The Fusion of Dryland Training and Swimming by Mark Onstott and Larry Stoegbauer (2008)


Larry is also the pole vault coach for the track team and we are going to talk about some of Larry’s unique qualifications as we go through our talk here. He is someone who has been with us for 8 years and the dry-land program that we are going to talk about here and he is going to expand on in the next presentation, I feel is truly revolutionary. It has done incredible things for us and I am going to try to stay out of the way and let Larry give you his knowledge. We are going to start out basically with the “O & Scary Show”. I’m “O” and he is very, very scary. As an overview: What was I doing before Larry came along? What I was looking for? What changes I was looking to make and then what I got. What I got is (motions to Larry) standing up there, but I am going to try to go into a little more detail.

I was in Iowa for 7 years – 4 years as the head coach and then I was in Texas for 12 years – head boys and girls coach. It was all me all the time. In Texas, I had an assistant coach for about three or four years and she really helped me kind of gap an hour where I was doing the weight training and she worked with the JV so I really didn’t have a lot of help. And yes, I currently have 7 assistant coaches so, go ahead – make fun of me.

Heavy weights/low reps – we did that. Then we did low weights/high reps and then I think we went back to heavy weights/low reps and then we did circuits. Then we did stations and then we did a circuit which really was stations. When I was in Texas my first couple of years I would go over to the high school (the high school was next door) and use the weight room. Now this had to be the worst weight room in the State of Texas. It is better than what I currently have at New Trier High School, but it was like in an outbuilding – like a Quonset hut type thing and I had no problems using it in the morning.

In Texas you have a class that is called Varsity Swimming and so we would lift almost year around. We didn’t do as much during the season, but we did out-of-season stuff. So we would go over there in the morning if football was not using it and we would lift. Then they built a brand new gym and a new weight room. They built the Taj Mahal. The football coach, talking to me for the second time in probably two or three years, said to me, “Coach, you can use the weight room any time you want between midnight and 5 A.M.” Now, we were already using it at 5:30 so we couldn’t use it.

So I changed what we were doing and we went to the gym at the Junior High right next door and we did a lot of jumping, hopping, skipping, core work. We did a lot of steps. It was a Junior High gym. It had three bleachers and we would do step-ups. We would do either just step-ups on the steps. Sometimes we would go up to three if we were really hurting ourselves. I did that basically for most of the years I was in Houston at Cy-Fair high school. The last couple of years we had a junior high weight room and the junior high weight room was about the size of a regular room – it wasn’t very big at all, but it was great for us to go in there and lift and we did some lifting there as well.

The progression of my coaches at New Trier is I was able to hire a guy. I didn’t plan on hiring a guy just to do my dry-land weights, but I couldn’t find anybody else. So I hired a guy who had no swimming experience. He was a baseball coach and a golf coach. He was from Texas so I said, how bad could this be? He was from Amarillo, Texas which – everybody asked us if we knew each other before we got to New Trier. Amarillo was 1100 miles from Houston, so, no – we were not in the same neighborhood, but he was a great coach – a great people person and he did a great job for me.

I hired some other people to do that. One day I am in the office and I hear a substitute out in the pool. The substitute is talking about the State Meet and he was talking about people and I said excuse me – this guy knows something about swimming. And so I talked to him after class because I was looking for a coach and I was very, very lucky to hire Josh Runkle who is now the current head coach at Glenbrook North High School after being at Highland Park for four or five years. I found out quickly that Josh really didn’t have a lot of swimming experience other than his father was an outstanding high school swim coach. He was a track guy and a football guy, but I put him in charge of the weight program and so we ended up with some great shot putters that year. No, Josh did a great job for the time he spent with us. He is the one gem by the way. Then I kind of had a series of part-time guys who really didn’t have any swimming coaching experience. So we probably had in the 7 years before Larry came on board about five different people doing that.

Q: Are these people getting paid by the school or are you asking them to be committed without it?
A: They are getting paid by the school. They are one of our stipend positions. What I was looking for after I lost my last assistant coach I said okay – I have tried just about everything. What do I really want to do? And what I really wanted to do was to just shake it up. I wanted them to do things that I didn’t know anybody else was doing and I wanted to try something totally different. I really wanted to stay out of the weight room. I wanted to work with different skills and so I just wrote some things down on a piece of paper: I wish I would have held onto that piece of paper, but I didn’t. So I was looking for yoga. I was looking for martial arts. I was looking for more core. I was looking for plyometrics and I was looking to really move some visualization into the dry-land training and also some strength training – we did want to get stronger.

