Training small allows you to finish big! There are many reasons to start training kids in small groups from a young age, from camaraderie to more individualized attention from coaching staff. Here are just a few reasons why I'm a fan of small group training:
CREATING A TRIBE
Let's face it - even as adults, most of us want to belong to a group of some type. It connects us to other people who share similar likes, goals and characteristics. Makes sense, right? Exercising in a small group allows kids to establish relationships with people that they may not have otherwise interacted with, expanding their social network in the real world versus just increasing their social media followers online. Because kids in a small group are together for the same purpose, bonding becomes easier and comfort levels are achieved faster. Brutal workout? Only your tribe can truly understand the hardships that you've endured for the past hour! Running an exercise program that is challenging, fun and creates a spirit of friendship among the participants are the foundations of my fitness-based tribe.
You've seen the workout groups formed by many MLMs on social media. Why are there so many constantly blowing up your news feeds? Accountability, that's why! Having someone else to help hold an individual accountable can be extremely motivating, accelerate results and help to push limits like nothing else.
The small group setting allows workouts to be modified as individuals progress, preventing the dreaded workout plateau and the boredom that large groups or solo workouts can sometimes induce. Variety also breaks participants out of their comfort zones and gets them to try something new that they may not have if they were working out on their own or following a one-size-fits-all approach.
Hopefully, I've encouraged you to give small group training a try! SPEED currently offers dryland small group training on a regular basis for intermediate & advanced swimmers.
Being a "swim dad" of two kids and a high school swim coach who has grown up in competitive swimming, it's no wonder that I've never really asked myself this question - that's just the way it is, right? Maybe not for some. In recent months, I've fielded this question a few times from parents of kids who are new to swimming or are just thinking about the sport and it made me sit back and think about the answer. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure what the right answer is. I can't think of another sport that requires parents to sit through weekly competitions that can last 5+ hours where ALL of the youth competitors arrive at the same indoor facility at the same time, with their respective family entourages in tow.
Looking at it from the outside, I can definitely see how competitive swimming could be a red flag for a parent who may not want to devote the winter (and perhaps some summer) months of their life to a sport, even though their child may have a strong interest. As we experience shifts in our culture, with people putting a far higher value on their personal time, perhaps it's worth decision-makers evaluating some of the "why's" when it comes to competitive swimming as a sport. In order to keep swim programs strong and grow young talent, we may be forced to take a hard look how we do things to make swimming a more "marketable" sport to parents.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know by leaving a reply below!
Todd Eisenhofer is a Physical Education teacher and head coach at Muhlenberg HS in Reading, PA . He is alo a SPEED trainer with a degree in Physical Education/Health Education from West Virginia University, along with a Master's degree in Sport Management from Millersville University and a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.