Measuring the effectiveness of a coaching staff is essential, but simply using swimming performance and subjective measures (likability, “talks a good game”, etc.) are not enough. Instead, using an objective method is necessary to prevent bias.
Dr. Rushall has gained a lot of media coverage with his work with 14-year-old standout Michael Andrew. This training philosophy is a radical change from the traditional swimming training, causing many to love, hate, or fear his philosophy. No matter your view on his training methodology, all must respect his body of work which can be found here.
In my opinion, one of his least recognized contributions is the practice session coaching performance assessment form (PSCPAF), which can be viewed for free here. This evaluation is a simple questionnaire measuring the effectiveness of a coach during a swimming practice. It also forces coaches to use multiple forms of feedback to their swimmers. This form is more important now than ever, as swimmers are used to constant attention (either from their excessive activities or constant electronic devices), making it essential to keep the swimmers engaged in themselves, each other, and learning. In the long-run, each swimmer won’t be an Olympian, but teaching them about their bodies, exercise, nutrition, and anatomy will help them immensely in the future. On a larger scale, teaching them healthy and fun methods for health and well-being will likely decrease the enormous health care costs eating away at the US and most developed countries.
Unfortunately, the short-term effects of statue coaching and using the pool deck as a coffee shop will not help a swimmer. Sure, a few “talented” swimmers will succeed with this form of coaching, but the majority will not and are likely to quit the sport and perhaps exercise in general, aiding to the current state of health. Practical Implication
Measure your coaches during practice effectiveness and challenge your coach to perform to a level of competence. Moreover, coaches need to educate themselves more on health, giving swimmers to tools for long-term success, since many children do not receive this education in school.
By Dr. G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science of Health from Purdue University. He is the founder of Mullen Physical Therapy, the Center of Optimal Restoration, head strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, creator of the Swimmer’s Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.