Coaching Tips from Bill Furniss

Tips from taking T1/T2 Nova with Bill Furniss during Senior Club Coach Level III training

550m Warm Up (Drill ike and aerobic)

Repeats 100ms on 2:00 or 1:30 pb15

x3 of

 

500

700

500

 

100m easy in between

Motivation: they need to want it (Belief)

Coaching:

Improvement of competitive performance

Planned and coordinated programme of preparing and competition (orderly)

Player preparation and performance

 

Plan

Organise

Direct

Observe

Evaluate

Instruct

Communicate

Demonstrate

Share Knowledge

Strategies

Counselling

Motivation

Data Collection

Diagnosis

Adaptation

Overload

Progressions

 

 

Taking my Level I & Level II Assistant Swim Coaching Certificates by RPL

I ought to have completed my Level III Coaching Certificate with the Institute of Swimming by 2011 or 2012 … but life got in the way.  I had successfully completed 10/11 of the modules and only had to organise a poolside assessment. However, I took a job at the Open University and was working away from home for a year. I tried to find a club, but that would have meant spending weekends away from home not just through the week. When I came home I struggled to get a coaching slot with my club and by then my son needed taking to football coaching and games instead- so I stepped back from swimming for a further year.

Here we are six years later and I am poolside and making myself available. I have kept up the teaching, and for the last year 1 3/4 hours coaching with our ‘Training Groups’ and 2 hours with Masters.

Having done these 10/11 modules the IoS will let me submit evidence of my coaching experience, practice and understanding. It works thus:

Level II Coaching

Being in contact with our Club Manager and Head Coach I hope to be able to find the time poolside. I have offered to go to early morning sessions, and to work any evening through til 9.00pm. I have a day job and live 30 mins from the pools so don’t want to be staying out later.

The issue will be working alongside my fellow coaches who already take county, regional and national squads, and our Youth I and Youth II Training Groups.

Training Groups (T2 then T1)

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION (8pm 25 NOV 08)                (MSM SC T2/T1  27 NOV 2016)

I followed this exactly six years ago. Poolside under the supervision of Bill Furniss with double gold Olympian in the lane. There are eight of us on the ASA Level III Senior Club Coach course which I had chosen to do up in Nottingham where NOVA trained. Tonight I’ll try it on our top Training Groups – not even competitive squads, but strong athletes all the same. It’ll be interesting to see by how I water it down during the course of the evening. At the Triangle, Burgess Hill.

WARM UP

Tumble on kick and tight streamlining + perfectly executed turns and transitions

Swim 4 x 50 FC T2 T3
as25m  FIST (Hands in fists drill)25m  CUP (Catch Up) @ 1.30 @ 100 / 1.15
Swim 3 x 50m BC @ 1.30 @ 1.00/1.15
High REC – stretch and reach with the shoulder
Kick 2 x 100m @ 2.15/2.30 @ 2.00/2.15
as 25 FC, 25 BC
550m

MAIN SET

Do you know you PB for 100m FC ? Hold Stroke Count  Inc: last 25m

T2 (?) T1
FIRST REPEAT
6 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 900m

 

T2 T1
SECOND REPEAT
4 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 700m

 

THIRD REPEAT
2 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 500m

SWIM DOWN

T2 T1
2 x 50 FLY @ 3.00 @ 2.30
2 x 50 FLY Kick on back @ 2.00 @ 1.30
2 x 50 FC MAX

 

TOTAL

T1 550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m (Probably pushing it by 600m)

T2 550m + 1200m + 300m = 2050m (May reduce the warm up to 400m)

IN PRACTICE

The session worked well as a blueprint for our T2 and T3, though half the distance was covered. It was easier to adjust to suit the swimmers simply by reducing the number of repeats in the main set and/or increasing the rest interval. I even did a diluted version with five teenagers in our G8 teaching group.

 

NOVA Centurion 1 HOUR SESSION (8pm 25 NOV 08)

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION         (8pm 25 NOV 08)

Swim 4 x 50 FC     @ 1.00/1.15
as     25m                FIST        (Hands in fists drill)
25m         CUP        (Catch Up)

Swim 3 x 50m BC     @ 1.00/1.15         High REC

Kick    2 x 100m     @ 2.00/2.15
as 25 FC, 25 BC

Tumble on kick & tight streamlining & perfectly executed turns & transitions

550m

MAIN SET

6 x 100m    @ on 1.30  PB + 15  Hold SC Inc: last 25m
1 x 200m IM    @ 3.30
Slow FLY
Fast BC, BR & FC.

Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s

100m     Easy     BC

2nd Repeat 4 x 100m

3rd Repeat 2 x 100m

900m + 700m + 500m = 2100m

SWIM DOWN

2 x 50 FLY            @ 2.30
2 x 50 FLY Kick on back    @ 1.30
2 x 50 FC MAX

300m

TOTAL  550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m

Planning for competitive swimmers

As a coach you ought to ask yourself the following when it comes to planning for competitive swimmers.

