Category Archives for Coaching

Team sports! Humm

Lucy and Charlie Brown with kick-off of team sports and reopening

The answers are blowing in the wind.

Watching what the Big 12 does with its call to return to campus for its football players. Perhaps June 1. Perhaps June 15. The bulk of the Big 12 big shots have said they expect to see college football this fall. This will be interesting. 

A water polo friend said it would be wise to watch to see what happens with Princeton and Harvard. If they call for a return to campus for the students, then the others in the east will follow. Or not.

Funny how Boston University said some weeks ago that it will remain without on-campus students this fall and it made some waves, but didn't cause a parade of many following. The Terriers don't have the sway nor the investment in big-time football that many others do. 

Offense or Defense?

What side do you play if you're a leader of an educational institution?

Wanna go to the beach is now not a simple question

How we’re teaching swimming from behind our computer screens in a dry, fully cyber, summer camp experience in 2020

SKWIM & Water Polo Camp plans and opportunities for HOW MANY? (part 1)

Our opportunities and expected interactions with students and families within the SKWIM & Water Polo domain for Summer Dreamers 2020 are FANTASTIC. They are so strong, on many levels, that we feel it is wise to open up the scope of the project.

Rather than only present and program our activities at camp with 30 students in grades 4 and 5 at Camp Classical, we feel that it would be GREAT if SKWIM & Water Polo was offered to everyone in SDA, and even, everyone in PPS. Let's open up the doors and allow all to participate, if they choose to do so.

These efforts can scale.

We can do this for 30. But, why not for 300 or for 3,000?

Let's talk about these possibilities.

Who, and how many we get to include in the SDA & PPS audience is up to PPS, but we're offering to take our efforts far and wide. Can all PPS students join in? How about all Dreamers in grades 4 & 5 and also how about all PPS students and their families?

Brain Breaks

Within the SDA camp framework, it is also important to offer to allow SKWIM & Water Polo to lead FIVE or more SDA BRAIN BREAKS, in the early days in the camp's schedule so that we can reveal to the others what we are doing and what to expect in our activities. Perhaps they can do SKWIM & Water Polo as an EXTRA activity?

SDA Night Out

As the school year ends, and as summer begins, we should offer SKWIM & Water Polo webinars for students and families to get them excited to show up for Summer Dreamers and to, perhaps, opt into an extra with our activities. 

Many programs are dry this summer. 

We are going to have the support of the International Swim Coaches Association in these efforts.

The situations in Pittsburgh, with closed pools, is being shared elsewhere. So, we can harvest the power of many guests and keep our students engaged. But, we'll also have a focus that is blended between MENTAL and PHYSICAL. The mind leads and the body follows. We want to address far more than the screen time. We're planning on doing academic, enriching things that include our physical self.

We'll get kids and their excited about swimming and water polo, but in fitness and all sports. Wellness matters. When we get back into the team sports and can use the pools again, we'll have planted seeds of confidence and plenty of insights into safety and different perspectives.

Logistically, we could do SDA SKWIM & Water Polo from 11:30 to 12:30 for our students. Plus at another time in the day, perhaps from 8 to 9 am, we could do the "early bird" session as a "dress rehearsal" for district wide viewers. We can be flexible with the plan and talk about that in due times, if you are interested.

  • 1. Water safety lessons
  • 2. Stories -- about water safety, water polo, swimming, water polo.
  • 3. Exercises, including YOGA pose of the day
  • 4. Pedometers are possible. (More research needed, but did it a past year.)
  • 5. A for Athlete, kids vocabulary, translations, illustrations
  • 6. Build wiki-pages & reflective writing
  • 7. Online course, Get Your Feet Wet -- Swimming
  • 8. Video watching from movies to race highlights
  • 9. Goal Setting & Digital Badges
  • 10. Pre-Lifeguard training
  • 11. Quiz making and taking
  • 12. Visualization


Each day, we'll want to hit upon six to ten mini segments. Each segment is from 5 to 10 minutes in length. We'll keep the sessions moving. Most will be pre-recorded with time to ask questions or watch again later. But then the coaches will keep the pace up-beat. Some of the activities are for later in the day. Here is how to get it started, but then you do the quiz on your own. Here is how you do the submission for the reflective writing, but do that later. Come back and submit and we'll see what the coaches display and get put onto this page tomorrow.

1. Water safety lessons are about saving yourself first of all. 

Then, perhaps, getting smart so you don't get into bad situations around water for yourself or your friends. Heling little brothers, sisters and cousins be safe too. Awareness isn't taken for granted.

