1. Sometimes my child doesn’t want to go to practice. He/she wants to play with his/her friends. Should I force him/her to go?
You should not force your child; you want his/her participation to be his/her decision. Reinforce the choices and decisions he/she has made to start his/her sport. For example, your swimmer chose to go to practice on Tuesday and Thursdays, on other days they have the freedom to do other activities. As a parent, explain your expectation that they fulfill the commitment they have made by joining the team. You don't want to force your child into a sport that they do not enjoy, yet you want your child to be involved in a 'lifetime sport', to learn about making and keeping a commitment and to interact with peers. So, what are you to do?
Instead of allowing your child to make a daily decision about going to practice, allow him to decide whether or not he wants to participate for the season. Once the decision is made to participate, he is making a commitment to the team and needs to follow through on it by attending practice on a regular basis. A haphazard schedule is detrimental to the athlete’s overall development.
Interestingly, when asked to reflect on the role of their parents in their swimming, athletes from a recent USA Swimming World Championship team talked about being pushed to swim by their parents on a weekly basis but knowing they could quit if they stopped having fun with swimming.
2. My child has a lot of interests and activities so he/she only attends about half of his/her practices. What will happen to his/her competition results?
Children involved in other activities can benefit in the areas of coordination and balance, as well as improved social and intellectual development. Specialized training in one activity does not necessarily need to take place at this stage of development. Will your swimmer’s teammate who makes all practices have better results? Probably he will because his teammate is working solely on developing one sport skills. It is up to you to explain to your child that making the choice to participate in other activities can have its consequences. Tell your son that he should not compare his results to that of his teammate, but to focus on the fact that he is benefiting from and enjoying other sports.
3. It looks like my child is having a lot of fun at practice. Shouldn’t she be working harder?
Be happy that your child is having fun! According to a recent study conducted by USA Swimming children who experience fun while participating stay in sports longer (Tuffey, Gould, & Medbery, 1998). At this stage of the game, the most important aspect of development is the mastery of skills, which means learning the proper technique. Fundamentals must be established prior to true “training” taking place. And, if she is having fun in the process of learning, she is more likely to continue to the sport.
4. It looks like all they do at practice is drills. Shouldn’t they be training more?
Your child needs to develop a solid foundation in mechanics. Drills and drill sets serve the specific purpose of teaching skills and fundamentals. Drills develop motor coordination, motor skills, and balance. In fact, your child’s coach may prescribe a particular drill, just for your child, in order to improve an aspect of her technique. In addition, she may actually be experiencing a “training” benefit from drills. Drills require concentration and aerobic energy to do them correctly.
5. My daughter’s coach sometimes makes her “sit out” for disciplinary reasons. Isn’t that a waste of her time?
The coach has set up expectations of proper behavior. Hopefully, your child is aware of the consequences of testing these boundaries. Obviously the coach is reinforcing what is expected of the children at practice. We encourage you to reinforce the coach's practice expectations by discussing your child’s behavior and the consequences of that behavior. Hopefully, this “time out” begins to reinforce self-discipline, accountability and respect for others.
6. My son complains that some of the kids cheat in practice. What should I tell him?
Praise him first for completing the workout the coach offers. Remind him that he is there to improve himself and he can’t control what his teammates do. Tell him however, that his best course of action is to continue to do things right and others may actually be influenced by his good example. By committing to do his best at all times, over the long haul he will reap the benefits of his hard work.
7. My daughter just moved up to the Senior Group. Now the coach wants her to train twice a day. Is this really necessary?
Your child has established proper technique and fundamentals by progressing through the levels of the team. It is appropriate at this stage of your daughter’s career development to increase the training loads. This includes adding the two mornings per week. Although morning practices come extra early, most coaches feel that this level of commitment is necessary for your daughter to reach the next level of her career.
Training for competitive sports is demanding on young athletes. As athletes develop, they need to understand the upcoming time demands. One specific principle of training that applies is the progressive overload principle. A person must be stressed slightly more each day over time to continue to improve. In order to do that, the coach must plan additional time. The addition of morning workouts often becomes necessary for the coach to develop young athletes to their maximum potential.
