Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Results from Marlins Holiday Invite Now Available!

Thanks to all the fantastic swimmers and parents from all teams who participated in this meet. It was a huge success and we hope that you enjoyed your weekend.

Here are Meet Results:
Results (HERE)
HyTec file (.zip) for Coaches (HERE)

Marlins Holiday Party

Jingle all the way and join us for some Marlins Holiday cheer

WHEN: Sunday, December 18, 2012

WHERE: Ben Robertson Community Center
2753 Watts Dr.
Kennesaw, GA  30144  MAP

WHY: To enjoy that Marlins’ Spirit!!

Families A-L bring please finger food/appetizer (ex: chicken nuggets, mini sandwiches, dips etc.
NO Chips are needed – we have some left from the meet :) )

Families M-Z please bring a dessert.
Please make enough to serve at least 12 people. The Marlins will provide the drinks.

**Coaches gifts can be given on an individual basis at your discretion. 

If you have any questions about the party or what to bring, please contact Kathy Heilman.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marlins 2011 Holiday Invite Meet Info

Our Annual Marlins Holiday Invite is coming up fast!

You can find the Meet Info HERE.
Psych Sheet HERE
Visiting teams: Here are the HyTek Files,

Our Sponsors ROCK!

Lodging Information 

Spring Hill Suites by Marriott
800. 228.9290
3399 Town Point Drive
Kennesaw, GA 30144

Fairfield Inn by Marriott
800. 228.9290
3425 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw, GA 30144

Residence Inn by Marriott
800. 228.9290
3443 Busbee Drive
Kennesaw, GA 30144

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hotel Info for Senior State

Spring HIll Suites by Marriott Athens

3500 Daniels Bridge Rd.,

Athens, GA  30606

Phone #  706-3538484

Rate :  $89.00 + tax

Breakfast included in rate.

Please use Group code when making reservation:  Sports/Team

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pre and Post Race Conversations with The Athlete

If you’ve been to swim meets, you will have noticed that both before a race and immediately after a race, the coach speaks with your child. This is an important part of the race experience.

Before the race, the purpose is to remind the child of the singular thing that  the coach wants the child to concentrate on in that race.

Or, in the words of famous Coach Confucius, “He who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” The purpose of the coach’s communication with your child is to make sure they are focused only on the item that the coach has chosen for that race. (This is based on what we’ve been doing in practice.)  The reason we practice, of course, is to prepare to race.

Post Race, the coach wants to meet IMMEDIATELY with the athlete once they get out of the water to discuss with the athlete if they achieved that singular goal.  Did they do what they set out to do?  If so, “great, good job!” If not, why not?  Or if the athlete can’t remember what they were supposed to do, that’s not a good and back to the drawing board in learning how to concentrate!

Both communications are critically important in the development of the athlete.

If a parent wants to know what the child is supposed to be concentrating on in any particular race, ASK THE COACH! We’ll be happy to tell you. You might check afterwards and see if your child also remembered, post race, what we said about it.  Then you can reinforce the need to focus and learn.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Towel List for last year

IF your name is on the list and would like to purchase a towel, then make check payable to Marlins Sports Foundation, if you do not want a towel do not pay.  See list and check if your name is on the list.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Order form for CUSTOMIZED Swim Caps

Please download this Marlins -- Order form for Silicone Sept. 2011 in order to get personalized swim caps with the swimmers name.


Return to SooSee or Lim by the date specified.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parent meeting/Suit fitting and Inter Squad meet info

MVAC    -    Thursday, September 8, Suit Fitting 4-6 pm, followed by a Parent meeting at 6:30 pm.

BCC    -    Tuesday, September 13, Suit Fitting 3-6pm, followed by a Parent meeting at 6:30 pm.

ALL Swimmers - Saturday, October 1st,
Marlins Inter Squad Meet.
Location:  Brookstone Country Club
Warm up time:  8 a.m.
Meet Start time:  9 a.m.
Eligibility:    ALL Swimmers

Updated Practice schedules

NOTE: Please realize some of this is tentative and that some of the practice times during the week are generic on these schedules, please talk to your coach if in regards to setting up a time to come in if you are not able to make listed times.

Also, for swimmers @ BCC until the tent is up if there is inclement weather please be advised that we will train at MVAC for that day.


Updated BCC schedule

Updated MVAC SC schedule for Fall:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

First Day of Practice for SC Fall 2011 Please Read!

Hello Swimmers,

Below is need to know information regarding the beginning of the new season.

For all Jr1 and Up swimmers first day of practice for East and West Cobb is August 23.

We have the pool from 4:30-5:30 pm (Aug 23rd-26th) and 2:45 pm- 6:30 pm (Aug 29th-Sept 2nd)

The official day of return for everyone and all remaining swimmers is Sept 6th for both locations.

2011-2012 Short Course Practice Schedule for Brookstone CC

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Check out Diversity Camp Video featuring Marlins own Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke at Diversity Select Camp

My Hero: Coach Lim by Mariah Prendes

Who is the hero of the year? You will find out. My hero is Yit
Aun Lim! He is the head coach of the Marietta Marlins. (My
swim team). I’m going to give you some reasons why I think
Lim my coach should be nominated for the new 2011 hero!

Dr.Yit Aun Lim is a professor at Life University. Not only
is he a full time teacher but he is the head coach of the year
around swim team. He prefers to be called coach Lim. Lim is
extremely dedicated as a coach. He holds practices 7 days a
week at 5:30 A.M and in the afternoons for everyone who
would like to come. A coach also requires being responsible.
Aside from his full time job as a professor he is always on
time, and ready to make the swimmers better than they are.
He always seems to know all the swimmer’s strengths and
weaknesses in swimming. When you ask him about how to
be better at a specific stroke he is ready to help you. How
does he know all this? He was a Malaysian national swim
champion when he was only 15 years old. Although our
team is much smaller than many other teams we have been
number one in Georgia for 6 years in a row!

When I was 7 years old I was on another swim team. I
hated the practices and I never learned any of the strokes. I
always wanted to quit! After three years of being taught
swimming by Lim, last summer I finished as a top 5
swimmer in 5 events in the Georgia Age Group

Championships! Now, I regularly swim 2-3 miles a day in
practice and I love it! Lim says that swimming prepares us
for life, it takes hard work, responsibility, and dedication to
succeed in swimming and in life!

Lim is a very interesting person and I would like to
honor Lim as my hero because he is very dedicated to his
family and he always works and plays hard with the
swimmers! Lim treats all of the swimmers as though we
were his children!


Mariah Prendes

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It’s Not About Butterfly (or back, or breast, or free…..)

Coach (giving instructions to a group of above average ability 13-14 year olds):  “The next set is nine 100’s of fly on 1:30, descending one through 3, 4 through 6, and 7 through 9.  The purpose of this set is twofold:  first, controlling your swims, and second, facing the challenge and beating it.  We’re leaving on the next 60, get ready to go.”


Swimmer:  “I suck at fly.  It’s not my best event.  Why do I even have to do this?”


Coach:  “This is not about butterfly.  It’s about your mind.  It’s about mental toughness.  It’s about learning how to deal with the very difficult.  Swimming practice is not designed to be accommodating to what you like, it’s designed to be relevant to what you need, and at the top of the list of relevance is dealing with adversity and learning how to approach the seemingly impossible.  This set is an unabashed challenge to your ability to tough it out. Get ready to go.”


However, the swimmer walks out of practice and later complains to her father who comes to the next practice and confronts the coach.   “How does an impossible butterfly set help her breaststroke?” he demands.


What can happen?  The coach can give the same answer to the father that he gave to the daughter and if the he buys into it, then we have a partnership – coach and father:  the coach presents the challenges and the dad provides the emotional support to the child.


If the father doesn't buy it, the child will lose an opportunity to challenge themselves, convince themselves "I can" rather than "I can't", and the coach will recognize an athlete who is not ready to step up and "take a chance" yet, which is the first step to long term success."


Is there anything more important in this coaching and swimming endeavor than learning to deal with adversity?  Are you giving your coach the authority, the freedom, support, and the blessings to prescribe workouts which enable the swimmer to develop resiliency?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prelims and Finals Swims

Every so often we are presented with the tremendous opportunity to swim in a meet that has prelims and finals sessions. These meets are structured so as to present the fastest 8, or 16, or 24 swimmers from the morning or afternoon prelims sessions with another chance to swim again at finals in the evening. The number of swimmers advancing to finals in this fashion depends on the meet, their age group, and sometimes the events themselves. Some meets offer finals for all age groups, except for the 10 and unders. Some meets offer one heat of finals for 11 and 12 swimmers, but two heats of finals for 13 and older swimmers. Distance events are usually swum just one time, and sometimes the 11-12 200 fly, 200 back, and 200 breast are Timed Finals also.


These types of meets provide a valuable learning experience for our swimmers and encourage them to swim at a high level of competition. These types of meets are valuable tools to prepare our swimmers for their end-of-season Championships. Either they get a taste of swimming finals, or get a better appreciation of what it takes to qualify for finals next time.


Swimming the same event twice in one day is quite a challenge; making finals in two events doubly so. And you can imagine qualifying for three. Yet we don’t want to wait until our biggest meet to face this challenge. The more experience you can get trying to qualify for finals, and swimming finals, the more confidence you will have, the faster you will swim, the stronger you will be.