Do you keep records of the following?

Sessions plans
Weekly (Microcycle) plans
Monthly (Mesocycle) plans
Annual (Marcrocycle) plans?

You’ll find mine here. Preparation is important, we know that, but it is assessment and reflection of what you did afterwards that will build your knowledge. Better still if you share it with others, those who can set you right, those who are learning from you too, as well as colleagues. Learning is all about collaboration, deliberation and gradual aggregation of experience, beliefs and applied knowledge blended with theory.

By habit I‘ve always kept a journal, I’ve been blogging since 1999. I learnt to type as a teenager and often say that a week doing a touch typing course at Oxford’s College of Further Education has proved more valuable than the three years I did as an undergraduate at the university.

Some people get into the habit of keeping handwritten session plans and these various cycle in an academic page per day diary. Bill Furniss who coaches Olympic Champion Rebecca Addlington keeps such a hard back Collins diary/journal. A bunch of us trainee Level 3 coaches had the wonder of being shown the pages running up to Rebecca’s Olympic swims. It was touching to see Bill’s notes, doodles and clear delight when she won. (I think he made a note to himself regarding how to deal with the media).

Tapering for competitions – things to think about

Tapering isn’t a science it’s a process. How do you get it right?

Response to Taper Effect

Musculo-Skeletal

 

Resting the physical part of the body allows muscle growth to occur. Tapering results in more than just recovery and repairs, it gives the body a chance to improve and build.

 

Neurological

 

Mitochondrial connections between neurones in the brain are reinforced through repeated actions i.e. repetitions and practice. A period of tapering that comes too early or lasts too long or fails to recognise the need to maintain some skills levels could lead to a diminution of a skill. Thinking through an action or activity, without engaging the body in the action, may help maintain, even improve the way in which the body responds come competition time.

 

Psychological

 

By doing something different to the regular slog of training the athlete feels as if they are preparing for something big and therefore get keyed up for it. However, depending on their experience and self-awareness they may feel the taper is too long or too much, or that it is leaving them feeling weak, or out of sorts. They key is for the coach to ‘play it by ear,’ and to tailor the taper to the athlete not the athlete to a prescriptive taper.

 

Carbohydrate Intake

 

Weight gain would result if the same carbohydrate quantities are consumed during a taper as during the intensive training. Advice of a nutritionist should be taken.
Intensity of Training

 

Will vary from swimmer to swimmer, based on their biological age, gender, levels of fitness, the event/s they are entered for and specialisation (or not), as well as their response to the taper and any other factors that may come into play simultaneously such as injury, illness, bereavement, the pool being closed … your name it!

 

Duration of Training

 

As above, though it is reasonable bearing in mind the physiological capacities & abilities of swimmers, that age groups swimmers only need a short taper (if any), while senior/mature heavily muscled sprint swimmers tend to benefit from more.

 

Tapering, Super-compensation and all that jazz

‘Super-Compensation’

‘Compensation’ also known as ‘adaptation’ occurs through-out training for a swimmer’s performance to improve. This is when after a period of intense training fatigue occurs followed by rest & recovery which produces an overall improvement in performance. Effort followed by recovery that results in adaptation occurs daily, even twice daily if an athlete swims/exercises more than once and during the week if there is rest or period out of the water/not exercising (desired or otherwise). Super-compensation is simply a heightened, lengthened or extreme version of other minor or regular periods of compensation. In other words, after many weeks or months of intense training a longer period of rest and recovery occurs that is designed to produce ‘super-compensation,’ or compensation that goes beyond the usual degree of adaptation, so that the resulting performance in an important competition is greatly enhanced.

How long should a taper be for a swimmer?

The duration and timing of a tape will vary from swimmer to swimmer and depend to some degree on the importance of this event to this swimmer and the team for whom they swim, as well as the event or events or specialisation … as well as their age, levels of fitness and expectations. Age group swimmers need little tapering as they haven’t the muscle bulk that would benefit from the adaptation process of the taper, whereas as Senior swimmers competing in a sprint event may benefit greatly from a longer, deeper period of tapering. If a swimmer is keeping a logbook and they, perhaps their parent and/or team manager, and especially their coach and/or assistant coach, know and understand this swimmer’s make up, physical & psychological, as well as other factors that may impact on their training and the nature and need of a taper such as school trips &/or national exams, then between them a taper, that is to a degree bespoke, cane be planned for.

How to bring about optimal performance in relation to factors at a competition that can affect an individual’s performance

How to bring about optimal performance in relation to factors at a competition that can affect an individual’s performance

Factor Your Strategies

Hydration

 

Educate athletes to understand why the need to be hydrated during training and at competitions is important. This ‘education’ ought to include a classroom/conference style presentation, with supporting literature and perhaps drink samples provided by a sponsor. As well as publicity for the event going onto the club website, in the club newsletter, on the club notice-boards and in swimmer’s log books, a sheet outlining hydration principles would be used to make the information readily available to swimmers, coaches, parents & team managers. Ensure that swimmers have drinks poolside and that these are suitable to their needs – some energy drinks containing too much glucose for example.

