11 Ways to Make Practice MORE FUN!

How to make practice more fun? This question came from Coach AG. Thank you.
When I was a new coach I struggled with how to make practice more fun. I usually had a high turn over rate of younger swimmers. It was imperative to the success of my club to figure out how to make practice more fun.
In fact, I really became inspired by one of my best swimmers. NC came to practice one Friday and said she wanted play games. She was trying out for the Canadian Centre of Excellence at the time and she was basically guaranteed to make it. When your best swimmer comes to practice and is not ready to train you need to play games. From that day on we always had “FUN FRIDAYS!”.
Here is a list of my ideas to make practice more fun for any level. They are in no particular order.
1. Use equipment.
  • Equipment is useful and can be fun for everyone.
  • Pool noodles, bottles, flutter boards, tubing, . . .  for drills.
  • Have simmers wear socks.
2. Games.
  •  The swimmers can make up their own games and teach everyone.
  •  You can modify land games for the water. We tried capture the flutter board. It was really hard.
  •  I recently learned a club does musical noodles. Have enough noodles for all of your swimmers minus  one. Every time the music stops the swimmer needs to find a pool noodle. You keep taking one noodle out every time some one is eliminated. Read your group as they may not like elimination games.
  • Under water charades- someone or a team acts out something(could be a phrase or a word) and the others guess.
  • Swimming through hoops to help with going under water.
  • Treasure hunts- finding things off the bottom.
  • Rolling a dice to see what they need to do. For example, if they roll a 1 they do one lap of layout, if they roll a 5 they body boost. You make up what the numbers mean. Or have the swimmers make it up.
  • Always end practice with something fun.
3. Use music as much as you can.
  • Use music they like.
  • Use music as long as it is not distracting.
4. Teach them skills the big kids do.
  • Thrusts, spins and support scull. The little ones love to be like the big kids. Not all the time, but practice it sometime.
5. Have the big swimmers work with the little ones.
  • Working with the big swimmers gives them someone to look up to and aspire to be like.
  • Plan what the groups need to work on.
6. Practice routine skills and use music.
  • Always train to have a routine even if it is very basic.
  • Use floating devices or big swimmers to help the little ones have a routine.
7. Have them experiment.
  • Let them just have fun experimenting.
  • Give them cues for moves to experiment with, like 4 different arms and one hybrid.
  • Use different types of music.
8. Use interesting examples when explaining techniques or corrections.
  • For sailboat, I have heard coaches say put your toe in your parking lot. (the hole is on the side of the straight leg).
  • In eggbeater, have the swimmers make a cake and put different ingredients in it with moving their legs in the proper eggbeater motion.
9. Be creative with the warm-up.
  • Swim in shapes. Go around the outside of the pool in a box. Make triangles.
  • Dive to the bottom and jump off it. (if the pool is shallow enough)
  • Use music. Get the swimmers to match the speed of the music.
  • Do silly things like chicken IM or lobster laps. (Chicken IM is where you put your hands by your armpits and swim like you have wings)
  • Swim in partners or larger groups trying to stay in pattern and even synchronized.

10. Let them show off.

  • Let the swimmers show off their skills to their family members and club mates.

11.  Bring a friend.

  • Let them bring a friend to practice to show off to. Maybe their friend will join too.
  • Daddy/daughter swims can be successful too. Or mommy/son swims.
I would love to hear your ideas on making practice more fun. Please comment hear or on my Facebook Page.
Yours in Synchro,

2 Comments

  1. Megan on February 1, 2017 at 7:41 AM

    This is a great list, thanks!

    Growing up, one of my favorite warm ups was when our coach would play random music and the only requirement was that you had to be creative and keep swimming until the end of the song! This is also a great way to brainstorm routine choreography!

    When I’m coaching, I’ll have them do a serious lap down and then corkscrew or fast summersaults on the way back. They usually end up a little dizzy but laughing! Push me, pull you (one swimmer uses arms only and the other holds partner’s ankles and kicks) is also a fun one.

    • Vanessa Keenan on February 1, 2017 at 8:28 AM

      I love your additions. I totally forgot about those partner laps. Thank you for sharing.

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