Okay, here is what I got and the way I got this is just strange. In the 15 years I have been in New Trier – it was about 8 years or 7 years then. I had never ever received a stack of résumés of the teachers who had been hired. I had never gotten that information. That year – 2001, I got a stack. I think there were 5. So I am going through them and I come to this one Stoegbauer. First off, I think I will never be able to pronounce his name and I will go on to the next one, but then I noticed yoga – certified in yoga – two types of yoga? I didn’t know there was two types of yoga, but I thought that was better than one type.

Martial arts training –3 types? Larry responds, “I am not certified in martial arts, but I have been trained in like 7.” Then – hand to hand combat trained. I just thought that would come in handy at a state meet while we are trying to get seats and as it turns out it did. State meet – I think Larry’s second or third year – we get there early. We are sitting in our seats. A team of about four swimmers – must have been four because I think they had a relay – comes moseying in. The meet is almost ready to start. Now I had staked Larry out on one end of our area. We got there early to get it and we had kids in the water. You know you got kids everywhere and all you guys know what I am talking about. So you got your area and you try not to take too much – just enough so everybody can sit down and this guy comes in and he basically pushes into our area. Now he pushes into Larry’s area and Larry, being a very controlled and calm individual comes over to me and says, “Coach, what do you want me to do?” And I said, “Well Larry, I think we can give him a little room.” He said, “Well, okay Coach, but just let me know. Because I can give him a silent elbow.” I said, “The silent elbow?” He said, “Just let me know Coach.” Larry has not unleashed the silent elbow. However, he has threatened to do it to me a couple of times.

I wanted a track background and got a track background in Larry. Larry ran track in high school; I think he ran track in college. He also was a diver and a swimmer in college so we covered a whole lot of ground on what I was looking for. I thought this can’t be right so I called Larry up and did a phone interview and my mind-set was – how little can I require of him – still make my AD happy and have him work for me. In other words, I don’t want him to have to come to two practices a day – that is crazy. I really didn’t even want him to have to come to a swim practice. He can just come and do dry-land and go home. Maybe I will have him come just to home meets and he will do that – I can get this guy.

So I am talking to him for a while and I lay that out and basically try to hire him right there. He says, “You know, if I can’t coach full time, I don’t want to do this. I will just coach for the track team.” So, not only did I get a guy who could do everything I wanted him to do, but he is totally and 100% committed to what we are doing. He coaches; he is JV coach for the girls. With the boys he is more of a varsity coach. He does dry-land – boys and girls.

I had to get my short, little buddy, the Girls coach on board on this – back on his second round as head coach and so I got him. You know, I even tried to get with the athletic director and said just pay him one stipend, but he will only do part work. Luckily the athletic director said, “No – we will hire him for both.” He has truly revolutionized what we do in dry-land and I know that he is going to go over some of that for you now.

Those are some very big shoes to fill there. Thank you very much coach. I do not know if this room is big enough for the head you just gave me there – (it’s a shiny one). Lets hope you are not blinded by those lights here because I am getting a slight sun tan there.

I remember the first day I came in to work with the girls. I didn’t know exactly what their background was, but as I saw them standing there in dry-land – they were kind of like jelly fish. They really didn’t have a good base on them. In yoga, you would say they are not very well grounded. They are knock-kneed – their ankles are everywhere. You really do not want to ruin their flexibility in the ankles, but I was told that we really wanted to work on strengthening their legs so they can get off the walls and their core strength. So I started out real easy, things that today the kids would be looking at me like okay, that is the warm-up, what are we going to do?

As soon as I got done with the first few sets -it wasn’t very difficult. It was 10 squats on the 4 count. I have never been in the military, but I had been trained in different things and you always go you know – down – up – down and that equals one. You are kind of tricking them – they are actually doing 20, but you say 10. So we did some squats – some side squats, some lunges, side lunges, and some back lunges – nothing really difficult. They are just like, “Oh my God – this is so hard.” I can’t believe it, so I switch. We start doing some core exercises – little spidermans and what not. They say, “Oh – this is terrible.”

