Getting the Most Out of Your Swimmers

By Mark Schubert

In order to be effective and happy athletes need a relationship with a coach who cares. For incoming freshmen the ideal situation is the continuance of the good vibe established during recruiting and maintained during the early days on campus.

As simple as it seems an important factor in developing good coach-athlete relations is a simple "Hello Allison" when a swimmer walks in for practice and a “good bye” when she leaves. Walking the deck to speak to every athlete on your team, even if they are not in your group, is essential. I make it a practice to speak to an athlete or two every day after practice and to engage in-depth conversations. Team meetings, even if brief before practice, are another effective way to discuss goals, expectations and give the team compliments on behavior well done!

My swimmers will attest that I tend to be a different personality once the practice begins. I am much more approachable afterwards and will stay as late as necessary to talk about anything on a swimmer’s mind or on a subject that I want to emphasize with the athlete.

A good relationship is the motivational starting point that allows a coach to not only challenge a swimmer on an emotional and physical level and but also to extract performance. Ideally such a symbiosis morphs into a successful partnership characterized by frequent communication that ensures swimmer and coach are on the same page. Subsequent dialogue subjects include, but are not limited to, competition goals, practice goals, dryland, nutrition and academics. And it is in such discussions that a coach can demonstrate his passion and the swimmer can show commitment to the sport. From such dialogue can come agreement on cyclical, seasonal or quadrennial goals.

Mark Schubert

Mark Schubert is currently the head coach at Golden West College, the Golden West Swim Club and director of technical development at Dolfin. His coaching career spans 46 years. While in Austin for four years he led the University of Texas to NCAA titles in 1990 and 1991 (also named NCAA Coach of the Year in 1990). In his 14 years at the University of Southern California he directed the Trojans to the 1997 crown. At those two stops his swimmers won 49 individual NCAA titles and amassed 130 All-American recognitions. His Golden West College team has also won four California JC Championships. As a club coach his Mission Viejo Nadadores garnered 44 national titles in 13 years and his Mission Bay Mako squads earned nine national championships. He has placed 38 athletes, who have secured 23 gold and 11 silver medals, on Olympic teams. An eight-time U.S. Olympic coach, he also served as USA Swimming National Team director. He currently resides in the International Swimming and American Swim Coaches Halls of Fame.