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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Coach Bob Steele visits Naples / T2 Aquatics

Today's T2 Aquatics practice was a nice change of pace, made possible by Coach Bob Steele.  Coach Steele is a "USA Swimming Master Coach" -- which means that USA Swimming has asked Coach Steele (along with Coach Jon Urbanchek) to travel to certain teams around the USA, as a consultant for High Level 18 and Under swimming success.

This morning Coach Steele made a more "informal" visit to T2 Aquatics (he and his wife are on a short 3 day vacation to visit family in Naples).  He played a few games with our athletes that incorporated swimming skills/speed, as well as a great sense of FUN.  My favorite game was called "Rock Band or Racehorse".  Part of Coach Steele's philosophy has to do with "engagement": an engaged athlete, who is attentive to what is happening during practice, will tend to be more focused throughout the workout -- and achieve better workout results.

Coach Steele has written an awesome book for coaches: Games-Gimmicks-Challenges

You can buy the book, read more about Coach Steele, or surf through an amazing resource library at:

View Coach Steele's motivational talk with our team members here (uploaded to Youtube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5PajewrxVo  The discussion centered around "Being the Best you Can Be" -- and it highlighted three things that determine success: Skill, Fitness, and Motivation


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

...A Different Style of Workout

I've been thinking about how we, as coaches, think about training.  Too often we come up with a list of items for an athlete to do (any basic set or group of sets), and although maybe we recommend that the athletes hit a certain pace average/heart rate or something like that -- we generally take what the athlete gives on the set -- and move on to the next day.

So, this week I wanted to try something with my Senior athletes that I have tinkered with -- but really haven't made the focus of the entire workout.  The goal was simple: I wanted to see 50s freestyle at 26 seconds, in 26 strokes or less (SCY).....and I wanted to see it 250 times.  I decided that the 9 athletes I had on this particular day were going to accomplish this task, and then warm down.

I figured if 9 athletes were perfect 9 for 9 on 10 50s in a row, they would be at 90 50s.  Then there's only 110 more to accomplish!  I did give extra points for higher level efforts (5 points for 25 seconds in 25 strokes or less, and 20 points for 24 seconds in 24 strokes or less).

The workout was great.  We did a little less yardage than usual, but we swam with super effective strokes! 

I actually offered some extra incentive sets along the way during the warmup, to knock down the total number of 50s from 250 to 200....which was well-worth it.

Here's the actual practice:

A.  Warmup:  

6x400 (530) -- odds Free IM cruise; evens Free negative split + descend

Once we were finished with the first 3x400, I asked for my lane leaders to average 355 or better, all negative split -- to qualify for an "incentive".  They were 348-352-355-356, all negative split.  We were off to a great start.

After the 5th 400, I asked my lane leaders to be "at least as fast" on their average, while the 'slowest' 4 athletes had to achieve goal times I had put out for them (Some had to break 415, some had to break 405 -- all negative split).  I offered incentive: if the athletes could hit the times I asked for, negative split, then we would take the amount of 50s we were planning to do (later in the practice) from 250 to 235. We had a few great swims from these athletes to finish the warmup!  Our lane leaders continued to go faster as well....we had a 15 year old boy go 345 (154-151), while the others were 348-353-355.....all negative split.

...We moved on.....

B. Pre-Set:

5 rounds: -- 75 Free (1) -- breathe every 5th at 43-45 seconds
                   50 easy (50)
                   25 Fly (40) -- at 12-13 seconds in 6 strokes

All 75s had to be at the prescribed time, and all 75s had to be "every 5th".  If it wasn't right on the money, I gave them a "whammy".

All 25s had to be at the prescribed time, at the prescribed stroke count.  Not on the money?  Whammy.

I timed the final 3 rounds, and allowed for 14 "whammies" from the combination of all 9 athletes.  I think we got to 10 whammies, but were overall pretty good. 

The "offer" was: accomplish the goals, with 14 "whammies" or less, and I'll take the amount of 50s from 235 to 200.  The group was motivated to make this happen, and after 50 minutes of practice we had really accomplished some great stuff! 

C. Main Set:

50s SCY -- at 26 strokes and 26 seconds.  Each 50 done at 26/26 counted for one point.  Any 50s at 25 strokes in 25 seconds counted as 5 points.  Any 50s at 24 strokes in 24 seconds counted as 20 points (we almost got this one a few times, but not quite).

We left every 1:15 or so and counted points until we got to 200 total points. 

D. Swim Down 4x200 (R30) alternating pull and IM drill.

........The workout was a good workout because I "came at it" from a different angle when accessing its effectiveness.  There were a certain amount of "things" I wanted to see.  I imagine each practice repeat as having a certain value (like FINA points) -- and each time an athlete pushes off the wall, to me, is a chance to earn some points.  This is how I imagine practice going each day.  Everything counts, and the higher level performance counts for "more" to me (24 strokes in 24 seconds beats 26 strokes in 26 seconds any day).

I think we have to spend time as much time as possible in this particular mode when training.  The key is: you have to be able to work in this way when doing "pace" type training (like the practice above), and you have to be able to do it when training aerobically (Jon Urbanchek's color pace chart is a great tool to use), and you have to be able to do it when training components (Kicking, Pulling, Underwater work)....you have to figure out HOW to do what Talent Code author Daniel Coyle calls "Deep Training" -- and you have to do it all of the time!

Find our more about Daniel Coyle's writing here: http://thetalentcode.com/

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Back from a blog break!

I've been pretty busy lately with typical springtime-stuff ....swimming related and family-related.  There have not been a lot of blogging on this site as a result!  I hope to turn that around over the next week or two.  Certainly I have a few subjects to discuss....I've been thinking about a few things over our scy championship season.

T2 Aquatics is back to training; and we are training hard and well.  Our workout this evening was really good- and  a bit different than the norm.  I'll post about it at some point soon.....because I really believe the style of training we employed this evening is the way we are going to go with our top age groupers -- to change the way they are swimming for the better.  It's all about accomplishing specific items every day.

More on that later.  For now, here's a link to proswimworkouts.com - and a workout we did last week with some T2 Aquatics Senior athletes.  I call it a "fountain" workout.