The next day they are just crying back and forth to Coach Woodberry, “He is so rough on us and everything, but they think it is good. (What place did that team get at States the year before?) First place the year before I came. I was a little nervous about messing them up actually. I am thinking they are a pretty good team without me so the last thing I wanted was to injure half the girls who were All-Americans. Then they would show me the door and there wouldn’t be this nice speech for me. “Thank God we got rid of that guy.”

So after a while they started getting better. I wanted them to get better with their jumping ability because I thought that would help them in getting off the walls and off their starts, but of course you couldn’t do plyometrics with the kids if their knees and ankles are going to just give underneath them when they are jumping. So we had to build up to it.

I noticed that New Trier is a huge school. You need more than a map – you need a GPS to get around that sucker because it was built in 17 different stages over a hundred years. I finally found this huge stairwell and it is four flights of stairs – roughly 16-17 feet for each floor and I think, “ Ohh! I could do a lot of damage here. This looks good. This is good. We could workout here almost every day if I wanted to.” By the way, we work out like 2-3 times a week. I supposedly get the girls for an hour, but by the time Woodberry gets done with explaining all the sets, he usually goes over and I get about 45 minutes so prioritization is very important.

The first time we do stairs I am thinking to myself, “Okay, we will do a couple of sets of stairs.” I explained to them the first set and these are All Americans. They get done with that. Basically we are just going up and down. My rules are: go down slow. Some of the flights you had to go every stair – some you could skip. So they get done and say, “Okay – that is the first set.” These girls started crying. I mean, all out bawling – they thought that was it and they were not used to this type of pain so they started crying. I started laughing at them. I was like, “Are you kidding me? This is like a warm-up – I mean this is nothing.”

(So is that where you got the nickname “Scary Larry”?) Yeah, it was the next morning – we did do the next set and then we went into some other exercises. I had walked in before school started. I didn’t do the early morning practice and the kids had voted – I didn’t know there were votes like this – and I was the most hated coach. And so I am like feeling bad, but all of the other coaches were so jealous, “Oh my God, after one practice you are the hated coach – it is unbelievable – good job.” So yes, from then on it was “scary Larry” and no matter how nice I am – I cannot shake that.

(You can tell though, he is very soft spoken. He doesn’t yell, but when he does the whole scary thing comes out again. I don’t think he likes being called scary so usually when I call him scary I stand on his right side – that is the good side, right?) I am almost deaf in my right ear. (Which is why I would stand on the right side when I call him scary Larry.) He calls it the good ear because that is the one he wants to talk into.

So the whole thing I wanted to explain is that many times kids do not understand pain in muscles that they aren’t using every day. I guess your heart rate does go higher when you run, etc., but you would have thought that I was killing these kids for doing basic exercises. Again – I brought them all on very slowly, but they were not used to it.

We did improve greatly with the girls and of course, that next year they broke the record for the most points scored in a State Meet. It wasn’t because of me, but there were some darn good swimmers. I am sure I helped a little bit and the kids definitely bought into it because they were able to do some things that they thought were impossible. One of the sayings, as I am sure you guys have heard before is, “The difficult we do immediately – the impossible comes a little bit later.” If I were to point it out, what they had done by the end of the year in their hurdle hops, how high they jump and the activities they could do – they would have just said, “Oh, that is impossible.”

And then it came to the boys; the boys had definitely heard what was coming – Scary Larry is on his way and they were kind of prepared, but they were nervous. I have to say, except for a few kids – a lot of our kids were 3 months out of the year swimmers. We didn’t have kids coming in that could get the state cut usually out of age group. They tried to dodge age group for the most part. So, they were not in quite as phenomenal swimming shape and they weren’t in quite as phenomenal running shape or core shape, etc. So I decided to do some pre and post testing with them – just to see how much we were improving. We tested and some of these kids didn’t totally understand what a vertical jump was or the broad jump and how to land without killing themselves. So I had to teach them how to the tests, you couldn’t just demonstrate it. They would go and jump and then they would hit their head into the wall and it was kind of funny because they were not really used to it.

So we went through and in the beginning, the boys didn’t really buy into what we were doing. It was painful. It didn’t seem like what they had done before. They liked doing circuit training and weight lifting. They wanted to do the curls for girls. Those weren’t really my marching orders – which we will get into. With the limited time we had, we had to prioritize and we had to go with what we needed to work on. It kind of came to a head at one point. We are doing just burpies and I wanted them to do them safely, protecting their back and to streamline on the hop. I just said – actually I remember saying to them, “How many are we doing?” I had a captain come up and tell me and you guys have to do it, but you have to do it right and they came up with 20 which is kind of taxing. But I said, “It has to be perfect or we are starting over.”