A swimmer should enter a prelim race with the goal of making finals. To expect anything less would be to sell yourself short. To expect not to make finals would be self-limiting.


As a swimmer develops and reaches this level of competition, we would like you to keep the following information in mind.


What is Involved? Be prepared! Clear your calendar for the entire weekend. When participating in prelims/finals meets, just expect to be there all day. Ideally, we would like our swimmers to go home to rest and refuel between prelims and finals. Swimmers need to be back in time for warm-ups in order to prepare for their final race(s). Please plan accordingly to assure a successful swimming experience for your athlete.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere at prelims is very different than during finals. The fastest swimmers have a hard time swimming best times during prelims especially knowing that finals will take place only a few hours after their initial, qualifying race. The goal is to swim fast enough to make finals. However, in the history of the FISH, we have had swimmers swim best times during prelims and they were totally surprised when they realized, they had just secured a spot in the A Final.

Pressure: After a long day of swimming the athletes return one more time to the pool for the final races, the fastest races. Who will touch the wall first? Though the pressure it tense, athletes handle it better when participating in these types of meets more frequently. Therefore, when a swimmer qualifies, participation is a must. In addition, the team spirit among the athletes can alleviate some of the pressure. Teammates cheer each other on and the FISH spirit takes on a life of its own.

Reaching Goal Times: Prelims/finals meets create an environment for our swimmers to reach their goal times in December. Representing your team in a final race, scoring points for your team, and getting that time you worked so hard for, is all part of the learning experience.

Friday, June 3, 2011


By Lisa Liston

Lynchburg YMCA Swim Team

Nutrition is important ALL THE TIME to keep the tank full for athletic training and performance. Athletes need to EAT TO TRAIN, not train so they can eat. In general, the athlete’s diet should be composed of 60% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 25% fat. Carbohydrates are necessary as the dominant fuel in moderate and high intensity activities. Carbohydrates provide the energy to keep your engine running through those long practices and intense races! Protein is not an energy source, but it is important because it builds and repairs muscles, produces hormones, supports the immune system, and replaces red blood cells. Fat plays a critical role in the overall functioning of the body; it aids in digestion and energy metabolism, helps maintain body temperature, and plays a part in regulating hormone production.

In order to maintain optimal training and performance energy levels, it is important that athletes eat early and often! Athletes should have a carbohydrate snack before morning workouts -- even if a small amount. (While some don’t like to eat early in the morning, you can train your body to begin accepting food.) You should never go 3 or 4 hours without a snack during the day. It is better for swimmers to eat 6-8 times a day rather than just three meals a day. Athletes MUST have a carbohydrate snack immediately after practice. For proper muscle repair to begin, you have about a 30 minutes window to get some food in after practice. Within 1-2 hours of practice, swimmers should have a full meal. Without adequate fuel, swimmers will become fatigued and are more prone to injury as they are not helping their muscles recover.
Some excellent choices for your post-workout recovery snack might include chocolate milk, power bars, yogurt, bagels with peanut butter, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   The more you weigh, the larger your snack should be.  For instance if you weigh 120 pounds, 1.5 power bars may be sufficient, but if you weigh 175, then you might need 1 cup of chocolate milk and a bagel with peanut butter.
Not only is getting adequate food important during regular training, it is also critical during meets to maintain peak performance. After racing, swimmers need to replenish fluids and eat a small snack. Sometimes a swimmer won’t have quite enough time to warm down after a race and eating some food to help the recovery process along is just plain smart.  Stuck at a summer league meet with no warm down at all? Keep moving around and eat a few peanut butter crackers before your next race!
Check out USA Swimming’s nutrition tracker on the web to be sure you’re getting enough! As we head outdoors into the 50 meter pool in just a few days, training demands will become greater and swimmers are likely to need more calories to sustain successful training.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Awesome 8 Year Old

I have never met a coach who didn’t want all their athletes to be the best they can be.

I have never met a parent who didn’t want their child to be the best they can be.

So why do we have so many conflicts between coaches and parents? The simple answer is that each sees a different path.

Let’s take the case of the unusually advanced 8 year old whose parents want their child to swim with the next group of 9-12’s. “After all,” the mom says, “my son is faster than half of the kids in the next group.” (And she is correct.)

Why wouldn’t the coach give a wholehearted “Yes,” and say, “I’ll move him up right away. In fact, I believe he can make the send off intervals that the 11-12’s are making so I’ll put him there. In a year he may be ready for the senior team.”

Why not?

Because every good coach sees the importance of long term progressive development and views their young swimmers as long term endeavors. Coaches should take a patient and a progressive approach to the development of their young swimmers. Coaches want swimmers in the program through their teen years and into their 20’s when they are physically mature and have the greatest potential for life changing participation.

Ask an adult who dropped out of swimming by age 12 or 13 what they remember from the sport and chances are, they remember very little. Now ask an adult who swam through college what they remember and chances are they will tell you it was one of the most important life changing experiences of their life.

So how do we keep a swimmer in the sport that long?

Many parents also will echo the importance of long term development. However, they just want to speed it up. There is a sometimes verbalized refrain, “The better he is now, then the better he will be in the future.”

This is not true in most cases. Parents who are otherwise well-meaning, sometimes push their budding stars to excel too early at almost any cost. And that cost is frequently failing to finish the long term.

Parents should take note: A 2001 study by the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 70 percent of American kids who sign up for sports quit by the time they were 13. The reason? They said it wasn't fun anymore.

A study done by the ASCA staff years ago and repeated several times since shows that only 17 to 20% of the aged 9-10 swimmers ranked in the top 16 are still swimming at the national level 5 years later. USA Swimming also did a study using the all time Top 100 list and found that only 11% of the top ranked 10 and unders are still ranked as 17-18 year olds.

What is the primary reason we lose swimmers? The number one reason according to a survey done a few years ago is simply that swimming stopped being fun.

And what are the elements of fun? Friends, caring coaches, and absence of undue pressure from mom and dad to achieve their goals for the child.

When we move an 8 and under to an older age group we…:

…take them away from their friends. (“Friends” is the number one reason why young swimmers stay on the team in the first place.)

…take away their opportunity to be the leader of their peers. Good coaches build core groups of swimmers around leaders and move those core groups up through the program very nearly together.

…take the edge off of that wonderful, playful, crazy style of an 8 year old – because now, they are with older swimmers who usually do not share the same traits as an 8 year old.

…place tremendous pressure on the swimmer because now it’s not about having fun and being with friends, now it is about the serious business of work and achieving the goals mom and dad are setting for the child.

…change the progression and move the swimmer to a program which they may not be able to handle physically, developmentally, or mentally. Dryland training for an 8 and under is vastly different than for an 11-12 year old. The amount of fundamental kicking is less for an older age group swimmer. The amount of stroke work is also less for an older age group swimmer. Skip a proper progression of these and you risk developing an incomplete athlete.

…provide less time for games and relays.

…ignore the fact that the 8 year old may be better than the other 8 and unders because he is simply older biologically and developmentally than his peers and in all likelihood his peers will catch up to him at some point and many will pass on by. When that happens it is very difficult for the swimmer to understand why they aren’t so “good” anymore and lose interest in the sport.

…identify the 8 year old as a “talent” with tremendous pressure to live up to it. Some parents even identify their young swimmers as “our talented little butterflyer” or backstroker or breaststroker, etc. The problem is, as swimmers grow and body proportions change, they frequently lose their ability to be very good in one specific stroke. If their identity is attached to a stroke and they lose their stroke, then they lose their identity. Good coaches don’t create specialized age group swimmers and try very hard to create well rounded IM swimmers. When parents push a certain stroke upon a child, it adds to the stress.

…place the child in a socially difficult situation. Chatter among swimmers between sets and before and after practice – the so called “locker room talk” -- may be very inappropriate for an 8 year old to listen to.

…change the focus of the coach as the coach now has to take special care for an under-age swimmer in the group who might not make all the intervals or understand all the instructions.

Neither parents, nor coaches, can MAKE a child be a great swimmer. We can only provide the environment with the proper emotional support (parents) and challenges (coaching) in a well crafted progressive program aimed at the long term development of the child (coaching). It looks like I have reduced the role of the parent to that of providing emotional support – correct! That’s what you can uniquely provide and that is what is most needed from you.

Next time you come to practice, bring an extra towel for your child, and bring a book for yourself. Allow your child to get lost in the fun of a practice with their buddies while you simply watch them for the sheer joy of it without worries about their swimming future… or, just get lost in your book.

Friday, May 20, 2011

FAQ’s For Parents Training and Workout

1. Sometimes my child doesn’t want to go to practice. He wants to play with his friends. Should I force him to go?

You should not force your child; you want his participation to be his decision. Reinforce the choices and decisions he has made to start his sport. For example, your son chose to go to practice on Tuesday and Thursdays, on other days he has the freedom to do other activities. As a parent, explain your expectation that he fulfill the commitment he made by joining the team. You don't want to force your child into a sport that he does not enjoy, yet you want your child to be involved in a 'lifetime sport', to learn about making and keeping a commitment and to interact with peers So, what are you to do?

Instead of allowing your child to make a daily decision about going to practice, allow him to decide whether or not he wants to participate for the season. Once the decision is made to participate, he is making a commitment to the team and needs to follow through on it by attending practice on a regular basis. A haphazard schedule is detrimental to the athlete’s overall development.

