The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Lessons University’s Jim Reiser to Speak in Charlotte, NC on March 9th!

The 2017 Best Practices in Aquatics Workshop will feature Jim Reiser, world-renowned speaker, author and executive director of Swim Lessons University.  The conference will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 8th and 9th with an optional post conference CPO course beginning on March 9th in the afternoon and ending on the evening of March 10th.

Mr. Reiser’s presentation—YOU CAN TEACH LIKE A PRO—will be from 9:30 AM-10:15 AM on Thursday, March 9th.  The conference will be held at the Mahlon Adams Pavilion at Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Ave., Charlotte, NC.  The post conference CPO course on March 9-10 will be held at a different location (see below).

  • The cost of the conference is just $60.00 and the deadline is February 24th!
  • You can also attend for just $35.00 if you would like to participate on just one day!
  • What an amazing deal!  Click here to register!

The 2017 Best Practices in Aquatics Workshop is hosted by the North Carolina State Recreation Resources Service—though the event will be held in Charlotte this year.

The Schedule:

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8TH

8:30 – 9:00 AM – Registration/Coffee

9:00 – 10:00 AM – Welcome & Session One:  Advocating for Aquatics with Decision Makers

10:00 – 11:45 AM –  How Can I Do My Job Better – Panel Discussion with Terri Stroupe, Dalace Inman, Laura Crumpler, & Michael Johnson

11:45 – 12:45 PM – Lunch

12:45 – 1:45 PM – Creative Ways to Provide Swimming Lessons

1:45 – 2:45 PM – Providing Equal Access to Aquatic Facility Locker Rooms

2:45 – 3:00 PM – Break

3:00 – 5:30 PM – Swimming Outside the Box – A Mecklenburg County Aquatics Tour

6:30 PM – Social

THURSDAY, MARCH 9TH

8:00  – 8:30 AM  –  Coffee/Danishes

8:30 – 9:30 AM – Getting Baby Boomers in Pools, Bill Brennen, Chief Operating Officer – U.S. Master’s Swimming

9:30 – 10:15 AM  – You Can Teach Like a Pro!  Secrets to More Effective Teaching 

                          Jim Reiser, Executive Director – Swim Lessons University

10:15 – 10:30 AM – Break

10:30 – 12:00 PM – Best Practices in Aquatic & Pool Operations

12:00 – 1:00 PM –  Lunch

CERTIFIED POOL OPERATOR COURSE  – REGISTRATION

1:00 – 1:30 PM – Registration (Optional – $200)

1:30 PM – 5:00 PM – CPO Class begins

FRIDAY, MARCH 10TH

8:00 AM  – 12:00 PM – CPO Class resumes

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Lunch

1:00 PM -5:00 PM – CPO Certification Exam

PLEASE REMEMBER: The 2017 BEST IN AQUTICS WORKSHOP will be held at Mahlon Adams Pavilion at Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Ave., Charlotte, NC.

The CPO Course will be held at the Mecklenberg County Aquatic Center, 800 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Charlotte.

If  you are going to stay the night, the Conference Hotel is the Best Western Plus Sterling Hotel & Suites, 242 East Woodlawn Road, Charlotte, NC

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim was the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

February 17, 2017 at 3:32 am Comments (0)

How Swimming Instructors Should Interact with Their Students

How should swimming instructors interact with their students?  One of the most difficult aspects of teaching, especially for a new teacher, is to find the best way to interact with students.   Some young teachers err in the direction of trying to make students “like” them. The role of the teacher is not that of a “friend.” Teachers should act in a student’s best interest from the perspective of an adult. At the other extreme, some beginning teachers are so concerned with losing control of their class, they are often reluctant to communicate their humanness to students. Students want a relationship with an adult that is supportive and guiding. They want to know that the teacher cares about them and about what they do.

Teaching is largely about affect: Adults who are caring and concerned professionals who have a responsibility to (1) help students learn and (2) promote students’ personal growth.

