The Ordinary Things that Result in Exceptional Programs by Ira Klein (1998)


This is coaching, 101, and I don’t mean to be demeaning. I’m giving you my observations. I’ve kind of developed these ideas from watching coaching and having moved around, as some of my friends like to joke about, as much as anyone. I’ve coached in every zone. Every time zone. Through the years of watching what goes on in coaching, I’ve found some threads that move through all of it. I wanted to impart some of these observations to my fellow coaches.


I’m going to go through my hand out and try to add to what’s written on the sheet. I think coaching needs to be fluid. You know, anticipation, preparation, dedication. That’s something I got from my friend Chuck Warner. You have to anticipate. You have to have a great anticipation for just being part of a program. You have to anticipate what you want to do. Then you need to prepare the program you want to run, if you want to succeed. You have to dedicate yourself to what you want to succeed at and take ownership of your program.


A couple of years ago, I was at a clinic, and I saw a coach during a breakfast, he was eating bacon and eggs. He was talking about the animals who were part of making that breakfast. You know, the chicken and the pig. The chicken was involved, but the pig was committed he said. We all need to be pigs. We need to be committed, and take ownership. Everything that goes on in your program, needs to have ownership.


We’ve all heard the axiom, fail to plan, plan to fail. I’ve used it myself quite often. In a different vain, when I spent two years coaching at Auburn University, I learned if you fail to dream, then you’re dreaming to fail. I always knew how to create plans. But, at Auburn, working with David Marsh, I learned how to dream. When you walk into a program that is dead last, or not even existing, in the NCAA and you dream the program will  be first, and you believe in the dream, work towards the dream goal, then you have something greater than any plan that we can create. You plan to succeed.


I think many of us forget how to dream. Maybe we never knew how to dream. David Marsh, gave a talk on how to build a program what makes a program successful. But, I’ll give you one of my points, why I feel the Auburn program succeeded as it has, and it’s due to one person. You know, of course, David Marsh. It is due to the fact, that David is able to dream. He’s able to believe in his dreams.. He dreams with the athlete and believes in their dreams. His belief in his own dreams and the teams dreams, is so strong the athletes then believe in the same dream. Then they believe in themselves.

If we want to create great programs, we have to find out how we can dream. Dream we’re going to be the next great Club program in this country. We have to believe in that dream, we have to find ways to get other people to believe in that dream with us.


I employ what is called the KISS method, Keep It Simple Stupid. Keeping things simple. Keeping it understandable. I’m not down on the people who are really good at making things complicated and making them work. But, I don’t understand it. When we’re dealing with programs, one hundred to three hundred swimmers, we have to set up a simple plan of attack within our program. The same way we to set up a quadranium training for swimming in this country, to bring us to the Olympics.


We have to bring the novice swimmer the eight, nine, and ten year old to being a Junior Championship or National level fourteen year old. First set your goals. Setting your personal goals. The personal goals do not have to be time oriented only.


My year at Santa Barbara, six weeks after I was there they closed our main pool. We became nomads, while they renovated the pool for six months. Our numbers dropped down to about eighty five. I was told, if you do a good job, you’ll get it back up into the one fifties. I just looked at the people from the City, and my Board, and I said,” one fifty !, I want to have over three hundred swimmers.” That’s my goal, over three hundred swimmers. This summer we had three hundred and ten swimmers at one point in the pool, swimming. It cost me a major dinner for all my coaches. I promised to take them all out to a restaurant when we hit 300. With goals, have to be rewards; to ourselves, especially.


Then as you go along you have team goals of how many swimmers you want to place on teams, and how many swimmers you want to place into Nationals, and Juniors, and maybe winning the local JO’s or winning your sectional champs. Having every high school swimmer make their high school championship meet.


