Specialized Coaching is Not Just For Elite Athletes

In the world of coaching swimming, it's dangerous to call yourself a specialist. Even in the college ranks, where there are 'sprint", "middle distance" and "distance" coaches (the most common specialties, coaches fight it.

They fight it because getting pigeon-hold with a specialist title means that you could miss out on that next big opportunity. If you're known as a "sprint coach", and "they" really want somebody who knows "distance", well you're out of luck.

The fight against specialized coaching is a silly one. It's denying reality, and good for no one involved. Imagine if Anthony Ervin was out there, insisting to everyone that he was just as good at the 1500 free as the 50. Would that be good for anyone?

No, and in the same way, it is ok for coaches to admit what they are good at (and what they are not good at). It is also far too simplistic to say that a coach is "bad" at coaching sprinters or "good at distance". Coaches have a set of skills that work in a system. The sum of those skills can mean positive outcomes for certain swimmers and negative outcomes for others.

This is where specialized coaching comes in. By knowing and admitting what your skills are, you can augment how many swimmers will be successful by having swimmers coached by coaches with different skills, skills that may connect more with them being successful. While we often think to do this at the elite level, it is actually equally important at lower levels, where we miss opportunities to move potentially great swimmers developmentally because we fear specialized coaching.

Let me give you an example. In 2015, I was with the Danish Junior National team at a meet. We had a swimmer on the team, a sprinter. She had poor skills, bad turns, bad dive and did not know how to perform a relay start (even though she was due to be a on a relay).

How was she relatively successful then? She had a coach who connected with her enthusiasm for the sport. She loved to race and compete, and she overcame a lot of her skill deficiencies with her attitude. Her coach was not perfect, but he had done a good job.

Now imagine if that coach had been able to team up with a coach or coaches who's skill set was all built around teaching the details of swimming. The more a coach brings other specialties into the mix, the greater chance for success they give all their swimmers.

At Chris DeSantis Coaching, I'm not trying to do anything that I'm ok at, or pretty good at, definitely nothing I'm bad at. I'm only working in the areas where I am exceptional, and that I know I can make a big, lasting difference in only a small amount of time. Are you interested?