[introduction, by Don Heidary]
I have had the great pleasure to know our next speaker for over 40 years. He is truly a gift to the sport of Swimming. He is as passionate, knowledgeable, and creative about stroke development as anyone you will ever meet. Steve speaks nationally and internationally on technique in Age Group coaching. His expertise and methodology has developed a dominant summer league team, which consistently produces swimmers that would rank nationally in USA Swimming. Throughout his career, he has founded a USA Swimming team, ran a large swim school, and coaches a Masters team.
As far as training coaches goes, Steve has produced a machine at Orinda Country Club that wins every year, and a big part of that is because of his coaching staff. He has coaches from internally and coaches that he hires from the outside; some elite athletes. He always, through his philosophy and methodology, finds a way to make the best program possible; he just produces year after year. The thing I want to say about Steve is he is an extraordinary coach, but he is an even better person. It is an honor to introduce Steve Haufler.
Alright, what I want you guys… all I want is that you take home something from this talk, you write it down and it makes a difference in your program. Either for your assistants or for you as coaches. Now one thing I want you to know is I need you to understand, why I have 16 coaches. So I need to show you something; I need to go back to coaching 11+12—that is my talk tomorrow and it is going to be an awesome one. But you need to know that I have a program in the Spring and the Summer.
So here is my Spring program. It goes from 3:15-7:45; that is four hours and a half and I coach the whole thing, with the help of 4-6 coaches. They are in the water or on the deck—mostly in the water with the younger kids. Now one thing I want you to notice, and this is one of the key things to our program this year: 5+6, 3:15-3:50, then the 6+7, 3:40-4:20. How do I do that? The last ten minutes of the 5+6s, they spend at the shallow end of the pool; the first ten minutes of the 6+7s, they are at the deep end of the pool doing dives and finishes. And all the way through, we have a ten minute overlap. We are looking at about 30 kids in a group, so I have 60 kids in the water, going at both ends for ten minutes and then they get out.
9+10s, 4:50-5:40. At 5:30 the 10-12s get in—there is overlap: the better kids would be in the later group in the 10 year-olds. This was one of the key things to our season: we increased the time that were kids in the water, we did not spend any more money on coaching staff, we had the same amount of time at the pool, from 3:15-7:45.
Now in the Summer (that is our teaching schedule), we go 6 hours and 45 minutes—from 7:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. I coach the 11+12s, 13-18 Ones, 13-18 Twos. I leave this to my assistants. I come back and coach the 6&Under Ones, which is my superstar of 6&Us and get them going. They are pretty good. Then the 6&U Twos, I kind of hang-out/supervise that, and then I am teaching lessons. That is my day.
So there are my assistant coaches. Those are my senior coaches; there is one guy missing. I have 8 senior coaches, and 8 junior coaches. The senior coaches are all college graduates, except one—he is still in college. We are all either high school or college swimmers. Let me introduce them.
• See the blonde guy in the middle, that is Martin Liivamagi from Estonia. An Estonian Olympian; he never coached before. He swam for Cal, NCAA third place in the 100 Breaststroke and 200 IM, was on the national championship team. It is his first year of coaching. Going clockwise, Nick McDonald, he was on this team, Orinda Country Club, from 6-18. Now, he is a junior at Chapman University.
• Below him, Brian Byer, coached him from 6-18, he went to Claremont McKenna, a water polo player. (And he was supposed to wear his gray shirt.) He was kind of a goofball, but he is a great coach, he is a teacher in Oakland.
• Tiffany Forbes, next to me. She is from Colorado. Anybody know Tiffany? Coached in Arizona, Colorado.
• Then me.
• And then Brooke Woodward. Swam for me from 6-12, went to Orinda Aquatics until she was 18. Went to Emery, national championship team. Graduated this year; back coaching with me. Now, she has been a junior coach—same with Nick and Brian and Brooke. They have been junior coaches for the last few years; now they are senior coaches, first year.
• Alex Bing from Pacific University, just graduated. Her sister is Katelyn Bing, swims for Cal, national-level swimmer.
• And then Rachel Berg. She swam at the University of Oregon, and San Luis Obispo.
But two coaches—these two here: Martin and Rachel—outside hires this year, never met them before. Tiffany is an outside hire; Alex Bing is an outside hire, but she coached last year. And three inside hires: Nick, Brian, and Brooke.
I also have eight junior coaches that are high school kids, and they start mostly in the Summer. Everybody here, except Brian, starts with me in April, I think we started the 7th, and goes all the way through our program. Now we are talking about a 16 week season, so that is why I need so many coaches.
Inside hires. These are kids that I have hired from the team. They are starting-off as great team members—you know the type. They are leaders in their age group, they are good role models. When they are in eighth grade, we allow them if they want and if we think they are ready, to be volunteer teachers with our Tiger Shark program—that is the learn-to-swim program. It is a swim school at our club: 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds. When they are going in to ninth grade, they can become a junior teacher. They get paid, minimum wage. We have a program that goes like 3:00-5:00 in the afternoon, they teach twenty-minute lessons.
Out of that group, which is about 12-16 kids, eventually I select my junior coaches. And they are junior coaches if they are still in high school. Once they graduate from high school, and not swimming on our team anymore, then either they are not a coach anymore or I bring them back to be a real-live senior coach. And I am going to bring-back two of our junior coaches this year to be a senior coach.