Interestingly, when asked to reflect on the role of their parents in their swimming, athletes from a recent USA Swimming World Championship team talked about being pushed to swim by their parents on a weekly basis but knowing they could quit if they stopped having fun with swimming.

2. My child has a lot of interests and activities so he only attends about half of his practices. What will happen to his competition results?

Children involved in other activities can benefit in the areas of coordination and balance, as well as improved social and intellectual development. Specialized training in one activity does not necessarily need to take place at this stage of development. Will your son’s teammate who makes all practices have better results? Probably he will because his teammate is working solely on developing one sport skills. It is up to you to explain to your child that making the choice to participate in other activities can have its consequences. Tell your son that he should not compare his results to that of his teammate, but to focus on the fact that he is benefiting from and enjoying other sports.

3. It looks like my child is having a lot of fun at practice. Shouldn’t she be working harder?

Be happy that your child is having fun! According to a recent study conducted by USA Swimming children who experience fun while participating stay in sports longer (Tuffey, Gould, & Medbery, 1998). At this stage of the game, the most important aspect of development is the mastery of skills, which means learning the proper technique. Fundamentals must be established prior to true “training” taking place. And, if she is having fun in the process of learning, she is more likely to continue to the sport.

4. It looks like all they do at practice is drills. Shouldn’t they be training more?

Your child needs to develop a solid foundation in mechanics. Drills and drill sets serve the specific purpose of teaching skills and fundamentals. Drills develop motor coordination, motor skills, and balance. In fact, your child’s coach may prescribe a particular drill, just for your child, in order to improve an aspect of her technique. In addition, she may actually be experiencing a “training” benefit from drills. Drills require concentration and aerobic energy to do them correctly.

5. My daughter’s coach sometimes makes her “sit out” for disciplinary reasons. Isn’t that a waste of her time?

The coach has set up expectations of proper behavior. Hopefully, your child is aware of the consequences of testing these boundaries. Obviously the coach is reinforcing what is expected of the children at practice. We encourage you to reinforce the coach's practice expectations by discussing your child’s behavior and the consequences of that behavior. Hopefully, this “time out” begins to reinforce self-discipline, accountability and respect for others.

6. My son complains that some of the kids cheat in practice. What should I tell him?

Praise him first for completing the workout the coach offers. Remind him that he is there to improve himself and he can’t control what his teammates do. Tell him however, that his best course of action is to continue to do things right and others may actually be influenced by his good example. By committing to do his best at all times, over the long haul he will reap the benefits of his hard work.

7. My daughter just moved up to the Senior Group. Now the coach wants her to train twice a day. Is this really necessary?

Your child has established proper technique and fundamentals by progressing through the levels of the team. It is appropriate at this stage of your daughter’s career development to increase the training loads. This includes adding the two mornings per week. Although morning practices come extra early, most coaches feel that this level of commitment is necessary for your daughter to reach the next level of her career.

Training for competitive sports is demanding on young athletes. As athletes develop, they need to understand the upcoming time demands. One specific principle of training that applies is the progressive overload principle. A person must be stressed slightly more each day over time to continue to improve. In order to do that, the coach must plan additional time. The addition of morning workouts often becomes necessary for the coach to develop young athletes to their maximum potential.

8. What type of commitment is needed for higher levels of competition?

While an athlete’s performance is influenced by numerous factors, there are three that exert the greatest influence: physical, technical and mental. As athletes progress, a greater commitment, of both time and energy, is needed to enable an athlete to address all of these factors.

Additionally, the athlete is asked to take more responsibility for and ownership of his practice and competition performance. One way of doing this is by accepting responsibility for leading a lifestyle conducive to performance, i.e., proper nutrition, adequate sleep, time management and managing extra-curricular activities.

9. Is my teenager sacrificing too much to train?

What you may consider a sacrifice, such as missing a school dance, football game or simply going out with friends, your child many not consider a sacrifice at all! Instead, your child has chosen to commit to his sport. By doing so, he realizes that a certain level of training is necessary for him to achieve greater goals and does not look at these activities as missed opportunities. Keep in mind that your child realizes missing a workout is like missing sleep, it cannot be made up. If, however, your child is expressing sentiments that he is missing these chances, then it is time to re-evaluate the balance in his activities.

10. What does the coach mean when she says that my teenaged daughter controls 80% of her own training?

At this stage it is important for the athlete to take full responsibility for her sport. Your coach is just reinforcing this concept. Having a good attitude, developing proper time management, and demonstrating a strong work ethic are important both in and out of the practice and competition. What your child’s coach is referring to is what we call “hidden training factors.” She is in control of what she eats, how much sleep she gets, her practice attendance, and even her effort on practice sets. This may really add up to even more than 80%.

11. My child used to compete in all of the events, but now her coach has her focusing on only a few.

Prior to now, your child needed to acquire a wide range of skills and the aerobic development necessary to allow for this specialization. At this point in her career, her physical development allows her to train for specific events. Children at this stage have reached the physical maturity necessary to specialize in particular events for which they are best suited.

12. I notice the coach having meetings with the older athletes at the beginning of the season. What are they talking about? Is he asking for input?

Typically the coach likes to share his seasonal plan with the group prior to the start of the season, as well as reviewing the previous season’s strengths and weaknesses. This plan highlights the major competition, tapering and the overall training plan. By presenting the athletes with information, the coach is making the athlete part of the process. This meeting may also be a prelude to individual goal setting sessions and an opportunity to begin to build team unity.

13. My child was very successful as very young child. How can I help her reach the next level?

When your daughter is making the transition, she needs to realize that she is participating at a higher level. Improvements are in tenths and hundredths, rather than seconds, due to biological and physiological factors.

Throughout her career, you have been very supportive. This support is still needed but it may have to be a little different than in the past. It is a good time to discuss with your daughter what she needs from you. Do not be afraid to ask her “How can I support you in your sport?” While you are an important part of her support network, realize your daughter, at this level, should be taking on more ownership of her athletic career.

14. I want my son to qualify for Nationals so badly, but he keeps just missing. What can I do to help?

It is important for you to acknowledge that this is your child’s goal, not yours. Your expectations may actually be putting undue pressure on his performances. There are two types of goals that athletes can set. Outcome Goals focus on the end result of performance such as “win" or "make finals.” Process Goals relate to the process of performance. Examples are “great technique" or "strong finish.”

Athletes have much more control over Process Goals. Outcome Goals are uncontrollable since they also involve the performance of other competitors. Athletes and coaches should concentrate on Process Goals since they involve aspects an athlete can control. Focusing on a time is outcome driven. Although you want what’s best for your son, encourage him to talk to his coach to clearly identify Process Goals to achieve improvement.

Monday, May 9, 2011

News for Swim Parents: The Praise Gap

Bringing Praising Strategies Used by Coaches and Parents Closer Together.

From Guy Edson, ASCA

From the point of view of many parents, coaches tend to under-praise their swimmers. One parent complained to me that their child would never rise above the level of “adequate” under my standards. This is the same parent I earlier saw heaping loads of praise on the child (a 12 year old) for having giving it a “great effort” when in fact the child had just completed a swim that was technically lacking, far off of a best time, and showed no interest in racing. Clearly there is a difference here.

Many articles cite studies that in the ideal learning environment there is a “magic ratio” of 5 praises to 1 criticism. Anecdotally I can tell you that most coaches are the complete opposite: 5 criticisms to one praise.

In good coaching those 5 “criticisms” are better labeled “critical feedback.” The role of the coach is to give critical technical feedback to the athlete – specific and objective information that helps the athlete perform better the next time. Praise is often given in levels from a simple OK (adequate) to “nice job.” Coaches are careful NOT to use words that leave little room for improvement like “awesome,” “excellent,” and “perfect.” A coach wants the athlete to feel that there is always work to do, always room for improvement. As long as feedback and praise are consistent, coaches can use the 1:5 ratio very effectively.

One of the difficulties for coaches is that we feel we are fighting against a larger cultural push of standardless self-esteem building. This is the mentality that “All efforts are good.” An article in the New York Magazine by Po Bronson cites research that says that self-esteem building by over praising can actually create underachievers. (How Not to Talk to Your Kids -- The inverse power of praise. By Po Bronson in the New York Magazine, February 2007.)

Since the 1969 publication of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, in which Nathaniel Branden opined that self-esteem was the single most important facet of a person, the belief that one must do whatever he can to achieve positive self-esteem has become a movement with broad societal effects. Anything potentially damaging to kids’ self-esteem was axed. Competitions were frowned upon. Soccer coaches stopped counting goals and handed out trophies to everyone. Teachers threw out their red pencils. Criticism was replaced with ubiquitous, even undeserved, praise.

Dweck and Blackwell’s work is part of a larger academic challenge to one of the self-esteem movement’s key tenets: that praise, self-esteem, and performance rise and fall together. From 1970 to 2000, there were over 15,000 scholarly articles written on self-esteem and its relationship to everything—from sex to career advancement. But results were often contradictory or inconclusive. So in 2003 the Association for Psychological Science asked Dr. Roy Baumeister, then a leading proponent of self-esteem, to review this literature. His team concluded that self-esteem was polluted with flawed science. Only 200 of those 15,000 studies met their rigorous standards.