I don’t know how many we did. Some of the kids were freaking out and by the end we got 20 perfect burpies where they were all streamlined, they didn’t let their hips sag when we went down into the plank or kind of pushup position and we stretched toward the end of the workout. We would stretch sometimes 15 – 20 minutes and then they leave. I went and got my stuff and I came back and as I am walking by the pool door – there is Coach O and he goes, “Coach, I don’t know. Do you realize that a bunch of the boys in there are in there crying right now?” I was like, “WHAT? They were not crying when we were stretching. Are you telling me that they waited to cry – that they saved it up?” “Yeah, they didn’t want to cry in front of you because they are kind of scared of you.” (I was crying too – I have to be honest with you) So – basically from our discussion I just was going to keep what I was doing and they would get tougher. From that moment on, they realized that if they just did what they were supposed to do and they did it correctly, that things would be reasonable and they would improve.

They started getting much better starts. Their turns were getting beyond the flags – their touch-offs were better and everything was coming around. When we do different testing situations in jumping they could see like – all of a sudden – they were doing some pretty neat stuff. I think it really hit them when the basketball team was walking through the indoor track and they saw the swimmers doing hurdle hops and they just stopped and the coach stopped. They all stopped – the basketball players – to watch us do plyometrics because they were so impressed. All of a sudden you know, “Wow, we must be something special.” After we left, of course, the basketball players went and tried to do what we were doing and they are knocking over the hurdles because they had never done it before. I think that is when they bought into it.

When we did our post test, it was very incredible how much the kids improved. From then on, I haven’t really had to do jump pre and post tests because they bought into it. In the following years, the kids understood what was coming and they knew that it was possible so both the boys and girls teams would understand the kind of pain their legs were going through and they would trust me. We got even greater gains from there on out in everything we did.

(I didn’t practice communication – okay – if you say so, Larry) Communication: Basically what Larry and I try to do is talk all the time. During the season we are talking, we are standing at a meet and we will see things that are going on. We talk about it and Larry can do so many different things that I just have to say, “This is what I want to accomplish,” and Larry can figure out a way to do it. That is incredible to have someone with the skills and the talents that he has. We also talk at the beginning of the season about what we want to accomplish during that season and how dry-land can accomplish those goals. So not a goal that they are going to get stronger, but a goal that their turns are going to be better and they are really going to be able to get off the walls or their starts – they are going to get off the block better and how that is going to play out in our general plan with dry-land.

So goals for swimming kind of comes from that because we are communicating and we are seeing what the kids need and we use the dry-land to directly achieve those goals. The goals are not always that the kids need to jump higher or they need to get off the walls, etc. Whatever we see as a weakness, which changes year to year – we try in both the swimming and the dry-land to correct. And using those, we create the best possible situation. I guess we aren’t always trying to make the strongest kids. We don’t always try to make the kids that jump the highest, but we are trying to remove that weak link or even make that weak link in the chain one of the strongest links. If it is important, then we have to take it to the next step.

When we go to meets, our kids aren’t always the biggest kids on the blocks and sometimes I get a little nervous because maybe our kids are a little intimidated because they aren’t always that big. We go up against teams whose kids are very good body builders. They are very, very fast too of course, but that isn’t necessarily what our program is about. We don’t have time always to do that kind of body building. So the workouts are created to improve those weaknesses.

Time, again, is important. You only have so much time and I go to all these seminars here, and there are so many neat things, but you just do not have time to address everything that could improve your swimmers so you just have to prioritize what is the most important thing to make our kids faster. And you have to be creative. He makes it seem like I know everything that would be needed to improve the kids, but actually I go see seminars and I learn from some of my friends. One of the best things I did I think was become a pole vault coach. I did not know that much about pole vault, but my best man in my wedding was a girl’s pole vault coach and the guy’s pole vault coach quit and he is actually a gymnast. He said, “Come on out. I will teach you this stuff.” I learned so many neat things.

