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Written by Phone on 25 September 2022

Coach Phone studied Internationaler TrainerKurs (ITK) in Germany

Let’s Admit It: Every Parent Wants a Good Learn-to-Swim Coach
But... What It Takes to Be a Swimming Coach, Anyway?

My name is Coach Phone, and I am the Team Lead for Learn To Swim and Water Safety program in SPEEDISWIM. Before joining SPEEDISWIM in Singapore, I was privileged to attend the Internationaler TrainerKurs (ITK) 2022 program in Leipzig, Germany.

The International Coaching Course (aka ITK)is a postgraduate study course implemented twice a year by the Sports Science Faculty of Leipzig University. It is part of the foreign cultural and educational policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. The German Foreign Office has been funding ITK since 1991; in addition, the Saxon State Ministry of Science, Cultural Affairs and Tourism has been funding ITK since 2021. Still, the history of ITK traces back to 1964. Since then, more than 5500 coaches and physical education teachers from 150 countries have participated in the courses.

WHAT HAVE I BROUGHT BACK TO MY LEARNERS

It's been a wonderful and busy time at ITK. I feel like I've learned so much over the last five months. I have enriched myself with content such as:

  • Water Familiarization,
  • Advances Swimming Technique,
  • Basic Water Polo,
  • Sports Medicine,
  • General Sports Science, and

As part of the assessment, I must demonstrate my ability to apply the knowledge I have learned from the advanced swimming techniques, deliver my plan to the athletes efficiently (Deductive) thoroughly, and consolidate all I have learned over the first four months of training.

 

COACHES HAVE TO LEARN TO SWIM TOO

Everyone starts at a different point when they begin their training. Most of the participants attending this course are very established and experienced swimming coaches in their respective countries; as such it was very interesting to see their take on how the German athlete train from a different perspective.

During one of our theory classes, the coach from Jordan raised a question to the lecturer "why do we need to train four times a week in the pool as we are all coaches and not athletes training for competition?" The reply from the lecturer was astonishing as he said, "it is not my goal to make you guys compete in the next Olympics, but I want you to feel what athletes feel when they are correcting a stroke; when you feel that moment your endurance improves through systematic planning over the course; and, eventually train your coach eyes better." In short, we as coaches should go through the regime of what an athlete is experiencing. I would say I have enormously benefited from the format of how the program has run, which is very hands-on and practical.

BRINGING BACK INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE

As part of the program, we went on many excursions and one most memorable visits was the State Versatility Test for kids aged between 6 to 9 years old. The university planned to get us involved as Evaluators. Every kid is required to go through 2 forms of Assessments, one in the pool and another one in the gym hall. The Swim Test portion is very Technical, requiring Evaluator to assess the athletes on all four strokes’ mechanics and respective time clocked; also, the need to look out for various elements such as streamlining, tracking the start and turn individually. As for the gym hall, it is straightforward with testing done on their strengths, coordination, and flexibility using different types of exercises, for example, the number of chin-ups they managed to complete within a stipulated time. Finally, we take note of measurements such as height and wingspan to track the growth of these young swimmers. The idea is to select natural swimmers as early as possible to train them, as Germans believe it is crucial to train while their nervous system is still developing.

 

WOW! WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE SPEED OF MICHAEL PHELPS?

Out of all the activities we did one activity stood out and it was the State-of-the-art wave pool where we did a detailed analysis of our strokes and try different speeds as my lectures call swimming like Olympic Champions. What the wave pool did is mimicking the speed of Michael Phelps, and we tried our best to maintain that speed for a few seconds. I think that facility is important for the athletes because the wave pool allows us to analyze our stroke efficiency in very small detail, using science as part of our training.

As I have mentioned, the university takes the exam very seriously; they weren't just testing our knowledge they were also testing the way we impart that knowledge to different levels of swimmers through mock trials and oral exams. Indeed, it has been a rewarding experience and one of the important chapters in my life as I continue learning to become the best possible version as a Swimming Coach and Water Safety Educator.

 

 

 

MY MOTTO TO MY LEARNERS:

“Be the change you want to see in the world!”

~Gandhi

 

 

 

 

This is me trying to swim the time of 23.36 (2009 Michael Phelps Time) for 50 m Butterfly events.
As you can see in the video, I can only withstand that speed for a few seconds, but it gives me a clear picture of how much effort I need to put into getting a time of 23.36.

Article written by Phone

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