The Three Pillars of Effective Teaching for Swimming Instructors

Teaching is a complex and rewarding profession that requires a combination of skills, knowledge and passion. In this blog post, I will share with you the three pillars of effective teaching that I have learned from my experience as a swimming instructor and coach. These pillars are: follow the formula “activity, activity, challenge”, provide a framework of consistency, and provide targeted relevant feedback. By applying these principles to your swimming lessons, you will be able to create a positive and productive learning environment for your students, and help them achieve their goals and potential.

Follow the formula “activity, activity, challenge”

The first pillar is to follow the formula “activity, activity, challenge”. This means that you should design your lessons in a way that engages your students in two activities that are fun, easy and familiar, followed by one activity that is more challenging, new and unfamiliar. This formula helps to build confidence, motivation and curiosity in your students, as well as to introduce new skills and concepts gradually and effectively.

For example, you can start your lesson with a warm-up activity that involves swimming with different strokes or equipment, such as fins, paddles, or noodles. This will help your students to warm up their muscles, practice their coordination, and have some fun. Then, you can move on to a drill activity that focuses on a specific skill or technique, such as streamline, balance, or rotation. This will help your students to improve their efficiency, accuracy, and consistency. Finally, you can finish with a challenge activity that tests your students’ ability to apply what they have learned in a different or more difficult situation, such as swimming longer distances, faster speeds, or with obstacles. This will help your students to develop their endurance, agility, and adaptability.

By following this formula, you will be able to create a variety of activities that suit different levels, abilities, and interests of your students, and keep them engaged and challenged throughout the lesson.

Provide a framework of consistency

The second pillar is to provide a framework of consistency. This means that you should structure your lessons in a way that creates a sense of order, predictability and routine for your students. This helps to reduce anxiety, confusion and frustration, as well as to foster discipline, focus and cooperation.

You can create a framework of consistency by using the same format, language and expectations for every lesson, regardless of who is teaching or what level the students are at. For example, you can use the following format for every lesson:

  • Introduction: Explain the objectives, activities, and rules of the lesson, and answer any questions or concerns.
  • Warm-up: Do some light exercises and stretches to prepare the body and mind for the lesson.
  • Main part: Do the activity, activity, challenge sequence, and give feedback and instructions along the way.
  • Cool-down: Do some relaxing exercises and stretches to calm down the body and mind after the lesson.
  • Conclusion: Review the main points, achievements, and areas for improvement of the lesson, and give praise and encouragement.

You can also use strategies such as the rotation method, lanes, short distance circle swimming and other tactics to establish habits and patterns in your students’ behavior and movement. For example, you can use the rotation method to ensure that every student gets a chance to swim in different positions and receive feedback from different instructors, or you can use lanes to group your students by ability and pace.

By providing a framework of consistency, you will be able to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for your students, and help them to follow the structure and flow of the lesson.

Provide targeted relevant feedback

The third pillar is to provide targeted relevant feedback. This means that you should give your students specific, timely and constructive information about their performance and progress. This helps to improve their skills, knowledge and confidence, as well as to encourage them to keep trying and learning.

You can provide targeted relevant feedback by being knowledgeable about the subject matter and the best practices for teaching it, by observing your students carefully and attentively, and by distilling your feedback to the 20% of fixes that will generate 80% of the results. For example, you can use the Pareto principle to identify the most important or impactful aspects of your students’ swimming form and technique, such as body position, breathing or kick, and focus on giving feedback on those areas rather than on minor or irrelevant details.

You can also use different methods and tools to deliver your feedback, such as verbal, visual, or tactile cues, demonstrations, corrections, or reinforcements, or charts, videos, or apps. For example, you can use verbal cues to remind your students to keep their head down, visual cues to show them how to glide smoothly, or tactile cues to adjust their arm position. You can also use demonstrations to model the correct way of doing a skill, corrections to fix a mistake, or reinforcements to praise a good effort. You can also use charts to track your students’ progress, videos to review their performance, or apps to analyze their data.

By providing targeted relevant feedback, you will be able to create a supportive and informative learning environment for your students, and help them to achieve their goals and potential.

Conclusion

These are the three pillars of effective teaching that I have learned from my experience as a swimming instructor and coach. By following the formula “activity, activity, challenge”, providing a framework of consistency, and providing targeted relevant feedback, you will be able to create a positive and productive learning environment for your students, and help them improve their swimming skills and enjoy their swimming lessons. I hope you found this blog post useful and informative, and I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Thank you for reading and happy teaching!


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