Charlie Hodgson is currently the Director of Product Development and Support services for Hy-Tek, Ltd. Twenty years of coaching experience, formerly head coach of Hodgson’s Hurricanes, 1984 U.S. Assistant Olympic Coach, and coach of World Record Holders Matt Gribble (1983) and David Wilkie (1976) and 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist Michele Richardson. BA Dartmouth College, BE Thayer School of Engineering.
I created Workout Manager based on my 20 years’ experience in coaching to help myself design and analyze my workouts. It won’t make you smarter or coach for you. It will make you more productive and help you make better decisions.
I was a meticulous coach. I wrote every workout on paper before practice began, usually 90 minutes before. I always felt I couldn’t write workouts farther ahead than that because I went by how the kids performed in the last workout and what the feedback from them. Most successful coaches know instinctively whether or not to push the swimmers on a given day. But I took a lot of time in planning because I was meticulous about it. When you’re coaching age group, you don’t always have that much time for planning, particularly just before workout. The next group wants to start and the parents want the kids to be in and out on time. It’s hard to design workouts if you’re just winging it or writing them on a piece of paper. It takes time to do that right, and the computer can speed that process up.
The computer can help all coaching styles. I usually thought of myself as a pretty dry, meticulous type. The kids thought it was a pretty big deal if I had something good to say about practice because it would have to be pretty special for me to do that. Then there’s the conceptual type who can visualize the whole season and shoot from the hip without a lot of planning. Then you have the motivational type who are successful because they psych the kids up and get them to work hard all the time. It may not be the right kind of set, their technique may not be good, but because they’ re mentally tough and psyched up, they still do well. Then you have the coach who doesn’t do any planning at all, but who still does well. I think the computer has something for all of these types.
Computers can be confusing. I was talking to one coach about his problems of the program, so I asked him to send me a copy of his disk. A couple of days later in the mail came a Xerox copy of his floppy disk. The point is that computers are intimidating to people because of the language. Once you can get past this, you’re okay. I and Hy-tek try to design software that is user-friendly. It doesn’t matter whether you know what DOS means. You just want to get your workout done or run your meet using plain English.
Other coaches become obsessed with computers and all the data and forget that the real key is in communicating with the athlete. The benefit of Workout Manager is that creating workouts now takes half the time or less, so you have more time to spend coaching and motivating and correcting strokes.
There are five areas where Workout Manager can help you. We want to also show you how easy it is to get data that you really want, so you and the swimmers have the information you need. The five areas that can make you more productive are: Workout design and analysis, recording attendance and the real yardage kids do on a weekly basis, recording your swimmers’ best rested and unrested times, using these times and test sets to predict training paces, and recording test sets, such as six 100’s on eight minutes. You can record any test set you want and if it’s one of the five standard test sets, it will predict a meet time for you.
We’re showing a workout I already wrote. The first feature to look at is the date you’re going to do the workout. You can assign every workout to a group and subgroup. Groups include senior, junior, novice and whatever. Subgroups include sprint, distance, breaststroke, however you break down your groups. It’s hard for one person to coach more than four different groups at one time, but this will make it easier. As you add and delete lines, the timeline is calculated for you, the cumulative distance is calculated. This way you know that if have 2 hours and want to cover 6500 or 7000 yards or meters, this lets you know if you’ re over or under and you can adjust quickly.
You can label every line of the workout whether it’s swim, kick or pull, and the energy system you’ re using. We’re using the energy systems developed by !CAR. The first three are where you’re developing aerobic capacity. The fourth is the most important, anaerobic threshold. These may be changed in the future to heart rate levels. You can set them up anyway you want. The last, 8- second sprints, that’s where you go in the diving well and do 40 13-yarders on 30 or 40.
You can choose from among 20 stroke categories. It saves you typing because you can just choose a number to label a set; you just hit a key and it’s in. You can choose from single line sets and circuit sets. Single line sets are those you just go through once and you’re done. Circuit sets are those where you repeat all the lines several times and the rest occurs after you cycle through it several times. If you want extra rest after a set, then you insert a line with zero reps on a minute.
Another nice feature is the ability to add some notes to the workout. You can write ten pages if you want to, though it’s not a text editor.
We can analyze the workout because you’ve labeled it in three areas: strokes, energy categories and types of work. This key will tell you what percent of yardage and what percent of total time have been devoted to each. You can keep adjusting a workout as. you plan until it reflects the percentages you want to hit.
In the real world, you do some of your workout planning at home and some at the pool. You can export workouts from one computer to another to keep the two data bases, one at home and one at the pool, current. You can also download your workouts, in about three seconds, to your Colorado computer and IO-line scoreboard if you use that setup as a pace clock. It frees me from being a walking stopwatch to correct strokes, communicate and motivate. You put all the workouts in zip lock bags and hang them from the starting block and they just follow the workout and the programmed scoreboard.
Recording attendance is a real pain, and you need to do a Jot of math to calculate their percent attendance and how much cumulative yardage they’ve completed. If you’ve assigned swimmers to a group, and you write a workout for that group, the program automatically assumes they were there. If they miss, you just put an “A” in there and the computer calculates all of it. You update it on a weekly basis, then do a report, by hitting “R” for group 20 and you can get a periodic report for up to I 00 swimmers that shows weekly yardage completed and the total for 5 weeks of workouts, plus percent attendance.
You can store up to 10,000 swimmers and keep their rested and unrested best times. If you have them on Team Manager already, you can import all their information in a few seconds.
Now we’ll go to the Training Menu. I’ll concentrate on the T-30 as the most reliable way to find the anaerobic training pace. Take their distance for the timed 30- minute swim and the system will predict best training paces. This is more accurate than predicting off of rested best times from a year ago. You just put in the distance, hit “P” to print and you have your report. You can also do a modified T-30, you tell each swimmer how far to swim, looking for a 25 to 40 minute swim, then enter their time. It doesn’t have to be exactly a 30-minute swim.
Now we’ll go to the test sets which let you actually record what you’ re doing. Some come from Australia, some from Jon Urbanchek at Michigan. You can use them to predict a meet time. You can create any test set you want, but only the five standard ones will predict a meet time. The next set: 6 x I 00 or 6 x 200 on 8 minutes is Jon Urbanchek’s and will predict a shaved, rested meet time for 100, 200 or 500. If you do 20 x 100 on I:30 or less, it will predict the 1650 or 1500 time. You can look up all your test sets and sort them by number or date, then print a report of all of them.
Eventually we’d like to have a national recorded data base of test sets by selected swimmers all over the country for coaches to compare their swimmers with. We’ll be forming a committee to decide what we want this system. The whole philosophy here is it does not dictate to you how to coach; it’s a tool to make it easier for you to be creative. Thank you.