After reviewing those 200 studies, Baumeister concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievement. It didn’t even reduce alcohol usage. And it especially did not lower violence of any sort. (Highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves, debunking the theory that people are aggressive to make up for low self-esteem.) At the time, Baumeister was quoted as saying that his findings were “the biggest disappointment of my career.”

So, what might be good advice for parents seeking to praise and build up their children? From Bronson’s article we read:

To be effective, researchers have found, praise needs to be specific.

Sincerity of praise is also crucial.

New York University professor of psychiatry Judith Brook explains that the issue for parents is one of credibility. “Praise is important, but not vacuous praise,” she says. “It has to be based on a real thing—some skill or talent they have.” Once children hear praise they interpret as meritless, they discount not just the insincere praise, but sincere praise as well.

With so much overflowing love for our children (I am a parent also) why not praise all efforts, even not-so-good efforts, as a way of boosting spirits? Why must the coach bluntly say that the performance did not match up with expectations – in short, tell the swimmer it was a failure? In the article, Bronson refers to a study that helps explain the importance of recognizing failures.

But it turns out that the ability to repeatedly respond to failure by exerting more effort—instead of simply giving up—is a trait well studied in psychology. People with this trait, persistence, rebound well and can sustain their motivation through long periods of delayed gratification. Delving into this research, I learned that persistence turns out to be more than a conscious act of will; it’s also an unconscious response, governed by a circuit in the brain.

“The key is intermittent reinforcement,” says [researcher Dr. Robert] Cloninger [of Washington University in St. Louis.] The brain has to learn that frustrating spells can be worked through. “A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

Bronson concludes:

Jumping in with praise is like jumping in too soon with the answer to a homework problem—it robs him of the chance to make the deduction himself.

I think it is appropriate to simply ask the child how they think they did, listen to their analysis, then add a ton of love and a big hug, and let it go at that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Perspective: News for Swim Parents from ASCA

Listening recently to a group of parents (Mom’s, specifically) discussing the challenge of dealing with the drama that gets created by their teenage girls, much of it fueled by an incomplete understanding of human interactions and artificially both “sped up” and “widespread” due to all the electronic communication tool every teenager seemingly has access to….I was struck with the “counter-points” that need to be taught to teenagers, pre-teens, young adults and related “young folk.”

Without going all “Hilary Clintonish” on you, it did strike me that it takes a combination of parents, teachers, coaches and better informed peers to work on educating our young people on this…if not “it takes a village”, it certainly takes a good number of friends.
What would constitute some of the parental/coach “talking points” that would address the self-absorbed angst of those challenging years? Here’s my personal “short list”. Please enhance it with your own.

#1. Look at your issue within the overall context of your life. (This is called “Growing Up”.) The fact that Billy ignored you in Math Class does not mean that your life is “ruined”. Nor does Mary being mean to you in study hall rise to that level….these are MINOR distractions that you are allowing to control your emotions and your temperament. Why give ANYONE that much power over you? Don’t you want to become independent? Actually, you have a roof over your head, food to eat, your life in a great country and a family that loves you. Get some context here, people! NO BIG DEAL. Your life is actually pretty OK. (or a lot better than that.)

#2. Recognize the marvelous stuff going on around you. Appreciate your surroundings, the talented people you are with every day and take some time to “smell the flowers”. There is far more light than dark in your life. (for most of us.)

#3. Reach out to others. One of the tried and true ways to “feel better” is to help someone worse off than you are. Reach out, get your head out of your own problems…..and do something that helps someone else. It creates instant Perspective.

#4. Associate with people who are positive and upbeat. Hang around with doom and gloomers, and you’ll soon become one. Look at the good side when you can, speak only with good intent, act by doing random acts of kindness and see how quickly it is returned to you. If all you do is hang out with people complaining about something, pretty soon you’ll think that’s normal and right. It isn’t. What’s right is DOING something to fix your problems.

#5. Every problem comes with a chance for you to challenge it, and GROW. Get better, Get stronger. If it was a struggle to get food to eat, you’d soon become very creative about getting food. Stop whining and get creative about resolving your issue. Accept and learn to enjoy the challenge of life. You’ll face it every day. Better get used to it and get a good attitude.

#6. “Chop Wood, Haul Water” – the rural Chinese say that 99% of life is the mundane task… ”Chop wood, haul water”. American TV shows life as an endless series of exciting, dynamic, thrilling ACTIONS. Not so. Most of life is mundane….interrupted by moments of sheer joy and sheer terror. Get used to your version of “Chop wood, haul water”. Learn to enjoy the rhythm and essence of your daily life and realize that without the mundane the special wouldn’t be so special. And having “special” all the time is NOT what it’s cracked up to be. (witness all the unhappy and dangerously ill Hollywood starts…….who may be living very “special” lives…..not a prescription for happiness is it?)

Unhappy teenager? Simplify your life. Turn off the electronic stuff once in awhile and get outside and experience the real world. Focus on what you can DO for others, not what they do for you. Find something you love and engage in it fully.

Parents, remember, your goal is strong, independent children. Every time you do something for them that they should do for themselves, you make them weak. Give them the opportunity to grow. It’s a great gift from Parent to Child. They need psychological tools to cope with the world. My top 6 are above. Teach them your own.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Resolving Conflicts With the Coach

It’s part of the nature of our sport that conflicts sometimes arise between parents and coaches.  Conflicts are often are the result of a difference of opinion between parent and coach over the career development of the parent’s child.  Additionally, lack of, or inadequate, or improper communication on the part of the coach or parent compound the situation.  While ASCA continually stresses the importance of good communication skills with coaches and makes it a regular topic in clinics and in coach’s publications, today I would like to address parents on this issue.


As a parent of a swimmer many years ago, I know the feeling of despair when things were not going as well as I would have liked.  I know the feeling of wanting to challenge the coach on one issue or another.  What’s a parent to do when you think the program isn’t meeting the needs of your child?


Time out.  Let’s review that last sentence again:  “What’s a parent to do when YOU think the program isn’t meeting the needs of your child?”  Perhaps the child is fine!  If the child is happy and improving, then “Life is Good.”  Let it go.  It’s not about YOUR goals for the child – it is about their feeling of happiness and their own individual pace of progress.  However, if the child is not happy then see below.


Time in.  Here are some strategies for resolving conflicts with the coach:

1.     Don’t use email to discuss an issue.  Tone is often misread in email.    Even using the telephone is problematic when it comes to solving issues.  The old fashioned method of face to face communication is still the best.

2.     Don’t take your issue to other parents or the Board first.  Take your concerns direct to the coach.

3.     Don’t “bushwack” the coach with a sudden and emotional approach.  Calm the emotion first, let rational thinking prevail.  Ask the coach for an opportunity to discuss your child’s progress.  Set an appointment.

4.     Consider the setting for a meeting.  On the deck during practice is definitely out.  Before practice can be difficult for the coach as he or she prepares for the workout.  After practice is better but there may be too many people around and too many distractions.  It would be better to use after practice time to approach the coach to set up an appointment time.  A quiet setting apart from others is best.

5.     When meeting with the coach first state your concern succinctly and unemotionally.  Then immediately ask an open-ended question rather than simply demanding a certain action.  An open ended question invites a discussion and paves the way to understanding rather than challenging.  For example, “I am concerned that John isn’t getting enough work in the group he is in.  How do you feel about that?”

6.     As Steven Covey emphasized in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek first to understand.” Make it your goal to fully understand the coach’s reasoning for doing something the way he or she is doing it before you make a demand.  The coach has a lot of experience and a good long term view of the child’s needs.  It is fair, appropriate, and recommended that you ask the coach for his plans for your child.  It is also fair, appropriate, and recommended that you ask the coach for his critical evaluation of your child’s progress.

7.     If you are not happy with the coach’s initial responses, ask “what if” or “would you consider” questions, for example, “Would you consider having John come to one workout a week with the higher group to see how he handles the work?”

8.     If you are not happy with the responses from the coach then more difficult choices come into play.  If it is a technical issue having to do with technique or training or the career development of the athlete then most likely the coach has contractually been given the authority by the Board of Directors to make those decisions.  If the program is not meeting your perceived needs for your child then there is a mismatch between your expectations and what is being offered and it is time to look for another program.  Sorry, but sometimes it’s best to go somewhere else that matches up with your expectations.

9.     If it is not a technical issue, but something having to do with the coach’s style or relationship with your athlete, or some other behavior you are displeased with, and if you are not able to resolve the issue with the coach directly, then the appropriate action is to approach the president of the Board.  Follow the chain of command.  Let the BOD manage it.  If the BOD does not recognize it as an issue, see number 7 above.


Hopefully, a direct meeting with the coach with the attitude of “forming a partnership for the benefit of the child” will lead to a resolution and a long term relationship.

Enough Already With Kid Gloves

Purple is replacing red as the color of choice for teachers. Why, you may ask? It seems that educators worry that emphatic red corrections on a homework assignment or test can be stressful, demeaning — even "frightening" for a young person. The principal of Thaddeus Stevens Elementary in Pittsburgh advises teachers to use only "pleasant-feeling tones."


Major pen manufacturers appear to agree. Robert Silberman, vice president of marketing at Pilot Pen, says teachers "are trying to be positive and reinforcing rather than harsh." Michael Finn, a spokesperson for Paper Mate, approves: "This is a kinder, more gentle education system." Which color is best for children? Stephen Ahle, principal at Pacific Rim Elementary in Carlsbad, Calif., offers lavender "because it is a calming color."