Now, these kids that I am looking for, they are kids that are reliable, confident, strong work-ethic, and very positive and happy people. But I also pay strong attention to when we do peer teaching or when I assign kids in the senior group to work with younger kids. Just last week, our 12-15 group, they were just finishing the workout at 5:30; only 3 lanes, they just have 12 kids in that group in the Fall—I have a Fall program.
Right next door is the 8 and 9 year olds, pretty good ones: our best 8s and some new 9s. We had 15 minutes left in practice, and I said okay, we have 12 kids here, 12 kids there, let’s pair them up. I said, “I want you to teach them open turns.” Now these kids have had experience in open turns; I am talking about the 8+9 year olds. All of them know how… they look okay. But I paired them one by one, and then I watched how they reacted. How they reacted to being a teacher; their voice, their presentation. And some kids are natural. And probably you were naturals, when you were kids, that is why you are in this room now.
Outside hires. I have learned that swimming ability has nothing to do with teaching ability, when it comes to teaching kids how to swim or to be a coach. However, if you are a natural teacher and you are a good swimmer, that helps. So that is okay. But I have learned that they do not know anything just because they are a good swimmer.
So I have learned not to advertise, because I get the kids and people that want to be a coach that either are not qualified—and I am wasting my time with phone calls, emails and resumes. So I recruit: I ask recommendations from my current staff, I ask other coaches. Then I went out and talked with Dave Durden about, you know, what would be a good coach out here, and he made some recommendations. Same with Teri McKeever. (I live right over the hill from Berkeley.)
So then when I call these people up, that I have recruited through recommendations, I am not offering them a job; I ask them to come-in. I say I am looking for some coaches. I have heard through your coach that you would be a good coach. I am looking at a number of people. Would you be interested in coming in for an interview? And blah, blah, blah, here is our program, and are you interested. Yes, and they come in.
When I get that resume, I want to see if they have had some experience working with kids or some interest in kids—that is key to me. Besides that, I am also looking for a connection: I want to feel like this guy or this woman is somebody that I would like to work with. And then I know I am ready to hire them.
So when I hire them, I give them three things to read. First, my coaching handbook. My coaching handbook has every presentation I have given in the last like 7 or 8 years: the PowerPoints, the notes, every article I have written about stroke technique, outlines from my videos that I have done. It kind of covers the subject. In addition in this coaching handbook, which is about… it is a good binder-size, it has the meet schedule, the workout schedule, what we are going to do every day on the strokes, has a social calendar. How to fill out your timecard, how to eat healthy, how to stay healthy, how to be professional. Expectations of our team, our philosophy, our culture. They are supposed to read that first.
Then second, they are supposed to read The Talent Code. Just a show of hands, how many people have read that book? See look at that; if you have not read it, it is a book all coaches, I believe, should read.
Then Developing Swimmers. I think Michael Brook’s book is the best book on the market, especially for new coaches, but even for old coaches. Show our hands, again: how many people have that book? Alright. (So I went by to see if they had anymore, and they are sold out. And Michael did the Level 2 School, today, so you know he has got his stuff.) So I want them to get a different perspective, even though I agree with Michael with I think 99% of what he wrote in that book.
All right, so we have a plan then. I am going to give you a training program. I am not going to give you all the specifics, but here is what I do. We start-off with two 50-minute lectures (and I will describe what is in those lectures after I go through this). Always have a 10 minute break after 50 minutes—never want to go over that. DVDs of Olympic swimmers: we watch Olympic swims, like from the 2012 and 2008 Games. We watch underwater and above water. I get out all my GoSwim DVDs of Aaron Peirsol, Misty Hyman, Brendan Hansen, Roland Schoeman, Jason Lezak; we watch parts of it. I want them to know what a world-class stroke looks like on top of the water and underwater. About an hour of that.
Then we have lunch. We go down to the club; we have some lunch. We talk; we kind of break mentally from Swimming, but sometimes we talk about Swimming. And then, because I do not want them to fall asleep the rest of the day, we go down to the pool, and we swim. But it is not a workout, it is like a lesson and I am looking at their strokes. I am in the water, they are in the water. I am underwater and I am looking at people that are like really-good swimmers, and making corrections.
So I am watching a young woman that was a national champion in butterfly, and I said “You know, don’t you think, has your coach ever told you, you kind of dip your chin a little too much on your pull?” Well, maybe. “Well go over to the mirror, and check it out.” I feel like I make a lot of… they really, really start believing in me when they see that I can look at a world-class stroke and make some adjustments. Boy that felt better than ever. So I love the swim part, and we get a little exercise.
And then we go back upstairs, and we watch DVDs, some of my DVDs. We watch Teaching Progressions and Positioning Techniques, in particular, and my butterfly one. And, you know, it is kind of weird, I am watching my own DVD there. But I am backing it up with information beyond what I am saying and giving them things to look at.
Then we review the handbook, we go through that, and explain what to study because at the end of the second day they have a test. I have a copy of the test here; I thought some of you might be interested. I can read out some of the questions after I go through what I am going to explain to you.
