Our coaches are committed to following these practice principles at every practice. These principles are the basis of our coaching philosophy and help us to ensure continuity across our coaching staff. Please contact a coach if you have any questions about these principles.
VST Practice Planning Principles for Coaches:
1. Every practice should have an aspect of fun, surprise and/or variety built into it. Swimming is not an inherently fun sport unless coaches make this a priority.
2. Each practice should have sets designed to improve technique, and each swimmer should get personalized feedback at least one time per practice session.
3. Yardage for the sake of yardage is unhelpful and potentially injurious to swimmers. Every lap or activity should matter and should be directed at a specific goal. If a coach cannot easily explain the purpose of any particular lap or activity to the swimmers, then that lap or activity should not be part of the practice.
4. When appropriate, swim groups or fun activities should be combined in order to develop a sense of camaraderie between the age groups. Older swimmers often serve as mentors for younger swimmers, so opportunities to encourage this should not be missed.
5. Get in the water. Coaching from the deck works most of the time, but coaches should not miss opportunities to reflexively jump in to demonstrate or correct a technique at the instant the opportunity presents itself. Also, much of a swimmer’s technique can only be evaluated beneath the surface of the water. These opportunities are missed by coaches who are reluctant to enter the pool or who are not dressed appropriately to swim. Coaches should plan to enter the water several times per practice, even with older swimmers.
6. For younger swimmers, coaches need to be in the water for almost every minute of the practice. If a coach dislikes getting into the water, the kids will notice and their attitudes will follow suit. Make your love of swimming obvious to the kids and they will learn to share your enthusiasm.
7. Start practices on time. Even if the swimmers aren’t ready, coaches should be prepared to begin on time.
8. Prepare the pool before swimmers arrive. Swimmers need lanes, backstroke flags and blocks for every practice. If swimmers arrive early for practice, they can help with lane lines, but it is the responsibility of the coaches to put in the lanes on time.
9. Coaches should help swimmers to develop personalized goals for the season. Practices should be designed to recognize and support these personal goals whenever possible.
10. Summer swimmers are sprinters. Practices should focus on swimming at full speed whenever possible with short-duration, high–intensity sprints followed by adequate rest periods. Swimmers don’t learn to sprint when they are swimming long sets.