A calmer, gentler grading color? Are schoolchildren really so upset by corrections in primary red? Why have teachers become so careful?


It seems that many adults today regard the children in their care as fragile hothouse flowers who require protection from even the remote possibility of frustration, disappointment or failure. The new solicitude goes far beyond blacklisting red pens. Many schools now discourage or prohibit competitive games such as tag or dodge ball. The rationale: too many hurt feelings. In May 2002, for example, the principal of Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, Calif., sent a newsletter to parents informing them that children could no longer play tag during the lunch recess. As she explained, "In this game, there is a 'victim' or 'It,' which creates a self-esteem issue."

Is anything OK?


Which games are deemed safe and self-affirming? The National PTA recommends a cooperative alternative to the fiercely competitive "tug of war" called "tug of peace." Some professionals in physical education advocate activities in which children compete only with themselves, such as juggling, unicycling, pogo sticking, and even "learning to ... manipulate wheelchairs with ease."


But juggling, too, poses risks.


A former member of The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports suggests using silken scarves rather than, say, uncooperative tennis balls that lead to frustration and anxiety. "Scarves," he points out, "are soft, non-threatening, and float down slowly."


Is the kind of overprotectiveness these educators counsel really such a bad thing? Sooner or later, children will face stressful situations, disappointments and threats to their self-esteem. Why not shield them from the inevitable as long as possible? The answer is that children need challenge, excitement and competition to flourish. To treat them as combustible bundles of frayed nerves does them no favors.


Anthony Pellegrini, a professor of early childhood education at the University of Minnesota, has done careful studies on playground dynamics. I asked him what he thought of the national movement against games such as tag and dodge ball: "It is ridiculous. Even squirrels play chase."


Children who are protected from frank criticism written in "harsh" colors are gravely shortchanged. In the global economy that awaits them, young Americans will be competing with other young people from all parts of the world whose teachers do not hesitate to use red pens. What is driving the new solicitude?


Too many educators, parents and camp counselors today are obsessed with boosting the self-esteem of the children in their care. These adults not only refrain from criticizing their young charges when they perform badly, they also take pains to praise them even when they've done nothing to deserve it.


But two decades of research have failed to show a significant connection between high self-esteem and achievement, kindness, or good personal relationships. Unmerited self-esteem, on the other hand, is known to be associated with antisocial behavior — even criminality. Nevertheless, most of our national institutions and organizations that deal with children remain fixated on self-esteem.


The Girl Scouts of America recently launched a major campaign "to address the problem of low self-esteem among 8- to 14-year-old girls." (Never mind that there is no good evidence these girls suffer a self-esteem deficit.) With the help of a $2.65 million grant from Unilever (a major corporation that owns products such as Lipton and Slim Fast), its new program, "Uniquely ME!," asks girls to contemplate their own "amazing" specialness. Girls are invited to make collages celebrating themselves. They can play a getting-to-know-me game called a "Me-O-Meter."

Uniquely ridiculous

One normally thinks of the Girl Scouts as an organization that fosters self-reliance and good citizenship. Me-O-Meters? How does that promote self-reliance? And is self-absorption necessarily good for young people?


Yes, say the mental health experts at Girl Scout Research Center. The Uniquely ME! pamphlet tells its young readers, "This booklet is designed to help boost your self-esteem by celebrating YOU and your uniqueness. ... Having high self-esteem ... can help you lead a more successful life."


The authors of Uniquely ME! and the executives at Unilever who funded it should take a careful look at an article in the January issue of Scientific American that debunks the self-esteem movement. ("Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth.") The authors, four prominent academic psychologists, conclude, "We have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today's children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise."


The good intentions or dedication of the self-esteem educators and Scout leaders are not in question. But their common sense is. With few exceptions, the nation's children are mentally and emotionally sound. They relish the challenge of high expectations. They can cope with red pens, tug of war and dodge ball. They can handle being "It."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Nature of Stroke Work

A sometimes concern among Moms and Dads is whether enough stroke work is being done.  “All they do is swim.  I don’t see any instruction at all,” is a typical refrain.  The purpose of this short article is to explain what to expect from stroke work and to describe the different ways we coaches do stroke work and when we do it.


What to expect from stroke work:  Do you remember teaching your children to tie their shoes?  Some get it sooner, some get it later, some get it when you are not even watching.  Each gets it in their own time regardless of your efforts.  Same deal on stroke work.  We hope to see immediate improvement but it is not always there.  Patience is the key.  Thorndike’s “laws” of learning come into play here:  Is the child ready to learn?  Does the child repeat the skill at the conscious level in order to move the skill from the conscious level to the automatic level?  (Are they even operating at the conscious level during repeats?)  With some children we notice a “delayed reaction” to teaching where they apparently make very little progress at the time and then some time later, sometimes even weeks later, magically get it.  There is trial and error learning going on at the subconscious, level and it may take many repeats for things to suddenly click.  So why do coaches allow swimmers to swim lap after lap with incorrect technique?  Because, the hope is that a seed planted by the coach suddenly blossoms through trial and error learning after many repeats.


Where do those seeds come from?  There are three basic types of stroke work.  The most obvious is formal teaching where the lane or the workout group is stopped from aerobic or race pace swimming conditioning for 10 to 20 minutes and the coach explains a technique, uses a demonstrator, and then will have the athletes attempt the skill, usually one at a time with immediate feedback from the coach.  This type of instruction is commonly used nearly every day with less advanced swimmers (novice), and less frequently with more advanced swimmers.  Early in the season the coach may have the more advanced swimmers involved with formal teaching nearly every day as well.


A second form of stroke work is the stroke drill.  Stroke drills are intended to isolate a part of the stroke so that the swimmer can focus on that particular skill.  Stroke drills are often done as repeats on a low to moderate rest interval so that there is a conditioning effect as well.


The third form of stroke work is the most common - to some coaches it is the most important - and it is the most misunderstood and underappreciated by some observers (parents).  This form of stroke work is the constant reminders coaches give to swimmers either verbally during the short rest periods between swims or visual cues demonstrated by the coach during the swims.  The purpose is to move swimmers from an automatically wrong movement to the consciously correct movement; and if done enough, and given enough time, will effect a change.  Some coaches are “always” doing stroke work of this type, even though it is not always easy to observe from the bleachers.


I meet with parent’s groups regularly and I like to do this little exercise with them:  “Imagine a successful swimmer at whatever level you chose – state level, regional, national, international.  Now, let’s list the factors that contribute to this swimmers success.  Ready go.”  When I do this exercise I get responses such as, “work ethic,” “discipline,” and “commitment” --  these are factors relating to the psychology of the athlete.  We usually get 8, 10, or maybe even 12 factors on the list before we get to…”technique.”  I am not saying that technique is not important – it is – but every Olympic gold medalist has defects in their stroke.  The pursuit of the impossibly perfect stroke is futile.  Yes, stroke work IS important, but I am not sure it is the most important thing for advanced swimmers.  When we observe a coach who doesn’t appear to be doing enough stroke work, step back and look at the larger picture.  Is the child happy and improving?  If so, then life is good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Praise Craze

Even at age 12, Chris is a skilled basketball player. He scores at will for his recreational league team -- but he doesn't get many assists, because he's a ball hog. His teammates sulk during games, waiting for passes that never come. Parents watching from courtside aren't too pleased, either, except for Chris's stepfather, Mike, whose pleasure in the boy's performance is undimmed even when a parent complains to him about Chris's selfishness. Mike later confides to the father of another player that he's not going to talk to Chris about trying to be a more generous player. His stepson has a learning disability, Mike says, "and this is the only place where he can shine."


Mike didn't know it, but he was providing grist for his interlocutor's next book. Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist at Harvard's School of Education and the Kennedy School of Government, recounts the anecdote about Chris's over solicitous stepfather in "The Parents We Mean to Be." ("The Parents We Mean to Be," By Richard Weissbourd, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 241 pages, $25)  It is just one of many illustrative stories that Mr. Weissbourd has gathered over the past two decades. He and his assistants -- including two high-school students, who presumably had good rapport with other teenagers -- surveyed three Boston-area high schools, conducted focus groups, made "informal observations" of families in cities across the country, and interviewed sports coaches, teachers and mental-health professionals.


What did Mr. Weissbourd's research tell him? That nowadays "well-intentioned adults undermine children's moral and emotional development."  Parents have abandoned the "moral task" of rearing children, he says, and are more concerned about fostering their happiness than their goodness. Therapeutic interaction takes precedence over moral instruction; intimacy is maintained at the cost of authority.


"Blaming peers and popular culture lets adults off the hook," Mr. Weissbourd writes. "The parent-child relationship is at the center of the development of all the most important moral qualities, including honesty, kindness, loyalty, generosity, a commitment to justice, the capacity to think through moral dilemmas, and the ability to sacrifice for important principles."


Among the trends that Mr. Weissbourd finds particularly harmful is the fixation of parents on building "self-esteem" (the "praise craze," as he calls it). A psychologist he talks to tells him that by age 12 some children have been so over praised that they regard compliments as implicit criticism: Empty flattery must be compensating for their lack of talent or be meeting a need for extra encouragement. Other children become "praise sponges," Mr. Weissbourd says. In either case, he wonders, what's so great about self-esteem? "Though some violent children have high self-esteem, the self that is being esteemed is immature, incapable of empathy."