Through the manner in which they interact with students, teachers can communicate a professional and supportive relationship with their students that says. “I care.” At Swim Lessons University, I always train instructors to follow our proven lessons plans, use our lingo, use the step-by-step progressions, etc. But while doing that, I remind them that even while there is a specific way we want you to do things, that DOES NOT CHANGE your personality. I can’t teach personality. Each of you are unique individuals and you’ll find your own way of sharing yourself with our young swimmers to promote their own growth.

Here are some ideas that should be considered:

1. Learn your students’ names and use them.

No matter how many students you teach, an essential and minimal form of recognition for students is that you know their name. Using your class roster each class really helps. But please make learning names a priority.

2. Be enthusiastic and positive about what you are doing.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Many people assume that enthusiasm is a personality trait of very outgoing or “bubbly” people.   But enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily always have to be such high-energy behavior. Students will know by the tone of your voice and the manner in which you approach a class how enthusiastic you are about what you are doing.

3. Project a caring attitude toward all students.

Caring is projected primarily through a genuine interest and recognition of each of your students. Caring is projected by an instructor through a sensitivity to the feelings of students and the significance your students place on their interactions with you. Caring swim instructors tune in to the child. Caring swim instructors do not condone misbehavior, but in dealing with misbehavior they do not undermine the integrity of the individual child as a person.

4. Reinforce basic values.  

I’m talking about honesty, tolerance, respect, and effort by modeling these behaviors, as well as reinforcing them in your swimming classes. According to Good and Brophy, 1990, when you teach a responsibility for developing prosocial behaviors, you can create personal growth. Prosocial behaviors are simply the behaviors stated above and ones that demonstrate a responsibility for helping people without being prompted by external rewards.

5. Discipline.

Do not reinforce behavior destructive to self or others by doing nothing about it. Students learn acceptable ways of interacting with each other not only by what you do, but also by what you don’t do. Values, tolerance, and respect for others are learned. Swim Instructors must find ways of communicating what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

 6. Treat all of your students fairly.

Make it a practice to intentionally treat your students impartially. It is easy for teachers to gravitate to the more skilled students or even to the students who the teacher believes will threaten their class control. Attention to all students can be facilitated if you make a conscious effort to consider each student, and make it a point to give attention to students you may have been unintentionally slighting.

 7. Learn to be a good listener and observer of student responses.

We can easily become more attuned to our students by listening to and observing the subtle meanings of their messages communicated by the manner in which they interact with you, each other, and learning skills. This is one that I have really had to work on, and I am still not as skilled as my wife, Coach Heather. I am always stunned when she observes my classes and later points something out that I never saw. So we all have things we need to improve and while we may never be perfect at everything. Personally, I think there’s a lot of fun in the challenge to improve on something which is a weakness.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim was the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

February 16, 2017 at 3:04 am Comments (0)

Research-based Practice Methods for Swimming Instructors

Practice time is perhaps the single most critical element in the learning of swimming skills.  An inspirational quote by Publius Syrus about the value of practice, he said: “Practice is the best of all instructors.”  In today’s blog, let’s take an in-depth look at nine research-based practice considerations.  The best, most effective instructors consciously or unconsciously utilize these nine methods when they are teaching:

