This is the first of a three-part series on planning, developing and implementing a successful and productive off-season conditioning program for interscholastic sports programs. A previous article, “Principles and Axioms for Effective Coaching of Fitness and Conditioning” shared some basic principles of fitness training that you may want to look at as a prerequisite.
The purpose of this series of articles is to give coaches the specific tools to develop a sound, scientifically-based conditioning program that will encourage high participation and yield quality results. Each article in the series will focus on three essentials for a highly productive conditioning program. These three essentials are 1) Organization and Planning, 2) Efficiency, and 3) Effectiveness. After each article you will have specific tools that can be used to implement and measure each of the essentials. This first installment will be on the essential trait of Organization and Planning.
“The better your organization and planning, the greater will be your results.”
In this article, I share the results of an assessment study designed to provide an adapted aquatics and rehabilitation class, feedback on successful areas of instruction and areas that may need improvement. Although several adapted aquatic swimming assessments exist (e.g. Special Olympics, DePaepe Checklist, Sherrill Model) only the Conatser Adapted Aquatics Swimming Screening Test is norm-based and allows statistical analysis.
This assessment has 44 total test items consisting of (a) psychological/physical adjustment skills, (b) entering and exiting the pool skills, (c) acceptance towards passive range of motion, (d) breath control and respiratory skills, (e) balance and flotation skills, and (f) swimming movement skills through the water. Pre- and post-aquatics skills of children with disabilities were assessed by trained university students. These students also conducted the instructional intervention.
A screening test was used to establish a baseline of essential swimming skills to be taught in the adapted aquatics programs. Before testing and instruction, the university students were trained for one week on how to conduct the assessment and learned techniques for teaching swimming to children with disabilities. Children with disabilities received instruction for 3 weeks, Monday through Friday, with each session lasting 1 hour. Pretest assessment guided instruction and the acquisition of new skills. Instructors used a variety of motivating incentives (e.g. equipment, encouragement, musical, games etc.) to improve swimming performance. An emphasis of instruction for children with disabilities was to ensure they learned how to be safe in and around the water environment.
In any professional career, people frequently strive to achieve a level of excellence where they’re considered experts or at least highly effective in their chosen field of work (Nunn, 2008). The world of sport is no different, although determining whether or not coaches are effective and their subsequent hiring or firing is frequently assessed by win-loss records.
But being considered an effective coach should not only be defined solely or even predominantly by a head coach’s win-loss record. Becoming effective is a developmental process that takes time and involves much more than just game scores. Watching 10-time national champion, legendary Hall of Fame, and former UCLA men’s basketball head coach John Wooden during practices, Tharp and Gallimore (1976) found that he spent 50.3% of his time teaching his athletes the fundamental skills of basketball. Consistent with the concept of pursuing teaching & coaching mastery, Wooden spent half his time instructing his athletes (Nater & Gallimore, 2010).
A Coaching Case Study
This article highlights the complex experiences and thoughts of an effective female NCAA Division III (DIII) head women’s volleyball coach as her career developed. The information comes from a larger study on the development of effective coaches at the DIII level. The effective coaches in the study were identified as those who currently serve as head coaches of a DIII team sport, five-plus years of experience as a head coach at his or her current DIII institution, a career winning percentage of .500-plus, and peer recognition such as coach of the year (Gilbert, Côté, & Mallett, 2006).
Several years ago, I was in my school hallway on the way to my mailbox, and noticed a young elementary child walk past a new student. This new student had Autism and was engaging in self-stimulatory behavior as he moved along the hallway. The younger child appeared confused, worried and concerned for the student with Autism .
My school had just created a self-contained class for students with disabilities. Because this was early October, it was early enough in the school year that for many of our students, this type of behavior was their first exposure to students with Autism and other disabilities.
My perplexed student watched as the stimming continued. She later approached me and asked, “What’s wrong with the boy who was screaming in the hallway? Is he okay?” Her question was so enlightening to me in many different ways. For starters, the child was genuinely concerned about the student and didn’t seem to have any idea what Autism was.
Many people know Don Hellison a heck of a lot better than me. But over the years our paths did cross a few times. And so, when I recently heard that Don, now aged 79, had suffered a stroke with some serious complications it got me thinking about him and the way he changed how physical education is taught today.
If you’ve been in the profession a while and taken your teaching seriously, the ‘Hellison’ name is already familiar to you. If you’re relatively new and graduated from a decent professional preparation program, while you may not recognize Don’s name you were almost certainly introduced to the idea that physical education can be an effective way to teach kids social skills and personal responsibility.
Don brought this thinking to the physical education world not by way of isolated ivory-towered theorizing, but through some tough real-world personal experience. Early in his career Don sought out the hardest inner-city teaching situations and toughest kids: Places and people that most of us would run from, not to. He dove in and together with his student-majors and graduate students tried to figure out how to improve these kids’ lives.