PARENT ROLE IN GTSA SWIMMING
 

PARENT-SWIMMER-COACH RELATIONSHIP

 

To have a successful athletic program with youth, there must be an understanding of cooperation and mutual support among parents, swimmers and coaches. The progress of your swimmer depends on this triangular relationship. With this mutually-supportive relationship model in mind, Greater Tampa Swim Association asks that parents consider this section as you join Greater Tampa Swim Association or reacquaint yourself with this section if you are a returning family.

We want your swimmer to relate to his/her coach as directly and frequently as possible concerning swimming matters. This professional relationship between coach and swimmer produces the best results. When parents interfere with the coach as to how the swimmer should swim or train, it causes considerable and often insurmountable confusion for the swimmer. Your swimmer wants to follow their coach's direction, but they also want approval and love from their parents. Negative talk or gossip about coaches, within earshot of swimmers and/or other parents, will create questions of confidence in the swimmer's mind. This can be extremely detrimental to the swimmer's progress and the GTSA program in general. If you have a problem or concern, please contact the coach directly for the answer. Open communication usually clears up most matters. Remember, the coach is on your side! The coach is here for you and your child and gives of his/her time to help your child.
 

The coach's job is to teach, motivate and constructively give feedback about the swimmers' progress. It is the parent's job to supply love, recognition and encouragement, which in turn gives the swimmer the confidence to participate and perform well. It is important to remember that the parents' role is critical and should be supportive at all times to ensure a positive experience for your child. Listed below are some questions to determine if you are "pressuring your child".
 

Is winning more important to you than it is to your child?

      v  When your child has a poor swim, are you disappointed and more importantly, is your disappointment obvious?

Do you feel that you have to "psych up" your child before competition?

Do you feel that winning is the only way your child can enjoy the sport?

Do you conduct "post mortems" immediately after competition or practice?

Do you find yourself wanting to interfere during practice or competition, thinking that you could do better?

Do you find yourself disliking your child's opponents?

Are your child's goals more important to you than they are to your child?

Do you find yourself desiring to remind the coach about your child's skill areas that require more attention?
 

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.  Parents are human however, and it is natural in sports that parents may lose some of their ability to remain detached and objective in matters concerning their own child. The following guidelines may help keep your child's development in perspective and help your child reach his/her full potential.
 

1. Every individual learns at a different rate and responds differently to the various methods of presenting skills. The slower learner takes more time to learn and this requires patience on the part of the parents and coaches. The child's ultimate swimming potential may be as great or greater than that of the fast learner.
 

2. When a young swimmer first joins Greater Tampa Swim Association, there may be a brief period in which he/she appears to slow down or doesn't completely understand. This is a result of the added concentration on stroke technique, but this will soon lead to much faster swims for the individual.
 

3. Plateaus can occur at one time or another in every swimmer's career. Plateaus occur in both competition and training. A plateau signifies that a swimmer has mastered lower-order skills, but is not ready to learn higher order skills. Through practice and repetition lower-order skills will become automatic. This leaves the athletes attention free to attack newer, higher-order skills. It is the role of the coach to help athletes understand that plateaus occur in all types of learning. The more successful athletes are those who work through this momentary delay in improvement and go on to achieve greater performance.
 

4. Swimmers aged 10 and younger are the most inconsistent swimmers and this can be frustrating.  Parents must be patient and permit these youngsters to learn to love the sport. Swimmers aged 10 and younger will evolve rapidly for a time, then slow down, then speed up, etc. Patience is key.
 

5. Parents must realize that slow development of competitive drive at an early age is normal and perhaps more desirable than precocious or forced early development. It is important that everyone learn to compete and develop a competitive spirit. It is also important for children to learn to adapt to reasonable levels of emotional stress. The small disappointments they must learn to handle as youngsters prepares them for larger ones they are certain to experience as adults.
 

6. It is the coach's job to offer a professional assessment, constructive critique and praise of a swimmer's performance. It is the parent's job to supply unconditional love, recognition, and the encouragement necessary to help young athletes feel good about themselves, regardless of outcomes.
 

7. If a parent can offer a personal insight about their child that may enable the coach to work more effectively with the child, please be sure to contact the coach.
 

8. If you have any questions about your child's training or team policies, contact your child's coach directly. Criticizing the coach in front of others undermines the coach and breaks down the swimmer-coach relationship, which is necessary for the swimmer's success and confidence in their coach.
 

9. No parent should behave in such a way as to bring discredit to the child, the team or competitive swimming generally. Any disagreement with a meet official should be brought to the attention of the coach and handled by the coach.
 

10. Be sure that your child swims because he/she wants to participate. Self-motivation is the stimulus for all successful swimmers.
 

11. The etymology of the word "competition" goes back to two Latin words, "cam" and "petere", which mean "together to strive." Avoid playing your child against their nearest competitors, thereby creating vendettas within the team and swimming community. Close competition provides two great services for the athlete: it brings out the best in them and shows where improvement is needed.
 

12. The communication between coach and swimmer is very important. Just like all sports and activities, an open two-way relationship must exist daily at practice between the athlete and coach. It is imperative that the coach have the swimmer's full attention. It is for this reason that we ask parents to watch practice from their chairs and avoid the temptation to "coach".  Particularly in the case of younger swimmers, the demeanor and behavior of parents has an important effect on the child. In swimming, as in life, nobody can succeed all the time. There will always be some disappointment. Every youngster can gain from the Greater Tampa Swim Association experience, whether or not he/she ever wins a single race. The important thing is to keep on striving to do better next time. The objective is not to produce great swimmers, but rather to produce great young people who can swim.
 

COACH RESPONSIBILITIES

 

The coach's job is to prepare, implement and supervise the entire competitive swim program. The GTSA coaching staff is a highly dedicated and professional group of swimming experts, possessing 10+ or 20+ years in the sport. These folks know their swimming. The coaches are trained to provide a top-flight, professional swimming program that will enable young people to learn and development a wide variety of competitive skills in the sport and more importantly, skills for life. In order to provide the staff with the tools necessary to implement the program, and to fairly evaluate staff, the coaches must be in control of matters affecting training, competition and the pool itself.
 

1. The coaches are responsible for placing swimmers in appropriate practice groups. This is based primarily upon ability level. When it is in the best interest of a swimmer, he/she will be placed in a more challenging training group by the coach.
 

2. Sole responsibility for stroke instruction and the training regimen rests with the coaching staff.  Each group's practices are based on sound scientific principles and geared to the goals of that group.
 

3. The coaching staff will make the final decision concerning which meets GTSA swimmers may attend. The coaching staff will also make the final decision regarding individual and relay event entries (for individual events, the coaching staff will offer the swimmer an opportunity to express their preferences).
 

4. At meets, the coaching staff will conduct and supervise warm-up procedures. After each race, the coaches will offer constructive observations/praise/critique/etc. as necessary regarding the swimmer's performance.