But we come back at nine o’clock in the morning; discussion, DVDs, lectures—whatever I feel I missed. Kind of add-on to a few things, kind of give them some ideas of answers for the test. I tell them: I just want to know what you know. And then they take the test; it is about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Then the detailed review of test answers, that usually starts at 11:30. And what I do is I have—which I did not bring—a test with all the right answers, perfect, in my handwriting. And very simple; they are always surprised how simple the answers are. I hand copies of that to everybody, and we go over it. I go these are the right answers. And I have their tests, and I say, “If anybody wants to take the test over tonight, I’ll give you a blank one, and you can go home and take it open book.” All I want them to know is this type of information, which they will learn as they go through the lecture material.
Now the first thing I do, because these are new coaches, these are high school kids or coaches in the first year at OCC [Orinda Country Club], and I need to explain the big picture that we are a country club with golf and tennis, and a dining room, and swimming. The swim team lately has been a big part of the membership; we are bringing in a lot of people because they want to be a part of our swim team and we have a good reputation. So that is the big picture.
We do not want them to be our coaches; they have to be… do not ever, you know, disrespect golf or tennis or anything like that. And everybody is important: we are a total team. I tell them “You’re not an employee of the swim team; you’re an employee of the Orinda Country Club. So everything you do around this campus of the club, reflects on you and our team and our program.” So I want them to see the big picture.
And the parents, I let them know that they are paying a lot of money to be here. I mean $80,000 for the golf membership, just to get in, and about 20,000 for a social membership. So, I explain to them that this is a service business, we are here to serve our customers, which is the members of the club. Now the customers are not always right when it comes to swimming, but we treat everybody with respect and give them a lot of… have got to love. Because we are working with their children, and they are going to love you because you are good to their children. I explain that to them.
That it is an honor to be a coach. The main reason: it is a lot better than some of the other jobs. You know, lifeguard, which is a good job, or working at a restaurant, because you have impact on these people, you have impact on a swimmer’s life. They are going to remember you forever; you are an important person. Remember that coach that you loved when you were 8, 9, and 10; I want you to be that person. So I am kind of motivating them to get that feeling that this is important.
I also talk about: you are going to develop so many skills here as an assistant coach, I mean it is better than an internship, which everybody seems to be doing. You are going to learn to negotiate with a 6&Under to hold their breath. You are going to deal with parents in large groups. You are going to organize; you are going to public speak in front of large groups. You are going to speak at our awards banquet. You are going to speak in front of a bunch of 12 year-olds. You are going to get their attention. You are going to learn a lot; you are going to learn to teach.
My son, when he went out for some interviews, his resume had all this good stuff. He went to Yale, so that sounds great; and you know, he had other experience working with other companies. At the bottom of his resume, he had assistant coach of the Orinda Country Club, which he was. The guys started talking about that; he went on to ask Oh, you’re a coach? Yeah, I want to hear about that. I let them know that, that being a coach is an important thing and in people’s lives, you make a difference.
I also want them to know how to introduce themselves to parents. These are high school kids or in-college kids, or just-graduated from college kids—22s, 23s, 24s at the most, 25s once. I want them to say, Hello, Mr. so-and-so or Miss so-and-so. My name is… I’m the new coach. I just want to introduce myself. And I want them to say I’ve worked with your child, and say something nice about their kid. Start-off on a positive note, and you are going to win the parents over. And most of the time, the parents will say Oh, just call me Julie or just call me Larry instead of…. But if they do not say that, stick with Mr. or Mrs.
This is part of our lecture; when we get together that two hours, quickly, I will go over this. Number one: safety is our main priority. When you are teaching diving, when you are in the deep end; when you are working with 6&Unders, do not turn your back on the 6&Unders. And anytime anybody is holding their breath—we do not do much of that, but we do some.
I want them to look professional, and looking professional is not that hard for a Swimming coach. You can wear shorts and a polo shirt; you can wear a Hawaiian shirt and be professional, if that your team gear; you can wear athletic looking gear. Do not just come on deck with dirty Levi’s, or, you know, high heels. You know, look like you are a coach.
Be nice. So the number one thing when I talk to some of the parents, I say, “What does Katie think of Rachel our new coach?” Oh, she thinks she’s nice. The girls say that a lot. So I start-off: you need to be nice. Smile. I tell them to smile because number one, you are better looking when you smile. Number two, the parents think that things are going well, and hopefully they are. And you are giving good energy to the kids, because you are smiling. Have fun out there; if you are having fun, the kids are having fun. And make a connection before a correction.
I had this good coach. I hired her, really knew her stuff, swam for Cal. Very kind of aggressive in how she approached people and kids, in a way that she was very direct. And the first time she was working with kids, she would just, you know, hey, that’s wrong, you need to do it like this, you’re doing this, that doesn’t look good. And I told her, I said, “Katie, Katie, Katie,” because I got some complaints. But this girl is going to be a great coach, I knew it.
I said, “Katie, you’ve got to be nice first. Make a connection with the swimmer; just get to know them a little bit, make some conversation. Or, the first time you stop the swimmer to work with them, make it a positive thing. Just tell them how… you look really good, and just let that go, don’t not say but. Let that one go, and a day later come back and then you can start with the correction.” And I will explain something that I have learned about that.