2. Stories -- about water safety, water polo, swimming, water polo. 

We all love a good story. We'll have one a day. They are going to be pre-recorded, but we expect to have the story be a launch point for more discussion, often with the subject of the story present for Q&A via the web conference. We've been cultivating these stories for years. Many are pearls and we'll string them together throughout the days of the camp. Some come from podcasts. 

3. Exercises and motivation to exercise are expected every day. 

We'll introduce routines. Many can be done indoors and with limited space and without equipment. We're not talking about boring jumping jacks. Coach Kathi's daughter, a college student and athlete can help with the demonstrations and video instructions. Heart rate, and other fitness concepts are touched upon. Pointers to eBooks are available for more reading. 

4. Calls were places to Zwift as they have taken over from Milestone Pod. 

There is a Zwift Running Pod that can track exercise, $30 retail. But, i am bucking for cases of devices at gratis / sponsorship. Perhaps they'll be former models, etc. We used these with great satisfaction in a past Summer Dreamer experience. They communicate via Bluetooth and then to the cloud. Then all in the club can chart their own metrics and the administrators can witness aggregate results.

5. A for Athlete, kids vocabulary, translations, illustrations. 

We have wiki pages with A-B-Cs with term and the kids generally start with their initial for their first name. Z for Zack! Write a fun quip or bio with a photo and decorate the Z letter. Then let's think of Z words that would go into the tool box of an athlete. The Zoo at Pitt is the student fan club for basketball games. And, the Zoo's founder can join us in a session to lead a cheer and tell of going to Pitt and enjoying college sports as a spectator.

6. Build wiki-pages & reflective writing.

We can explore Wikipedia and then learn how to write and edit wiki pages. This opens up discussions on crowd-sourcing, open source, peer review and making media, with responsible behaviors. Some student athletes with great hopes of getting scholarships -- free college -- have had their social media accounts reviewed by college coaches and lost all hopes of getting offered a scholarship to play sports. This happens all the time. Kids need to learn this at a young age, before it is too late.

7. Online course, Get Your Feet Wet -- Swimming .

 This is perhaps the best activity. Happens in an independent way. But, it takes some hand-holding to get the log-in. Where to find the course. Start it. Resume it. Get credit for taking it. All available now. We can also add more materials to the course such as better photos or illustrations. 

8. Video watching from movies to race highlights. 

Mark Spitz. Michael Phelps, Katie Ladecki. The USA water polo team -- some highlights are fun. And, we've got the video from the 2020 WPIAL Swim Championships too. Let's see a couple of races. Who do you think is going to win? 

9. Goal Setting & Digital Badges.

We have a suite of stages for the digital badges for goal setting. This can come in bite size content areas throughout the summer. The one self assessment Goal Orientation Index (also called the GOI) is from a local Ph.D., Kay Altman.

10. Pre-Lifeguard training can be with a global introduction from some lifeguard instructors.

But the exciting parts are learning from the guests as to what to expect, where to work, views of the various pools and some stories from this summer and the past. Then the students can explore some online resources, such as CPR, First, Aid, etc. 

11. Water safety quizzes, especially with Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 with 

Anyone can take these quizzes now, Not many know about them. Each are about 25 questions. Try to get a perfect score at each level. Can be retaken. Can be taken with an adult or friend. Once a good score is obtained, then the next quiz presents itself. Doing one quiz per day is reasonable. More a more demanding challenge comes when the kids are asked to take a test that has been used for becoming a lifeguard. No harm in giving it a go. This test is online now too. The next quiz growth element comes when the students are presented with the option of making their own test / quiz that others can take. Could be a quiz on their favorites (food, music, sports, athletes, teachers, dream vacation spot, etc.) Could be a quiz on the neighborhood or school. Students would use a form to craft the questions and answers. We'll build the back-end web delivery. Kids can do each other's quizzes for fun.

There is a BIG why quiz. Rank the reasons WHY one should swim on a school swim team. 

12. Visualization quiz from Bob Steele. Concentration game. Mini sports psychology reading and stories are available.

Some are able to visualize certain things well, and not other things. This ranks them. Fun day activity. Can be returned to at mid-camp and later in the camp. All athletes, plus musicians, performers, speech presenters, and such can gain from visualization. Swim teams do this frequently. 

If you or anyone else wants a deeper dive into any of these activities, just let me know. 

Suggested workouts for volleyball players in the pre-season


Original by Marlene Piper, University of California, Davis
Chapter 23 in the book, Volleyball's Cadre Collection

"Since each team has only two to three weeks of preparation time prior to competition, each player must do something over the summer."
Volleyball coaches face the month of August with a certain amount of apprehension. "Will their players return to school in top physical condition after the summer vacation?"

