Coaches should observe swimmers from multiple angles.
One of the coaching skills we teach in our swim coach mentor program is to observe your swimmers from multiple angles so you pick up many different things about their technique and skills. Irrespective of which lane a swimmer is located in the pool it is helpful to look at them from various vantage points.
- Front on and rear on help us to look at the swimmers alignment in the water. Ideally we would like to see the head hips and feet all tracking in a straight line with no sideways or lateral movement as this indicates that the swimmer is moving efficiently through the water. This is a consistent observation which has to be made across all strokes. If erroneous movements are present then an assessment of the cause has to be made followed by an implementation of a correction process. Detection and correction of faults will be addressed in future posts and programs.
- Side on viewing is the preferred position for assessing limb movement patterns, stroke timing and the head and body position. The side on aspect is conducted in two ways, be it in a stationary position and referencing the swimmer as they swim past or walking adjacent to the swimmer where the coach is moving at the same speed as the swimmer. It is recommended that both methods are used as they have equal value and you may pick up different things.
- Viewing from an elevated or overhead position can be most revealing particularly in regards to symmetry of limb movement of all strokes, spinal alignment and trunk rotation. In most training facilities this is a rare position to be able to view from but if it can be created it can be most useful for the coach in making observation.
- Underwater observation is invaluable and can be facilitated through the use of underwater cameras, laptops, tablets and a variety of software applications. This modern day technology has revolutionised our ability to observe our swimmers underwater. All coaches are encouraged to observe their swimmers through the application of this medium and become conversant with the interpretation of the images, particularly in regard to the positioning of the camera in relation to the swimmer.