“Children's moral development is decided by many factors, including not only media and peer influences but their genetic endowment, birth order, gender, and how these different factors interact.”

Excerpt from "The Parents We Mean to Be"

Mr. Weissbourd is also dismayed by many parents who put subtle but unrelenting pressure on their children for academic and extracurricular achievement. He talks to a 16-year-old who says that his parents make an elaborate display of saying that his getting into a "high-status school" is not important to them, that they just want him to learn and be happy. "But then they pay for SAT prep courses and expensive college counselors," the boy says. "There's already huge pressure on me to achieve." Parental hypocrisy and insincerity do not constitute moral guidance.


Mr. Weissbourd rightly identifies the praise craze and the achievement obsession as a reflection of parental status anxiety. It seems that the more successful parents are, the more likely they are to worry about their children's possible failure to live up to that success. One of the author's most arresting contentions is that the children of immigrants "fare better than their American-born counterparts" in almost every measure of mental and moral health. American-born parents would have a lot to learn from immigrants, Mr. Weissbourd insists. They are comfortable with imposing authority and discipline, and they are optimistic about their children's future.


As a psychologist, Mr. Weissbourd is at his best when he analyzes the all too familiar phenomenon of the overzealous sports parent. In a high-school cafeteria, the author sat in on a meeting between about 30 parents and a sports consultant, who was warning them about becoming over involved. A parent raised his hand and made a confession: "I remember my son's last day playing youth soccer. The game was over, and I remember standing out on the field and thinking to myself: 'What am I going to do with my life?' " The first step toward moral education for kids, Mr. Weissbourd says, is for parents to separate their own needs from their children's and to start regarding parenthood as an opportunity for their own moral growth.


Good advice. But parental self-awareness is hardly more than a baby step on the path toward producing tomorrow's productive and caring adults. Mr. Weissbourd identifies some of the more daunting barriers to healthy enculturation -- among them the breakdown of the two-parent family and the decay of standards for public and private behavior -- but he never really gets beyond superficial solutions to these vexing social problems. Urging pediatricians to encourage fathers to attend their children's check-ups, or suggesting that ministers "ask noncustodial fathers how many times they have seen their child in the last month," is unlikely to convert legions of estranged fathers into engaged parents.


The methodology employed in "The Parents We Mean to Be" similarly does not inspire confidence. We hear about Mr. Weissbourd's interviews and surveys, but the book offers few quantitative results or analyses. Much of the evidence of parental incompetence is anecdotal -- even, as with the story of ball-hogging Chris and his stepfather, based on people that Mr. Weissbourd happened to run into. His stories will no doubt resonate with many readers -- who among us has not encountered an oppressively sports-minded father or an Ivy League-obsessed mother? -- but such vignettes do not add up to a firm sociological thesis.


Mr. Weissbourd also tends to gloss over the institutional failures that have driven many parents to passionate advocacy for their children: the failure of public schools, for example, to uphold high academic and behavioral standards. The influence of the media and celebrity culture on children's mores and material expectations is also far more profound than Mr. Weissbourd would admit. And just who is ultimately responsible for the excesses of the self-esteem craze -- parents or the psychologists and educators whose books parents read for advice?


One effect of parents' over-involvement in their children's' lives has been the demise of those arenas of childhood that were once inviolably the province of children themselves: unsupervised play, neighborhood baseball games and other settings where children first exercised their moral imaginations and were forced to cope independently with their own shortcomings. Parents who lament this turn of events may welcome Lenore Skenazy's "Free-Range Kids," which, like Mr. Weissbourd's book, argues that adults should not always try to protect children from failure. (“Free-Range Kids," By Lenore Skenazy, Jossey-Bass, 225 pages, $24.95)


Ms. Skenazy, a humor columnist, believes we should give "our children the freedom we had without going nuts with worry." She lampoons safety-obsessed parents who see a threat-filled world, from metal baseball bats and raw cookie dough to Halloween-candy poisoners and kidnappers. She advises turning off the news, avoiding experts and boycotting baby knee pads "and the rest of the kiddie safety-industrial complex."


“I really think I'm someone like you: A parent who is afraid of some things (bears, cars) and less afraid of others (subways, strangers). But mostly I'm afraid that I, too, have been swept up in the impossible obsession of our era: total safety for our children every second of every day.”

Excerpt from "Free-Range Kids"


Ms. Skenazy gained a certain national notoriety after she wrote a column about allowing her 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subways by himself. Even parents fed up with our child-coddling culture might blanch at the thought of turning a third-grader loose on public transportation. But Ms. Skenazy will find plenty of supporters for her contention that, in a world where the rights of chickens to roam freely are championed, it's time to liberate the kids.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Meet Summary AG State SC 2011

Greetings to everyone and congratulations to all the swimmers that participated in the 2011 Age Group SC Championships at Chatham County Swim Facility this year.  Georgia Coastal Aquatics hosted the meet this year.  This meet was a full 3 day competition where prelims and finals are on the same day and the 10 and unders perform in between sessions.   These meets are very challenging and our swimmers as usual performed up to the task as we saw big improvements from most the kids all the way up to the final session on the 3rd day.  Meets like these are very mentally draining on everyone and require a healthy perspective on this as our experiences build up over the years and we draw on these when big competitions arrive and are called on to perform. 

10 and under girls

Joining us for her first state meet, Mattison Frank made the trip to SAV and swam in 4 events.  She dropped time in all events including a 6 second drop in her 200 free and a 5 second reduction in her 100 fly while hanging in the top 30 for these events.  Another new swimmer joining us at state the first time this year is Kensley Morris.  She qualified in 6 events and dropped in every one.  She had an impressive showing in the 500 free as she knocked off over half a minute in this race to rally into 7th place overall.  9 year old Maggie Pokorny has been improving steadily since she joined the team last year.  Showing up for 10 events this year she dropped in 6 of those while scoring 3 top 10 finishes in the state for the Marlins this year.  Also qualifying for the max number of events was Sophie Taylor.   With only 1 finish in the 5th position Sophie won 2 events and scored 2nd and 3rd in all the rest of her swims earning her one of highest scoring athletes for the Marlins at State this year with over 100 points scored for the team.  Grace Yund is another swimmer we are fortunate to have this year as she qualified in 5 events and dropped over 5 seconds in her 200 free, she continues to improve.

10 and under boys

Same Braid joined us for 3 events this year at state.  He qualified in the 100 free, fly and sprint free events while dropping over 8 seconds in his fly to reach the top 20.  Riley Croker made it to SAV for state for the first time and qualified in 3 events and dropping over 6 seconds in his 200 free.  In his first state meet at 8 years old Brendan Hausdorf made the trip while qualifying in 4 events, and had a ton of fun doing it, while improving at every meet he has swam in this year.  Making it to state in 9 events, 10 year old Ananda Lim busted through the top 15 5 times and made time reductions across the board.

11-12 Girls

New swimmer Abbey Barrett is joining the Marlins for the first time this year at state.  She swam in 4 events while dropping time in all of those she scored a top 20 time for the 200 breast while also having some fun in the relay events.  Another new swimmer for the team that had a great meets this year is Kamryn Carter.  Kamryn made it back to finals in 3 events and scored 2 top 10 finishes while dropping time in nearly every event.  While scoring 3 top 15 finishes Katie Heilman also had a great meet while dropping time across the board and swimming some impressive back to back finals swims her butterfly is now almost as fast her freestyle – watch out.   Swimming in two events and dropping whopping amounts of time in her performance was Molly Layde; in the 200 Breast and 400 IM.  Making the trip to SAV for the first time was a new swimmer, Nicole Licciardello.  She shaved several seconds off her old 200 fly time and helped complete some more relays for the girls as well.   While shedding time in her distance events, Grace Nekrasas joined us again at state this year, this time as an 11 year old.  With 3 top 10 finishes Caitlin Oh made her mark at state this year for the team while scoring the most points for her group and reducing time in all but one event – she never placed lower than 16th overall.  Another fresh 11 year old this year to swim in state was Mariah Prendes.  She qualified in the longer events and dropped massive time in all her swims and busted the top 20 in the 1000 free.   Making the trip for 4 events this year is a now solid backstroker Taylor Tishendorf.  While Taylor dropped time in her long events she helped shore up some relays for the Marlins and score some points for the team.  Swimming I believe more events than anyone else at this meet was Britheny Joassaint.  She swam up in the 13-14 group in all the relays and also had to hold down all her own age groups swims.  With 7 top 10 finishes she had some impressive freestyle swims at this meet and started to race some people when she stepped up into finals.

11-12 Boys

Cooper Brownwell is an up and coming Marlin while he made state this year in 3 events.  He broke the top 30 for his 200 breast and brought in a new best time reduction of 3 seconds.  Resident fly guy Cullen Fields hung on to a strong finals swim in the 50 to come from behind and win the event while also bringing in several top 3 finishes and scoring a bunch of points for the team.  Pulling out a top 10 finish in the 200, breastroker Nick Hatch dropped over 8 seconds in that event to score some much needed points in this division.  Parker Johnson joined us again for state this year while dropping in 3 events he shredded 10 seconds in his 500 free swim.  Busting the 3 minute barrier in the 200 fly James Johnston made the trip to score a top 30 finish in that event while dropping time in all but one swim.  The always improving Ryan Marino made to state this year in 3 events and dropped time in his 100 fly for break into the top 30.  Scoring bunches of points for the team this year was Alex Mayfield who dropped time across the board and sat in the top 5 for nearly every race.  With a time of 1:00.00 Alex dropped into 2nd while coming from behind in finals in an awesome 100 fly swim.  Colin Riley had a great meet at state this year with some awesome new times and exciting events to watch like when he got scratched in consoles and ended up winning the heat with a 3 second drop from his prelims time.