 

Team Spirit and Unity

 

How swimmers get on with their ‘colleagues’ is vital, the lane dynamic can go wrong, as can the mood of the squad or certain swimmers in it, even affecting the entire team depending on who is involved/responsible. From the outset club members, squad or not, need to understand the need to abide by certain club rules, but more than that to participate in some of the charity & social events the club puts on that creates a sense of belonging and combined pride and commitment.  Attitude of parents, committee, coaches & teachers all counts her … even the presence of Club Flyers & Posters around the ‘home’ facility, as well as the wearing of club swimming caps, costumes, tops, hoodies, t-bags & so on. This team ‘spirit’ is also enhance through internal & external PR, posting of results, writing up of event reports, appearances in local papers and putting laminated cuttings up on notice-boards and linking to news on the club website and sharing stories in the club newsletter. All this creates ‘unity’ at an event, as does sharing a coach, and staying at the same location, eating together …  and staying together in a poolside ‘corral.’

 

Environmental Issues

 

Travel distance to the location. Outdoor, v.humid poolside, poor seating, nature of warm-up arrangements – is there a separate pool for warm ups & swim downs? 25m or 50m. Local weather and time zone, time of year (hot, cold, wet, snow etc) Changing rooms/cubicles, team changing, quality and cleanliness of toilets/showers. Access to appropriate food & drinks. Lighting, distance from changing rooms to pool. Temperature away from the pool. Crowding. Bins.  Ease of reading electronic boards. Ease of greeting parents/friends. Sound.

 

Length of Competition

 

Over a day or days, how long during the day between warm up and heats and events. Heat declared winners or finals. Award ceremonies during or after events. Electronic timing or officials … or both.

 

Format of Competition

 

Suitability or otherwise of running order and the events chosen by individual swimmers who may or may not feel good or otherwise about the choices they originally made and the competition they now face … or don’t face. Some events become a non-event if there are few entries …

 

Level of Competition

 

Just as swimmers competing in events where they could appear to do so badly they are humiliated so swimmers that run away with the events won’t gain anything if they are just swimming against the clock and if they mock the event by swimming slowly it does them and the club harm.

The Coaching Philosophy of Bill Furniss

Fig. 1. Coach Bill Furniss taking a group of prospective ASA Level 3 coaches

The following notes were taken at a talk given by Swimming Coach Bill Furniss, Nova Centurion Head Coach and Coach to Olympians such as Rebecca Adlington.

This talk was part of the UKCC/ASA Senior Club Coach course.

WHAT IS COACHING ?

Produced a great long list between us which Bill simplified to being performance driven. i.e. if you’re not improving competitive performance you are not coaching, you are teaching (or supervising).

‘Coaching is a process which involves a rational approach to the improvement of competitive performance through a planned and coordinated programme of preparing and competition.’  Bill Furniss

‘This process embraces both direct intervention strategies and the manipulation of contextual variable affecting player preparation and performance.’  Bill Furniss

e.g. A swimmer doing 20 x 100 reps on 65 dong them on 67 told to increase stroke count, reduce weight work and/or go faster over the last 15m

Only two people count; the coach and the athlete.

Some Essential skills:

  • Plan
  • Organise
  • Direct
  • Observe
  • Evaluate
  • Instruct
  • Communicate
  • Demonstrate
  • Share Knowledge
  • Strategies
  • Counselling
  • Motivator

Some Personality traits:

  • Having total belief
  • Being intuitive

(Realise why directing & coaching have so much in common, the targets of the coach working with athletes to produce a result like the targets the director has working with actors to produce a result).

‘Coaching is NOT a haphazard, trial and error affair, but involves a series of orderly, inter-related steps.’  Bill Furniss

‘The coaching process designates the steps the coach takes in determining, planning and implementing coaching action.’  Bill Furniss

The steps involved in the coaching process:

  • Data Collection
  • Diagnosis
  • Prescribed plan of action
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Adaptation
  • Overload
  • Progression
  • Specificity
  • Both short & long term

Where have all the boys gone?

They find it too structured and  methodical

It does n’t allow boys to be boys.

‘Swimming is becoming a girls’ sport.’  Bill Furniss

CF the US College System.

Coaching Philosophy

‘Your philosophy and style doesn’t matter … as long as it works and it works for you … and is appropriate for the context in which it will be applied.’  Bill Furniss

‘It is superhuman what we ask them to do – everything hurts, even their hair hurts.’ Bill Furniss

Ref: Coach: A Season with Lombardi. Tom Dowling. 1970.

The appropriateness of your philosophy to the context within which it will be applied.

Swimmers are starting to move around and leave coaches because they want a particular style.

‘This coaching lark is a bit more complex than you thought.’ Bill Furniss