is today and that is fine. I had to make a decision that we were going to be a team, no matter how big we are because I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t break up the group and say I want to take these 200 kids and I will see you later. I have all the of administrative support and money from this situation, but the problems you run into when you get to senior swimming is, and it is a nice problem to have, your staff has to know what they are doing. You cannot have an assistant coach standing behind you on a pool deck when you are running practice with a group of 30 or 40 people. If those assistant coaches are not fully, the word this week is integrated, if they are not fully integrated in your practices, don’t pay him. Tell them to go away. Our coaches get fully integrated you know. We have only been doing this for just about a year and we have to work very hard at it. We have got some great results. We always tell the kids you get different speak from different coaches, which is human nature, I give them the analogy of playing golf. When I am playing golf you know, one guy says, “gee John you would do better if you grip the club like this” and the other guy says, “well move your hand over this way” and the other one says, “move your hand over that way.” Those three different things work. I say to the kids try all three and whatever one works for you make it yours and use it. Take part in your own coaching development, in your own development. They have to do that and what happens to them is they take full ownership of it and they do take ownership because we make them.

I make them take ownership through a lot of things, the hammer thing. We do the hammer. I have one coach who is my hammer guy on Monday and Wednesdays. He gets in there and they just hate him, and I am standing on the same deck. I am still mentoring the program, but I am working with the Senior 2 group and I am kind of giggling because they are just getting crushed. They are going 8300 yards or this summer it was 8300 meters in two hours and the next day we go yards and I’ve got them doing an IM set or a stroke set and we are going 7500 yards and they think it is easy in two hours. This is the perception versus the reality. The reality is we had to make some major changes because necessity is the mother of invention. You know, two years ago I would have bet against this and I would have said “you are out of your mind.” There is no way my swimmer is going to buy into listening to Joe Coach tell him how to finish his breaststroke kick snap a certain way or another idea if John is not telling me how to do it. I had to talk to the parents too. I told them this is a new concept. Probably some of you guys already do this, but to me it was brand new and we really jumped on board.

We brought the coaches in and the development of the ideas we got from the coaches was phenomenal. My coaches were seeing some stuff in my swimmers that I had never even seen, wow. It always reminded me on deck when I was at Juniors or Y Nationals and I would grab a coach and say “Joe, look at that swimmer what do you think?” And Joe would come up with “he is not setting his hands out far enough” or something like that. It is like having a guest coach every day, but they see these coaches all the time. And you know one of the coaches on staff is a contributor, a conditioning expert who writes for Splash magazine. I have a Sports Psychologist who is one of my assistant coaches. I have three parents and they have been de-briefed. Do you know what de-briefed is? That is when you come into my office and you are not a swim parent any more so you can’t really socialize with your fellow swim parents. There is in-the-stands talking and there is deck talk. In the stands when the parents are bad-mouthing all your turn work and the starts and the kids aren’t doing this and that. My coaches who are parents cannot go in the stands anymore. They cannot be a part of that. They have to separate themselves and it was hard for some of them because they were friends and I said “here is the deal, just don’t talk swimming with them” so they do a great job with that.

The staff is right into it and we are rolling along and all of a sudden we have some meets coming up; now the problem is they all want to go the meet. I have got nine coaches that want to go to the same meet so we started rotating them out so a lot of them could go. I have them all go to the invitational US meets, locally in New England, their choice and then they can pick and choose what team travel meets they would like to go to and that worked out pretty good. We rotated out I think about seven or eight coaches – I think all nine rotated out this year between Spring and Summer Nationals. The results so far, what we have done for the last year, we have broken 20 senior team records in 11 months, both relays and individual events. 16 swimmers have been Y All-Americans, two qualified for the Junior National summer meet and those two also qualified for the short course senior meet. This was a team that was known as a medium fast team or a big, medium fast team. The level of expectation and excellence for the senior swimmers was whatever they got. A goal meeting would be, “I want to do better on my flutter kick.” That would be their dream in a goal meeting. This past year I took their goals away from them and I made my goals their goals and now when we have a goal setting this coming year we are going to see a little bit different attitude and it already is. I mean, it is just phenomenal.

Q: How many times do you meet with the staff?

