Every swim school program and pool set up varies and as teachers, we must adhere to their ways and methods of teaching. For potentially new teachers and perhaps even a teacher who has been teaching for many years, it is important to always keep the brain active and try to think outside the box despite maybe being presented with limitations on hand. We need to be flexible and we need to embrace change if it should arise, perhaps you may be used to having the right-hand corner of the pool every Thursday at 4.30pm for the last 2 years. Then boom… you arrive in to do your shift on Thursday at 3pm to be told you now must take that class in an area in the middle of the pool. Wow, I’m sure we have all been here before, I know I have. Rather than focusing on the “oh NO!!! It’s the end of the world, I can’t teach my class there”, we encourage you to embrace the change and perhaps even get creative.
You MUST remain positive. Let’s face it, the kids who turn up for that 4.30pm class may even feel a bit put out and if they turn up to a grumpy teacher in a new teaching area, how do you think their lesson will run never mind how mum is going to react. So, let’s get some strategies in place by having a think about the different types of teaching formations we may be able to adopt…
Circling the lane
Circling the lane is where swimmers follow the leader and swim down one side of the lane and return on the other side of the lane. Swimmers can be moving as quickly as possible through this formation and don’t need to wait until the person in front finishes, rather leave just enough space so swimmer doesn’t catch the person in front. Circling the lane should enable 3, 4 or even 5 swimmers to be moving at once if done correctly, therefore achieving maximum practice time
Circling the lane is beneficial when you wish to give individual feedback/manipulation or have a look at individual capabilities. Circling can also help when having to look to see if a child is almost ready for the next level – you may need to alter the activity or distance for that one child which shouldn’t have an effect on the rest of the group.
Wave formation is where all swimmers move together at the same time on the teacher’s command. Ensure swimmers are lined up beside each other in the lane so they can go when instructed. Skills practice works well with this formation as teacher can observe all students at the same time. Races can also be incorporated into this wave formation activity.
This formation works particularly well in keeping all students moving at the same time and benefits skill acquisition due to the amount of repetitions. It is important that you keep your distances short so you don’t over tire your swimmers as this formation can push them to try harder to keep up with the group. Wave formation also helps if you have one or two overactive swimmers in your class that you need to keep moving.
Circuit formation is when you integrate a few different activities whilst moving around the perimeter of the lane and can provide lots of variation within your lesson. Once again, you as the teacher can zoom in on who needs assistance with any skills. Every circuit should always be centered around skill building eg push and float from the wall with the board, kick across with the board and face in the water, bubble and breathe drill on the way back. Circuiting the lane tends to work better if your teaching area is a little wider than a standard narrow lane.
Shallow vs Deep
Personally, I love changing up my teaching space if there is an opportunity to do so. One of my favourite areas to teach is in the deeper water. I feel that it is extremely important to ensure that your students can perform skills to the same standard in the deeper water. On condition that you have mobile benches or ledges, it is good to ensure your swimmers can become more confident at performing these skills and stepping outside their comfort zone with your support.
Changing up your teaching space and structure of your lesson can add so much value to your lesson. It is good to vary it, especially when parents or children may start to become complacent with the regular. We all need to accept and embrace the change as sometimes it is inevitable for example when you may have to have time off and another teacher steps in to take your lessons. More importantly, it is a reminder for you that you are capable, adaptable and therefore making you a more valuable asset within your team.
What are some of your favourite freestyle drills? Share in the comments section below.