You also need to have personal goals and you need to establish staff goals. For the head coaches, one of the things that I do every season is I go to my Hy-tech program in the computer, and I pull off by groups every swimmer with A times. Every swimmer that has triple A times. Every swimmer that has Junior Championship times. And so on, then I figure out the percentages by strokes. Then I go back to my staff and I challenge them. I tell them, you only have thirty percent of your group with a triple  A in the breast stroke, and only nineteen percent triple A in butterfly. So, I am challenging you to bring the breast stroke up to forty percent, and bring your butterfly up to that same level. I help them set the goals, and I challenge them as we go along. I try and set that bar a little higher every single season as we go along. This gives coaches a clear cut idea of where they’re at, and where we’re trying to go.


Individual and team performance; I’m more into the team. I’d rather have, ten swimmers at Juniors, then nobody at Juniors and one at Seniors. I’m into the team performance when we talk about trying to win our Junior Olympics, which is very difficult, we go up against Irvine Nova, with six hundred swimmers in Orange County, the nearest club to us is thirty five miles away and we’re up to three hundred swimmers. A whole lot of our swimmers are novice kids and we were second this year at JO’s. Next year, we’re going to try and be first.


Team size, I’ve told you our goal for size. Did you know we have twice as many athletes, as Australia? Yet our average team size is twenty athletes less per club!

I think you need to have goals outside of swimming as well. I learned about ten years ago, when I met a beautiful woman, and married her, that life did not only revolve around swimming.

Whether it’s how many books you’re going to read or learning how to sell, running more jogging more this year then you did the year before. What your next big vacation is going to be. But, you need to have outside interests. Set goals for those interests as well. We need to be more than one dimensional, in what we’re doing.


I’ve broken this down into three basic areas: program design, practice design, and coaching. I’ll try to get through this part without running over. Each situation is different. I can tell you that better than anyone. You know, I’ve coached in four lane, indoor pools with an hour and forty minutes of time in New York, I’ve coached in outdoor pools in Florida and California. I’ve coached in large pools, Auburn, some of you have been to Juniors and US Open can see what a beautiful environment that is to coach in now, compared to what the old pool was like. And, I can tell you, you need to realize that each situation is different. You can’t take what I do in my seven lane, fifty meter pool and put it into your eight lane twenty five meter pool, necessarily. You need to work with what’s best for you.


You need to realize that in the spring, we have high school swimming, and the majority of the swimmers are picked up by the high school, so how do I fill that time? What do I do with that program at that point? You might want to work to improve the situation with the high school, but until that occurs, how do you benefit the program?


Designing your structure. Really simple: novice, age group, senior. But, with in that we have all different breakdowns. There are teams, like Nova, that have groups designed only for Senior Nationals. You have to have Senior Nationals to be in that group. They’re large enough and draw from a large enough swimming population they can do that. I can’t take that design and put it into a smaller town, where there’s no true rec. program. I need to be more fluid with what we’re doing, and realize that as much as I’d like to have a group of Senior Nationals swimmers only, it’s not realistic to be coaching two kids! Hopefully in four years or so, but it’s still not realistic at this point. I need to understand our program and work within my environment.


Team naming -I am stepping back here. I am talking about creating exceptional teams from the ordinary. I think what our team name is. Your team colors very important. If your team logo comes out to be the same four letters as three other teams in your LSC, you don’t have team recognition. If you use the same blue and gold that four other teams in the LSC use, you don’t have team recognition. The first time I went to a meet at Santa Barbara, the nearest large club to us, was in the same colors. I timed half of their kids, not knowing the cap wasn’t a Santa Barbara cap. I thought it was Santa Barbara, it was a Buena cap instead. So, the first thing I said was, we’re changing our colors, I don’t want to look like every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there.


Group names: don’t seem like a big deal, but you know there has to be some kind of fluidity to it. Whether you like names, and you want to call it Pollywogs, Guppies, Minnows, you know barracudas and sharks, or if you like numbers. But, you have to create a flow. Since I always look to increase the size of the group, I try to use names that can increase. If I do something that is finite like red, white, and blue, and I need to add another group, well, what do I do for a color if I’m using that American theme of red white and blue.