8. What type of commitment is needed for higher levels of competition?
While an athlete’s performance is influenced by numerous factors, there are three that exert the greatest influence: physical, technical and mental. As athletes progress, a greater commitment, of both time and energy, is needed to enable an athlete to address all of these factors.
Additionally, the athlete is asked to take more responsibility for and ownership of his practice and competition performance. One way of doing this is by accepting responsibility for leading a lifestyle conducive to performance, i.e., proper nutrition, adequate sleep, time management and managing extra-curricular activities.
9. Is my teenager sacrificing too much to train?
What you may consider a sacrifice, such as missing a school dance, football game or simply going out with friends, your child many not consider a sacrifice at all! Instead, your child has chosen to commit to his sport. By doing so, he realizes that a certain level of training is necessary for him to achieve greater goals and does not look at these activities as missed opportunities. Keep in mind that your child realizes missing a workout is like missing sleep, it cannot be made up. If, however, your child is expressing sentiments that he is missing these chances, then it is time to re-evaluate the balance in his activities.
10. What does the coach mean when she says that my teenaged daughter controls 80% of her own training?
At this stage it is important for the athlete to take full responsibility for her sport. Your coach is just reinforcing this concept. Having a good attitude, developing proper time management, and demonstrating a strong work ethic are important both in and out of the practice and competition. What your child’s coach is referring to is what we call “hidden training factors.” She is in control of what she eats, how much sleep she gets, her practice attendance, and even her effort on practice sets. This may really add up to even more than 80%.
11. My child used to compete in all of the events, but now her coach has her focusing on only a few.
Prior to now, your child needed to acquire a wide range of skills and the aerobic development necessary to allow for this specialization. At this point in her career, her physical development allows her to train for specific events. Children at this stage have reached the physical maturity necessary to specialize in particular events for which they are best suited.
12. I notice the coach having meetings with the older athletes at the beginning of the season. What are they talking about? Is he asking for input?
Typically, the coach likes to share his seasonal plan with the group prior to the start of the season, as well as reviewing the previous season’s strengths and weaknesses. This plan highlights the major competition, tapering and the overall training plan. By presenting the athletes with information, the coach is making the athlete part of the process. This meeting may also be a prelude to individual goal setting sessions and an opportunity to begin to build team unity.
13. My child was very successful as very young child. How can I help her reach the next level?
When your daughter is making the transition, she needs to realize that she is participating at a higher level. Improvements are in tenths and hundredths, rather than seconds, due to biological and physiological factors.
Throughout her career, you have been very supportive. This support is still needed but it may have to be a little different than in the past. It is a good time to discuss with your daughter what she needs from you. Do not be afraid to ask her “How can I support you in your sport?” While you are an important part of her support network, realize your daughter, at this level, should be taking on more ownership of her athletic career.
14. I want my son to qualify for Nationals so badly, but he keeps just missing. What can I do to help?
It is important for you to acknowledge that this is your child’s goal, not yours. Your expectations may actually be putting undue pressure on his performances. There are two types of goals that athletes can set. Outcome Goals focus on the end result of performance such as “win" or "make finals.” Process Goals relate to the process of performance. Examples are “great technique" or "strong finish.”
Athletes have much more control over Process Goals. Outcome Goals are uncontrollable since they also involve the performance of other competitors. Athletes and coaches should concentrate on Process Goals since they involve aspects an athlete can control. Focusing on a time is outcome driven. Although you want what’s best for your son, encourage him to talk to his coach to clearly identify Process Goals to achieve improvement.
15. Who can I contact about information and questions regarding the Sharks?
John Moseley can assist you with any questions related to the NWAA Sharks (New Swimmers, Biling, Account Questions, etc.). John's email address is email@example.com.
16. Does a potential new NWAA swimmer need to tryout?
Yes, NWAA now accepts new swimmers on a year-round basis. If you are interested in joining NWAA then please contact John Moseley to set up a tryout.
