Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Eyeball Game

This week we played the famous "eyeball game".  The eyeball game is really quite simple.  It is a great way to start practice and get kids in the water and also a great way to finish practice on a good note with some smiling kids.  

I have these eyeballs (thank you Party City) and I throw them in the water - one for each lane.  Sometimes two for an added challenge.   Maybe I toss them under the flags?  When I yell "GO!" then your lane works together to push the eyeball down the pool and into the gutter at the other end.  Two rules:  The eyeball has to stay in your lane and you can not touch the eyeball!

Swim speed does not matter much in this game either.  I love playing games from time to time where speed does not give you some advantage that is very difficult to overcome.  It also creates an opportunity for the entire lane to work together creating a big wave that pushes the eyeball to the other end.

I also have a funny story about how these eyeballs are actually mine and I get them changed out every year from my right eye (which is not true) because when I was young I stabbed myself in the eye with a pencil (which is true)!  Sometimes these stories put a little added joke to the game.  You can also play with a ping pong ball - same thing.  Face it though, eyeballs are MUCH more fun!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Age Group Listening and Speed Game

We were playing a fun game last week - below is a video of it.  We use some clocks that beep and we can set them to intervals.  We use these daily at practice but we can also program them at random numbers, which is what I did here.

The mission is to get to the first yellow lane line ring, which is about 8 yards from the wall, and get back.  No other rules.  Just get there, touch it, and get back.  In the video you can see that we have two swimmers per lane (with others playing at the other end of the pool).  I have also played this game with a stretch cord across the lanes where you could have 3 in a lane play - just touching the cord instead of the lane line ring.  You can also use a whistle or "GO!" instead of the clock.

They have to listen and pay attention as well as swim fast.  In this video they have already been doing this for about 10 minutes - so many of the swimmers are pretty tired!  They love this game though.  Sometimes they get 3-5 seconds rest.  Sometimes 10-15.  Sometimes 45 seconds rest!  Sometimes we play for 5 minutes.  Sometimes 10.  Sometimes 15.  They never know what is coming.  With years of swimming up and down the pool endlessly we try to come up with fun ways for kids to enjoy coming to the pool.  Sometimes we might make them streamline kick to the marker or something like that, but it is also fun to just fire up some swimming!

You can come up with different ways of motivating them (Gold/Silver/Bronze) for the first 3 swimmers on each round.  One time we played after the sun went down and the 1st boy or 1st girl got to pick the color of this changeable LED lighting thing that we have around the dry erase board. If lanes are crowded you could have one lane with 10-15 swimmers do a continuous 50 swim/50 kick and another group spread out at both ends playing the game.  After 5 minutes you can switch groups.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Amazing Snippet Technique

I tried something at practice the other day that was pretty successful.  "Snippets"
Wordle: Untitled

Isn't it funny how sometimes we can over explain things?

On the pool deck I played some "Telephone Swimming" with one group.  If you haven't read the post yet - here it is:  Telephone Swimming  It basically uses the "snippet" technique - a short phrase that gets the point across!  Kids hear the snippet and pass it along to the next in line.  Of course there are many other things going on with that exercise.... but it really helped me in another practice that evening.

I was losing my voice a little and I had to explain things with as few words as possible.  It was awesome.  Everyone still understood, and probably understood even better than they would have if I had explained it in detail.  I had to pick the best words to describe what I wanted and since the swimmers have all heard it before - it was easy to say things like:

"3 awesome kicks"
"Shoot forward on your breaststroke"
"Surge forward on your breath"
"Continuous kick"

I found myself just barking out snippets all night and it was great.  We did a bunch of 25's and when they were on the wall for 5 seconds I gave as many snippets as I could and went to the other end.  The practice flowed really well and swimmers got better.  Perfect.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Practice Index Cards

I have heard of other coaches doing similar things - especially generic business cards that say "Good Job" or some other similar message.  I am a huge fan of implementing simple things into practices so that the group runs smoothly and efficiently.  Somethings are just nearly impossible to do in group settings - like videotaping every swimmer in the group at the same practice, or swimming 500 Freestyles in groups.  However, I think the generic "Good Job" card may be better than nothing but is missing the point of fully reinforcing good behavior.

Younger athletes need to be told why they did a good job.  So I have come up with a little system that I will probably use for a bit, then put away, then bring back again later.  I bought a small pack of spiral bound colorful index cards.  When someone REALLY catches my eye and swims or acts like an ELITE athlete at practice - I write them a little message.  Here is what goes on the card:

  • Their name
  • The date
  • The set that they were doing while I noticed their behavior
  • Most importantly, what the behavior was and why it was awesome
  • Sometimes I give a suggestion of something that they may want to do in practices (Kick a 50 Breaststroke in 45 seconds?)
  • Sometimes I draw picture or put a little sticker on there to spice it up

I write these during warm down or while I am waiting for my dinner to cook.  I give them out at the end of that practice or at the next practice.  They stay in my spiral index card notebook until I hand them to the swimmer so they do not get lost.  Having the pack of cards reminds me to not only be on the lookout for index card candidates, but to help create those candidates at practice each day.

For now I am using them with swimmers 9-14 years old.  It doesn't really take a lot of time and the simple message that I write may be thrown out by some swimmers as they leave the pool - others will keep them and re-read them in the future.  It is a great time to communicate about current or future goals.  Saying something at practice is one thing, but getting a card to take home and show off if you would like is another.  If it helps even a few kids be more focused it will all be worth it.

Hopefully the swimmers that get them will look at them once when they are away from the pool and remember how they acted and felt when they performed well enough to receive a card.  I also hope that those swimmers who have not yet received a card will do something that REALLY catches my eye so that they can get a card as well.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roll The Dice

Want a quick and easy game to play at swim practice to spice things up a little bit?  Play "The Dice Game"!

I have heard other coaches that have different variations of this and you can make it as complex as you wish.  We played it last week with our 8&Under swimmers and we had one pair of dice for a very simple warm up game.  One was green and one was white.  (If you only have white dice you can use a sharpie to color one of them - it will last a few weeks at least.)

The white one was for the distance.  If you rolled a "1", then you swam one lap.  If you rolled a "6", then you swam six laps.  The green one was for the stroke.  1 for Fly, 2 for Back, 3 for Breast, 4 for Free, 5 for Choice, 6 for Kick.

Everyone got to roll at least once.  It was a great way to engage the swimmers for 20 minutes of practice.  You can even make distances with one and drills with another?  For older swimmers the distances can be 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200?  Drills could be catchup, KKP breaststroke, one arm fly, dolphin kicking, 15 somersaults in the water, 5 strokes and flip.....whatever!  You can write them on a white board so everyone can remember what they are.

Every time we play the game I think about the swimmers getting in the car and their parents asking "How was practice?" and the kids have something cool to say that they did!  As a coach I am always trying to find different ides to shake it up once in a while to keep the kids thinking and on their toes.  It is a great way to keep them interested in learning!

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