    1. Maximize Practice Time: Maximizing practice time should be a primary concern of every swimming instructor when it comes to the design of a learning experience.  Practice is the “mother of learning.” Practice is king!
    2. Design Appropriate Learning Experiences: To teach swimming skills or concepts to swim lesson students, instructors must design learning experiences that lead the learners from where they are to the desired objective or goal of performing the skill correctly.  Without appropriate learning experiences, swimmers of all ages and abilities will struggle.
    3. Quality of Practice: Not just practice, but quality practice has the greater potential to contribute to learning (Ashy, Lee, and Landin, 1988; Buck Harrison and Bryce, 1991; Goldberger and Gerney, 1990; Silverman, 1985).  Regardless of the success level of a student at a task, if they are practicing a skill incorrectly, it is highly unlikely that they will learn the proper way to perform that skill.
    4. Degree of Engagement: Cognitive engagement during practice is more likely to be effective (Magill, 1989).  Using Checks for Understanding, and a variety of activities and games can enhance the degree of engagement.
    5. Class Organization and Class Management: Several studies reported that a very small amount of practice time is spent in appropriate practice. (Godbout, Brunelle, and Tousignant, 1983; Metzler, 1989).  When investigators looked how teachers were spending time, they discovered that much time was actually being wasted because of poor organization and management, as well as by simply talking too much to students about what to do and how to do it (long, wordy instructions).  Students were waiting their turn or spending much of their time just listening.
    6. The Learning Experience Must be Appropriate: The most effective teachers understand that students profit from a learning experience that is appropriate to their level of ability.  If there is a range of abilities, skilled and experienced teachers use skill progressions that make the skill achievable for each student. Swimming instructors must design learning experiences that challenge students, yet are within reach of all students in the class.Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. In fact, play is the real work of childhood.”  – Fred “Mister” Rogers
    7. Integrate “Play” within the Practice: Practice is more meaningful when “play” or “games” are incorporated into the lesson.  Play makes learning more fun and more meaningful.
    8. Plan for Repetition while using Distributed Practice: Effective teachers understand that skills are learned through practice.  However, they don’t spend an entire lesson on one skill (Massed Practice).  They used Distributed Practice by spacing practice throughout a session or over several months as its’ proven to be more beneficial than spending an entire lesson practicing one skill.
    9. Plan for Safety: While increasing practice time is the goal, one exception to maximum activity would be if it could cause a class to be unsafe.

 

I would invite you to look at a few of my blogs like this one on the use of progressive flotation vest. The use of a progressive flotation vest can give you the best of both worlds.   A safer environment and maximum activity.   This blog also several videos embedded in the blog to demonstrate the points.

In fact, the benefits don’t end there. You can customize the level of buoyancy so it can lead to the student desired objective or goal of performing the skill correctly.   The flotation vest also improves the quality of practice allowing children to perform skills correctly because they have better body position in the water vs. decreasing the quality because they aren’t strong enough or proficient enough to perform the skill yet.

By using the Progressive Flotation device, you can gradually reduce the buoyancy as they become stronger at the skill, therefore you are implementing the progression principle. It also makes the learning experience more appropriate as you can challenge students but yet the skill is achievable.  You give the students just enough support to be safe and successful.

If you can implement these proven pedagogy practices in your learn-to-swim classes, you will take your teaching to a whole new level and your students will flourish under your guidance! I hope you found this blog on Research-based Practice Methods helpful. Thank you for visiting!

 

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February 9, 2017 at 2:49 am Comments (0)

How to use Demonstrations in Swimming Lessons

If you are teaching a new skill and want to communicate to your students how this skill should be performed, what is the most likely way you would communicate this information? A Demonstration! When demonstrations are used in conjunction with verbal descriptions, they provide the learner with invaluable sources of information, therefore improving the efficiency and effectiveness of skill acquisition.

There are SIX factors that we need to consider before giving demonstrations:

    1. Status of the model (Landers and Landers, 1973)
    2. When the model should begin demonstrating  (Gentile, 1972 & Landers, 1975)
    3. Correctness of the demonstration (Landers and Landers, 1973)
    4. Observing incorrect demonstrations (Weir & Leavitt, 1990)
    5. Frequency of demonstrations (Hand & Sidaway , 1992)
    6. Demonstrations that include both visual and auditory modeling (Doody, Bird, & Ross, 1985)

Status of the model (Landers and Landers, 1973)

One of the first things to consider when deciding about demonstrating a skill is, who should do the demonstration. It may be surprising to find that the status of who demonstrates the skill can be influential in establishing the effectiveness of the demonstration.   For example, consider the experiment by Landers and Landers in which they compared skilled and unskilled models that were either the teacher or student peers. Results indicated that the teacher was a more effective model when skilled at performing the task. I agree. However, there are times when student demonstrations are also very effective.   If the student is capable of demonstrating accurately, especially in swimming, the instructor can keep the students attention focused on the important aspects of the skill or performance.