I want them to know their names, 100%, as soon as possible. We have a roster. I want them… they will help me take role, so they check it off. I will quiz them; you know: do you know everybody in that lane? Let’s go over it. So they know their name, because you cannot coach unless you know their name.
And one of my favorite things to say, even to my coaches on deck today, is: coaching is not a spectator sport. Do not be sitting there, just watching what is going on. Do not drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the scenery, and just watch. It is easy to do. But I want them to be proactive; they should be praising, correcting and encouraging. And there are special ways you can do that.
Here is what I want them to do; here is what I want to see. Quickly. When I tell them at this lecture, I want to see you stopping swimmers if they’re doing things incorrectly. I tell them: “You’re going to be in the water working with kids. Don’t let them swim by if they’re doing something incorrectly; correct it.” Now if you do not know that that head position is too high, we need to go back to watch some of my videos or I need to talk to you more about this.
Pull the swimmers off to the side, out of the area, up on the deck, so they can really understand what you are saying. Because most of the time, when you do a quick correction, they do not know what you are talking about; they will do one of these and then nothing really looks better. So take the time to get them out of the water to make a correction, if you really need something.
I want them circling the deck or working with an assigned lane. They can add-on to what I say; if I am giving a little spiel on something, they can just say yes, and make sure you do this. When they are working with a set, with a little more older kids, challenge them, know what their times are doing and then ask them to improve it.
When you make a correction, if it is going to be a quick one, the next time they stop, you better be there to give feedback. This is the number one mistake of coaches. They want to talk to every swimmer—they talk to them, they talk to them, they talk to them. But then they do not go to the other end of the pool, or wait till they come back, to give them feedback. It is probably the number one mistake I make. So I have realized that, so I have gotten a lot better lately.
Make a difference. Are you adding value to this workout? If you were not there, would things not be quite as good.
Tell them: never make a scene in discipline. If somebody is acting up, do not yell and make a big deal about it; remove them from the situation, talk to them in private. But you can praise in public all you want.
Do not talk on a cell phone or socialize. I do not even want the cell phone on you, unless your wife is pregnant and she is going to give birth in the next month or so. And the last thing here, I tell them if there as a problem—if they are upset with something or something bothering you and something that I did, maybe—do not bring it up on the deck. I am too hot on the deck, and if you start complaining about something, it is not going to go well. Just wait till we get off the deck. And they understand that.
Alright, teaching techniques. They are going to learn all my progressions for starts, strokes, turns, underwaters, break-outs, and finishes. They need to have a plan, whenever they start to teach something. It is pretty simple in the strokes, but they need to have a general plan. They need to understand that everything involves a demonstration, an explanation, watching the performance of a swim, and then some feedback—those are the four things. That is how you teach.
I want them to know positioning techniques. What I mean by that is, when you are teaching side breathing, let’s say: I want you standing on the opposite side of where they are going to take the breath; I want you to hold their hand under their triceps, like this; the lead arms are like that; your hand is here; you’re going to turn their head like this; and I want that on their temple. And do not grab their…. You know, I teach them how to position things. Breaststroke kick: I want them to turn their feet out with their thumbs, and press out and down like that.
Little things. I want them to know the vocabulary that we have.
Wait, let me go back. Different learning styles: I explain how kids learn visually, kinesthetically, and verbally; and they are going to learn best, in my opinion, kinesthetically and/or visually. We can always add the verbal, but I think we do too much of that.
Be fluent in our teaching vocabulary. We have a vocabulary for all our different things we do. You know, position 11, they need to know what position 11 is. They need to know streamline—that is obvious. But we also call this missile position, which is not streamline, but it is a streamline position that is for like breaststroke gliding. I need them to know the names of the drills. Separation drill for breaststroke, double pause for breaststroke, bunny rabbit ear entry for backstroke. There is a lot of that, but there is a whole page of it. And it is on the test.
How to teach private lessons. We teach either twenty-minute or half-hour lessons. And those lessons, I tell them “Don’t chase too many rabbits. Don’t try to cover too much material; try to learn something right.” And after the lesson, ask the child What did you learn? What are you going to think about?, and What are you going to think about in practice?, How are you going to fix this?
And tell them: I’m going to ask you tomorrow at practice what we’ve worked on today. Because so many times, the kids, they forget what you worked on. I have examples. I mean I have told some kids something so many times; I say, “Don’t you remember me telling you that yesterday?” No. So, I have techniques that have helped me get better at that.
I have a lot of toys and visual aids that I use, and I bring that into our meeting. That is how to use the head and our swim doll. So they get exposure to my variety/way of teaching. We discuss differences in boys and girls, and that is a good discussion. It is mostly discussion about the differences that we see in kids. And I tell them we do have kids that have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but I am not going to tell you who they are. I want you to just find out on your own, but just treat everybody like they have the disorder when you are teaching. If that works, you do not give them too much information.
Demonstrations. Use proper technique when demonstrating on the deck. Now I had a coach, who I did not train properly, who was really a good butterflier, who went up and demonstrated butterfly to a group of kids, and she goes [does motion]. I was like: what are you doing? I said “Don’t do that.” She did not know how to… I mean, I do not know what she thought. But now I have them demonstrate for me on deck before they get on deck: how do you demonstrate butterfly.
