A lack of understanding of the work of a sports coach is the cost we must pay for our endeavors. However, it should be realized that a coach is by no means a supreme being, but having specific swim coach characteristics and attributes are common in elite coaches. They are no different from the rest of us mortals but rather simple professionals who conscientiously strive to obtain the best possible performance from their athletes, want to win above all else because that is their job, aspire to success like everyone else, and experience and suffer the same feelings as other professionals when things fail to go their way.
If you were to stop, think about and carefully analyze the skills employed and tasks undertaken by a swimming coach on a daily basis, you would no doubt be surprised. Being a coach is no walk in the park; it demands passion, leadership, and sacrifice, as well as specific knowledge of the activity and the patience and strength necessary to achieve goals.
The educational and training aspects of their work require them to study and stay up-to-date regarding new trends in physical, technical and tactical issues of training, as well as have the courage to apply them. They must be competent, have clear ideas, be good communicators and convey their knowledge in a natural but assertive manner. They must be capable of demonstrating serenity and calm at delicate times and have the ability to channel their emotions. They must act as a leader. They must issue the necessary orders to their team as if they were the conductor of an orchestra. They must set reasonable and ambitious goals, give the impression of always having everything under control, and inspire trust and confidence in that what they say will happen, will indeed happen.
The above functions are inherent qualities of any good coach, but they are not the only ones. In my opinion, some of them are more important than others. Let me explain which:
4 Essential Swim Coach Characteristics and Attributes
Swim Coach Characteristics #1: Being Technical
The coach is ultimately responsible for the athletic training of the swimmer. They must plan, guide, supervise, control and assess the correct preparation of their athletes.
To do so, and at the start of the season, they must draw up a flexible action plan, a correct path, so that the swimmers they are responsible for obtaining the best results at the most important championship. They must set individual and collective targets, which will depend on the characteristics of the group, as well as the level and age of the individual athlete. They must choose a planning model that considers the distance and style to swim, and that will suitably distribute the main and secondary competitions in order to obtain optimum performance at the chosen time.
Swim Coach Characteristics #2: Being Psychological and motivating
They must seek and provide the right incentives for inspiring passion and improving performance in their pupils.
A successful coach must guide, advise and steer their pupils towards achieving their goals. They must always demonstrate an open and warm attitude when dealing with swimmers directly and must find the right incentives for reaching the targets set.
Times have changed and swimmers look for a coach who understands them, stimulates them, motivates them during the bad moments and steers them to success. They are desperate for someone who listens to them and pays them the necessary attention, who looks after their well-being, gives them positive strength and considers and values their opinion.
They expect and value their support at difficult times when everything seems lost and their work becomes more important. They require a professional who is fair and balanced in their decisions, and who is open to dialogue and doesn’t try to impose their ideas at all cost.
For this reason and many more, a coach must always be fair, frank and sincere, and must always be ready to convey the confidence and security required.
Swim Coach Characteristics #3: Education
As well as a coach, they are trainers and mentors of people and often act as confidants and friends due to the influence of their actions on the personal development of the athletes they are responsible for. They set an example for the athlete and are responsible for conveying and enforcing the rules and behavioral values both in and out of the pool.
Their attitude will reflect their obligation, they will inspire by example at all times, and will transmit honesty, education and respect for the rules of conduct if what they want is to obtain the appreciation and consideration of their pupils.
Swim Coach Characteristics #4: Being Strategic
Correcting a minor technical flaw that is preventing increased efficiency, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our rivals, and discovering the swimming strategies used by our rivals in competition to provide the information necessary to face them with an increased guarantee for success are skills that can make all the difference between winning and losing.
A coach must have full control over these small details, which will help them detect mistakes in rivals and make suitable use of attack or defense maneuvers in their own benefit and that of their swimmers at the right moment.
To some extent, a swimming coach is a builder of dreams who must ensure that their own initial project becomes a work of art. To achieve this, they need to be smart, original and creative in the way they work; realistic and practical with their limitations, meticulous over the little details and possess the emotional intelligence required for the job.
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Written by Agustín Artiles (“Champi”). Agustín has more than 35 years of experience as the Head Coach of some of the most important Spanishswimming teams He has been the Coach of the Spanish Swimming Team from 2008 to 2012, and has trained the 50 breaststroke Spanish national recordman, Hector Monteagudo Espinosa, from 2002 to 2013 Agustín has also trained several international swimmers from the Spanish National Team and from the European and world top ten, as well as paraolimpics athletes with medals and world records in all the different categories. He has also been accomplished with the award as the Best competition swimming coach in Spain 2006, as several recognition for professional merits.