Group Placement Philosophy
Group placement is based on many factors and a fair amount of coaching instinct. However, there is a big picture, team-wide philosophy that drives group placement decisions. We hope that communicating these ideas will allow for a better understanding of group placement decision making.
Some of the most important factors driving group placement are the following:
Commitment (practice attendance, meet participation, priority of the sport)
Maturity(chronological age, physiological age, and emotional development)
Training ability and technique
Racing times are not a primary factor for group placement, although they may be an indirect factor as racing times translate to meet qualification and training needs.
The swimmer’s group placement determines a floor, not a ceiling. And by that, we mean that each group has different standards for membership (the floor) but does not have upper limits of achievement (the ceiling). In no way does group placement communicate the coaches’ belief about a swimmer’s potential.
A swimmer’s group is not meant to be a predictor of future success, nor an indicator of his/her worth to the team or to the coaches. First and last, we view swimmers as outstanding young people, and the more we can do to remove inaccurate status labels from groups, the better.
Finding the appropriate group for each swimmer is the goal, and doing so is our challenge. As the swimmers grow physically and emotionally (often rapidly), their needs change. The more we think and talk in terms of appropriate group placement and the changing needs of swimmers, the healthier our team culture will be.
Also, we understand that group moves are not a small change in your lives as parents. Group moves often change schedules, which potentially affects other activities, car pools, team dues, coaches and expectations. But just like going from middle school, or from one level of math to the next, these moves can be looked upon as necessary steps along the way.
At SFAC we believe that teaching each swimmer to take ownership of the sport is critical to self-development and success. A major part of that ownership is having a relationship with his/her coach that is built on trust and open communication. A swimmer’s face-to-face conversation with his or her coach can go a long way toward answering any questions a swimmer may have. As a parent, you play a major role in helping to develop this relationship by providing background information to the coach about your child, including medical conditions, past experiences, etc., which may be useful in knowing more about your child.