Now, you can demonstrate it in a vertical plane. You can talk about that you want the hands coming in like this. You can tell them that the water is here, the air is there. This is what it looks like. Or you can bend over, and get like this, or actually get on a bench and show them how to do it, or lie on a block. And that goes for all the strokes. Do not be demonstrating breaststrokes with turning your body tilted to the side—which happens to some people. Do not do backstroke like this; do not overreach when you are demonstrating. So that is something that we go over.
Proper techniques when demonstrating in the water; that is actually easier for most swimmers. Make sure everyone can see. Most of the time they cannot see because the sun in the way or you are too far away. So get them together—do the Orinda Aquatics thing—get them all out of the water, get them in a nice tight circle, and then talk to them and demonstrate. Or if you have a swimmer demonstrating, have them, the swimmers, get out of the water and stand over a lane.
You want to present your demonstration from many angles. Like underwater, let them watch underwater; above water, have them watch swimming towards you, and then watch side view. Always tell them what to look at, and then include an explanation.
So moving right along: effective explanations. First of all, you have got to get their attention; you know, you should have that control. Then you have 10 seconds; unless you are entertaining, then you have about 30, maximum. If you have a visual aid in your hand, like a head or a hand or a doll, you are going to increase how much attention you get. Then keep it one topic, keep it concise, show a little demonstration along with the explanation, and move on.
Communication skills and delivery. Again, commanding their attention. Have a topic, keep it short. Avoid likes and okays and ums. Keep it age-appropriate. Repeat key phrases to them, and have them repeat them back to you. They might be mantras that you have for your strokes: pulling, you might say you want to make a letter Y, scoop and shoot. And call for action: once you get their attention and deliver something, you want them to do something for you, so there is a call for action here.
Command the workout. Have presence on the deck; look professional. Come on the deck like you are stepping on to a stage—thank you Don Heidary, you gave me that line. But you do not want to come out there when you are talking to the kids like this; be big, feel like you are trying to scare a bear. Right? Make yourself big on the deck. Use your hand motions, use your voice, have a lot of preparations when you go on the deck. Be enthusiastic and fully engaged.
My coaches coach, at the most, like four hours a day. They might have a three to four hour shift, that is senior coaches; the junior coaches, the high school kids, they coach an hour-and-a-half a day, some of them only an hour. And that is in the summer. So they have energy, to spare.
They need to learn to direct their voice. Men or women need to be able to yell across the pool. They can learn to be more vocal—a deeper, stronger voice—by getting the voice from down deep. And then when you talk to swimmers: do not look over the head like this, talk to them. When you are looking at everybody there, you have got six lanes, open your eyes big, look at them, talk to them. Do not kind of talk like this [softer voiced], talk to the water or the diving board; try to make eye contact, say eyes, eyes everybody’s eyes. If I am not looking at you, if you’re not seeing my eyes, you’re not listening.
So get their attention, and then do not bring attention to disruptions, praise attentiveness. What I mean by that, do not be standing here looking at lane 6 and going “Joey, Joey, Jack, Jack, Jack, pay attention”. Jack is getting all this attention because he is disrupting things, he is jumping up and down, he is underwater, he is not paying attention. What you do that works—Jack can still be doing that—and you just go, “Boy everybody in lane 3 is really paying attention; everybody is looking at me.” All of a sudden, lane 2, lane 4, lane 1, lane 5, they are all focusing-in, and all of a sudden Jack stops too. And I have not said a word.
So do not call/pay attention to disruptions. Just start praising the good stuff. Say: look how good Lily is paying attention here, she’s really looking at me; and everybody starts copying her. At least they do it on my team. They have one hand on the wall, and they are looking up at me. They want to please, they want to do it right. So I do not talk about Jack over there.
Coaching skills. This is a little more advanced stuff. When they explain a set—this is with my coaches that are coaching 11+12s and up—we have sets that always have patterns: mathematical patterns and stroke patterns. Describe the set and the pattern, so they understand it; and then describe the purpose and the benefits of the set. This is an endurance set that is going to help you bring home the race better. This is a set that has breath control in it, so you can hold your breath in the 50 free next weekend. We sell the set, and that gives them motivation to go. So be able to sell your sets.
Use quick reminders and challenges during a set. When I am coaching a set, you know, I have got the ones going off like: ones on the top, ready, go. And they are going. Boy, look at those ones, everybody is streamlined in the ones. Twos, ready, go. Oop… alright 5 out of 6 streamlines on the twos. The threes push-off, everybody is doing great. And I’ll say: Look, wow they’re really going; those ones are going after this.” All of a sudden, everybody is picking it up. I am talking all the time; and so is Tiffany—she is a big talker, she talks a lot, she talks all the times during the set, she is keeping things alive.
I want them to walk the deck, move around; do not just stay in one place. Just surprise them where you are. I like to be at all different parts of the pool. And sometimes I am in an inner tube in the pool. Oh yeah. Have you ever played inner-tube water polo? I am really good at that sport.
I taught—I have got to just tell you this—the entire Summer, just about, with my 6&Unders in an inner tube. I would sit in it like this, I eggbeater, I can sit up, I can go back-and-forth in a lane. In a 10-foot pool, I can teach somebody breaststroke; I can stop them. Oh, it is a kick; people cannot believe it. I got my assistants in a tube too. It really makes coaching fun. Plus I am in the water, but I am not swimming back-and-forth; and I can keep my hair dry if I want and still be very effective in the tube. Or walk the deck.