Since each team has only two to three weeks of preparation time prior to competition, each player must "do something" over the summer.
There are many variables involved in designing a program. The challenge for each coach is to put a schedule of activities together that accommodates the needs of each returning participant. The following paragraphs include some components of a training and conditioning program for these critical months.

1. Cardiovascular Fitness

The athlete should work on cardiovascular fitness three to five times per week for 20 to 30 minutes with the heart rate above 140 beats per minute. Activities such as running, biking, swimming and rowing are suggested. Do the running on grass or a beach.

2. Flexibility Exercises

It is possible to enhance the ability to perform volleyball skills by increasing the range of motion in the shoulder, trunk and legs. Each coach should diagram and describe eight or ten exercises that the athletes should do, based on individual needs. Partner work with a PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) emphasis is recommended. Stretching should be done every day.

3. Sprints

Sprint work should be incorporated into the overall plan and performed twice per week. Early June work-outs should include 200 meter sprints and by mid-August the emphasis should be on 20 and 50 meter dashes. In addition, short bursts of five to eight steps (similar to a quick sprint for a wayward ball on the court) should be part of August training.

4. Weight Training

This component is important but also difficult to incorporate. The athlete needs instruction and practice from January through May and then each athlete should continue an individualized program over the summer months. The athletes need supervision and experience before they can be expected to perform the exercises and the weight training program properly and safely.
Lifting two to three times per week is recommended and some favorite exercises include: squats, power cleans, push press, bench press and lunges. Various circuits can be used as well as inner tubes with sand, surgical tubing, bales of hay and other things.

5. Plyometrics

Exercises should involve the arms as well as the legs. A medicine ball, plyo ball or even a basketball can be used to get the arms absorbing and tossing as quickly as possible. The leg work should include depth jumps, spike approaches, block jumps, bounding and bleachers. One favorite is the bleacher jumps with an aggressive arm action that is similar to a spike approach. Another favorite is jumping two stairs at a time up the bleachers as quickly as possible on wooden bleachers. Do three sets of eight repetitions with ten or so jumps per bleacher. Plyometric exercises should be done one to two times per week. Don't over train.

CAUTION! If you don't know what you are doing, -- Don't do it!

A water work-out in the pool is highly recommended. Include block jumps, sprints, arm action of spiking and of course cool down with water massage.

6. Daily Compulsory Tasks

There are a few exercises that can be done every day with no equipment and no excuses.

No swimming! Ugh.

A friend from long ago, B, swam the fastest 400 IM in the NCAA Division 2 -- in prelims. Then the meet was called off. He couldn't swim in finals. He posted a great summary and some verses that I've replayed at the Facebook group, Pittsburgh Schenley Swimming.

Our PIAA swim meet for class AAA had its day 2 finals called off too. At least everyone got wet there, as the 2A meet didn't even begin -- yet. 

With the ending of sports for now, how does one sum up the frustrations?

More sports are calling from the future. For our high school swimmers who saw their seasons end, then it is College Club swimming that calls. Sure, most won't be NCAA athletes, but, there is still life in the pool to come. Life is long. 

Lucky for us, swimmers and coaches, we are in a life-long sport and aquatics opens up plenty of doors. Water polo, Lifeguard competitions. Open water, Coaching, being a swim instructor and even being an on-deck official. This bitter time -- let it be a seed of motivation to help to make sure none of the other youngsters yet to come to these ages are denied opportunities.

Turns in life are often full of surprises. Here is mine: My son didn't swim as a HS senior. I was his coach. Now as a college senior, he is signed up for a 10K swim in Miami and a 12.5 mile swim in FL Keys. These events, may or may not happen too. Who knows? But, take the long view. Plus, my son's college water polo club team (co-ed) goes to Texas A&M for a tournament in a couple of weeks. That won't happen either I expect.

We hope to see all of those kids in open-water swims for the decades to come.

To the athletes of other sports, coaching, being an official, playing in master games and rec leagues is often a blast. Pick up the triathlon, and do it with some friends.

Peace. Stay healthy.

No painted on wall

Word cloud used in a coaching job search at Memphis

The word-cloud graphic was flashed on an ESPN pre-game show between the Memphis Tigers and the Penn State Nits at the end of 2019.

The Memphis Athletic Director, Laird Veatch, held up a word cloud used in the coach-selection process at the Dec. 13, 2019, presser. "Ryan won this job," he said. (Geoff Calkins/Daily Memphian)

What is of interest here -- is that the largest word is CARES.

Cares is the largest word, as desired by the college football players.

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