The little things that coaches do while coaching and around their athletes many times carries more of an impact than anything else we do. These suggestions are offered as a suggestion for improving our effectiveness.

1. When talking to swimmers in the pool, whenever possible kneel or squat down to get closer to them. This little effort shows them that you care enough to make sure they understand the point you are trying to make. Putting yourself on their level means somethings special to them.

2. Positive salutations give the swimmers a feeling of uniqueness. Salutations such as: “Champ,” “Ace,” “Good Looking,” “Mr./Miss Finish” conveys special messages to the recipients. No matter what they are feeling as they approach you, they will leave feeling better.

3. Carry jellybeans or other such small treats in your pocket at practice. Toss swimmers a piece of candy as a reward for a good swim, set, exceptional behavior, effort, etc. the most important benefit of this practice is - it shows them that you noticed what they were doing in the water.

4. Remember birthdays - Birthdays are special to high school age students. Birthdays may mean: getting their drivers license, being able to date, etc. You will need a calendar or planner with these dates in them to remind you, but it again shows them that you care enough to remember. Just don’t miss anyone or it could do serious damage. One year, we put the birthday person on the end of the diving board and hosed them down with cold water while the rest of the team sang them “Happy Birthday,” sometimes very slowly.

5. One of my favorite stories is the one Phil Emery of Bangor Maine told at a NISCA Convention about the man cutting down a tree when it fell on his arm trapping him under it. He had to finally cut his arm off and reattach it after he had freed himself. The only problem was that he sewed the arm back upside-down. As a result, when he gave someone the “thumbs up” sign; one thumb would point up and the other pointed down. I tell my swimmers that story and use it as an example of being tough. So when we give each other one thumb up and the other thumb down, it means something special to them.

6. Vitamin C tablets that you can get at a health store like GNC. I use them a couple of different ways. They have to be favorable and are usually 100 mg.

A. I give them out either before practice to encourage swimmers to be on time or after practice to those who have completed the whole practice.

B. I also give them out at meets. As soon after a swimmer does their best time, give them a vitamin pill. Then before their races at the Region or State Championships, I give them a couple of pills and the flavor triggers that feeling of doing their best.


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