Next I want to determine the groups size and time being fluid. We have a thing in California, independent PE. You know, you’re ten, twelve, fourteen years old, and you don’t want to do PE in school, you can do independent PE by joining an organized program like swim team. It’s one of our pluses. Water polo is one of our minuses. Independent PE is a plus. We have a lot of kids that come out in September, they want to do independent PE. I need to increase size of groups. I need to increase the number of groups. I need to diminish some of the group time. And, I need to do it in a way that does not hurt my top athlete, but I want to include as many people as I can, into the program.


Traditions, continuing old ones and creating new ones. One of the things I have a hard time with is when the parents talk about the tradition of always going to the same meet. You know, and  I want to create new traditions. I want to go to San Francisco, rather than going down to LA all the time.


When I was in Florida, Sarasota, and I don’t know if they still do it, but we had a tradition of building a sand shark the week before Nationals. And, I’m not so sure–do you guys still do that?–not in the last couple of years. We used to -to try and .. maybe it’s because we kept trying to get bigger each time. And, it started getting so big it would be like an eighteen foot sand shark. It took the kids to many days to recover from digging all that sand up one week out of Nationals. So, that may be the reason why you don’t do it. But, it was a great tradition. We use to have a big breakfast with it.


People would walk by, and they would ask us how can we donate to your group, the kids seem so nice. And, they didn’t know the real kids. But, it was a way of getting recognized and seen out there.


Traditions at meets.  Whether it’s where you sit or how you act.


I had to change our tradition. Our team’s tradition was to sit outside the competition arena. The twenty five yard pool’s here, and they’d be sitting down there somewhere, personally, that’s not what I like. I want to be in the middle of the competition. So sometimes you need to change a tradition.


Peripheral things, a tradition of having a dinner where you go  to ten different homes. You do that to kick off the season. You go to one home for the salad, another home for the anti-past, and another home for main dish, and another home for the desert, and another home to see the movie. And, everybody just travels from home to home. And, I’ve seen it done with a lot of enjoyment on the kids part. Now, I wouldn’t recommend it that’s why I just signed up for pre-legal here. Because, they get into a car accident going from home to home, and who do you think they’re going to come after?


Basic philosophy on competition. Well, you need to have one . Then you need to let your parents know what it is. Then you let the swimmers know what it is. Our philosophy is that we don’t chase cuts through the season. You have your cuts coming into the season, you train through the season, and then you swim the end of the season meet. I don’t want chase around to three different meets to get a cut go to that final meet, and swim slow. Whatever the final meet is, that’s where I want to be the fastest.


Equipment, this is part of program design. Head coaches, you need to be on top of it. You can’t be saying that we don’t use paddles, because I don’t want to use them for should problems. And then have an age group coach using paddles. I believe in adding things as they go along. I don’t think ten year olds should be training like they’re fifteen. I think they should be training like they’re ten. Kick boards and fins, should be plenty. Maybe once in a while, teaching with a buoy, if you need that_ sorry Terry. My friend Terry, doesn’t believe in buoys , and I’ve pulled away from that also. Now I’ve had to do that with the rest of my program. I don’t want to be saying that we’re not using buoys as much in our Senior group as I feel_ it hinders rotation, and yet have my age group coach do pulling sets wearing buoys.


Terminology: I’ve had to learn this one from making so many moves. Terms used, one place, it’s called a sixteen fifty, the other place it’s called the mile. One place it’s called the underwater sequence, the other place it’s called a pull down. Terminology changes and we work to make certain that the terminology is the same in every group. The way we run our drills are the same from beginning to end. I keep teaching the my coaches, the age group coaches in our program, novice coaches, they don’t need to do every drill that I do. All right, they don’t need to treat their swimmers as I said before, the same way I treat the Senior swimmers. But, when we do the same drills, we should be looking to get the same thing out of them and talking to them in the same way. I am expecting to see drills performed the same manner.


