PARENTS, YOUR ATHLETE NEEDS YOU!
To have a successful program there must be understanding and cooperation among parents, swimmers, and coaches. The progress your youngster makes depends to a great extent on this triangular relationship. It is with this in mind that we ask you to consider this section as you join WEST and reacquaint yourself with this section if you are a returning WEST parent.
You have done a great deal to raise your child. You create the environment in which they are growing up. Your child is a product of your values, the structure you have provided, and the model you have been. Human nature, however, is such that a parent loses some of his/her ability to remain detached and objective in matters concerning his/her child’s athletics. The following guidelines will help you keep your child’s development in the proper perspective and help your child reach his/her full potential as an athlete.
The coach is the Coach! We want your swimmer to relate to his or her coach as soon as possible concerning swimming matters. This relationship between coach and swimmer produces the best results. When parents interfere with opinions as to how the swimmer should swim or train, it causes considerable, and often times insurmountable, confusion as to whom the swimmer should listen to. If you have a suggestion, problem, concern, or complaint, please contact the coach.
Best kind of parent: The coach’s job is to motivate and constructively criticize the swimmer’s performance. It is the parent’s job to supply the love, recognition, and encouragement necessary to make the child work harder in practice, which in turn gives him/her the confidence to perform well in competition.
Ten and Under: Swimmers in this age group are the most inconsistent swimmers and this can be frustrating for parents, coaches, and the swimmer alike! Parents and coaches must be patient and permit these youngsters to learn to love the sport. When a young swimmer first joins WEST, there may be a brief period in which he/she appears to slow down. This is a result of the added concentration on stroke technique, but this will soon lead to much faster swims for the individual.
Even the very best swimmer will have meets where they do not perform their best times. These “plateaus” are a normal part of swimming. Over the course of a season times should improve. Please be supportive of these “poor” meets. The older swimmers may have only two or three meets a year for which they will be rested and tapered.
Please make every effort to have your swimmers at practice on time. Realize that your child is working hard and give all the support you can. Encourage good diet and sleeping habits. They will serve your children well.
The greatest contribution you can make to your swimmer’s progress is to be a loving,supportive parent. In this handbook there is a reprint of an article called, “The Ten Commandments for Parents of Athletic Children”. It offers some very useful and sound advice.
2. In the Appendix section of this handbook, there is a copy of the “Terms and Conditions for Participation in West Coast Aquatics” that you signed when you registered with the Club. Please familiarize yourself with these items.
3. WEST has a reputation of hosting swim meets of the highest caliber. A significant percentage of our operating budget is generated from the Club hosting at least three swim meets each year. One of the commitments made when you joined WEST was to help work our own swim meets. We usually host a meet in July, one in October, and one in June. Every family is expected to work their family hours at our meets and serve their quarterly hours or the fees will be assessed during the next billing cycle.
Web Page-Your best source of immediate information is our team’s webpage at www.westcoastaquatics.org. The web site is constantly updated to provide the latest information for all interested in West Coast Aquatics.
Weekly Updates-Every week WEST team members will receive an e-mail from their child’s respective coach giving that week’s pertinent information – practice changes, deadlines, latest meet information and news. If you do not receive this e-mail send the Head Coach your e-mail address, and a note stating that you did not receive an up-date.
Team Newsletter-The team publishes a monthly newsletter. Results of the last swim meet, general information from the coaching staff, and announcements from the Board of Directors are covered in the newsletter. Make sure you and your swimmers read the contents of this when it is distributed.
Communicating with Coaches-When contacting the coaches please be considerate. The best way to speak with the coaches is to meet them after practice or send them an email. They usually make themselves available for 15 minutes to answer questions, provide information, etc.
PROBLEMS WITH THE COACH?
One of the traditional swim team communication gaps is that some parents seem to feel more comfortable in discussing their disagreements over coaching philosophy with other parents rather than taking their concerns directly to the coach. Not only is the problem never resolved this way, but in fact this approach often results in new problems being created. Listed below are some guidelines for a parent raising some difficult issues with a coach:
1. Try to keep foremost in your mind that you and the coach have the best interests of your child at heart. If you trust that the coach’s goals match yours, even though his/her approach may be different, you are more likely to enjoy good rapport and constructive discussion.
2. Keep in mind that the coach must balance your perspective of what is best for your child with the needs of the team or a training group that can range in size from 20-200 members. On occasion, an individual child’s interest may need to be subordinate to the interests of the group, but in the long run the benefits of membership in the group compensate for occasional short-term inconvenience.
3. If your child swims for an assistant coach, always discuss the matter first with that coach, following the same guidelines and preconceptions noted above. If the assistant coach cannot satisfactorily resolve your concern, then ask that the head age group coach or head coach to join the dialogue as a third party.