You start looking into other sports and how they work on core and how they work on different things. That is when you see some really neat creative stuff and the kids love learning things from other sports. They don’t want to just repeat the same stuff over and over, but if you want to work on their shoulders, you teach them how to do the speed bag in boxing. That is a skill that they learn. You teach them how to juggle or something like that. You don’t have to spend all that time – you just kind of plant some seeds. The kids go home and they learn that. It is really neat and it kind of works different things out. It works both sides of the brain. They do this stuff on one foot and all of a sudden it is very functional and the kids get really excited about that. If they are not excited about it, they are not going to learn that much.

So, it’s very important that in creating these workouts (we have 20 to 30 varsity athletes) and there are a lot of new things out there too, but how can I cycle 30 kids through there – making sure that they are doing it correctly? I believe firmly that there is never a good time to practice a bad habit, so if someone is doing something wrong they are just going to teach themselves, if they do a bunch of reps – to always do it wrong. They could injure themselves also. So, I always want to make sure they are doing it right and I try and keep the accountability really high. I use a lot of military theme to the workouts and they are all in rows and columns where I can see every one of them. Many times I will stand to the side in the back so they can’t see if I am looking at them. They think I am always looking at them so they make sure they are doing it correctly. A lot of times I remove things that I don’t think I can control. There are some neat things that we probably can’t do that you could probably do if you only had like 5 swimmers or maybe it was a college program.

Moving on to starts, turns and touch-offs: In the beginning, during girls season – I was thinking, “Well, I have coached high jump. I have coached triple jump, long jump. If I want these kids to be able to jump higher, I am going to take as much as I can from sports where that is the most important thing because they have probably gone a little further down the continuum.” Again, we started real slow and we had some people were kind of skeptical in the building so I actually researched a little bit. You guys have probably heard how well Tom Jager’s vertical was. He is phenomenal; he had a huge vertical. So Coach O comes in the office at one point and he goes, “Who are you talking to on the phone?” “I am talking to Jager.” He goes, “What?” “I looked him up and I called him and he says it is really important that we do these plyometrics.” If you can improve how high they jump – you are actually improving their maximum speed in the water, the fastest they will ever be and he couldn’t stress it enough. So O was definitely sold on it, but we used that to try and get some other equipment from the athletic director who didn’t necessarily believe that the swim team needed all these plyo boxes and all this extra weird stuff that the track team hadn’t been asking for.

So, at the end of that first year when we did our post test, it was quite amazing because I had some kids who actually improved their vertical 8 inches and their broad jump was 16 inches. So not only are they actually getting fitter off the wall, but they are faster from that point. They had excellent, excellent hops. We averaged 4-5 inches and I think a lot of those, because they hadn’t really done these things before, they were on that learning curve. I think it actually means more than the 8 inches when you’re in the water. I think that adds up to a lot more. I couldn’t figure out with the physics teacher what that would actually add up to because there are too many things in the way, but it would have been neat; maybe he’ll work on that at some point.

We do a lot of plyo’s – leg strengthening. We don’t do a lot of side to side. As I said before, I don’t want them to have rigid legs and rigid ankles; I want them to maintain that flexibility so that they are still water beasts, but water beasts that can jump and get off the walls. We do a lot of practicing with touch-offs in dry-land. I think this is really, really huge. We dive into high jump pits or pole vault pits and you can get a lot more reps because you just roll off and walk around. We usually can set up like 4 high jump pits. The kids are going and you can go with the regular start – maybe not the beep, but you can say take your marks and beep or you can blow the whistle, etc. They can practice that and they can clear their mind much like a sprinter hurdler in track so that they can decrease that reaction time. So I think we had a lot of improvement that way on touch-offs. I think our touch-offs are way, way special – especially when we get to the state meet.

About three years ago we had the misfortune of having a couple of JV kids who genetically had loose shoulders. They were not injured in our program, but they had surgery on their shoulders. Then we had some varsity swimmers that had some issues and Larry probably knows this part of the story better than I do, but I knew the problem when I was called to the athletic director’s office and had to justify what we do. The question the athletic director asked me is – are we doing more than anybody else in the state? And for about ten years I worked extremely hard to convince my swimmers that we were doing more than anybody in the state. I don’t think we were. I think we were doing a lot – yardage, intensity, amount of time in the pool, dry-land – we were doing a lot. So I was in a little bit of a quandary where my heart just said we are doing more than anybody in the state. That is what I got the kids to believe. That is what I believe, but we are not and I knew it. So I said you know, I think we are probably in the top 5 programs – boys and girls. We work hard; we do spend a lot of time. We are probably in the top 5.