Alright, how to watch swimmers doing group stroke technique. This is what I have really learned to help my assistants. Let us say we are doing 16×25 on 1:00, we are going to do technique, and we are with 10-year-olds. They have got a lot of time, they are going to do kick,-drill-pull-swim, they are going to go through all the strokes. Do not just look and then decide who you are going to stop; pick somebody before they even leave: you are going to watch Johnny right now from the beginning to the end, that is it. And then when you get to the other end, you are going to praise or you are going to correct or encourage them about something.
If you just… because my coaches, even after the training, they would be on the deck and they are not doing anything. So I say you need to do something. Pick a swimmer before they even take off and go tell them something, because you can always tell them something good.
I want them also to be able to take mental snapshots during a set or during anything that we do, and be able to internally see that stroke and tell them what to do. So let’s say I said, “Okay, you watch the ones.” You are watching the ones, they are going a 25. Going down, you can see everything from the side. Then you get to the edge of the pool, you say, “Okay, your head’s a little too high, put it down a little bit. Your left hand is kind of funny on the entry, let’s get the left hand a little wider.” You go down to lane 3, you tell them something else. Go down to lane 4….
Now, you have done that in about 20 seconds. Or watch one lane, and stand at the end of the pool, and be able to give feedback to the entire lane. We are going to go about 10-15 seconds apart, so you will have time. Do not say anything until everybody finishes. You need to remember six different things; either a compliment about the technique, or a little correction. And then go to the other end of the pool. We will do a lot of that.
If you come to my talk tomorrow (3:00-4:00), it is really good. It is about training the 11+12s, what I did this last summer—and I had a great season. It is called: Coaching 11+12s: technique, training and fun. So the technical things that I do with them, with more advanced kids, it is going to show the workouts that we did pre-season and mid-season, and also a taper section, and some fun things that we did. And it kind of covers the subject. So, that is tomorrow.
How to correct a swimmer. When they come in and you want to tell them something, often it is best to ask questions first. Say: “Do you know where we want your hand to go into the water in freestyle?” No? “Should we put it over here right in the middle or up at your shoulder?” Opposite your shoulder—because they have heard that. “Okay well, do you know what your hand is doing? It is way over here. So I’d like you to put it out wider, next time.” Be specific, confirm the understanding, say next time.
Now, what I have learned to do, I do not do this anymore. I used to stop somebody, oh, your left hand looks really good, but… your right hand doesn’t look so good. The kids catch-on to that real fast: they are waiting for the but. So I do not do it; I do not sugarcoat it. I give it to them straight rather, but nice. This is what we need to do…. I might praise them at the end, but I do not give them a positive just to open up. I might give them a positive, and then leave it alone. Right? And then a day later or an hour later, or whatever, then go back to it.
When to praise. Praise when they do something right. Again, to many of my beginning teachers praise everything. Just pushing off the wall and coming to the wall: Oh, that’s good, good. No; you know, that really was not good, so do not even say good. Say, you know, something else: we can do better if you put your head down. Give them some feedback. Alright, when to praise.
How to talk to every swimmer in workout. Pre-workout you can always go around and talk to them. Ask them how school was, what they do in PE, did you have any test today. Or in the summer: how was vacation? Did you go to practice last night? Or were you here yesterday? What happened yesterday? Anything; just make a contact during the workout, then it is business. You are talking to them about swimming, you are encouraging them, getting their time, you are saying their name.
Post-workout, as they exit, we do this a lot. Coaches line up, kids get out of the pool, and we say “high five, and eyes”. They say/give a high five, and I want them to look at me in the eyes with their goggles off—I want to see their eyes. I do not want them to just walk by. A lot of kids are afraid to make eye contact, so we teach them to make eye contact as they walk by. And at that time I can often add something like hey, that was a really good butterfly swim today that you did, and give them some positive as they are exiting.
General. (Do you know this is my last line? so I have done pretty well. I wanted to go 45 minutes.)
So: good employee/bad employee. (Good swimmer, bad swimmer; good employee, bad employee.) Alright, so the good employee is on time; the bad employee comes in late every now and then. The good employee knows how to fill out the time card, so that I can read it; the bad employee forgets to hand in the time card. The good employee stays healthy; the bad employee gets sick every now and then. The good employee’s car works; the bad employee, the car falls apart every now and then. The good employee is organized and their life is organized; the bad employee, it seems like their life is a mess. So I look for the good employee, even before I hire them; the people that seem together.
After I hire them, though, after we give them their schedule, I want them to fill-out a Summer schedule of when they are working. And then I tell them “I want you to fill out two things: I want to know when you’re going to exercise, and I want to know when you’re going to eat. Then fill-in when you’re going to do lessons, and fill-in whatever else goes on with your life, and I want you to hand that in.” I want them to exercise; I ask them to do that. It is really not a big deal: they have time to do it, and I think it makes them a better coach, it makes them healthier.
A good employee does not cause a scene with officials—a good coach. They do not cause a scene with the parents, or they do not cause me any more problems. So I ask them to be a good employee, which is a good coach.