When the model should begin demonstrating (Gentile, 1972 & Landers, 1975)

Another decision that must be made about the use of a model is when the model should begin demonstrating a skill to best facilitate learning.   This decision concerns whether to begin demonstrating the skill before practice begins or after some practice has occurred. One argument promotes demonstrating before practice begins so that the students have the idea of what the skill looks like when it is performed.   This approach would be in keeping with Gentile’s (1972) proposal that the goal of the first stage of learning is to “get the idea of the movement.”

An alternative to this approach is to allow students to first try the skill on their own after being provided with information about the goal of the movement and some basic verbal instructions about how to perform the skill (Landers, 1975).   This approach emphasizes initial trial-and-error practice and may help the student to develop some initial coordination, as well as learn some movement characteristics that won’t work. So after some initial exploration, the model could then be introduced.

These results suggest that introducing a model before practice begins is an appropriate technique. However, it is advisable to provide an opportunity for students to observe the model at other times during practice, in addition to this initial opportunity. These results also suggest that there are situations in which allowing students the opportunity to initially explore how the skill can be done before introducing the model can be beneficial.   Personally, I use both of these demonstration techniques in my swimming lessons.

Frequency of demonstrations (Hand and Sidaway, 1992)

Although it is recommended that a skill be demonstrated before practicing a skill, it would also be beneficial to demonstrate the skill at various times during practice.   The question that arises is, if the skill should be demonstrated during practice, how frequently?

A more recent student by Hand and Sidaway (1992) suggests that more frequency may be better than less frequency. This study has its flaws when it comes to learning to swim because the experiment had to do with hitting golf balls into a target.   What’s interesting is that the group that observed a skilled model before every shot vs. another group observed before every 5th shot and another before every 10th shot.   The results showed the group who saw the learner model before every shot did better than the other groups.

I would argue that while this approach may be absolutely true for hitting a golf ball, it would not work for swimming.   My conclusion is predicated on the significantly decreased practice time, which is the best of instructors.   Watching a golf swing takes seconds. Whereas watching a swimming demonstration could take minutes, severely reducing the invaluable practice time.

Correctness of the demonstration (Landers and Landers, 1973; Gould and Roberts, 1982) & Observing incorrect demonstrations (Weir & Leavitt, 1990)

A common conclusion about a model’s performance of the skill is that the skill should be performed correctly.   The studies by Landers and Landers (1973) showed that a skilled teacher as a model led to better student performances than the unskilled teacher. Gould and Roberts (1982) stated that “High-status” models must accurately and skillfully portray the skill.

Why would the more accurate demonstrations lead to better learning?   The most likely reason is that the student is asked to try the skill after having seen a demonstration of it, the student typically tries to imitate as closely as possible what the skilled model did.

Lastly, we cannot forget how the learner can benefit from a “compare and contrast” approach. I have found this method extremely useful. When the learner can see the difference, the “compare and contrast” approach to demonstrations has proven over and over to get better results.

Allow me to share with you a video example of this approach during one of my classes:

Demonstrations that include both visual and auditory modeling (Doody, Bird, & Ross, 1985)

For a student to get the most from a demonstration, the teacher must guide their observations. The critical aspects of the skill should be highlighted verbally and, if possible, visually through freezing the action at critical points (as we do in teaching Breaststroke Arms while using the Traffic Light model) or verbally overemphasizing important aspects of the skill.

Some also remember the visual cues and verbal cues of a skill better if they are provided with information regarding why a skill is performed in a certain way.

Lastly, before teachers have students practicing a skill, swimming instructors should check the students’ understanding of what they have observed. This can be done by asking questions after an observation or by asking students to demonstrate what they are trying to do. It can also be done by asking students to look for particularly important points during the observation and checking for understanding afterward.

Allow me to share with you another video example of this approach during one of my swim lessons:

If you can implement these proven pedagogy practices and motor learning principles in your swim lessons, you will take your teaching to a whole new level and your students will flourish under your guidance!  I hope you found this blog helpful. Thank you for visiting The Swim Professor Blog!  .

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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February 2, 2017 at 1:24 am Comments (0)

How Swimming Instructors Unintentionally Discourage Students

One sure-fire way to discourage your young learners is by using incongruent feedback. How do you avoid it?