A: The day before I came here we were supposed to meet for 45 minutes, it ended up being 2 ½ hours because we started talking about LZR suits. My staff is fully connected with what is going on in the world and they have to know when they talk to parents, because you know I let them talk to parents. They do two things. They cannot say, in my opinion, to a parent You cannot say to a parent “well in my opinion, I think it is X” without fully knowing the answers as an assistant coach. The correct response is, “in my opinion I think it is X, but let me check and I will get back to you, for sure” and find out from the parent and give them the right information. Probably every 3 ½ to 5 ½ weeks, depending on the holiday season they have to go to training. They have to go to these clinics, like our big clinic is the Eastern States in New Jersey. We generally take 20 coaches at least. I think last year it was 25. We pay for that, the USA part of the team pays for that. You know, after the first year of coaching with me you have to have your USA certification and your Level I. By the time you have finished your second year with me you have to have Level II done or you are out of a job. On your anniversary date you have to have your Level II or you cannot work for me. The third year you have to have your Level III done. Now, we reimburse them. It is an online test, but what it does is they have to be members of ASCA. What it does is that it keeps them abreast of everything that is going on. I had two text messages from two of my assistant coaches in the younger groups and they passed their Level I test with two hours to spare from their anniversary date and they are saying YES, we are still employed. My staff is very passionate. They are totally involved, even if they are working three hours a week or if they are working 20 hours a week because we pay attention to everybody, especially their ideas.

We will use their ideas and I will pick on Coach Matt here. Coach Matt, he has been with me two years. In his first year he was kind of standing behind the coaches and I saw this bright young guy and I said, “you know let’s be better than this” and I just I just gave him a little jump start and he took off. Talk about drive, determination and passion, he is gone. I mean he would be in the stratosphere. He just was in the Fellows Program this week. All my staff is not at his level, but they are close, they are close.

Q: How do you manage swim meets?

A: What happens is I am a real traditionalist. I like to watch every race eight years old and up. When I go to a meet that is a combined meet, morning and afternoon, I am there the whole time and it wasn’t until I got to YNS that I actually missed a race. I had 18 or 19 years and I was pretty proud of it you know, I would time my bathroom breaks in between the kids not swimming. Now, with this team, forget it. I brought a highlighter in to highlight the meet program, right? Like I always did, my first meet at YNS and one of the coaches leaned over to me and he says, “Coach just highlight the ones that aren’t our swimmers it is a lot easier, a lot less yellow.” How am I going to take a bathroom break? That lasted about two months and then I caved and I missed a race. But you know, the kids will go to the coach they are comfortable with. I mean it is amazing.

We have a pre-race talk and a post-race talk, but with the staff on deck you know we are not messing around in the hallway. We are on deck. We are having a discussion about the swimmer as they swim. So two or three kids are in the water and we are saying “look at this turn” or “oh my God, da a da” and it is common knowledge with all of us so when the kid gets over there they are going to hear the same speech from any one of us. To speak with the senior kids is also listening because I expect the senior kids to come over and say, boy I really missed that third turn. Boy, my middle 50 was terrible wasn’t it, middle hundred had to be slow right? They have to start talking to us before I say a word to them, as a rule. They have to take ownership and most of the time I am just sitting there going yeah, right, right go warm-down remember to practice. Make a little note to practice. The next day at practice or the next week they are hey, what are you doing? I thought you knew your turns were just sloppy, now is the time to make them better in practice.

It is a learned experience as far as deck coaching goes. We will talk more about that tomorrow. I think deck coaching is a skill, meet deck coaching is a skill because you can watch a kid swim and if you don’t look at the clock sometimes and you can watch them swim and say boy they are really going well. A lot of times I will leave my watch in my pocket and I won’t take splits and I like to watch rhythm. I like to watch how their hips are in the water and bring those (observations) back to my practices. If I get too involved in splits, remember I am Type A and I am obsessive-compulsive, I will get on that too much. I have learned that over the years. It is okay to put the watch away, except when relays come up then I am out of sight crazy. The staff does a great job with it. It is a continual experience.

Remember I am dealing with 8 people that before this year would stand behind at practice and one of the coaches would turn around and say go ahead, run the kick set. I am not talking about running up and say okay “Jan is going to walk up and we are going to go ten 100’s kick on 1:30.” That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about getting down on the deck, getting down on your haunches. I am going to fall down if I do it like this, but getting down here and talking to that group, explaining to that group what they are doing and why we are doing it. Tell them what the focus is and then during the set talk to every kid. Eddie Reese a long time ago said, “hit every kid twice during a workout and you will be doing a pretty good job.” It is very hard to do. We demand our coaches talk to every kid in their training group at least twice “hi Bob,” “nice job Jimmy,” “get a better streamline.” All the kids want is somebody that knows they are integrated in the practice. They want to know that. If you can’t, if your coaches can’t do that, send them to clinics so they get pumped up and get a little passion going on. They have to love it; if they love it just half as much as I love it, we are in great shape.

Question? How do you handle dry-land?

A: Well I have a strength and conditioning guy, he writes for Splash magazine. He comes in twice a week. So he comes in a half an hour early and he puts them through a workout you can’t believe. We started using ab rollers this summer and he couldn’t do the dry-land, so I took over the dry-land this summer and they are all expecting, well John doesn’t do dry-land. So we started using those ab rollers, those wheels, that was pretty wild. We had awesome summer dry-land, but Dave runs dry-land. If he is not there I have another coach who loves running dry-land. I put the coaches where their strengths are. All the coaches can do it, but the better ones who like to do it, let them do it.

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