13-14 Girls

Our solo girl in this age group is Jane Watts.  She is 14 years old and about to age up so well look forward to seeing her in more senior meets soon.  Jane scored 3 top 10 swims as she dropped time nearly across the board and also was quite the inspiration for many 11-12 year old girls that got to swim up and lend a hand in a relay for the team.

13-14 Boys

Coming down to SAV this year joining his brother was Griffin Braid.  Just turning 13 he swam a nice 200 fly time and lowered his best as a result.  Dropping time in all but one event David Dingess had a nice showing this year as he pushed into the top 30 in his 200 back.  Winning 5 events and having some really nice swims was Griffin Garratt.  Continuing to drop time he impressed with many come from behind races and stellar usage of the walls with his turns.  With some huge time reductions Stephen Johnston had a good meet this year and got into the top 30 a few times in his longer events including a 27 second drop in his 1000 free.  Garrett Layde hooked up with us again for state this year while swimming some new best times and bettering our time on the 200 free relay.  New swimmer Thomas Locke swam in the max events this year while better some of his times had some great finals performances while gutting out a few extra places for the team to score some more points.  Finishing 2nd in the 100 and 50 free Thomas is looking to have a good meet at Divisionals.  With 5 times qualified for state this year Ryan Peck turned in a huge swim in the 1000 and also dropped into the top 30 in his 200 breast, he scored best times in all but one event.  Alex Riley scored 2 top 10 finishes in his backstroke events while pulling some points for the team he had to do a swim off for the 100 back and pulled out a best time and move one spot in consoles to score points for the team.  Qualifying in the max amount allowed Andrew Tang joined us for state this year and dropped in several events while scoring in the top 10 for 50 free.

Coach Matt

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two A Day Workouts for 12 and Unders?

Should age groupers (age 12 and unders) be going to double workouts?  There isn’t an absolute answer to this issue, and there are no studies or surveys on the topic.  What we are left with is our good judgment.

Is it a technical issue and therefore becomes the decision of the coach?  Or is it an eat/sleep/school/family issue and the responsibility of the parent?

The coach’s role is to look at the time of the year, the quality of the swimmer, the needs of the swimmer, and the long term development of the swimmer.  The parent’s role is to make sure the child is healthy.  Difficulties arise when coach or parent overstep their roles.

What is the bottom line?  We (parents and coaches) use our good judgment to create an environment and opportunities for swimmers where they are improving, happy, and in it for the long haul.

Here are some of the factors to consider and some of my thoughts on each:

Age of the swimmer.  8 and unders?  Are you kidding me?  9 year olds, probably not.  10 year olds, maybe.  Highly motivated 10 year olds might come to doubles during the summer and perhaps to an occasional stroke session every two or three weeks during the school year.  11 year olds can do doubles in the summer and once or twice a week in the school year.  12 year olds can do doubles in the summer and, if they are very good, might go 3 doubles during the school year.

What does “might” mean?  It means that in some programs where coaching and parental philosophies match up and where the swimmer has the background and ability, it does happen.

What is the motivation of the swimmer?  This may be the most important factor.  If the age group child is not motivated for double workouts then don’t push it.  (Remember, we are talking about 12 and unders here.)

Time of the Year (school year versus summer).  School is more important than swimming.  Getting enough sleep to do well in school is mandatory.  During the school year, parents need to make the call on this… but, parents should not be pushing the children to doubles if the coach doesn’t feel they are ready for it.

Biological maturity of the swimmer.  Because girls mature earlier and because girls tend to be better at the national level much earlier than boys, with 12 year old mature girls who can handle school on less sleep, they might be coming to 2 or 3 doubles a week.

Individual or group.  Sometimes, even when the swimmer is capable (physically, mentally, emotionally) of double workouts, there is a level of hesitation or anxiety – simply an “uncomfortableness” of being singled out and being different from teammates.  For that reason sometimes it makes sense to bring at least two swimmers together into the school year double workout environment.

In any case, progressive is the key word.  Speak with the coach about the progression for moving your age group swimmer into double workouts, especially during the school year.  Starting with maybe one stroke session every two weeks and building to 1, then 2, and maybe 3 doubles a week for the very advanced 12 year old.

Now, I have not used the word “guidelines” here.  The above is a mixture of personal opinion mixed with observations of a wide range of programs over the past 35 years.  The difficulty with issuing “guidelines” is that they put boundaries on those who coach at the edges and often times those who coach at the edges end up leading the way.

Bottom line revisited:  Use good judgment.


End note:  Just in case you are wondering…What did I do when I was a full time age group coach?  The best age group team I coached were multiyear state champions and we had one nationally ranked 10 year old and 5 nationally ranked 11-12 year olds, all girls.  Our better 10 and unders were restricted to one workout a day all year around with the exception of the nationally ranked girl who came to morning sessions once every two weeks for start, turn, or stroke work.  All our 11-12’s were invited to 3 morning workouts plus 5 afternoon workouts in the summer.  During the school year they had the option to come in for start, turn or stroke work once every 2 weeks.  A couple of our 12 year old nationally ranked girls game to one or two morning workouts a week during the school year.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Help a former swimmer with The Biggest Loser

Hey Coaches;

If you know anyone that might fit this note, let me know and I'll forward it to the producer.  The only people I know might be coaches that were not Olympians.  Any help will be appreciated.

Subject: Hey Bob;
I'm producing a show on NBC called "Biggest Loser" (hope you've watched!), and we're looking for former Olympians or pro athletes who have lost their motivation and gained a lot of weight. Specifically, I am looking for people who are more than 100 lbs overweight. If you know anyone who fits this bill, would you let me know and point me in the right direction?

Many thanks,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Two Practices Each Day… The Argument for Morning Training.

One of regular questions we get in the American Swimming Coaches Association offices is in relation to the importance and effectiveness of swimmers attending morning workouts.  To our knowledge, no reliable scientific research exists to support or discredit this practice.  On the other hand, anecdotal evidence and the history of swim training provides a rich resource of information.

Double workouts per day have been around for at least 6 decades in our sport.  Typically they are used with teenage athletes and not with pre-teens. The primary purpose is to allow for an increased volume of training. If the team already provides unlimited time in the afternoon practice, there is still an advantage to having two shorter workouts which allows for great intensity in each workout, rather than a longer and less intense session in one training bout in the PM.

A typical pattern over time might be (during the school year) one AM session before school at age 13.  At age 14, two AM sessions per week and at ages 15 and older, 3 AM sessions per week. Plenty of teams use 4 or even 5 AM sessions during the school year. The operative question concerns balancing the young athletes’ need for sleep, rest and recovery versus adding a progressively larger training load.

Many good programs in the USA train twice daily during the summer (non-school) vacation period.

Historically, coaches report significant gains from athletes who begin a two workout a day regimen.  Also, athletes and coaches tell us that it takes 3-6 weeks for the young bodies to adjust to the change in schedule and then it becomes much easier to “get up and get going” in the morning, with some athletes even preferring the school day where they have been “awake and moving” for 2-3 hours before school.

Length of morning practice varies wildly from 1 to 2 plus hours in each session.

Swimmers are typically good students, perhaps partly because the training schedule forces them to “do it now” when it comes to studying and not procrastinate.  Certainly many hundreds of thousands of young people over the 6 plus decades that this practice has been common have been successful in getting good grades, training twice per day and getting their rest. To think that “today’s children” are any less capable of doing so, is supremely disrespectful of their capabilities.

Finally, it is important to note that many excellent programs exist and thrive on only one outstanding workout per day. There is no magic to “having to have” two workouts a day to succeed. American Swimmers have proven that they can succeed under any variety of training conditions.

Conducting two workouts per day for your team is neither the “holy grail” of training, nor is it an option to be feared. It’s been successful in the USA for many years, fitting into our educational system for young people. It’s also “not the only road to success.”

All the Best for Good Swimming,

John Leonard

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2011 AG State Tshirt order form

Please see below form and follow instructions for acquiring shirts for the youth in AG state

2011GAState_T-shirt order Form

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should Age Group Swimmers do Weight Training?

“My daughter is 10 years old and not very strong. Should she be involved with a weight training program at this age?

From the editorial Staff at ASCA:  First, let’s be clear on what we mean by “weight training” or “resistance training” or “strength training” – all are used interchangeably in the literature and in popular usage.  While there is no official definition of weight training, to most people it implies the lifting of heavy weights.  Visions come to mind of a red-faced and straining athlete with arms quivering attempting just one more repetition of a weight loaded barbell during a bench press.  There is a place for this type of training, but probably not with most children under the age of pubescence.

Weight training is, in fact, a very broad term encompassing use of all types of equipment from no equipment at all – body weight exercises (calisthenics) -- to stretch cords, to medicine balls, to dumbbells, to machines, etc..  A better term for weight training in our swimming world is “dryland training.”