  • You must understand the difference between congruent and incongruent feedback.
  • You must make a conscious effort to use congruent feedback.

So what is incongruent feedback and how can swim teachers avoid it? First, let’s clarify what it means to give congruent feedback: CONGRUENT FEEDBACK refers to relationship between the content of your feedback, the focus of your feedback, and the cues/buzzwords in which you have given for the skill. When your feedback is congruent, you are giving your student information that is directly related to what you have asked your student to do. Incongruent feedback, on the contrary, gives information to the learner that may be important to the skill, HOWEVER, it is not specifically related to what you just asked your swimmer to focus on.

For example, let’s assume that you are teaching a student who is just learning how to swim the freestyle (Front Crawl). You have given your student the cues, “Big strokes, fast kicks.” You have provided demonstrations or good examples that illustrated these two key components to the general, overall idea of the freestyle. You may have even provided demonstrations to illustrate a poor stroke where the arms weren’t coming out of the water and knee bend was excessive.

Having executed the above-mentioned skill presentation, you are off to a good start. Now let’s talk about the challenge: getting a young learner conditioned to execute the movement properly and consistently.

Studies have shown that when teachers give a high percentage of “congruent feedback,” that their teaching becomes more narrow and more focused (Rink, 1993). As a result, your students’ effort becomes more narrow and focused. BUT HERE IS THE PROBLEM: FAR TOO MANY TEACHERS use what is known as the “shotgun approach.” The shotgun approach involves the teacher asking the student to focus on the “big strokes, fast kicks,” HOWEVER, as soon as the student performs the skill–the teacher starts giving feedback on everything the teacher knows or observes relative to the freestyle.

Let’s go back to the example above. You have given your student specific cues and instructions focusing on the big strokes and fast kick. If your feedback is congruent, your feedback after that particular swim should be focused in on just that. Yet at the end of the swim, the feedback given goes something like this instead:

  • “You have to point your toes when kicking!”
  • “Don’t pull so short!
  • “You have to rotate your hips!”
  • “You have to lead your stroke with your shoulder!”
  • “Don’t look forward when you swim!”

Lastly, and extremely important–think of how the psychological effect of the incongruent feedback corrections could have on the student. The young learner is trying so hard to please the instructor working hard to do what the instructor asked, but then the instructor ignores that effort only to give additional corrections. While the teacher’s intentions are good, the incongruent feedback can lead to a very discouraged student.  While each of these statements may be completely accurate, they are examples of an instructor using the shotgun approach and giving incongruent feedback. Students, especially those in the cognitive stage of learning can focus only on a limited number of cues or ideas. Even worse, when swimming instructors use this approach, students find it very difficult to maintain a focus when the instructor continuously switches the focus within short time periods

If you can implement this proven pedagogy practice in your learn-to-swim classes, you will take your teaching to a whole new level and your students will flourish under your guidance! I hope you found this blog helpful. Thank you for visiting The Swim Professor Blog!  .

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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January 29, 2017 at 5:06 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructors and Body Language

How important is your body language when it comes to teaching? I expect that you may find these research-based facts and findings in the next few paragraphs quite interesting. In fact, it’s my hope that you will not only find them interesting, but that you and your learn-to-swim staff embrace them—potentially improving the perception of your teaching staff teaching overnight.

Communication occurs in three dimensions. Body language represents close to 60 percent. The noise that comes out of our mouths accounts for about 30 percent, leaving barely 10 percent to the words we use!  If most swimming instructors were given those three dimensions on one side of a page, and those percentages on the other side of the page, it is my guess that very few would have matched them up correctly.

Body language is capable of sending out all kinds of messages that can enhance or damage our students’ parents’ perception on us as swimming teachers. It is so critical that we are aware of these signals. People tend to have much less conscious control over their non-verbal messages than of what they’re actually saying. This is partly because non-verbal communication is much more emotional in nature, and therefore much more instinctive. If there is a mismatch between the two, THEREFORE, non-verbal messages are trusted rather than the words actually used.

