I had the chance to coach many of T2 Aquatics' 8-12 year olds last week as I filled in for Coach Jon Caswell (congrats to Jon on his wedding!). Every day I was reminded of the pieces which must be
placed properly into each athlete's repertoire! It takes a LONG time to create high-level "pieces" --
parts, placed together properly, that make up a high-level athlete.
(See Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS5EsTc_-2Q).
It's important that each athlete in our training group gets some insight into how to build these pieces....but how can we ensure that they are all hearing the message?
The answer comes down to repetition. We ask the athletes for repetition, but in order to commuicate well with each member of the training group coaches must repeat as well. Think about it:
how often are we talking to part of our training group instead of all of our training group?
Speaking to one athlete at a time is necessary -- in particular for the high-level athletes (they are ready for more skills, and in addition they will generally have more time on the wall). But a quick reminder to push off the wall deeper, or to connect the pullout to the first stroke on breaststroke can be repeated pretty easily to each of our athletes 5 seconds before they leave the wall. In particular with our younger athletes (6 to 11 year olds) this reptition from a coach can be very effective in offering proper cues to an athlete as they approach a skill repetition.
To offer this specific instruction to everyone, we may have to repeat ourselves 5 or 6 times per practice item, so each athlete hears the proper message -- and just as importantly, they hear it at the correct time. We may end up saying the same thing, seemingly over and over, to get the point across to every athlete in our training group -- but the differences will be noticable at the next meet!