Other teams’ parents and swimmers. We are in a league where sometimes emotions run high between coaches and parents, and I think it is a little weird sometimes. But I think our team is… you know, we were not so good when I got there; we were like last. Then we got to be first, and it was like a weird thing for a while, like, you know, what are we doing. But now, I think, things have settled down and they are accepting that we do well and we play by the rules, and all that.
But we have a lot of kids and people that join our country club and they have been on other teams before. So they join our club because now they want to belong to the golf club, and all that. So I tell the coaches, you know, some of these people, they might be on our team next year, so, be nice: do not be a jerk on the deck.
So here’s a picture of my team. That is a little-over 300 kids, and, you know, our coaches have been a main part of it. I really enjoyed getting these coaches started; almost everybody, you know, it is their first time coaching. And so I give them a good start. It is like I teach swimmers, I like to get them started; I like to get coaches started.
Alright, thank you very much. I know it is a long day, so it is okay if you do not have any questions. If anybody does…. Here is my test; want to hear a couple of questions? (Yes.) You have been waiting for that, huh.
Alright, first question is: When teaching strokes, what are the five main skill progressions? Kick, pull. What’s next? Body position, kick, pull, timing the kick and pull, and then breathing. That is all they have to write; they do not have to write me a book.
Define teaching progressions. What is kinesthetic teaching? What are the four elements that each class should include? What are the most dangerous areas of swimming instruction or coaching? Explain or draw the following: streamline position, missile position, position 11, butterfly flow position, canoe position (for backstroke, rolled-in like that), neutral head position, one-eye breathing position. We get great, little pictures like this.
Define catch-up freestyle or position 11 freestyle, and why it has value. Define recovery for all strokes. When teaching breathe-on-bubble-arm with a board, where should the instructor be located: on the breathing side or non breathing side? (It is on the non breathing side.) Why?
How do you correct falling over the arm, and what does that mean in freestyle? You know, that kind of stuff. Name three different styles used in freestyle recovery? Should the hand be cupped in swimming? (They better not get that one wrong.) If no, how should you describe the best shape of the hand? What is the world-class arm position for freestyle? You may draw a picture. Why do swimmers pump their knees out of the water in backstroke kick? (It is because they have weak hamstrings, and they do not press down long enough and they need to straighten underneath the water.)
What is the number one mistake beginning breaststrokers make with their pull? (Pulling the elbows out back too far.) In backstroke what is meant by bunny rabbit ears. (We talk about entering with a little cock in the wrist, like that, so they are not doing the waitress hand.) These are the things that are on my test.
List the 5 steps in teaching the front dive. List the 17 steps in teaching freestyle with side breathing. They can kind of… I give them body position, kicking, inside breathing, kicking and breathing, pull breathing, breathing and swimming; giving them little tips on that. List five steps in teaching the backstroke, five steps in teaching the breaststroke, and five steps in teaching the butterfly.
(If you want to come up, and look at this, you may.)
Okay. Yes? (Okay, wait, and then you clap.)
[audience member]: Have you ever let a coach go, and what would prompt that? In terms of protocol. And the second question is: if you have a coach that seems talented and gifted, and you wanted to move them up the coaching staff, does it bother the other coaches? Have you done that and how would you do that?
[Haufler]: All right the first question: have I ever let a coach go? Yes. He bothered me for a number of years. Then he got a part-time job at another club, and then was writing letters to all my junior coaching staff offering a job in the Summer, so they could make more money instead of working at ‘Haufler’s sweatshop’. I saw the email because the kids sent it to me.
How did I…? One thing great, we have a human resources person, and I went to her. I said “I need to fire this guy.” So we invited him in, and she sat with me and we/she did it all very professionally. It really was good.
And the leap-frogging, you know, the kids do leap-frog. The kids that we hire from junior coaches that become senior coaches, they have already leap-frogged their peers, because now I have selected them. I am just honest with the ones that maybe we are not hiring, “we just feel that she’s a stronger coach.” And then when they move up, I think there has not been much discussion; at least, I never heard about it.
[audience member]: Are all these coaches, that you have, all registered with USA Swimming? Certified and have to go through all the courses and stuff.
[Haufler]: Only Tiffany and myself are USA Swimming coaches, also. And the kids, if I have them work with me in the Fall… I have another one who is a USA Swimming coach, but he is just during the Fall.
They do not have time to go through all the… you know, I hire them, they are in school—they are college students, they are high school students, they are just graduated—so I train them. We do have clinics in our area that I often will send them to; either to Napa or the Orinda clinic that we have had (that I should do again next year). So, yeah: they are not registered.
Any other questions?
[audience member]: Do you run background checks on them?
[Haufler]: I do not. That is the simple answer. Maybe I should, but I do not. They are young and they come with good recommendations, but I never have.
[audience member]: What tends to be the coach-to-swimmer ratio?
[Haufler]: We have about six kids in a lane and we have about six coaches, so 1:6, In my 11+12s, I have three coaches and me, so 4 coaches, and we have about 36 kids in the water; so a little bit less than that— 8 or 9 per coach.
[audience member]: So if they are not USA certified, does the club have insurance on them? Or can you do that through USA Swimming? Because I thought if they were not registered as USA Swimming coaches, our insurance, if they are on-deck, does not cover anybody.
[Haufler]: Yeah. They are all register… we have club insurance. It is a big time country club.
