Coach Connection Newsletter #17 - 4/28/2017

Coach Connection Newsletter #17 - 4/28/2017

 | Friday, April 28, 2017

  1. USA Swimming Mourns Passing of Executive Director Chuck Wielgus
  2. Safe Sport Update
  4. Breaststroke – Dave Hands
  5. USADA Update
  6. Leadership Personas
  7. Team Captains Must Not Be Normal
  8. An Athlete's Age May Be Less Important to Performance Than Persistent Practice
  9. Commonsense Tips for Successful Leadership
  10. A Passionate Plea for Evidence-Based Coaching and the Appliance of Science

USA Swimming Mourns Passing of Executive Director Chuck Wielgus

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Chuck Wielgus, who served USA Swimming as Executive Director for nearly 20 years, passed away on Sunday in Colorado Springs. Wielgus died of complications from colon cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2006 and Wielgus battled while continuing to steer USA Swimming to record growth. He was 67.

Joining USA Swimming as Executive Director in July 1997, Wielgus was the longest-tenured chief executive in the Olympic family. Wielgus added duties as Chief Executive Officer of the USA Swimming Foundation at its inception in 2004.

“This is an extremely sad day, as we lost Chuck Wielgus, one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside. He will be missed by all of us in USA Swimming and all his friends and colleagues around the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Nancy, and his entire family in this difficult time,” said USA Swimming Board of Directors Chair Jim Sheehan. “Chuck was one of the finest CEOs in all of sport and his leadership of USA Swimming has made it the premier National Governing Body in the Olympic movement. Chuck's selflessness, compassion and intelligence have been hallmarks of his work with the staff, Board of Directors, athletes, coaches and volunteers of USA Swimming.”

Learn more here

Safe Sport Update

Have you read the safe sport newsletter yet? Read it here

Can Your TEAM and/or LSC Implement a similar program with better success?

MD Swimming Parent Program

January 2016 was Parent Safety Training Month. Maryland Swimming tracked and incentivized parent participation in the online Safe Sport parent training. The clubs with the highest percentage of parents participating could win a club pizza party.

Maryland Swimming used its Club Development budget to pay for the pizza parties. It did not set a budget limit, however they took advantage of local pizza chains offering $5 pizzas or Buy-2-Get-1-Free deals. Maryland Swimming determined that it would limit the number of pizzas it purchased to cover only the number of swimmers and coaches on the team in order to increase club bonding and minimize budget impact. The Maryland Swimming Board decided that any club that reached 100% participation would receive a pizza party. (Participation above 100% was possible if more than one parent per household participated.)

Maryland Swimming posted an announcement of the incentive program on its website along with a link to the training. An email was also sent to the club contacts as listed in SWIMS. Coaches already have a lot of responsibilities, and reaching out to the club contact offered a way to engage parent board members. Maryland Swimming posted a spreadsheet tracking participation on its website and updated it every week for the duration of the month.


  1. Clubs sent out mass emails to their members notifying parents of the incentive program and providing information on how to participate.
  2. One club had its athlete representative email every family on its club and copied the swimmers (10 and older) in each household to create pressure from the athletes to get their parents to participate.
  3. Several clubs made their coaches’ or facilities’ computers available while parents waited during practice and allowed the parents to take the training in small groups. Clubs who made this opportunity available on a Saturday morning provided free coffee and donuts as an incentive.
  4. One club has a conference area in its facility and they set up a projector and screen to host a group screening for each practice session time. This allowed for good discussion among the parents.
  5. Setting up screenings at swim meets was not a popular idea due to the length of the training (45 minutes), and parents were concerned that they would miss their child’s event.

Since parents are not necessarily registered members of USA Swimming, percentages of participation were tracked by the numbers of households per club. This data was pulled by accessing the SWIMS Household Labels report. Therefore, it was possible for clubs to achieve over 100% participation if two parents in a single household took the training. USA Swimming Safe Sport staff provided weekly totals from the course administrators.

Lessons Learned

  • If the percentage of participation for a club went over 200%, the club contact was asked to do a quick survey among the parents to see if anyone entered the “number viewed” incorrectly.
  • A few clubs bought in strongly from the beginning, and each week the number of participating clubs grew.

Outcomes for Maryland Swimming

  • 1,842 parents participated in the online training, representing many of the 3,022 households in the LSC.
  • 8 clubs had at least one parent per household take the training to earn a 100% participation pizza party.
  • 29 of 41 age group clubs actively participated. (College-only clubs were not included in the event.)

To implement this program contact USA Swimming SafeSport Department


Share your story for a chance to win a $1,000 grant!

Keenan Robinson, two-time head athletic trainer for the National Swimming Team and current National Team High Performance Director for USA Swimming, knows that training is a 24-7 process, and that every choice contributes to success in key competitions – including when it comes to healthy routines.

Robinson understands the critical role that lowfat chocolate milk plays in post-workout nutrition after a tough practice. This is why he recommends it to his National Team athletes to help them recover and get back out for their next workout.

Coaches – does your team’s post-workout routine include chocolate milk?

If so, enter the 2017 BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK Coaches Challenge between Feb. 22 and May 12 for a chance to win one of five $1,000 grants for your school’s or team’s athletic program.