Communication: this is the life blood of creating great teams. You have to communicate. A Vision statement: I’m sure you all have a vision. That’s kind of like your dream. Do your parents know it? Do the swimmers know it? Is it written down anywhere? Is it part of your program, and part of what you’re trying to achieve?

Team newsletters: we try to get two out a month. We really maybe should be doing more. I encourage the coaches to do group newsletters as well. One page, very generic, maybe getting some information out specific to their group. Especially after a meet that may be only that group went to. A novice meet that we might have had.


Team pamphlets: especially good for the beginning swimmers coming in for their families and parents_ tri fold, and all these things are so easy these days with computers; every word perfect program has it so you can make yourself your own three page pamphlet. Take it in, do side and back, in at Kinko’s. Get one of the kids who’s complaining that they can’t swim that day because their neck hurts and have them fold for an hour.


Bulletin boards: bulletin boards, and web pages, are the same. You have to keep them current. You have to changed it with new information all the time. Third time they go to a bulletin board, the third time they go to the web page, it’s the same information; they’re not going to go back to it. So if you want to use it as a communication tool, make certain you change tot often, every week, once or twice, the information is being changed.


Handouts: information that might need to disseminated, handouts are the best way we can get information out to them. Team and group parent meetings: you know we all kind of joke, especially at this Clinic, ‘cause there aren’t parents here, about you know, the problem parents can be to what we’re trying to accomplish. But, they’re the back bone of what we’re doing. We wouldn’t have the athletes to coach, if it weren’t for the parents. Programs don’t run and the meets don’t run, if there are no parents. We need to have general meetings, for all of our parents and individual group meetings also. Because what I need to tell the parents of my Senior group is not the same information I need to impart to the parents of the novice group. I don’t want to chase those novice parents away. If they ever heard the schedule that the Senior kids go through, they’d bolt out of that door right away. We need to fool them into realizing how great a sport swimming is. I mean it really is, and hook them in. But, initially when you start talking about four mornings at 5:30 am and five afternoons. Saturday morning, about a dozen meets, all weekends, for us traveling  all the time. That can get to be a little scary. So I have separate meetings. Deal with individual needs of the groups. And, one on one: a little notation_ not a movie, that was a bad joke.. it was a movie One On One. All right, like I said, a bad joke. But, talk to them one on one, don’t be afraid, you know when my practice is done, I’m not out that door. ‘Cause my practice is done, the age group practice is going on, OK. And, I go around and talk with the parents. I’m from New York, schmoozing is in my blood. I just go around and talk to all the parents, and find out what’s going on. How they feel about things, or sometimes I just sit above them, and listen when they don’t know I’m there.

I really get some of the good scoop of what’s going on. But, communication, you can’t do enough of it.


Even though it’s not written down here with this.. I think that communication is education. All right. The day you feel that you can stop educating your parents, that’s the first day of the end of your tenure at that club. Because, within six months, there’s a whole group of parents in there who you haven’t educated about your philosophy, your vision, and your dreams.

If they don’t hear it from you, they’re going to listen to you know, Joe or Jane on the side who’s complaining because they think that their kid should be getting more attention. And, they have a better idea than you have. So, you have to keep educating, with communication, imparting the knowledge that you want your parents to have.


