Today we're going to look at the "staple" games for swimming lessons. These are the go to games I use for most swim lessons.
Once you get a group of swimmers with you more regularly where they know you and are used to your system and routines, you can start playing more inventive and dynamic games.
For beginners, for summer temporary staff the best games are the staples, the basics, the go to games.
Fun, first game we teach swim instructors. The easiest game to play, requires fun and energy which are often in high supply for beginners who are often younger. Gives lots of opportunity to bond in a positive trust earning way with swimmers
Bake a Cake
Assisted, unassisted, and different types of jumps. Most successful when given a certain number of attempts each time. The clearer you are with instructions, then the more benefit.
Typical uses: refreshing or resetting when doing a lot of work with specific skill focus. When you're doing a lot of repetitive glides and arm stroke work, break up the monotony with jumps.
Effective for getting used to going underwater, effective for learning how to recover after falling in. Let participants hold your hands, and control the depth to which they fall in.
Make additions to the jump using clear instructions. For example: jump in, swim to instructor then streamline back to the wall with a boost. Or jump in, roll over on back, then kick on back to wall.
varying options and dynamic category of games instead of just *one* game.
Poses, flips in seconds, body position challenge, contest
Every game in this podcast can be created on the fly using the formula found in the book, How to Create Fun and Effective Swim Games. You can get a copy at amazon now! http://amzn.to/1UdwqG4
The importance of lesson plans.
Lesson plans are not necessary for everyone. Veteran and highly experienced teachers can do without them. However levels, move up criteria and overall progression planning is necessary.
You have to know where you want to go before you start moving forward.
Majority of swim instructors are inexperienced.
Park districts hire 15-22 typically, often employee's first job. Temporary job, part time job, no long term growth, few continue teaching lessons past college age.
Small population of professional instructors.
Lesson plans provide the experience of veteran professional instruction to novices.
Swimming Ideas is an accumulation of 20 years of swim instruction experience and refinement. The levels and testable skills point to swim teams. Underwater, body position, glides, arms, breathing, then outward to competitive strokes.
There are layers of complexity within the lesson plans:
Novice instructors don't have the "vision" for the life-cycle of the swimming participant. They typcially think in objective based narrow vision. They see swimmers that can't do front crawl or go underwater and can creatively work towards that goal while ignoring other things, or over teaching and overwhelming young swimmers.
Teaching exact hand position and high elbow recovery to children that can't keep their body straight or kick and move arms at the same time. Foolish and wrong time.
Start broad and then narrow focus.
Underwater (broad) > Glides and body position (posture, line, balance) broad > arm circles (more narrow) > turning head to the side to breathe (narrow) > arm recovery target; return to position 11 (narrow) > high elbow recovery (extremely narrow).
Without lesson plans the instructor may know all these steps but do them out of order or skip some entirely. More efficient and successful in less time to follow the progression.
Lesson plans also follow generally this "planning wheel from: https://teal.ed.gov/tealGuide/lessonplanning
We warm up by going underwater, introduce our lesson: "We're going to practice front glides."
Then we practice with repetition to learn the skill: 3 x streamline + kick
Push each individual to next step of progression based on their personal ability.
Play a game or do another skill that incorporates learned skill just done.
Lesson plans provide guidance. Standardize language. Allow for opportunity of games and deviation. Not designed to follow blindly forever. Generally designed for Skill, Skill, Game and each skill builds on itself and progresses in difficulty.
End objectives are the Level goals or testing criteria. Each step in the lesson plan drives towards that goal and gives multiple opportunities to practice, or test those skills.
USA Swimming has this article linked to their Learn To Swim page at www.usaswimming.org
We're going to look specifically at this portion:
Moving and Learning
Recent neurological research links movement to learning and memory. Since neurologists now agree that active movement is scientifically linked to intellectual development, how early should movement training begin?
Babies are born with most of their neurons, billions. But they have few interconnections (synapses) between the neurons. As a baby moves and interacts with his world, the impulses flowing through his neurons stimulate the cell fibers to grow more branches and twigs reaching out to other neurons. When neurons are stimulated through movement, they develop interconnections (synapses). The more interconnections, the more capable the child is of learning (Whitehead).
Interaction or communication between the neurons is necessary for learning to take place. Neuroscientists at University of California at Irvine discovered that active movement activates the release of BDNF, a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Kinoshita 1999). BDNF is a protein that acts on certain neurons in the brain; it supports the growth, function, and survival of these neurons and synapses in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and the basal forebrain. These are areas of vital learning, memory, and higher reasoning (Whitehead).
Every time a synapse is used, it becomes stronger and easier to send messages in the future. Every time a movement is repeated, less energy is used to repeat it in the future. As an infant repeats movements, the brain groups those movements together in a neural memory. A newborn has very few memories stored in his synapses. As he moves and interacts with his world, his nervous system accumulates more neural memories (Ayers 1991).
A child has neural memories for everything he can do. These sensory/motor memories create an internal picture of the body. This body image is stored in the child's nervous system. The child's brain refers to this internal picture to plan his movements. The more accurate the internal body image, the better able a child is to navigate unfamiliar movements (Ayers 1991). By giving a child many varied sensory experiences like the active movement in swimming, his movement experiences become more plentiful and diverse, resulting in a more developed internal body picture. However without this information, the child would not know where the parts of his body are or how to spontaneously move from one place to another without conscious planning.
