I live in Midland, Texas. AKA the middle of nowhere. We are 5 hours to any major city. On top of that, our town population is 140k and we only have 1 swim team. Do you think it’s hard for us to find coaches?
Hells yes it is.
So what do we do? We water our grass. Meaning we grow our coaches. We have coaches on our staff who have been there years leading groups and tearing it up on the pool deck. Some of the coaches didn’t even have prior swim experience.
Why does it work? Because first we choose the right people. These are some traits to look for
– we enjoy being around them (likable)
– hungry (not for food)
Let’s say you’re interested in this topic of watering your grass. Here’s how we do it.
- Have them assist an experienced coach. This coach will show them the ropes, let them lead parts of the workout, and teach them the essential skills to coaching.
- Keep an eye out for their weaknesses. We usually don’t call a lack of knowledge a weakness, because it’s easy to learn the strokes and practice structure. We look for things like group management, voice, flexibility, ability to handle stress, and energy.
- After a season of assisting, ask them to lead a small group. As long as you feel like the practice will be a mostly positive experience for the swimmers I would move forward with this step. The more you trust your coaches the faster they develop.
- Make them better.
- Give them more (if they want it, or can handle it)
I know it looks real simple in a 5 step program but this system takes 1-3 years to play out.
But if you’re in a situation like mine, isolated, hard to find coaches, and low on payroll budget. This is a great way to do it.