Practice design: This is very generic. Whether I’m looking at the Irvine Nova program, which is considered a sprint program out by us, or the Industry’s Hills program which is considered a distance program, and both are two excellent programs, producing excellent swimmers on all levels. Believe me there’s more in common between these programs than different. The first thing in common is, their kids work hard. You can’t get around it. There’s no short cuts. All the people that came out in the ‘80’s proponents of less work, easier work, lactic, you know, all these things: were wrong. It’s interesting, last night, the ten of us who sat here, enjoyed watching a film Coach Carlyle brought; that showed the programs from the ‘60’s. We got to see a very young Jack Nelson. You missed it guys, it was really enjoyable seeing a young Jack Nelson, with all of his energy. The fact that one thing you could continue to see, back in the 60’s was their idea of working hard, that we built upon into the 70’s. We might do that work differently, in different programs. But, we all work hard. My observations, for whatever they’re worth are as follows:


Number of practices: Coach Warner said it, if you want to set the American record and be the world leader in the fifteen hundred going less than twelve practices a week, you’ll set history. Because it hasn’t been done. And, I think I’m going twelve practices a week. But the one thing that I see generally, in all these programs, whether it’s John Collins, you know at Badger, or Mike Porrato at Sea Coast, or Murray Stevens, or Pat Hogan, or going across the country and stopping in with Pete Malone, or coming all the way out to our coast; is that they’re all going anywhere from eight to twelve practices a week. They do mornings. This is what develops a program.


Can individuals develop great without doing it, yes they can. But, Josh Davis told us yesterday about how he only started when he was thirteen, but when he was fourteen, he jumped right into doubles. At what point should they be doing doubles? I’m not going to tell you that. I mean, I think each program is different, we all have different philosophies. I do not need to force all these kids to do all that work if they’re going to be competitive in today’s environment they will need to do the work. One of our master swimmers is a great swimmer of past.. Jeff Farrell. We are really lucky have him around. Farrell is sixty one years old. For those who might not know him, he swam in the ’60 Olympics, they wrote a book about him, Six Days to Swim. He had his appendices out a week before the trials. This isn’t today’s surgery. We’re talking ‘60’s. Where you’re supposed to be in bed for three weeks after the surgery, and he made the team. At sixty years of age he sets records in his age group, fifty free twenty three two, hundred free, fifty two, sixty years of age.


So, when these thirteen fourteen year olds come over and say, Coach, I’m a sprinter, I just point over and say there’s grandpa, beat him, and then tell me you’re a sprinter. <laughter> Jeff told me.. he didn’t know if he could be great in today’s environment. Because he realizes in everything that he reads, that to be great today, takes a lot more than it took to be great in 1960. If these swimmers must be going doubles at an earlier age.  That’s why I think we work with the greatest people in the world. And, you know, I get annoyed every time I hear, where’s the world going… Come over to my pool and see at 5:30 in the morning. And, watch these twenty four kids get in the water and swim for an hour and a half, before going to school. And, then see the fact that half our kids are going to Ivy League Schools. And, that’s where the country is going. That’s the real truth about where we are going.


So, in scheduling your practices, if you want to swim a group into seniors, you have to realize that somewhere along the line eight to ten school season, eight to twelve summer season, are there variations on this yes. I am giving you what I’ve observed from most of these top programs.


The amount of time–a lot of times this is dictated by the amount of time we have, you know, in our contracts from our pools. But, generally, what most coaches have been telling me is that they’ve been trying to go somewhere between seventy five you know an hour and fifteen minutes in the mornings to two hours, all right. And, then somewhere between an hour and a half and two and a half to three hours at night. Yardage: four thousand yards per hour. I’m giving you more of a minimum here. The programs that most of the coaches I talk try to go more per hour then they did the year before. Not try to go more time. Not we’re going  to step it up so we have to go two and a half hours. But, in that same two hours, rather than averaging four thousand each hour: average forty five hundred each hour. And, keep your program moving along by increasing the yardage and again getting the team to buy into the concept.


You have to remain true to your plan, but be willing to make adjustments. You just cannot, I don’t believe as I said in the beginning, fail to plan, plan to fail. You cannot just walk in and wing it every day, without having a plan in mind. But, there are days that you are going to come in, and what you plan, will not work. And, I do believe you have to be ready to adjust slightly to whatever comes up, on that particular day. You know, for us it could be windy day and the palm frawns are flying off the tree into the pool. So, it’s really hard to do fifteen hundred repeats, when you don’t know when one of the kids are going to get hit by one of the palm frawns flying in. And, I know some of you are going, oh I wish I had that trouble. I’m glad that’s my worse_ one of my worse.. and when it rains. But, you have to be fluid to what’s going to go on. You have to train whatever you decide to succeed.


