Swimming Lesson Ideas: The Last Swimming Instruction You Give

Something else that I do differently than many other teachers, is I watch what I say and the order that I say it in.

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For example:
I may want a student to form their hands into a torpedo position. Now particularly young children don't get that they need to hold the hands in that position for the whole of the short swim they are going to do and they need to kick their legs the entire time of the swim.

You may say "I don't want you to move your arms".

Apparently some people have trouble with the negative phrase (ie. don't) and are unable to process it. So the first thing they do is move their arms because they only hear the "move your arms" part of the instruction.

You should, say "Pretend your arms are stuck together with glue" (Push the hands together like you are trying to glue them)

You may say "I want you to kick your legs and hold your arms together".

So the student holds their arms together and fails to kick the legs. Why because all they heard, for whatever reason, is "hold your arms together because it was the last thing you said.

The rule of thumb then is say the most important thing that you want the swimming student to do last.

So the conversation now goes "I want you to hold your hands together, pretend they are stuck like glue" (hold the hands together like you are pressing the glue together) and kick your legs! With the thing that is most important last.

All in all I find the most effective communication when teaching people to swim is:

1) Say the simplest thing you can say
2) Say the most important thing last
3) Try to avoid using negatives in you sentences


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