10 Commandments for Swimming
by Rose Snyder, Managing
Director Coaching Division, USOC
Former Director of Club Services, USA Swimming
I. Thou shalt not impose thy
ambitions on thy child.
Remember that swimming is your child’s activity.
Improvements and progress occur at different rates for each
individual. Don’t judge your child’s progress based on
the performance of other athletes and don’t push him based on
what you think he should be doing. The nice thing about swimming is
every person can strive to do his personal best and benefit from
the process of competitive swimming.
II. Thou shalt be supportive
no matter what.
There is only one question to ask your child after a practice
or a competition - "Did you have fun?" If meets and practices are
not fun, your child should not be forced to participate.
III. Thou shalt not coach
You are involved in one of the few youth sports programs that
offers professional coaching. Do not undermine the professional
coach by trying to coach your child on the side. Your job is to
provide love and support. The coach is responsible for the
technical part of the job. You should not offer advice on technique
or race strategy. Never pay your child for a performance. This will
only serve to confuse your child concerning the reasons to strive
for excellence and weaken the swimmer/coach bond.
IV. Thou shalt only have
positive things to say at a swimming meet.
You should be encouraging and never criticize your child or the
coach. Both of them know when mistakes have been made. Remember
“yelling at” is not the same as “cheering
V. Thou shalt acknowledge
thy child’s fears.
New experiences can be stressful situations. It is totally
appropriate for your child to be scared. Don’t yell or
belittle, just assure your child that the coach would not have
suggested the event or meet if your child was not ready. Remember
your job is to love and support your child through all of the
swimming experience. VI. Thou shalt not criticize the
Please don’t criticize
those who are doing the best they can in purely voluntary
VII. Honor thy child’s
The bond between coach and swimmer is special. It contributes
to your child’s success as well as fun. Do not criticize the
coach in the presence of your child.
VIII. Thou shalt be loyal
and supportive of thy team.
It is not wise for parents to take swimmers and to jump from
team to team. The water isn’t necessarily bluer in another
team’s pool. Every team has its own internal problems, even
teams that build champions. Children who switch from team to team
find that it can be a difficult emotional experience. Often
swimmers who do switch teams don’t do better than they did
before they sought the bluer water.
IX. Thy child shalt have
goals besides winning.
Most successful swimmers have learned to focus on the process
and not the outcome. Giving an honest effort regardless of what the
outcome is, is much more important than winning. One Olympian said,
"My goal was to set a world record. Well, I did that, but someone
else did it too, just a little faster than I did. I achieved my
goal and I lost. Does this make me a failure? No, in fact I am very
proud of that swim." What a tremendous outlook to carry on through
X. Thou shalt not
expect thy child to become an Olympian.
There are 250,000 athletes in USA Swimming. There are only 52
spots available for the Olympic Team every four years. Your
child’s odds of becoming an Olympian are about .0002%.