I asked Roque after his talk, one of the better talks, get it on tape and listen to it. He would say fifty to sixty percent of his training was in breast stroke. All right. If you want to create back strokers don’t just teach them how to swim back stroke, you better be training them. And, most of the swimmers that I have coached, that have succeeded on a National or International level, have been willing to train a large amount in their strokes. They have to be training in their strokes properly. It’s not worth swimming breast stroke if you keep training it wrong. You know one thing he also said was fifty sixty percent doesn’t mean I swam out of a ten thousand workout .. a six thousand straight breast stroke. But, some part of it was .. kicking, or pulling, or drilling, or swimming.


Developing kicks: I think to many Clubs just glance over it, too many swimmers use kicking as the social hour. And, that _ I’m always yelling at my pool deck for the swimmers to shut up. I guess that’s verbal abuse, but_ they shouldn’t be talking during kicking. And, I’m not going to argue about with a board or without a board, and of course, by now you’ve figured out well you can’t be talking if you’re kicking without a board. So, you must let them kick with a board. But, we go for both speed, and we go for endurance, and kicking on short send offs. And, when I first got there, the majority of the team, couldn’t do much better than two minutes per hundred short course. And, now we have about three or four that can do a set of hundreds on the one twenty. Almost the entire senior group can kick on the one thirty. And, now we’re just trying to work more on speed even, then how much faster the send offs can get, and building endurance see how fast we can kick for five hundreds, not just hundred repeats. To me the legs are the largest muscle group to the body in a two hundred you don’t want your legs to give out. So, in that design you have to be designing in kicking. And, in our younger age groups we do it so that I want every swimmer to learn how to kick every stroke. So, they have an opportunity to being able to swim all the strokes as they come up the group.


Developing continuity between groups and what’s expected and what they are training for. They can’t be training just for fun,   in the advanced age group, and then jump to your group and be training for a gold time. You have to introduce those things as you go along. All right, and there’s got to be a continuity in the increase. It can’t be one day boom.. they go from going three thousand a day in all the age group levels. And, they go to senior and now you want them to go ten thousand, there’s got to be a gradual build in your program to get them to that point. In building the programs the great programs learning from the veterans. Use other people’s successes in your program. I first heard this from Dick Jochums, a long time ago, about how there’s nothing original in this program. It’s how he arranges it that’s original.  I don’t consider myself one of those original thinkers. I don’t come up with those great ideas on sets, or anything about what  I do. I just steal the ideas from my friends like Scott and Terry and Pat. And, then try to work it in, how it’s going to work for my program to succeed. But, I try to learn from the people that have been successful.


Last year, we’re at convention, and two of my coaching friends, Pat Hogan and Scott Colby and I decided we’re in San Francisco, we’re right next door to Stanford. We’re going to go like everybody else and watch the Stanford practice. So, we got up early to go, not just when it was going to start, but we wanted to make sure that we got kind of a front row to watch. ‘Cause we thought that there’d be this crowd there to watch Stanford train. And, to our surprise, we were the only ones there, to watch. And, you know, I’ve done this all over_ remember twenty years ago when I was coaching with Terry and going to Columbia University, because Mark Schubert was coming through with his team on a trip somewhere to Nationals, and we just wanted to watch these swimmers train. There’s so much you can learn from just walking on a deck, and I don’t know a coach in this world that would tell another coach no you’re not allowed on my deck. And, walking on another coach’s deck and learning from the programs you feel are successful, in your area. Or if you wife lets you, take a little trip for three days and visit ten different clubs in three days. And, you know hit mornings, and then take them out to lunch, there’s always something we can learn from everybody. But, you need to look at these programs and try to work from the success of these different programs. Use the ASCA Clinic books, the work books, or clinic books rather, and the tapes. A lot of great information.