Here are several examples of non-verbal messages:

  • Body Movements, for example, hand gestures or nodding or shaking the head;
  • Posture, or how you stand or sit, whether your arms are crossed, and so on;
  • Eye Contact, where the amount of eye contact often determines the level of trust and trustworthiness;
  • Para-language, or aspects of the voice apart from speech, such as pitch, tone, and speed of speaking;
  • Closeness or Personal Space, which determines the level of intimacy;
  • Facial Expressions, including smiling, frowning and even blinking.

Changingminds.org lists a number of body language clusters with a breakdown of their individual signals. Emotions like joy, anger, sadness and surprise are fairly easy to recognize, while others may take a little thought to figure out. Disinterest, for example, is expressed by looking away, fidgeting, or repeatedly glancing at your watch or a clock!

Other negative non-verbal cues swimming instructors need to avoid are communicated through your BODY POSTURE, often unintentionally communicating that you don’t care.

Here are several more examples Body Posture issues in particular:

  • Teaching with your arms crossed.
  • Yawning.
  • Floating around on a noodle.
  • Resting an arm on a lane line or back against the wall.

What can Swimming Instructors do to Portray that we Care?

  • Use proximity and be “hands-on.”
  • Lower yourself in the water so that your student and their parents see your eyes focused on the child. The “eyes” possess the loudest voice!
  • Tilt your head toward your student.
  • Raise an eyebrow to acknowledge a student’s question or response.
  • Look straight at your student to show that he/she has your attention.
  • If you need to disapprove of your student’s behavior, you can look straight at him/her with a prolonged, stare.

Practice Presenting Dynamically when You Teach!

In addition to non-verbal behavior and body language, swimming instructors can and should still strive to use assets like voice inflection to enhance communication. Remember, 30 percent of communication came not from the words that we speak, but simply from the noise. So if you can combine strong verbal cues with the voice inflection, your message will come across stronger and more effective.

Here are Three Proven Strategies:

  1. Loudness contrasted with softness.
  2. High-Pitched contrasted with low-pitch.
  3. Quick delivery contrasted with slow delivery

While you don’t have to be a public speaker, swimming instructors should know how to use voice dynamics when needed to make communication clearer (Rink, 1993).

FINAL THOUGHTS

Non-verbal communication is a complex yet integral part of overall communication skills for swimming instructors. However, far too often–teachers are often totally unaware of their non-verbal behavior.  I hope that this basic awareness of these non-verbal communication strategies, over and above what you actually say when you teach, will help you and your swim staff be even more successful in the near future!

 

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January 24, 2017 at 11:42 pm Comments (0)

How the Stages of Learning Should Influence the Swim Instructor’s Approach

When learners begin to acquire a new skill, they are generally confronted with some very specific, cognitively oriented problems (Magill, 1993). While learners of all ages go through this, observing an adult learn to swim may illustrate this the best. If you have ever worked with adults who are beginners, what really stands out? In my experience, the answer is their QUESTIONS!  How do I pitch my hand? Where exactly does it enter the water? Should I hold my breath or exhale under water? What pattern does my arm make? Should my legs be bent or straight? Sound familiar? Each of these examples indicate the basic and cognitive level at which the new learner is operating in the early part of learning a new skill. Learners of all ages display these characteristics, however, I believe the adult beginner magnifies the characteristics which is why I used them in my example.

One characteristic of motor skill learning is that it is possible to identify distinct states or phases that all learners seem to experience as they learn skills through practice. While there have a been a few proposals to identify the stages of learning, I find the model by Paul Fitts and Michael Posner that was developed in 1967 to be most useful for swimming instructors. The Fitts and Posner Three-State Model is also traditionally accepted as the classic stage of learning model.

STAGES OF LEARNING, CHARACTERISTICS & TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

COGNITIVE STAGE OF LEARNING

The first stage of learning is considered the COGNITIVE STAGE OF LEARNING. Students in the cognitive stage display the following common characteristics when they perform:

  • They make a large number of errors
  • The nature of the errors committed tend to be gross
  • Their performance is highly variable

TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

  • Patience. Be understanding and keep encouraging.
  • Give cues and buzzwords to teach the gross idea or general idea of the skill.
  • Beginners may know they are doing something wrong, but they aren’t aware of exactly what to do differently to improve. Give specific, corrective feedback.

