Okay, for most coaches in Canada the new season is going to start in a just a few weeks. I hope you took the much needed rest, but now it is time to get back at it if you want this to be your most effective season ever.
I believe there are three things you should do in preparation for the upcoming season.
- Read the new FINA Manual. Learn your age groups new figures and elements. Which figures and parts of figures are worth the most? Do you understand the new figures/elements or do you need to find a high level judge that you can talk with to clarify a few things. For routines, look at the marking scales to see if there are any changes. Are there trends in the words used or perhaps even specific criteria the judges are looking for. For example, in the previous manual it was actually written that one lap should take about 1 minute to swim.
- Create a Pattern Playbook (PP). So a pattern playbook is just your routine mapped out. Most importantly it includes all the pattern changes per lap for the entire routine. Identify each position in every pattern with a number so you can show your team their pattern changes. Try your best to repeat a minimal number of patterns. Drawing out patterns ahead of time will allow you the time to think of great new patterns. The more you can create on paper the easier you will find the choreographic process. The PP is meant to guide you and aid you in choreography. Do not feel like you need to stick to what’s on the paper. Sometimes our great ideas only work on paper or in our head. If you want to be even more prepared map out where you want the figures, highlights, partner stuff, . . . When you are more specific in your planning you will find that you choose better patterns. A pattern that is awesome for a figure may not be the best for eggbeater. By mapping out the routine ahead of time you can alleviate some of the problems you will face at the pool.
- Create your Yearly Training Plan (YTP). Depending on the level you coach these will be simple to elaborate. At the very least have the goals for each period of training and define your training periods. There is the preparation phase and the competition phase. You can be even more detailed by breaking the to aforementioned phases into a general prep phase and specific prep phase as well as a general and specific competition phase. The more planning and thought that goes into the YTP the more effective each training session will be.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there?” Lewis Carroll
Make your practices highly effective by planning beforehand and by knowing what the judges are looking for. This year is filled with lots of “NEW” stuff so learn what you need to learn prior to your first competition where the judges see your routines and figures. Plan so every minute at practice is used to it’s maximum potential. If I timed how much work your team did at practice what would it look like? Are they busy doing productive activities or are they hanging on the wall waiting for you to figure things out?
I have not seen the new FINA rules posted yet, but I am sure they will come out on the FINA website after the World Championships. If you follow my Facebook page I will let you know when I see the new rules posted.