Coach Warner gave a great speech the other day. The last one that I would put ahead of that, was the X Factor, that I think was given about eighteen years ago. And, if you’ve never heard that tape, or read that one, you need to get it and read it. It was given by Doc Councilman.


You can’t run someone else’s program. If you take over a Club, you know, I know some people that make drastic changes right away. I work a little more gradually. But, you have to get it to fit your personality. I can’t run your program. Doesn’t fit my personality. And, you couldn’t run my mine. You can learn a lot from what I’m doing, because I’ve learned a lot from what you’re doing.  But you have to be original.


I’m going to skip down, because I don’t want to run out of time, into the coach. Coaching professional versus full time Coach. Everybody in this room is a Coaching professional. I definitely believe everybody who’s here for Coach Schubert’s talk and stuck through the business meeting, are coaching professionals. Just because you get paid a full time salary’s, doesn’t make you a professional. We have some great professionals in this sport, who don’t take a dime for coaching or get paid less than most of spend on our team travel in a year. As I said earlier, take ownership of your program. Allow your assistants to take ownership of their groups. That means that they take responsibility for it also. Be educated. We need all coaches to be educated, because every coach that goes out there and works in our profession uneducated takes something away from us. I’m not saying that we have to have one formula on how to do things. I don’t want just one idea out there being put out by ASCA or USS… USA swimming, or any other group. I want all coaches to have knowledge at their fingertips to use in a way they see best.


Be involved. I think we had a hundred and fifty people voting today, in the business meeting. All right, that’s not being involved. We have a voice coming up a vote coming up to give coaches a voice, a permanent voice on the Executive Committee. I wouldn’t expect most of you to ever understand what really went on, until I got elected. But, unless you’re involved in your LSC, unless you’re involved in the zone, involved in National politics; you’re giving up your rights. You’re giving them up to a parent who got on the web site on the Coaches Forum, and told the coaches to do what they do best and coach fast swimming, and leave the running of swimming to the parents who know better. That was on that web site! So, if you don’t get involved, somebody else will. And, we are going to wake up one day with an even less voice than we have now. And, we’re not going to be happy with what we’re left with. We can’t leave it all to Coach Hogan, or to Coach Leonard, or George Block, or Richard Quick. We need every coach being involved. If every coach took a position, no coach could have two positions. Next year, this clinic is in San Diego. I’ve been saying this for probably twenty years, the ASCA Clinic should back up to the USS Convention. And, it does next year in the same hotel in San Diego. One week to the next. I hope every coach here goes home this next year, this next month probably, and runs for a position on your Board. There shouldn’t be a Senior Chairman, Age Group Chairman, Technical Chairman, and of course Coach’s Rep, who is not an active true coach. And, let them pay for your way, both to the ASCA Clinic next year, and to the USS Convention. I was told by Kent Nelson last night, that seventy five percent of the coaches who attend USS Convention, are not active coaches.


They’re not you and I, who are going back to our programs. They’re people who hold coaching cards, because they took three courses, and they feel it gives them access to the deck during the swim meets. Because they have their coaching card. We need real coaches involved, I’m on a soap box, I apologize. Show class. Class work lasts forever. Chuck Warner and I became friends about twenty years ago at Y Nationals, it was actually 1980. And, he was walking around with a sport coat on. Most of you might know, Y Nationals are in Ft. Lauderdale in April.  I hope Chuck knew that back then, I hate to surprise him with that. <laughter> I didn’t know Chuck, but I was watching him, and the team did very well. And, our team had a good meet, and went from scoring one point the year before to being, I think fifth or sixth, something like that in the meet. It was a rainy year, and we were all huddled inside,


You have to know Y National to know what was going on. But, Chuck walks by, and we had never met, and he walked by me and he just congratulated me. And, he says, that’s quite an improvement from one point last year to sixth this year. The way he presented himself, so impressed me. The fact that he would know that a team, in the middle of Illinois, only scored one point the year before. Class lasts forever. As they say, you get one chance at a first impression.