ASSOCIATIVE STAGE OF LEARNING

The second stage of learning is considered the ASSOCIATIVE STAGE OF LEARNING. The nature of the cognitive activity that is characterized in the cognitive stage changes during the associative stage:

  • Basic fundamentals have been learned. Errors are fewer and less gross in nature.
  • Variability of performance from one attempt to another also begins to decrease.
  • Learners have developed the ability to identify some of their own errors.

TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

  • Start refining the skill. Give more detailed feedback.
  • Have learner focus on different parts and incorporate more advanced drills.
  • Don’t give feedback after every repeat. Research shows when you give feedback more than 50% of the time– learning is hindered.

AUTONOMOUS STAGE OF LEARNING

After much practice and experience with the skill, the learner moves into the final stage of learning, the autonomous stage. Here the skill is almost automatic or habitual. In learn-to-swim, we really rarely see a learner in this stage. Why? Because as soon as our students become proficient enough at the skill where they have the general idea, we graduate the student to the next level.   When we graduate them to the next level, what stage does the student return to? If we are teaching them a new skill, they go back into the Cognitive Stage of Learning where they have to attend to the entire production of the skill again.   Whereas students in the autonomous stage of learning can perform most of the skill without thinking at all.

Fitts and Posner state that “there is a good deal of similarity between highly practiced skills and reflexes.” This doesn’t mean that learning stops or the individual ceases to make errors but rather that there is no longer a need for conscious attention to the motor act itself.   Think about a competitive swimmer participating in a big meet. The swimmer isn’t thinking about the pattern of the stroke as he races to the finish.   The swimmer is on automatic.

I hope you found today’s blog useful!

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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January 20, 2017 at 3:46 am Comments (0)

Reiser Selected to Speak at Washington Recreation & Park Conference in May

As the Washington Recreation & Park Association celebrates 70 years, Jim Reiser has been selected to be their lead presenter in the aquatics track of the WRPA Annual Conference in Spokane, Washington.  Jim will give two talks on Wednesday, May 3, 2017:

  • 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM   You Can Teach Like a Pro!  Proven Techniques to Maximize Your Effectiveness
  • 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM       Preschoolers Can Swim!  How to Teach Young Children More Effectively

Reiser, who was recently honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame with the prestigious Virginia Hunt Newman Award, had this to say about the honor:

“Any time that I have the opportunity to share, especially in a setting like this, it’s such an amazing feeling.  To know that I not only have the ability to help those in the conference room, but to realize that there is an amazing trickle-down effect.  That’s what really makes me passionate about speaking. When I prepare my talks, I am not just preparing for the audience.  I am preparing to potentially help hundreds and hundreds of children receive better swimming instruction, and most importantly, become safer in and around the water.  It gives me goosebumps every time,” said Reiser. 

This will be Jim Reiser’s second speaking engagement in 2017.  “The Swim Professor” will be presenting for the North Carolina State Aquatics Conference in March (details coming soon) and he has several other potential speaking appearances in the works.   For a complete list of Mr. Reiser’s upcoming and recent speaking engagements,  check out the Conference Schedule link on the Swim Lessons University website.   There is also a link provided with more information on the WRPA Annual Conference if you would like to consider attending.

Would you like Jim Reiser to speak at your next event?  Email jreiser@swimprofessor.com or call 1-866-498-SWIM (7946) for availability!

 

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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January 18, 2017 at 4:17 am Comments (0)

How to Teach Freestyle to True Beginners

The first obstacle for many children learning to swim is that they don’t want to put their face in the water yet.  In the past, we used to tell our instructors to have the beginner practice Dog Paddle.  At the time, we felt like this was the best alternative to the front crawl so it became the first step of the freestyle swimming progression.  Seems logical, right?  We now believe otherwise. In fact, we are very confident that Dog Paddle is NOT a logical skill to teach young learners, and here’s why:

There are essentially FOUR REASONS we have removed it from the Swim Lessons University Swim 102/103 curriculum:

#1 It’s a very unnatural way to swim. Have you tried to dog paddle lately?  I personally find that it’s not a very easy skill to do for any distance, let alone for a period of time. Maybe I’m just getting old, but it puts a lot of stress on my neck and dog paddle is certainly an uncomfortable way to swim.

