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Your Athlete Needs You

A successful competitive swimming program requires understanding and cooperation between parents, coaches and athletes.  The progress your swimmer makes depends to a great extent on the strength of this triangular relationship.

As a parent, you have done a great deal to raise your child – you have created the environment in which they are growing up. Your child is a product of your values, the structure you have provided, and the role model that you are.

Human nature, however, is such that a parent loses some of his/her ability to remain detached and objective when it comes to their 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. 

We want your swimmer to communicate with his/her coach as soon as possible about their swimming, as good communication between athlete and coach produces the best results. When parents interfere with or contradict a coach’s communication with the swimmer about training or competing, it can cause considerable – and oftentimes insurmountable – confusion, stress and anxiety for the athlete.  If you have a problem, concern or complaint, please make an appointment to meet with the coaching staff.

The coach’s job is to motivate the athlete and constructively criticize performance. It is the parent’s job to supply the unconditional love, support, recognition and encouragement necessary to encourage the swimmer to work hard in practice, which leads to the confidence to perform well in competition.

10 & unders are generally 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 young athletes to develop a love of the sport. When a young swimmer first joins a competitive swimming program, there may be a brief period during which he/she appears to slow down. This is a result of the increased concentration on stroke technique, which in the long run will lead to much faster swimming.

Even the very best swimmers will have meets where they do not swim their best times. These are a normal part of swimming; over the course of a season, times should improve. Please be supportive even during meets when your swimmer does not swim a best time. Older swimmers may have only two or three meets each year when they are rested and tapered, and thus able to achieve best times. The best contribution you can make to your swimmer’s progress is to be a loving, supportive parent.

 

The Ten Commandments for Parents of Athletic Children

Reprinted from “The Young Athlete” by Bill Burgess

  1. Make sure your child knows that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts, and are not disappointed in them.  This will allow them to do their best without fear of failure.  Be the person in their life they can look to for constant positive reinforcement.
  2. Try your best to be completely honest with yourself about your child’s athletic ability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship, and actual skill level.
  3. Be helpful, but don’t coach them on the way to the pool or on the way back, or at breakfast, and so on.  It’s tough not to do, but it’s a lot tougher for the child to be inundated with advice and pep talks.
  4. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be “out there trying,” to be working to improve swimming skills, and attitudes.  Help them to develop the feel for competing, for trying hard and for having fun.
  5. 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 their world turns bad.  If they are comfortable with you – win or lose – they are on their way to maximum achievement and enjoyment.
  6. Don’t compete with the coach.  If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment with your athlete.  It is better to show your child that the coach, parents on the team, and other swimmers on the team are all working towards the same goal.
  7. Don’t compare skill, courage, times, or attitudes of your child with other members of the team.
  8. Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that the coaching philosophy, attitudes, ethics, and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under their leadership.
  9. Remember that children often exaggerate.  Temper your reaction and investigate before over-reacting.  Work with the coach to get all of the facts and develop a plan of action if necessary.
  10. Make a point of understanding your child’s level of courage.  Some of us climb mountains, and are afraid to fight.  Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches.  Everyone is frightened in certain areas.  Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort.

 

Communication

Our club’s communications – such as the newsletter, meet calendars, meet information, qualifying times, etc. – will generally be sent out in electronic form.  Please make sure that the coaching staff, team registrar, and meet entry registrar all have your email address(s) which will initially take place during registration. If there are any changes, please make sure to get these to us as soon as possible. 

Meet entries will be found through your team unify login once finalized by the coaches.

Questions for the Coaching Staff?

 

Remember that the coaches are well trained and professional. The time during practice is the time for us to work with the kids. Please be considerate when contacting the coaching staff. Please try and keep conversations to before or after practice. While not always possible, the best practice is to set up an appointment (via email) to arrange a mutually convenient time to speak with the coaches. If it is an issue that you have been considering for some time, it is courteous to allow your coach that same chance to organize their thoughts and have a well though out, unemotional response. The coaches may periodically be available briefly after a practice session, but this cannot be guaranteed due to overlapping sessions. Below are some guidelines for parents in communicating with the coaching staff:

Try to keep foremost in your mind that you and the coach both 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 a constructive dialogue.

Keep in mind that the coach must balance your perspective of what is best for your child with the needs of the team or the group.  A training group can range in size from 5-25 members.  On occasion, an individual’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 the occasional short-term inconvenience.

If your child swims for an assistant coach, always discuss the matter first with that coach, following these guidelines. If the assistant coach cannot satisfactorily resolve your concern, then ask that the head coach join the dialogue as a third party.

If another parent uses you as a sounding board for complaints about a coach’s performance or policies, listen empathetically, but encourage the other parent to speak directly with the coach.  He/she is the only one who can resolve the problem.