10 Commandments for Swimming
by Rose Snyder, Managing Director Coaching Division, USOC
Former Director of Club Services, USA Swimming
(adapted from Ed Clendaniel's 10 Commandments for Little League
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 thy child.
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
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
VI. Thou shalt
not criticize the officials.
Please don't criticize those who are doing the best they
can in purely voluntary positions.
VII. Honor thy
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 life.
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%.