Learn more here

Breaststroke – Dave Hands

By Glenn Mills, Go Swim Video of the Week, April 26, 2017

GoSwim Video of the Week: Breaststroke - Dave Hands

This past week, I was reminded of a great hand-awareness drill from Dave Denniston.

Why Do It:

Developing a great breaststroke means you need to know exactly what your hands are doing. Learning how to gain a "feel" for the water is easier when you challenge yourself with variations.

How to Do It:

  1. There are five steps in this drill, growing from small to big. Start with hands closed, or fist drill.
  2. The second step is "#1." Hold you hand with only your index finger pointing.
  3. PEACE! The third step is to have your fingers making a peace sign. Try to keep them apart, but they may sneak together at points.
  4. Fourth is the sign language sign for "I love you". Index, pinky, and thumb stretched out. You'll really feel your fingers waving in the water on this one.
  5. The final step is "A OK". Make a circle with your thumb and index finger and extend the rest of the fingers forward.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

Alternate lengths of the drill with regular swimming. Feel how it awakens the entire hand when you switch to regular swimming. You can also alternate the drill with swimming with paddles to overload the hands after the limiting effects of the five steps.

Check out the first full video we ever produced for GoSwim - Dave Denniston Breaststroke. STILL a great series.

Get your free account to GoSwim and get a new video everyday

USADA Update

Please share these USADA articles and resources with your athletes and their parents. These links may be included in a Team newsletter or re-posted on your Social Media platforms

USADA Ask a Scientist: Can Poppyseeds cause a positive test?

Considering taking #supplements ? Look closely at the ingredients.

Energy drinks vs. sport drinks - What's the Difference?

Leadership Personas

By Cory Dobbs, Ed.D., Founder, The Academy for Sport Leadership,, April 24, 2017

Leadership Personas: The Power of Identity to Get Student-Athletes to Think and Act Like a Leader

When Steven Brown was asked if he could be a team leader he wasn’t quite sure how to respond. You see, Steven wasn’t sure he was a leader. Most of his life revolved around simply following the dictates of his coaches (teachers and parents too). He certainly aspired to be a leader, but wasn’t quite sure how to think or act like a leader. Oh sure, over the year’s he’d observed players called team captains pretend to be leaders. For the most part these individuals carried out requests from the coaches. In his mind Steven never really thought of these teammates as leaders, just figureheads.

Learn more here

Team Captains Must Not Be Normal

By Kevin Hoffman,, April 20, 2017

We expect captains to hold teammates accountable and unite players at difficult junctures of the season, but that’s not what makes them remarkable leaders — that’s just doing their jobs. To be special, team captains must go above and beyond their traditional duties, and that requires initiative and passion for the job.
One example is Eddie Jackson, team captain and defensive back at the University of Alabama. In December, Jackson wrote a letter titled “To my brothers,” thanking his teammates for electing him captain and describing the influence each of them had on his life. His words were full of emotion and gratitude, and he regretted that a broken leg would keep him from battling beside his teammates during the national championship game against Clemson.

Learn more here

An Athlete's Age May Be Less Important to Performance Than Persistent Practice

By Ginny McReynolds, The Washington Post, April 22, 2017

For three decades, Joseph Baker has been swimming, cycling and running in triathlons some would call punishing. Baker, 47, is also a professor of exercise sciences.

As he competed in races as a younger man, he would watch people of all ages alongside him, and he soon became fascinated with the parameters of human performance. Why could some 70-year-olds compete in triathlons and some got winded walking up a flight of stairs?

He wanted…

Learn more here

Commonsense Tips for Successful Leadership

By Don Schumacher, , April 2017

Over the past 35 years, I have had the privilege of serving in leadership positions ranging from managing a stadium and hall of fame to serving as president of a major arena, running my own sports marketing and consulting company, and helping to create and manage both a sports commission and the National Association of Sports Commissions.

Common sense was the premise of the wonderful book by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Fulghum lists 16 things he learned in kindergarten, and why each is important later in life. If you aren't familiar, I encourage you to read it and put the principles into action in your own life.

One maxim in particular that stood out to me has always been, "When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together."

Think for a moment about this quote. Watching for traffic and holding hands are synonymous with teamwork. We face problems and opportunities together; leaders do not put themselves above direct reports.

Based on my own experience, here are a few simple tips for being a successful leader.

Learn more here

A Passionate Plea for Evidence-Based Coaching and the Appliance of Science

From Connected Coaches

Coaching methods that have no empirical foundation are a blight on the industry, according to Professor Richard Bailey, who has made it his mission to drag coaching out of the dark ages and into a new age of enlightenment.

  • We are in the age of technology, but the coaching industry has been reluctant to jump on the bandwagon and embrace scientific innovation.
  • The lack of skepticism and critical thinking in coach education has the potential to damage the reputation of the industry.
  • Coaching methodologies that have no empirical foundation are being sold to coaches on governing body courses.
  • ‘It’s a disgrace, and we need to start doing something about it,’ said Professor Bailey.

Professor Richard Bailey was in rip-roaring form when he delivered his keynote speech at the Open University’s second annual Sport and Fitness Conference in Milton Keynes.

The presentation was a stimulating and intriguing look at how coaching is set in its wicked ways, embracing and perpetuating coaching methodologies that are – to use just a few of his colourful descriptions – ‘voodoo rubbish’, ‘absolute nonsense’ and ‘mumbo jumbo’.

Learn more here



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