So I had to go through an Excel spreadsheet and put our daily yardages. I made up this spreadsheet and put it all the way across – did averages, how many practices, how many meets, how many competitions , had the days where we only did one practice and read. I did all this stuff to convince the athletic director. This was about 3 years ago. It was the year after we got our first boys championship in 39 years. The girls had won a couple of state championships and I am having to justify what we are doing because a couple of parents were thinking that we were doing things to harm their kids.

We were already doing things in dry-land to help their shoulders – to strengthen their shoulders. But at that point we got with the trainer to come in and to do some pre-testing on our shoulders and Larry can tell you a little bit better about the testing we did and the results and then what Larry did.

So the first week of the season, physical therapists and doctors came in and they put the kids through a battery of tests. The first year I couldn’t be there to see the test. The next year I did get to see the test and I did get to see the first year’s post test. I remembered thinking to myself, they are kind of evaluating what I am doing here and I didn’t get to see the test. But it was good. I shouldn’t be like teaching to the test or working just to that. I should be trying to get their shoulders better. After about three weeks when they didn’t come and tell me what the results were for the pre-test (which I was hoping), I really started to step it up and do different exercises that I had known that had helped my shoulders. We worked on their flexibility and we didn’t do a lot on the rotator cuff. We strengthened the trapezius in the back. If someone has an impact injury then that wouldn’t necessarily help it, but as long as they are still swimming, if you strengthen the trapezius muscles that works with the scapula there, then a lot of neat things can happen.

Also, if they are functionally strong then all the things aren’t together and the weak point will probably hit the shoulders. So we worked on that. After those three weeks, they came up and told me what the kids needed to work on. I noticed that it was kind of parallel to what I was doing. I got some new things and it was really neat to learn some more new stuff. Both the physical therapist and the doctors and I worked together and came up with a pretty good plan. About three weeks later, which is kind of scary because you only had them for about six or seven weeks, they tested. The kids shoulders were much more solid. The flexibility in the areas that were tight was better and their scapulas were much stronger.

So in the following years we still tested them a couple of years straight. We kept working; we developed every year a little better program. I believe they took their results after a couple of years and went on to Brazil and I think Australia and presented the results from those two years and what happened with the shoulder testing. So it was really kind of neat because it dispelled a lot of the things that I had heard from before – that it was all external rotations and certain types of stretches, etc. I think we have been able to do a lot more with our kids because of that.

Then core: Core exercise is obviously more than just the upper abs. I have done a lot of studying with that. Some people call it chi – that you need to hold in your chi. You want to support the spine. There are just a lot of different ways to describe it, but basically from fingertip to toes you are working on strength. It is not just your abs. So we do a lot of all- through-the-body exercises, a lot of gymnastic stuff. You have to build up to that slowly. But you see the little light in the kids’ eyes when they do some sort of gymnastic exercise that it isn’t just doing a ton of reps of something that looks kind of odd. It is, “Wow! I am doing this neat exercise that people think is really neat when they walk by.” Or when we are outside the weight room doing different things with the rings, the football players stop and watch like, “Oh my God, what did they just do?” So the kids feel very proud. It isn’t just getting a bunch of reps or doing a thousand exercises that seem somewhat meaningless, but are supposed to help you. It is also this little drill or exercise that is fun to do too and you feel proud of yourself. A lot of other sports copy us. I am friends with these coaches, but I am watching the crew team and all of a sudden they are copying a lot of the exercises we do – things like the stairs. In the morning you have to make reservations to run up and down the stairs, especially during the winter months.

Mental toughness: We are running short on time. I try to add a lot of accountability to the kids while they are doing workouts – you are not going to be able to do it without me seeing you if I can help it and I really want them to do it correctly. The military theme is important that we are all doing the same thing. I am watching you. Everybody is doing all the reps. Sometimes I actually let them decide how many reps they are going to do. It was funny actually – earlier in the week I asked the kids what they wanted to do for the warm-up because they had been complaining about the warm-ups I had given them that they were too hard. They said, “Well, we really like that lunge thing – walking lunges.” I said, “Alright.” They are still sore so it was the best. I said, “You guys chose that warm-up and that is what made you the most sore. They are like, ”We are never doing lunges again.” So I said, “Now you have to. You just can’t do it once – you have to improve on that.” So they are all disappointed, but we brought up the mental toughness.