#2 You’re teaching children to swim nervously. From both a physical and psychological standpoint, you are indirectly teaching the child to frantically paddle the arms because if he or she doesn’t—the swimmer takes in water.  Therefore, you have a child swimming nervously because he is desperate to keep the mouth and nose out of the water.

#3 You’re teaching bad habits. Dog paddle reinforces the opposite of what we are trying to achieve in the freestyle arm pull.  We want nice, long underwater pulls–yet when we let kids to dog paddle, we are allowing them to pull the water in a quick and choppy fashion instead.

#4 You’re sacrificing valuable practice time. As Publilius Syrus once said: “Practice is the best of all instructors.”  However, from a learning standpoint, we sacrifice practicing the one skill that the child needs to learn in order to make real progress with the freestyle.  So at Swim Lessons University, we now use this allocated time to practice that skill: First-time facial immersion and beginning breath holding.

So those are the big four.  Now the question becomes, “how does the beginner practice first-time submersion and beginning breath holding?”  When it’s time to practice the Freestyle/Front Crawl, we have those beginners who aren’t putting the face in the water work on the in-line kick drill.  This way, the beginner can simultaneously practice the kick and practice putting the face in the water. We already isolated the basic breath holding skill earlier in the class, so combining the kick with the beginning facial immersion is a great combo drill that affords both flutter kick reps and beginning breath holding.

Once your student is successful because of the extra facial immersion practice, then you can help him or her do the freestyle by encouraging him to put the face in the water for “one stroke” as you manipulate the arm. Got it?  Then you ask the child to do “one stroke” by his or herself. Before you know it, one becomes two, two becomes three, and so on.  Just keep encouraging, be patient, and convey that you believe in your student. If you can do this, you’ll soon have a beginning student swimming freestyle across the pool!

Let’s head to the pool so I can share with you a real example of one of my students taking her first few strokes:

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

 

 

 

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January 14, 2017 at 11:35 pm Comments (0)

How to Use Specific, Corrective Feedback in Swimming Lessons

In my previous blog, ‘How to Use Positive Feedback in Swimming Lessons,” we discussed the importance of using general positive feedback in swimming lessons. Praising your students, whether it be for an actual improvement in performance or for the student’s effort is paramount when it comes to teaching children. Nonetheless, while swimming instructors must be positive and encouraging, we can’t expect our young students to improve without letting the learner know what he or she must do differently in order to improve.

The use of Specific, Corrective Feedback has been the subject of research in motor learning and in teaching. Theoretically, specific information should be more valuable to the learner. Specific feedback has the potential to contribute to student learning a great deal more than general feedback. Specific feedback also serves a major role in maintaining student attention to the task and in developing accountability for task. (Rink, 1993).

What’s important to understand about Specific, Corrective Feedback is that when learners are in the beginning stages (See Cognitive Stage of Learning in my 1/8/17 blog), they cannot use detailed information, which makes it absolutely critical for swimming instructors to give feedback that tends to the “general idea” of the skill. At Swim Lessons University, we have buzzwords and cues for every skill on every lesson plan. We train SLU instructors to give their specific, corrective feedback based on those cues because they have been tested, tried and proven over the past 30+ years. In other words, these cues are not only practical and easy to understand, but they will help the young student learn and master the new skill.

With that said, Specific, Corrective Feedback can also come with a cost if it is overused. Research by The Positive Coaching Alliance shows the magic formula is 5:1! Five positives for every correction.   One technique I like to use is the “Sandwich Technique” when giving corrections: Complement, correct, complement. For example, “Maggie, you have such beautiful strokes. Now if you can just keep your head nice and still, your backstroke is going to look even more fabulous!” While this may be a 2:1 ratio, you just make sure to praise your student on a few more things that your student is doing well before giving another correction. Hope you found this blog helpful!

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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January 12, 2017 at 5:11 am Comments (0)

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