A couple of more questions, and then I will let you all go.
[audience member]: Does the club require that all your swimmers be members of the club? (Yes.) Okay. And then is the entire pool 6-lanes, or are there open lanes for club members. Like I just cannot tell from.
[Haufler]: Good question. We have six lanes, and then there is extra area on the side. It is like a lake, with bulkheads, even though it is not a bulkhead—it is permanent. With a little other area. I wish I could show you a picture; it is a beautiful, crazy-shaped pool with six lanes, and there is room on the side. I have the members well-trained, and so we use all six lanes. Then we have a p.m. workout too, that we use three lanes.
The best thing I did was I started a Masters program; and I have 70 adults in the Masters program. I coach them in the morning, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and we have a Tuesday-Thursday group, all year around, except in the Summer, we have to reduce our Masters program because of this. But everybody is accepting of it, because they know me and I get all these lap swimmers—you know, that were lap swimmers that are now Masters swimmers—into to work out.
You know, I have good relations with the club members that like to lap swim. I tell them when to come, you know, come at 2, things are loosening up then, and swim on weekends, we have no meet next weekend, you can swim in the morning, all that. I know, I am lucky; and I kind of got there and developed the program before a lot of other people got interested in lap swimming. If they were, I got them on the Masters team.
[audience member]: Do you meet on a regular basis with you coaches? And how does that work?
[Haufler]: Good question, I am glad you asked that. Really, I am training them all the time; I am training them on the deck every day. And I think the best way that you can train your coaches is to be a good example. So, I am on the deck doing things. When I am working with my 6&Us, and I have my junior coaches in the water, as I am instructing the coaches, I will say “Look how I’m doing this, Amy; look how I’m holding the head. Now you do the same with Johnny over there.” So I am doing that all the time.
And then we are so busy in the summer, I have three meetings. One kind of after we get started, after the time trials; I have one in July, kind of mid-July; and then one before the taper. We go over stroke stuff, and things I have seen. But we are so busy, I cannot have like the meeting-a-week type-of-thing, like I thought I could. Or like Donny does, because he is so organized, he has meetings after every meet, but I….
[audience member]: What would you suggest if you had multiple pools? You do not, obviously, but what would you do if you did?
[Haufler]: When I coached USA Swimming, I had multiple pools. But I only had four coaches, you know, and they were more experienced and it was a USA program. In terms of training them, they worked with me a lot beforehand, before we expanded our program. We used two other pools, besides our home pool, and so they were just on their own, and I trusted them. And now, one is a college coach, and one is a really-good Age Group coach.
[audience]: Did you have meetings still then?
[Haufler]: Yeah, we had some meetings. Again, that was about 20 years ago. I remember we had meetings in our kitchen about stuff. But once we got going, it was a year-round program, so we had opportunities to meet, you know, on deck at swim meets and things like that. More opportunities than I have… I mean this is so hectic in the summer with 300 kids and meets every Wednesday and Saturday, and sometimes Sunday.
[audience member]: So in your structure of coaches, you have you, the head coach; you have the senior coaches, who report to you. The junior coaches, who are they report to? The senior coaches? You?
[Haufler]: Well, everybody kind of reports to me. I have my select junior coaches that help me with the 6&Unders—which is my three favorite kids, they are really good. (Donny, you know, these swimmers: Amy Larson, Grace Moran, Tori Ye. Yeah, see, he knows them; he coaches them in high school.) Then the other coaches, they report to the leaders: 7+8 leader, and 9+10 leader. I do kind of check everybody out and I will comment on their coaching, but I ask like Brooke and Alex—Alex coaches 7+8s, and Brooke coaches the 9+10s—how their “assistants” are working.
In the Spring, I coach everybody, but the junior coaches are not there. Once we go to the Summer, then the high school comes-in under, you know, and so we kind of split it up there.
[audience member]: Do you have a recruitment process that you take some of these summer league kids into USA Swimming after your season is over?
[Haufler]: Well, what we do, Orinda Aquatics is our local team. My own kids, when they were 13, they all left the country club and went to Orinda Aquatics and started training more seriously. Sometimes, I have counted… I have gone to the Orinda Aquatics awards banquet, and we have had 10-15 kids that that had graduated OCC.
What we do is we run a Fall program; my swim team goes from 300 swimmers to about a 130. Out of those 130, about 30 of them want to be part of our competitive track. So we sign them up under Orinda Aquatics. They go to swim meets with the Orinda Aquatics cap on, and they have a shirt on and all that. Then, at the end of that time, they cannot continue with year-round swimming or they are ineligible for our rec program. So some of them, and we probably have some kids leaving, which is my promoting, to Orinda Aquatics. They go and swim with Donnie and Ronnie and Matt Amberger.
There is like 9 teams in our league, and every year they get a few swimmers from this 2,000-member league. They get a handful of swimmers, some of the best ones go. But some of them stay rec (you heard his talk), they get really-attached to their team. So there is kind of a process that they would move on. The more dedicated swimmers, that are playing Water Polo or Baseball, and want to take Swimming more seriously.
[audience member]: Do you ever manage a staff that is older than you? And do you have any suggestions on…?
[Haufler]: They cannot be older than me! I am too old. Umm… no.
Alright, thank you.
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