I never let them, and I am sure a lot of you guys do this – I never let them whine. If I say they are doing 20 something and they whine then they are doing 25. If they whine again we do 30 and they pick it up pretty quickly. The stairs: it is interesting that in the beginning they cried when they did 8-10 of them. Now, I have to limit it to when we do max stairs which is kind of an aerobic exercise. I say, “You only get one hour,” and I keep track of how many they do. The record is 52 stairs in an hour which is higher than climbing the Sears Tower. You have to go down every time and it is really quite amazing. What used to be something that would freak them out – now they ask, “Can we get more time because I want to do 60.” I have to rein them in because I am afraid they are going to trip on the way down the stairs. So I really feel our mental toughness has gone up.

Team building: we do a lot of military cadences. I used to make up the cadences myself and use the military cadences without the swearing or things that would make people feel bad. They make up their own now and I actually don’t have to do the cadences which is nice because it saves my voice. We clap and it teaches them some rhythm and they have learned to cheer when they hear a hard set come up in dry-land. I don’t know if you really do that in swimming so much (not so much – no). Then wall sits – you lean up against the wall. Then I have them sing together and they actually can go much longer when they are singing than if they are just sitting there talking and looking at the clock. You just try to give them the idea of team goals as Coach O had talked about earlier and then flexibility which is really important. I think it really helps them to heal from the workouts so that they can do the next workout and we use a lot of yoga that I actually learned because of my injuries I guess – out of necessity. I will be going over, hopefully, if we have time, some of the yoga poses – our bread and butter poses that we do. The next presentation will be more – it will be like videos and stuff showing you what we do and this is why we do it.

(One of the great things about Larry is that if a kid comes up and says how do you stretch this? Larry knows how to get a stretch out of it and so they come up and I say see Coach S. When I am sitting there and I complain about my lower back, he ends up tying me in a pretzel doing some weird thing so my back will feel better. Now that is great sometimes – but he is incredible. He is kind of like a pre-trainer so that we don’t have some kids down in the trainer. We use the trainer all the time. I want them to go down there. I want them to get diagnosed. I want them to know what is going on. We don’t avoid the trainer, but Larry is – like I said – a pre-trainer)

Then breathing, relaxation and visualization. You know – people use only about 40% of their lungs and how you breathe totally determines what your mind set is. If your breath is relaxed then your muscles are going to more likely be flexible. If you are hyperventilating at the state meet – some of the other coaches might have heard me scream at our kids – breathe – breathe and it helps to normalize them. If there is one thing with the real flexibility that I would like to impart to you is that you have to learn how to teach your kids to breathe. Otherwise you are just pulling on a stretch cord and it is going to snap back to the same spot. If the mind doesn’t believe what you are doing is benefiting or if it is freaking out because you are breathing incorrectly, then it is not going to take. You are actually wasting time and our time is kind of precious.

Any questions?
Q/A: The pre and post test for the shoulders – that will be in the next presentation – a lot of rows and stuff. You will see little clips and video clips of how to do ones that aren’t painfully obvious to all of us. I don’t want to waste your time on things you know. Then for the jumping one – it was the broad jump and the standard vertical.

Q: What do you use for traps?
A: Upper traps or lower traps are kind of different. There are a thousand ways to skin that cat: You can do upright rows – you can have them walk with weights. For their middle traps we do a ton of that with different rows. You can do the snatch; there are a lot of things that you can do with that for the traps. The thing that hurts the kids the most for the traps is doing plyometrics because of driving their arms up each time. It is hilarious – the first time they actually were able to do the plyometrics, even kids that were seniors said the next day, “What did we do that hurt my traps.” “They are just killing me.” “How do I stretch this?” and all this stuff. It is from doing the plyometrics because it’s so forceful and their bodies aren’t used to it.

Q/A: We do dry-lands after swimming. I think you can do it before swimming – actually in the beginning. Sometimes we would have the JV girls do dry-land beforehand. You definitely have to warm-up and if we are going to do legs, I don’t feel that the legs are prepared for dry-land training after swimming. So we have to do specialized work and it depends on what we are doing just like in track. When I coach track – a hurdler is going to do a different warm-up than a sprinter, then a pole vaulter – just something specific to what we are doing. I think that is the best that I could give you – sorry.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news