Category Archives: Coaching

Coaching advice


About the Author: Jennifer Brunelli is a Sports Dietician who partners with teams such as the Carolina Panthers to enhance nutrition and performance in all athletic pursuits. She also conducts speaking engagements around the country for various clinics and teams.

Nutrition has an enormous impact on a swimmers’ performance. Without enough energy or calories coming in, you cannot expect your body to respond quickly to the high demand of our sport.  Parents and athletes need to understand the relationship between what you eat and how well you perform.


Competition Focus

As the business end of the season starts to evolve all swimmers will have to start making their newly issued lactate training times every set and every session. They will also need to set specific goals for their championship season. For some this is getting to development games and experiencing longer races. For others it is getting Div 1 or Div 2 or open championship times of even qualifying for the Commonwealth games Ulster squad or European events. It is all relative but the common denominator is work rate, technical improvement, fitness, attitude and ambition. It is about going faster in the key areas of underwater and changing direction – making yards on those ‘Any Given Sunday Film “inches”‘. It is also about not looking at the opposition and being negative about your chances, but rather maximising your strengths and slightly fixing your current weaknesses. As a famous 3 Michelin Start Chef said recently “getting the award is the easy bit, keeping it is a lot harder”. So climb the competition ladder gradually, learn and improve as you climb and when you have all the elements in place stepping onto the podium will be automatic.

The 2014 competition season will run for some until June and for others late July.  Competitions that are coming up that will get you to these summer galas are as follows; Ulster Development Galas, Leinster Graded Galas, Ulster Qualifying and Age Group and Youth championships and Leinster Distance and Open championships. There are also some national events such as the Dave McCullough and Spring championships. If you are unsure what to enter talk to your squad coach. A meeting will be held shortly to help in event selection and goal setting too.

You are what you eat
All swimmers should now be aware of what they eat and drink and the quantity and type of each. Firstly every swimmer should be bringing a water bottle full of water or very slightly flavoured with orange or Ribena. Eating processed food or take away type food is not recommended. Eating sugar rich food or sweetened food regularly is also a problem as it puts on weight that is hard to shift. This can range from cereals to fizzy drinks from many low fat foods to crisps. So monitor your intake and cut down. Again talk to your squad coach if you need help.

Training and Performance Patience

The great Seve Ballesteros (Golfer) once said ‘maybe I should go to a sports shop and buy a trophy. That’s the only way I am going to get one.’ Welshman Jamie Donaldson (who? He is a tennis player) claimed his first trophy after 254 previous attempts. The 36 year old when asked what kept him going said ‘It’s just being a case of keeping going, because I knew what I was doing was right.’ Andy Murray the Scottish tennis player who was the nearly man for years and now in a few months is Olympic and US Open champion. He is recognised by all at the top end of tennis as having an unwavering determination to get better and to put defeat behind him and to try to improve for the next opportunity.

The following are advice nuggets for all involved in competitive sport;

  1. Coaches should introduce the concept of post-performance reflection, analysing both strengths and weaknesses. This should be applied from an early age and parents are encouraged to do it too. This is a two way process but buy in by the swimmer is vital.
  2. Have a plan and have prepared to execute certain things to maximum performance.
  3. Maintain a realistic set of goals – understanding where an individual is in relation to their peers, can aid development.
  4. Get the balance right. Provide room for development. If strength and speed is well developed, work on Technical aspects, as this is the main limiting factor for further progression.