Summer is about to finish most swim professionals, aquatic professionals, are wrapping up their summer outdoor programs in the United States. That means we are struggling to find staff after our college workers had gone back to school and our high school staff is left covering the same pools with fewer people and an additional struggle against being at school all day.
I like to think of fall as a fresh beginning new start for our program.Fall is the time where we implement refined ideas new lesson plans. Already it is been a full year since we implemented the general lesson and have seen great success with our veteran and new staff using the banks of skills and activities to teach their lust. In the last six months we’ve introduced SwimSheets and wrote a new book.
But you are struggling with swim lessons.
Maybe you’re looking for fresh new games that you can play with your swimmers and keep instruction interesting and fun. Maybe you’re struggling with trying to find and hire new staff to replenish all of the seasonal folks that have gone away to school for simply given up after spending 40 to 50 hours a week in the hot sun.
During the summer I visit multiple outdoor pools from a variety of different programs. I used to spend a significant amount of time focusing only on this one was recently branched out helping facilities with their lifeguard training, swim lesson training, and program registration. In addition to being the HR payroll office aquatic professionals also need to contend with insurance needs and safety considerations. Training new managers on nuances of how to interact with their peers or run a meeting fall on the wayside for good reason.
I coach swimming. I teach swim lessons. I use my voice to get people to do things that they don’t understand and sometimes don’t want to do. One of my biggest pet peeves is training a new assistant coach and having them interrupt a prepared instruction to add their additional tips and pointers.
They often say all of the right things, having valid thoughts, but I do not want a second voice distracting my listeners from my deliberate word choice instructions. I have deliberately left things out because I want to focus their attention at critical points instead of being overwhelmed by a flood of minutia.
When our managers and outdoor pools run their weekly in-service trainings I often see all of the present managers speaking in 1 to 2 sentences with thinly related topics. I don’t have a problem with different managers running different portions of a training program but when we are giving speeches and people do not have a clear understanding of who should be talking about what things get confusing lif it is probably falling on deaf ears because of how it is delivered.
We can do better by having one cook in the kitchen.
At the beginning of each meeting select one person to do the speaking. Make one person the head cook in charge of relaying all of the pertinent and important details to your staff.
Let that one person refine the message into a clear, concise, effective delivery done no more than 10 minutes.
Make sure if you have vital information that needs to be relayed that you write it down and provided in a handout or separate material as you can count on most people not remembering the exact words or verbiage that you use when giving information.
You may know that I’m a big fan of breaking up into small groups. I find that the more intimate setting allows for better feedback and a safer environment to correct mistakes.
Small group work is not my invention and in fact, is nothing new period you see it in grade school and kindergarten and throughout formal education. It is an effective tool not allows you to work on many different things while honing in an individual specific needs.
Spend a significant amount of time at your training sessions Working in small groups. Set up stations where you practice giving effective commands. play games like the filibuster game where you speak for one full minute about a specific topic. Rotate through your different groups and ensure that everybody gets an opportunity to work with each of the managers running the stations. This will give your staff the opportunity to work closely with each of your managers.
Like tip number one where you keep one cook in the kitchen make sure that each person running a station has a clear understanding of what they should be focusing on. When I am at a swim meet working with multiple coaches and one or 2 swimmers in the water I give my assistant coaches specific parts of each swing to tailor their feedback around. We do not wanna get our feedback lost in a cluster of desperate or conflicting correction.
In the same way, we do not want to overwhelm our participants and staff with too many minute details about the nuances of CPR when their critical failure was that they didn’t do the compressions correctly in the 1st place.
Work in small groups but also keep to the mantra of one cook in the kitchen when giving feedback.
I was watching a CPR and lifeguard training session where we broke up into small groups. They were working on giving breaths while still in the water using a face mask. We were using live people on the rescue tubes so we were not actually breathing into the mask. Unfortunately, all of the lifeguards were doing these skills wrong.
The managers and I decided to alter our training group into a smaller niche down specific activity period we were going to work on tilting the head backward and getting a strong seal around the victims face with the face mask tilted far enough so that the lifeguard could actually reach it with their lips while treading water.
It was surprising how difficult this task was for the majority of our staff members.
They struggled. They had a hard time. They hadn’t done a repetitive task like this for a while.
We found an immediate improvement when we honed down to the essential skill and spent a significant amount of time with appropriate feedback working on that skill.
This may seem obvious and it may be if you were used to working with a large group of people or teaching skills to groups. If you’ve never had training or experience running a group or coaching a large number of people this does not come naturally to folks.
The managers were chosen because they had experience and knew their material but they may not have known how to best implement or affectively communicate that material to their staff.
If you review these 3 simple tips with your managers then you’re doing better than professionals that forget to train their staff because they’re overwhelmed by the flood of other responsibilities bursting down their door
What do you think?
Tell me what you think. do you think this is helpful? if so make sure to comment below or reach out on social media. Would you like to hear more information about the essential steps you need to run an effective swim program?
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