17. Which squad (group) is my swimmer in?
You should be able to tell by looking at your online NWAA account under the "members" tab. Alternatively, you can contact John Moseley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she should be able to assist you.
Here is more information about our squads:
18. Where, when and at what time does my swimmer practice?
Once you have determined which squad your athlete is in, you can visit the "Schedules/Time Standards" tab on our website for further information on our practice schedule or simply click here:
19. What are the squad expectations for my swimmer?
The expectations for each squad can be found here:
20. Does my athlete have to compete in swim meets?
No, although all NWAA swimmers are encouraged to compete, most of our squads do not require swimmers to compete.
21. What items does my swimmer need as a new member of NWAA?
The most important items are obviously a swimsuit (brief or jammer for boys), an NWAA swim cap, goggles, kickboard and short fins. These are the BASIC items needed for practice, there are various other items needed depending on the squad requirements. These can be viewed here:
In terms of Team Apparel. NWAA focuses heavily on team identity! It is mandatory for all new swimmer members to purchase the following NWAA branded team items:
1 Speedo Swimsuit
1 NWAA Team Cap ($10)
3 Pack of NWAA T-Shirts (blue, black, gray)
1 NWAA Speedo Warm Up
These items are all available here:
22. When is my child ready to swim their first meet?
As soon as your swimmers' squad coach is satisfied that he/she is legal (won't get disqualified) to complete a freestyle and backstroke race then they will be ready to swim in their first meet. NWAA highly encourages meet participation so please check with your squad coach concerning this.
23. How do I commit (sign up) my swimmer for swim meets?
This process is very simple. On our homepage, click on the "Meets/Events Calendar" button. A list of all the meets/dates for the season will come up. Simply click on the meet/event that you are interested in and a new page will appear with a blue button on the top right hand corner of the page which says "Attend/Decline". Click on that button. You should be done! Here is the link to our meet calendar:
24. Once an athlete is signed up for a meet, do I have to pick my swimmers' events?
This is totally up to you. You are welcome to pick your athletes events although it is important to understand that your swimmers squad coach may or may not make changes to the events that you have selected. If you do not choose the events, then our coaches will take care of entering the swimmer in his/her events.
25. I want my swimmer to attend a meet however we can only attend certain days, what do I do?
When you commit/sign up your swimmer for a meet, you will have the option to make a 'note' on the sign up page. Please list your instructions there, our coaches will be able to view these notes when they do the entries.
26. Is there an attendance requirement for my child’s squad?
Although most of our younger squads do not have an attendance requirement, we highly recommend attending as many practices as possible. They will learn a lot faster. More information on the squad requirements can be found here:
27. What type and size of equipment should I buy for my swimmer?
Great question. There are 2 kickboard sizes, adult and junior. For swimmers 10 years and younger, buy a junior kickboard, any other swimmers should be using an adult size. With fins you can just buy the same size short fins as their regular shoe size. Paddles also come in different sizes, small, medium, large and sometimes extra-large. Buy small for 9/10-year old’s, medium for 11/12-year old’s and large for any other age.
Swimsuits should fit as tight as is possible. Especially racing suits. Racing suits should literally be so tight that they can only be worn for a few races at a meet before it starts feeling uncomfortable to be in them. There should be absolutely no "play" in the suit once it has been put on. We generally have a fitting for suits at our Fall Mixer social in September.
28. What is the teams' main form of communication?
With over 170 families and more than 200 swimmers, we are a sizeable team. Therefore, our main form of communication is via email. Another great option is to sign up for "RemindMe101". This will allow you to receive instant text messages regarding practice cancelations/updates/important info etc. Please contact John Moseley for the sign up link.
NWAA also has a Facebook Page (NWAA Sharks Swim Team), Twitter (@nwaasharks1) and Instagram (nwaa.sharks)
29. Life happens! My swimmer will not be able to make practice or they are sick. Do I need to let someone know?
This is not an absolute necessity however it would help if you could pop an email to John Moseley to let the coaches know what your situation is.