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. Human nature, however, is such that a person loses some of his/her ability to remain detached and objective in matters concerning his/her children. The following guidelines will help you keep your child’s development in the proper perspective.

  1. Every individual learns at a different rate and responds differently to various methods of presenting skills. Since the slower learner takes more time to master some skills, swimmers, parents and coaches must be a little more patient. Swimmers with slower learning skills have just as much potential as other swimmers on the team.

  2. Plateaus can occur at one time or another in every swimmers career. Plateaus can be both in competition and at practices. A plateau signifies the swimmer has mastered lower-order skills but they are not yet sufficiently ready to put all of the skills together in order to produce improvement.  It is important that swimmers and parents understand that plateaus occur in all fields of physical learning. The more successful athletes are those who work through this momentary delay in improvement and go on to achieve greater performance and approach their personal potential.

  3. Ten and under swimmers are the most inconsistent swimmers which can be frustrating for swimmers, parents and coaches. Times at meets will often go up and down as they try to put together all of the elements of each stroke.

  4. Slow development of a competitive drive at an early age is normal and perhaps more desirable than forced development of a competitive spirit. It is also important for young swimmers to learn to adapt to reasonable levels of emotional stress. A small disappointment they must learn to handle as youngsters prepares them for the larger ones they are certain to experience as adults.

  5. The coach’s job is to offer constructive criticism of a swimmer’s performance. It is the parent’s job to supply love, recognition and encouragement necessary to help the young athletes feel good about them. Make sure your swimmer knows that you will love them just as much when they DQ as you do when they get first place.

  6. Parents’ attitudes and models often indicate those of their children. A child might not be consciously aware of what is taking place while subconsciously absorbing powerful messages about their parents’ desires. For example, be enthusiastic about taking your swimmer to practice and meets, fund raising projects, meetings, etc. Do not look at these functions as chores.

  7. Criticizing the coach in front of the swimmers undermines the coach’s authority and breaks the swimmer-coach relationship that is necessary for maximum success.

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

  9. Be sure that youngsters swim because they want to. People tend to resist anything they “have to do.” Self-motivation is the stimulus of all successful swimmers.

  10. Avoid playing your child against their nearest competitors thereby creating vendettas within the team and swimming community.

  11. The communication between the coach and swimmer is very important. A two-way relationship must exist daily at practice and at meets. It is imperative that the coach have the swimmers full attention at practices. For this reason parents are asked not to be on the pool deck during practices.

Remember, particularly with young swimmers, that the attitude and behavior of the parents in regard to their outlook on the sport has an important effect on the child.

In swimming, as in life, nobody can win or succeed all of the time. There will always be some disappointments. Every child can gain something from every 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 secret is not only to produce great swimmers, but rather to produce great young people who swim.