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On the ball: Skill acquisition should not be rushed
November 7, 2017 | 7:36 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
It must be remembered that when performing new skills each child develops consistently at their own pace.
 
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We live in an instant world today, don’t we? A world of instant delivery, instant gratification, instant satisfaction, and even instant noodles. Some things, though, can’t be rushed. Nothing that’s ever worth doing is ever easy, and Don Pradeep Kumar, who is a swim coach says it is very important for parents, coaches (and of course, the athletes themselves) to be patient and supportive if they wish to achieve success in the long run.

“Each stage of a swimmer’s learning process is an important stepping stone and should be mastered before moving on,” said Don. “It must be remembered that when performing new skills each child develops consistently at their own pace. Skill acquisition should not be rushed, rather taken slowly so that learning takes place at the swimmers’ own pace. Some skills may come easily to one swimmer and not so for another, and vice versa for a different athlete’s technique. “This is the reason why you will never see a nice straight line of improvement when mapping a competitive swimmers progression,” added Don, a trained life guard instructor.

You will notice spikes and plateaus along the way which generally continues right through until the age of 13 or 14, when their skills, technique and performances start to become more consistent. Parents will have noticed this lack of consistency in their younger swimmers. They may have breezed through one level of the programme easily and quickly to then spend what seems like forever on the next level. This is normal.”

A former instructor at Fitness First in the UAE, and licensed swim coach from the Rainbow Swimming Academy in his native Sri Lanka, Don also emphasised the need for proper communication between swimmer and coach.



“The key is to stay patient and persistent and be supportive with the swimming programme,” revealed Don. “Sometimes, a session or a week of intensive classes over holidays can be helpful in getting over a hurdle. Also communication with your swimmer’s coach to answer any questions or concerns about your kids swimming technique progress is important. They will have a very good understanding of the progress made and will be able to offer some words of reassurance or have some ideas on how to improve the learning experience.

“Also training within a team with similar ability will help swimmers to learn from each other and develop to compete,” he said. They will learn from their peers and it is a good motivation tool for young swimmers to swim with others. Also when they are ready to move up to the next level it is important to find a suitable time schedule to accommodate for the swimmer’s development.”

It’s not just how often you practice, though, but how well you do it. That also matters.

“The proper stroke of a swimmer will lead to achieving a good swimming career,” said Don. As coaches instead of pushing or overloading they should wait till the right time arrives to do so and as a swimmer he/she has to enjoy and respect the sport. After all the drills and technical work they will swim more efficiently using less power with a smooth stroke and amp; less resistance in the water enabling more stamina and distance covered. In turn the swimmer will gain confidence, reduce or eliminate injuries and then they will perform at the top of their game.

“Those who become world class swimmer do not count the laps, days, hours, distance or calories that they burnt. They do the sport with love, respect and willingly,” he explained.

“Listen to your coaches’ guidance with no complaints, they happily work towards targets and goals with a positive, winning attitude.”

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