Dryland training is a crucial part of a swimming program for all ages.  With the decline of quality physical education in many parts of the country we are now seeing children with poorly developed basic skills such as balance, proprioceptive ability, and coordination.  Dryland training can help build these skills as well as help swimmers improve strength.

Let’s look at the strength component of dryland training as this is the area many parents have concerns over safety and injuries.

Research has shown that weight training carries the same risk for children as it does for adults, no more and no less.  The majority of injuries come from overreaching with too much weight or from accidents from dropped weights or overcrowded conditions.  Reports of damaged growth plates from lifting heavy weights have been exaggerated, research shows.  However, caution is still important and pre-pubescent children should not be lifting to failure using weights which limits them to 6 repetitions or less.  Use less weight, more reps; at least 8 to 10.

Age 7 and under’s can do basic exercises with little or no weight, calisthenics, and balance and coordination exercises.  Learning proper technique is very important.  Children 8 to 10 can increase the number of exercises and add a bit of weight.  1 to 2 pound Dumbbells are highly recommended as they require balance and each side of the body to do its own work.  11 to 13 year olds continue to add exercises, improve technique, and add resistance.  Noted major league baseball trainer Vern Gambetta says he can make a professional athlete wince using only 15 pound dumbbells – surely our 11 – 13 year olds can receive significant results with much less than 10 pound weights.

There are hundreds of light resistance exercises available for the coach to prescribe to prepubescent children without danger of injury.  We believe that a well balanced, well supervised, and progressive dryland program is beneficial to a young swimmer’s total fitness as well as long term swimming success.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Workouts and the Common Cold

When swimmers show signs of a common cold should they continue to practice?

Sometimes over ambitious swimmers, coaches, and parents choose to treat a cold as a simple inconvenience and push on toward that all important qualifier meet in February.

Using common sense with the common cold is the best policy. Some "colds" may be far more serious infections waiting to become more intense as stress increases and resistance weakens.

Anthony Verde, PhD, exercise physiologist at the Sports Medicine Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania, stated in the June 1990 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine, "You have a good chance of turning a cold into something more severe by exercising with any intensity during the incubation stage."

However, in the same article, Harvey Simon, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School provides the following advice to physicians, "Try to reassure your patients that colds and exercise do not interact in major ways. If anything, anecdotal evidence says that some athletes feel better exercising with colds. This would make sense because exercise can increase mucus flow, which might provide relief for upper respiratory tract symptoms."

Edward Eichner, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma and an editorial board member of The Physician and Sportsmedicine has found that physicians who regularly treat athletes with colds use the following guidelines: (Also from the June 1990 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine.)

"If the symptoms are located above the neck (runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat), then exercise is safe...[however] athletes should not exercise with below?the?neck symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and hacking cough with sputum production."

Some parents wonder if it is permissible for swimmers to participate in dryland activities and avoid the water during colds. In fact, breathing the super humid air at the water surface may help relieve cold symptoms. So long as athletes do not have a fever, history of serious virus infections of which the cold may just be the beginning of, or feel weak and lethargic, a light to moderate swimming workout may be beneficial. The Swim Parents Newsletter editorial staff recommends the conservative policy of always checking with your family physician and encourages swimmers, coaches, and parents to remember that an upcoming qualifying meet is not as important as a child's opportunity to recover from a cold.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Working WITH the Coach

One of the most time consuming challenges a coach encounters is building a working relationship between himself, parents, and the Board of Directors.  This is especially true when parents challenge the coaches' authority and ability to make coaching judgments.

From our vantage point of "hearing it from all sides" we have developed some thoughts for parents.

Be educated.  Read all you can about swimming but remember, that there are usually many different ways to teach a skill, or plan a season, or set a race strategy, etc..  Your coach may use tactics you have not read about and are not familiar with but are never-the-less absolutely sound.  Some very gifted coaches may use techniques that aren't well documented but may be a superior method.  Your coach may be a pioneer!  We don't think all coaches should coach using the same methods and are anxious to hear from coaches having success with new found methods.

Where do you find information?  Reputable websites like www.swimmingcoach.org and www.usaswimming.org are a good place to start.  There are many places on the web but keep in mind the source – look for articles by successful and respected coaches.  Also, there are dozens of books and DVD’s out there written by accomplished coaches.  www.GoSwim.tv and www.Championshipproductions.com are two good sources of DVD’s and Human Kinetics publishes a number of excellent books.  ASCA has selected a number of DVD’s and books we feel are important and have placed them on our online store at www.swimmingcoach.org.  There is also the option to join ASCA as a non-coach member and receive the ASCA Magazine, ASCA Newsletter, and the Journal of Swimming Research.

n  Think before you ask.  When you are concerned about a decision made by the coach it's fair to ask for an explanation but keep in mind two things.  First, ask for an explanation at the proper time, preferably after practice or after the swimming meet.  It is better to wait for a quieter time and it is better to think through your questions before approaching the coach.

Secondly, it is reasonable for a coach to give an explanation by simply saying, "I had a feeling it would work best this way."  It's called intuition, and it is one of the most important ways a coach makes a judgment call.  Let's not take this away from coaches.

Consider relays – one of the most contentious judgment calls a coach makes.  Who should be on the relay and what should the order be?  There are many factors that go into setting a relay line up and the guiding philosophy of the coach might simply be that he or she "enters the relay in the best interest of the team."  There should never be a specific relay policy that will prevent your coach from using his or her judgment.

For example, the "fastest  four" may not be the fastest four on THAT day.  The coach may have an intuitive feeling that a given individual may perform faster than the "fastest four."  There are also times the coach might feel that an individual needs the psychological boost of being on the "A" relay even though they are not one of the top 4, and if the meet is not of importance, may elect to move this swimmer to the “A” relay.

The point is, it is a coaches' call.  She may make a judgment based on an intuitive feeling she has or other reasoning that you do not agree with or understand but it is within her area of authority to make the call and she needs the freedom to do it without undue critical challenges.

n  View the larger picture.  There are three pictures, actually.  One is the larger picture of the swimmer's swimming career.  Early success (i.e. medals, ribbons, high point trophies, and national age group rankings) is not a requirement to career success.  In fact, many times those successful early in their careers drop out before they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Coaches are usually very patient with a swimmer's progress because they are able to see the larger picture.  Try not to mistake a coaches' calm patience with non-caring.

Larger picture number two:  "There's more to life than swimming."  We're hopeful that all coaches and parents remember that the most important experiences gained in an individual's swimming career have nothing to do with flip turns or butterfly technique.  Making friends, being part of a team, learning self-discipline, learning responsibility, setting goals, and working toward goals are far greater experiences than medals, ribbons, high point awards, and national rankings.  (Just ask a retired swimmer!)

Larger Picture number three:  The team!  Remember that you and your child are part of the team and have an opportunity to contribute to team strength, team growth, and team unity.

n  Educate the coach.  Does your club have a "coaching education" item in its budget?  We think you should and it might be used for any or all of the following:

1)  People Skills Seminars.  In our office we regularly receive bulletins announcing various "people skills" or "management skills" seminars in the area.  On your team there are surely people who receive the same kind of bulletins at work.  Ask your Board to send the coach to a seminar.

2)  Coaches' clinics.  There are many throughout the year and throughout the country.  The ASCA World Coaches Clinic is the largest with over 1000 coaches in attendance.

3)  Senior Nationals.  If the team does not have senior national qualifiers, give the coach the option of attending the senior nationals in place of a clinic.  It's a great place to receive an education.

4)  Purchase books, magazines, and memberships for the coach.  All of these things are an investment in your team's greatest asset, the coach.

n  Recognize the coaches' experience and education.  Your children are precious and turning them over to a coach, who oftentimes is a young coach, is sometimes unsettling.  Coaches, however, have hours upon hours of experience working with young swimmers just like your child and will try to make their best judgments in the best interest of your child's long term swimming development.  In addition, we're hopeful that your coach has attended clinics, frequently exchanges information with other coaches, and is involved with the ASCA certification and home study program.

n  Try not to take it personally.  All parents want to see their children be successful, however some parents get emotionally involved in their children's successes and setbacks.  Sometimes they love to win through their children, and they hate to lose.  Let the child own their successes and failures while you are there simply to congratulate or console..

n  Be aware of the overzealous, know-it-all, win at all costs, swim parent.  Unfortunately there are some parents who continually challenge the judgment of the coach.  Frequently their opinions are based upon emotion, limited experience, and limited knowledge.  Their motives are rarely in the interest of the team.  They oftentimes try to gather support to change decisions and can wreck serious havoc in a program.   What you can do is support the coach and Board of Directors, and try to educate the parent.  One of the greatest untapped resources for parent education are the parents of children who have been through the age group program.

n  Remember all the different people a coach must work with.  Be sensitive to the fact that a coach is under tremendous pressure to please as many people as possible while making decisions he knows not everyone will be happy about.  A little support from a friendly parent can make a coaches’ job far more pleasant than if he feels he is always alone.

Or not.  Here is the time-saving, near effortless, and low stress alternative for all of the above:  simply look for your child to be happy and improving.  Entrust the coach with the technical details.  Accept the success and setbacks in stride.  Provide emotional support for your child.  Volunteer for team meets or other activities.  And on your car pool day if you get stuck at practice, take a good book, and look up once in a while at your lovely child getting a great workout.