Varied movement in swimming produces automatic responses later. If we practice repetitive motions in different and varied ways, when we go to move through the water that motion will be done quicker, better, and automatically without thought: automatic response when under duress, or a "fight or flight mode."
We use progressions of increasing difficulty so when we go to do the activity it is done well without conscious thought.
Front glides supports
#1 take-away from the article? Loving, slow, fun environment is significantly better than "life or death situation" training. DO NOT TOSS YOUR CHILD IN THE WATER AND SEE IF THEY CAN SURVIVE! Even with supervision, even with repeated steps.
Instead, teach "using gentle, nurturing lessons that are taught based on building skills upon skills until the movement is learned."
You're likely getting ready for your summer lifeguard trainings this month. You have returning staff and new hires eager or reluctantly attending your mandatory trainings.
These are critical hours you have a captive audience. Here are 3 things you can do as an instructor or facilitator to make sure your participants aren't leaving after your two day session saying, "well that could have been done in 2 hours."
With these three cures you'll have effective and efficient trainings where your participants will learn, be active, and be engaged.
What democracy doesn't have 2 presidents? What company doesn't have 2 CEOs? Ditch the Co-instructor format and have one lead instructor and multiple aides.
Utilize small groups whenever possible. At some point working with a lot of people turns into just herding sheep.
Have a specific agenda before you start teaching.
Front glides, back glides
Back glide script:
Why they're important
What each phrase does.
How they're integrated into incremental progressions and swim lesson plans.
Set up systems for better success
Look in your favorite search: importance of systems in business
You'll find a huge list of why you need to have systems. What is a system and why is it important for swimming lessons or swim teams?
I think of a "system" as a template or a guide for how to proceed with a certain action.
If I hired someone, the system would be the paperwork I needed to fill out, and who to turn it in to. The order I did that paperwork and when is the "system."
In a large sense, how a participant signs up for your classes, what they fill out to register, and who and how much they pay is all part of your marketing and registration system.
Systems simplify making money. They simplify "how to do stuff."
Swimming Ideas offers a "system" to teach swim lessons.
For us, it is the general format of a class, which we further break down into ability levels and activities.
We follow logical progressions to get to desired goals and do things with the same language because we're following the system.
General activity system: short distance skill work with high volume, specific target goals, feedback, and incremental progression.
We move short distances (most of the time).
We do something a lot.
We give a few key goals (look down, lock thumb, squeeze ears).
We give feedback based on those goals.
We challenge by adding the next incremental step of difficulty.
Success comes when you can flow into this system with any person in your program with any teacher and just pick up where they left off.
Swimmers expect the routine of your system, and flourish under it. Systems remove the unique "what do you mean" moments that waste time.
Systems create trust in your swimmers. Fear and hesitation are a huge element to swimming with the potential to not breathe. We can earn trust through our systems because participants know what to expect.
Do you have a system? Do you follow ours? Let me know in the comments, or on facebook, or twitter.
Learn when it is time to stop an activity and move on.
Is it better to try something new and fail, than it is to only do what you know works?
Failure leads to success: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?_r=0
Article about school that grades character instead of using homework and standardized tests.
When you persevere, make attempts, fail, and then are corrected with help and direction success is earned and learned.
The process is important.
Swimming is so much easier than just "learning overall" we have a specific body motion goal we are working towards.
We can get there by making learning attempts for our participants.
Come up with interesting ways to provide the following key elements:
How do you reset your instruction? Do you do it often? (goal is infrequent, but when you're trying new things you need to know when to reset).
Let us know in comments below or on facebook or twitter.
Why we would interrupt a skill progression to play a game, and why it works for swim lessons and better retention.
General swimming lesson information.
Typical swim lesson plans:
Swimming Ideas lesson plans:
We insert games, and jumps to recapture dulling attention.
Most everything you do in the water should be moving your swimmers to better ability in the water. Sometimes the best way to do that is with a game or a song.
We are essentially teaching "body control" in very specific restricted movements. But that comes with it some requirement to know what the "feel for the water" is.
Set up similar systems for participant expectations.
When it gets boring, play a game, sing a song, do alternate activity.
Return to system.
Swimingscience.net posted an article about External and internal focus for optimal learning.
Basically: external focus is better. Using golf, darts, and balancing a board, researchers have shown that when you focus your attention on doing SOMETHING to something, you get better results.
This applies to swimming lessons because it gives us an insight into how we frame our language to get the best results.
Why do we say:
"Squeeze your ears, Look down, lock your thumb.
"Keep your arm straight, look down, and stay on the surface
Are these effective? Or are these internal cues.
Swimming and moving in the water is a highly personal thing and we often think about telling someone to do something by guiding their body. We assume they are attempting to move their body in a certain way, and they are!, but it may be more effective to give them a target, instead of giving a path.
Perhaps this is why "11, Y, scoop and Reach" is so effective. It isn't a "reach your arms up, keep them straight, sweep out, then shoot forward quickly." It is instead, providing a visual target, or an external cue that swimmers need to externally achieve by moving their bodies toward!
How can we use our language as swim instructors and coaches to use these external cues.
We tried it at swim practice
"zombie" and pull during freestyle
We drew these on the board.
We tried it in swim lessons:
It really works well when you do two benches facing each other:
Specific swim lesson activity