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Monday 28 January 2013

Pre-Race Routine Part 2

Last week I posted a "teaser" regarding Pre-Race Routine (Warmup at Meets).  Here's the link to the teaser: http://createperformance.blogspot.com/2013/01/per-race-routine-part-one.html

It's amazing to me how my athletes don't seem to "get it" -- even after 2.5 years of teaching.  I have a group of Post-Grads who tend to do a good job, but for them their Pre-Race Routine has been in place for years.  They know it's important to "time their warmup" (placing it properly before their swims), and they plan accordingly.

My 18 and unders did a little bit better last year.  I had better leadership, in particular from athletes like Elizabeth Pelton and Katie Hoff -- who I had the chance to coach and teach when they were 14 and under athletes (these athletes also got to see Michael Phelps and his pre-race routine -- which we used as THE example....and they did a good job mimicking all or (the main) parts of his routine).

I generally like the warmup to be 1:45-1:30 before the first event, and I like to see a second warmup 30-40 minutes before the first event.  The main wamup I like to see is: 800 Swim, 400 Kick, 600 Drills (3x200 IM drill is good), and then 4x50 descend or stroke count.  I've seen athletes have success with a 400-300-200-100 mixing swim, kick, drill, pull -- and follow it with 6x100 (maybe 1 Free, 1 IM, 1 Stroke twice), then a set of 3-4x50.....but for the case of my team at T2 Aquatics I've asked for the 800-400-600-4x50 warmup for the last two and half years.

Most people don't really do it.  I tend to not stand over them and ask for it, which has always been the way I've done it.  But more of my current athletes stop too much, talk too much, and generally skip out on much of what I ask them to do. 

I'm not even going to touch the warmdown in this post.  That's another issue.


1. I gave them a worksheet, and told them exactly what I wanted them to do.
2. I made everyone warmup at the same time.
3. I put the warmup on intervals, and changed it so if was a little bit harder than it would normally be.
4. I wrote down on the worksheet exactly when their second warmup should be, based off their particular events, and the timeline.
5. I wrote down the "second" warmup (300 swim plus either 3x50 descend or 6x25 dr/sw), so they could all follow along and have something to shoot for.

Who knows if I'll keep doing this.  I don't like it, because I think it's ok for National-Level athletes to get in at different times depending on when their first event is on the timeline.  There's something about it....they are in control, and control is a good thing.  But you know what?  I don't have that many National-level athletes....so we are really developmental.  And they don't KNOW how to do it on their own.  Katie Hoff watched Michael Phelps, and emulated him; then Elizabeth Pelton watched Katie Hoff and emulated her.  My current 18 and under athletes do not/ did not emulate Hoff and Pelton the way they should, even though they got to see these great athlete's behavior up close and personal for a year.

I have a feeling that the athletes I have don't follow along because they don't see themselves as great athletes.  They don't think they could ever do what Katie Hoff has done.  So why mimick her?  What a terrible way to behave!  They don't think they could ever be REALLY good, or they simply don't know what REALLY good is.  What a terrible way to think!

My only thought now: I guess I'm going to have to drill it into them!  Maybe we'll get a good one (or three) at some point if I do. 

I'm interested to hear comments. 


  1. It's actually a bit reassuring to know that a Coach of your experience & stature experiences this problem. My athletes do everything they can to skip parts of warm ups, and getting them to cool down longer than an easy 50 or 100 is like pulling teeth. I feel like the police walking over the cool down pool to catch them as the hop out after less than a minute. The problem is that the parents also don't care.

  2. You hit the nail on the head whe you say they don't believe they are great swimmers so why try, ones expectations motivate you, both positively and negatively, my best warmup swimmers are the ones that have the highest expectations

  3. Paul. I see both sides of your dilemna. You want to make sure the athlete is prepared and you also want to give them the tools to do it themselves. I think it has been an uphill journey for me in the past 5 or 6 years to get them to do the right thing by thier own choices. I most certainly had a few swimmers in the past that felt that a warm shower was just as good as warming up. I believe I finally have a group of swimmers that will choose to do the right thing to get better. A big part of it are some of my graduating and upper level swimmers who will do "extra" things without me telling them. As Eddie Reese once said at a Coach's conference I was at "you just have to keep telling them over and over again, that's the secret". Keep up the good work!

  4. A team I coached had a head coach that told this one story:

    It was expected to be on deck and activating 15 minutes before the start of warm up. Not walking on deck, but moving around. One girl, during her first B-finals at a national event, spent too much time talking to her friends and not warming up. He scratched her from the race. That got people to shape up.

    Personally, I started my warmup routine when I was 14 and heard that my coach lets national level swimmers warm up on their own. Wanting to be like them, I started my own warm up. This way, I only had to do 100m of kick, not 600 like Phelps does.