4. If another parent uses you as a sounding board for complaints about the coach’s performance or policies, listen empathetically, but encourage the other parent to speak directly to the coach. He/she is the only one who can resolve the problem.
Expectations of Swimmers and Parents
WEST is a program designed to help swimmers develop a successful competitive career and essential life skills. These skills can only be developed if each athlete takes advantage of his/her training, only then will he/she be able to excel.
We have the following expectations of our swimmers:
Be on time for practice: Arriving late for swim practices usually means a swimmer will miss some important information, a vital set, or an essential lesson for that day.
Be prepared for practice: Forgetting your swimsuit, cap, goggles, or equipment means that you are not prepared for workout. Pack your swim bag the night before practice, and always make sure you have your suit, cap, goggles, and all required equipment. A water bottle is highly recommended, and is even mandatory in some groups. Also, each swimmer must own and maintain a WEST team suit and cap. (See order form)
Wear appropriate swim attire: All swimmers are required to use an appropriate swimsuit. This means that the swimsuit should be in good repair, and boys should use a brief or jammer style suit, not shorts or trunks. Your suit should also be an appropriate size. If you are unsure what size to get, ask the coaching staff for guidance.
Be prepared to do your best at practice each day: Because swimming is a sport that not only requires skill, but also hard work to improve, it is important that you give each practice 100% effort each day.
Be courteous to your teammates, coaches and other members: Rude and irresponsible behavior will not be tolerated at any team function. You and your teammates do not deserve to be around rude and discourteous people. Unacceptable behavior will be dealt with at the discretion of the coaching staff.
Becoming a member of WEST not only means your child is part of the team, but you also become a member of WEST. Obviously, your role as a team member differs from that of the swimmer and coach, but it is no less important. By supporting your child in swimming, you are showing him/her that you are interested in their lives and activities. Children are always looking for ways to make their parents proud of them, and they want to see their parents get involved (even if they say they don’t). The types of support you should show your swimmer(s) are not difficult or time consuming, but are vital to the swimmer’s development. The following is a list of things that you can do to support your child as a WEST team member.
Attend parent meetings: Each group has a monthly parent meeting at which the coach can inform his/her parent group about important upcoming dates (such as meets, socials, etc), answer questions, and cover other important information. Attending these meetings will help you stay informed about your child’s swimming, and help your child’s coach serve you to the best of his/her ability.
Talk to your coaches: Visiting your child’s swim practice once per week is a good way to see how your swimmer is doing. If your child needs to leave practice early, has to miss practice (due to school work, appointment or family event), or is out sick please inform your child’s coach with a written note (which includes your signature and the date) or an email. This way you and the coach can stay in touch about the different things that affect your swimmer.
Attend swim meets: One of the best ways to support your swimmer is to attend his/her swim meets. Swim meets are kind of like a test to see where your child is in his/her swimming. Your child wants to do well and with you there to support him/her, your child can feel more confident. At meets they can show you what they have learned and that they have improved. USA swimming and Pacific swimming require that each team do their part to support every meets that the team goes to, by having parents attend. One-way to help us out at swim meets that we are not hosting (a.k.a. “away meets") is to time in our designated lane.
Drop off your child on time: Because every minute counts and the coaching staff values all the time they get with your swimmer, we highly encourage that you get your swimmer to practice on time. This means that swimmers need to arrive no later than 10 minutes before the start of practice.
The Ten Commandments for Parents of Athletic Children
Reprinted from The Young Athlete by Bill Burgess included in “The Swim Parents Newsletter”
Make sure your child knows that - win or lose, scared or heroic – you love him/her, appreciate their efforts, and are not disappointed in them. This will allow then to do their best without a fear of failure. Be the person in their life they can look to for constant positive reinforcement.
Try your best to be completely honest about your child’’ athletic ability, his/hers competitive attitude, their sportsmanship, and their actual skill level.
Be helpful, but don’t coach him/her on the way to the pool or on the way back, or at breakfast, and so on. It’s tough not to, but it’s a lot tougher for the child to be inundated with advice, pep talks and often critical instruction.
Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be “out there trying,” to be working to improve his/her swimming skills and attitudes. Help him/her to develop the feel for competing, for trying hard, for having fun.
Try not to re-live your athletic life through your child in a way that creates pressure; you lost as well as won. You were frightened, you backed off at times, and you were not always heroic. Don’t pressure your child because of your pride. Athletic children need their parents so you must not withdraw. Just remember there is a thinking, feeling, sensitive free spirit out there in that uniform who needs a lot of understanding, especially when his world turns bad. If he/she is comfortable with you – win or lose – he/she is on their way to maximum achievement and enjoyment.
Don’t compete with the coach. If the coach becomes and authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc., with your athlete.
Don’t compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your child with other members of the team, at least within his/her hearing.
Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that his/her philosophy; attitudes, ethics, and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under his/her leadership.