The Role of a Head Coach (Or, why don’t I coach the little ones more often)

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the Role of a Parent.  Recently a parent has asked some excellent questions about what I do, and what I don’t do. This lead me to think its time for me to post a blog about my view on the Role of a Head Coach.

Primarily, I have 3 key areas of responsibility:

a)      determine and shape the philosophy, programs and team environment

b)      develop and implement the training regime and meet schedule for the swimmers I coach

c)       oversee and support the Assistant Coach and the rest of the coaching staff in their responsibilities to their swimmers

There are other less time-intensive responsibilities, such as working cooperatively with the Board to ensure the smooth operations of the team, and accept feedback on the performance of myself and other coaches. But those three at the top are what I spend most of my time at.

But what does those responsibilities really mean?

a)      Our philosophy and team environment reflect the fact that we view ourselves as a Community-oriented swim team. We offer competitive swim training to swimmers of all  levels, including those who swim at a national age group level, and those who only want to swim a few times a week, and those who don’t want to compete at all. They are all welcome and we have suitable programs for them.

b)      My job also involves preparing the training and competing schedule for the whole year in advance. This means preparing almost 300 practices before the season even starts, and ensuring that those practices allow for optimal training and adequate recovery for all energy systems, as well as preparing the swimmers mentally and physically for competitions. It also means that I need to keep learning and improving so that I can provide the most up-to-date coaching techniques.

c)       Supporting Coach Caillin is the best part of my job. She has a true passion for swimming and for coaching, and is eager to learn and constantly improve. So this means I am available for advice, review and feedback. If she has to be away, I will coach her swimmers for her, and vice versa in case I have to be away. But mostly it means I stay out of her way.

A question has recently been posed to me. Why don’t I coach the younger swimmers more often?

Very good question. Basically, it’s because that is her job.  I know that may sound callous, but let me put it this way. Imagine if your boss came to your work location. It wouldn’t make sense for your boss to do your job – you have your job for a reason, just as they have their job. It makes even less sense for them to hang around in the background while you do your job. It’s pretty much the same thing here.

But also, when I do show up and coach, I’m going to bring my own style and explanations to the group. That can certainly have benefits, but at the same time Coach Caillin’s practice plan goes out the window. That’s ok every once in a while, but for me to do that on a regular basis would be extremely disruptive.

OK, so why don’t I go to their swim meets? Basically the same reason, but even more so. Coach Caillin works with the kids day in and day out. She handles the preparation for meets, and knows the individual swimmers and their concerns. The last thing she or the swimmers need is for the head coach to show up and distract them from their preparation. Again, it would be like your boss coming in and taking over your job at its most important point.

Please keep the questions coming!

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