Summer league swimming is and always will be the grass roots of prestigious swimmers. Almost every great swimmer began their journey in the sport with their local summer swim teams. However, as a swim coach for any summer swim team it is important to always remember that, more than anything else, these kids are here to have fun during their summer breaks. Do you think Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte would have kept swimming if they did not have fun? Absolutely not! Kids who participate in summer league swimming want to enjoy each other’s company, goof around with their friends, and enjoy their summer vacation. Now this does not mean I am telling you to make each of your practices filled with endless games and letting the kids go crazy for an hour straight. However, it is important to always keep in mind the main goal for each of these kids during the summer is to have fun. If you ever feel like your summer swim kids are becoming a bit bored during the season, there are many different ideas that you can use throughout the season to make sure everyone on your team is having a great time. For some of the less creative coaches, here are some great examples on how to keep your team amused all summer long.
The best way to make sure your athletes are having a good time during the summer season is to make every practice is in someway fun and interactive. Summer practices aren’t the time for kids to do daily 10×100’s hold best pace. Lets limit that to maybe once or twice a week. Keep things light and enjoyable while coaching. This will not only make the practices more enjoyable for the swimmers, but for you too! Some great sets can include partner swimming/kicking, picking races out of a hat, and even letting the swimmers think of their own sets to do. Also, interacting with the swimmers can always lead to great memories and fun times for them. These kids look up to their coaches and always get excited whenever they have chance to talk to and joke around with the “adults”. Finally, a great way to end a week of swim practices is to allot maybe 30-40 minutes of games on your last day of practice in the week. Trust me, nothing gets a group of young swimmers more excited than telling them to play sharks and minnows.
In addition to practices, swim meets are one of the most important places for swimmers to have fun. Summer swim coaches should always have two main objectives for every swim meet; winning, and making sure the swimmers enjoy the meet and are have a great time. Yes, of course winning is always important, but too often have I seen coaches get too obsessed with winning the meet that they forget to make sure the swimmers are having fun during the night. This will ultimately take away from the swimmers’ positive experience of the meet and also their perspective on swimming. Some great ideas to help boost the amount of energy in your swimmers at meets are having theme nights, team cheers, and also various contests throughout the night. It’s also never a bad idea to have a coaches’ relay at the end of the meet. Every swimmer absolutely loves to see their very own coaches get in the water and race. I have been apart of many coaches’ relays and can honestly say they are just as fun for the coaches as they are for the swimmers.
Summer is supposed to be a time filled with great times, lasting memories, and just plain fun. Be sure to keep that in mind heading into your next summer season.