Encouraging More Adults to Swim
Featured Picture

Do You Speak Swimming?

Clarity of communication is critical for coaches

Scott Bay | February 18, 2014

There’s a lot to love about swimming: competition, camaraderie, and the feeling of being well and healthy. For us coaches, one of the more interesting things we deal with regularly is how we communicate with our athletes. It’s not always as straightforward as one might hope, and sometimes, I find that even though we’re speaking the same words, the meanings may be different.

What one coach means by “best average” on a set may mean something totally different to another coach. How is this possible? Many of us have had our coaching career shaped by a number of different coaches, and it’s inevitable that their language becomes our language. In the last several years, there have been calls for a sort of dictionary or Rosetta Stone of coaching terminology. There have been many attempts that have failed.

Instead of trying to distill all of the coaching wisdom of the last several decades down to a single language, perhaps we should embrace each coach’s unique take on all things swimming and recognize that communicating something very complex can be done in a variety of ways with a diverse vocabulary.

As coaches it is incumbent upon us to make sure we not only say what we mean, but also to know how to express it in a variety of ways. The best coaches are teachers and the best teachers are coaches. Make sure your swimmers understand and be patient when they don’t.

As swimmers we need to make sure we take the time to ask questions. If you don’t understand, maybe no one else does either. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification when your coach says something you don’t understand. Making sure we are all speaking the same language saves a lot of time and makes the practice much better for everyone!

Bottom line is that better swimming comes from better communication! So, do you speak swimming?

USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Scott Bay

Scott Bay is a USMS/ASCA Level 5 Certified Coach and has been actively coaching and teaching swimming since 1986 at a variety of levels.  He began teaching swim lessons in the YMCA system in Cincinnati Ohio shortly after graduating High School.  He then went on to coach age group and senior swimmers in competitive YMCA and USA Swimming while continuing to teach swim lessons to both youth and adult swimmers throughout college and graduate school.

Scott Bay moved to Florida in the 1990’s and took to coaching High School swimmers and Masters swimmers.  High School swimmers he has coached have gone to state meets and placed in the top ten on numerous occasions and Masters swimmers he currently coaches include National Champions, All Americans, and World Record Holders who have swam to over 300 top ten USMS swims and more than 30 World records in just the last 5 years. 

Throughout a career that includes teaching swim lessons, coaching Age Groupers and Senior Swimmers, as well as Triathletes and adults, Bay has taught literally thousands how to swim or how to swim better.  He has also written numerous articles on technique and coaching for both websites and publications in addition to being a major contributor to the revised USMS/ASCA certification curriculum and presents at clinics across the country in addition to writing an instructional book Swimming Steps to Success  by Human Kinetics Publishing.   Coach Bay is also the past Chair of the USMS Coaches Committee, and the Head Coach of YCF Masters. 

Sponsor #29Sponsor #25Sponsor #13Sponsor #49Sponsor #58
Sponsor #59Sponsor #20Sponsor #14Sponsor #57Sponsor #41
Sponsor #52Sponsor #55Sponsor #51Sponsor #42Sponsor #56Sponsor #43Sponsor #36