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Things To Say That Help Beginner Swimmers Understand

Communicating To Beginners

No one statement or term alone when trying to teach swimmers will do the trick of communicating what is needed, to correct faulty action in swimming technique. This is because each and every term is going to bring it's own set of problems.

Image of boy child in the pool listening learning to blow bubbles
Child Listening and Blowing Bubbles

Lets take floating for example:

If I say "tighten your bottom" this tends to force many people to raise their hips but if a person is very nervous then they are also going to tighten their stomach muscles and that will have the opposite effect.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

For kicking and floating:

"push your toes up" is a good way to get a swimmer to bring their legs to the surface of the water but for some people it will also result in them also lifting their knees out of the water. So a set of instructions is often needed.

If a swimmer is sinking in the middle I might say:

"tighten your bottom"
"push your bottom up"
"relax your tummy muscles"
"push your tummy up"
"push your toes up"
"push your knees under"

All according to what is being done wrong.

Always Be On The Look Out For Other Ways To Say It

I am always on the look out for other ways of saying things. When I talk to children and I want them to put their face under water, I might say "put your face in the water" only to have them put every part of their face in the water except their eyes. This no doubt is mostly due to fear but it still pays to be more specific. Hence:
"put your eyes under water"
"put your whole face in the water"
"get your ears wet"

Take The Torpedo Position

When it comes to a torpedo it is not uncommon, when asked to "take the torpedo position", for the student to put their arms by their side.

"put your hands over your head" (often resulting in hands going on the swimmers head)
"make your hands like a rocket"
"put your arms over your ears"
"put your ears under your arms"
And sometimes even "here let me show you" is the only thing that works :)

Freestyle or Backstroke

When it comes to getting a swimmer to start freestyle or backstroke:
"Lift your ams out of the water"
"make big circles with your arms"
"lift your arms high in the air"
"reach with your arms"
"use big long arms"
"stretch your arms"
"you need to grab more water so you can push your self harder/faster"

What's my point?

The best way to be a good swimming teacher or student is to be creative with you language. I say student because it's not only teachers that need to learn other ways to say things. Sometimes if you want your teacher to help you, you may have to learn to ask the question in a different way.


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