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Monday 20 August 2012

Practice Adjustments to Increase Athlete/Coach Communication

At T2 Aquatics we base much of our higher-level race-pace training on not only
the athlete's speed, but the stroke rate the athlete performs and the splits the athlete
adds to get to their final time.  Providing feedback on splits and rate is a difficult task
for many coaches who are asking for this sort of detail.

But it is possible to make small adjustments to the practice plan to accomodate a
larger number of athletes per practice, provided the practice is orchestrated correctly.

Imagine you have 8 lanes with 4-5 swimmers per lane.  Consider this set:
10x {150 Fast (2) + 150 easy (2)}.  Rather than start 8 lanes at the same time
on the {00:00}, I'd prefer to start 4 lanes on the {00:00} and 4 lanes on the {02:00}.
This way I've got 4 lanes going at one time from the start of the set until the
two-minute mark, and then at that point I've got another 4 lanes going from {02:00}
to {04:00} while the first group swims an easy 150. 

It looks like this:

Lanes 1-4:  Fast Swims at {00:00}, {04:00}, {08:00}, {12:00} and so on through 10
Lanes 5-8: Fast Swims at {02:00}, {06:00}, {10:00}, {14:00} and so on through 10

A few things happen with this scenario:

1. You have time to get splits on more swimmers, and communicate splits to them as
needed -- ensuring your athletes are not getting their fast swims from a blazing first 100
and a mediocre last 50.

2. You can discuss stroke count (stroke rate) with them more often, making appropriate

3. You can split into 4 lanes of girls and 4 lanes of guys.

4.  You can have the fastest of the group split into one group (5 lanes), and the slower
of the group in another (3 lanes).

Some of the benefits are technical (communication of times/splits/rate), and some of them are
socialogical (girls/guys, fast/slow, younger/older, etc). 

Through a week of training 8-10 times, I'd use this type of structure  1-2 times.  It's too important,
for a number of reasons, to keep the group together for the most part through the week.  But at times we can consider alternative practice organization to benefit our training groups, which if used appropriately will increase the overall productivity of the entire team.

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