I have it listed down further, but I’m going to put it forward now. When we speak to groups, when you go to your Board meeting, how do you dress? You want to be taken as a professional, and you want to improve your program, how are you going to be perceived? You come in sandals, cut-offs, and a tank top, then they will perceive you as a surfing bum. I’m not saying you need to be wearing a jacket and tie. But, if you don’t walk in dressed properly, then they won’t listen to you the same way. Really, simple, watch television. Watch sports like football, and basketball, and see how the coaches are dressed. Not all wearing jackets and tie. But, they all dress in a way that lend class to the way they are presenting themselves. Besides dress, your appearance. You know, you can wear. I can wear a jacket and tie and look worse than the person wearing the tank top and shorts. If I am at fault, it’s the fact that I did John a favor, and shaved two days in a row, ‘cause I hate shaving every day. It’s one of the reasons I coach. If I worked on Wall Street, I’d have to shave every day. And, I wouldn’t want to do that.


Don’t miss practices. Don’t arrive late. You have to work to be first. We use to have a hard time when I coached at the YMCA with Terry, we had this guy Josh Bowder, who rode his bike to morning practice in the snow, and would get there before us. If you want to have their respect, you have to be more anxious then they are to be at practice. If you’re not anxious, they won’t be.


Do not talk about your personal life. This is just trying to help you build your reputation within your program. You shouldn’t be discussing personal things with your swimmers. Nor, should you be discussing your swimmers with the swimmers. Because, you can be certain that when you tell Jane something about Bonnie, Bonnie is going to hear about it.


Educating your staff. It’s easy to hire good people and then not manage them. It’s your job. And, I’m not talking right now to the head coaches, you might be the age group coach, and there’s a novice coach hired below you, it’s your responsibility to help teach that coach. You can’t just say you’re hired, here’s your job, go do it.


We have staff meetings, we try to have them once a week.  Whether we’re going over how we’re going to attend a certain meet, and who’s going to be there. Or going over what I want  to see taught in the strokes, or going over problems that we are having at the team at that time. Or just congratulating the group. And I don’t do this often enough, but try and remember to give compliments, when compliments are deserved. But, manage your staff.  Don’t hire them and let them go.


One of the hard things I had to learn and some of my coaching friends helped to teach me. I’m one of those guys who wants to do it all myself, because I’d rather do it myself, and it if it’s going to be done wrong, I’d rather do it wrong then somebody else. I had to learn that it’s OK to have the people who work with me not do things the way I want it done. It still might be the right way to do it. That goes along with allowing your staff to take ownership. Allowing them to say “this is my group, these are my athletes”. I want them to have pride, when those swimmers succeed in the meet. I also want them to take the responsibility when the group doesn’t swim well. I want them to go back and figure out why and what can we do better.


Everyone must buy into the program and goals. And, this mixes it all back together. The communication, the education, whatever the program and goals are, it will not grow it will not succeed unless you can get people to buy into it. That alone is an art. I’m going back to the very beginning, that is what David Marsh is great at. From the moment I walked on that pool deck, as his assistant coach, I bought into his dream.  You can’t help but do it.


If you want to succeed you have to realize and learn, and if you’re not doing it, don’t get frustrated. Read, talk to people, video tape yourself, and watch yourself.  The hardest thing we have  is being personally critical. Set standards for success. Raise the bar of expectation for the staff and the program. That goes back to dreaming and planning, and setting the stage for your success later on. I hope most of you got at least something out of this. These are my observations over the past years. At almost every meet I go to, I quiz coaches on what they’re doing. Try to learn something from them.

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