Episode 48 – Planning Part 2 (Plan Out your Year as a Coach)

Your Sports Resource

In this episode Matt and I welcome Jack Roach to talk about how he recommends coaches plan out their year. He also talks about finding a mentor and searching for the information you need. It is plentiful!

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 00:00:03 Introduction 

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast where each week you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership. Let’s get started. 

00:00:26 – Renata 

Alright, welcome everyone to the Your Sports Resource Podcast. Today we have Matt Boss and Jack Roach to continue our conversation on planning. Welcome gentlemen, welcome. 

00:00:41 – Jack 

Thank you. 

00:00:42 – Renata 

So, we left the last podcast talking about planning and the recommendation that we made was that the coaches and to go back and do a bit of reflection. 


And what we asked is for them to look back on the year and look at Meets, Swimmers, Coaches, Practices, Communications, how they interact with parents, and even doing an audit of the space, the pool, the office space and all that. 


And you know, really do that reflection in all those areas to formulate how you move forward in the planning. 


So, where I wanted to start today is, okay so, you’ve done the audit. Where do you go next? 

00:01:33 – Matt 

I think the biggest thing is getting that plan in place for what’s coming next, so you know when kind of things are going to happen, right, you know what the schedule as far as championship meets and things like that are going to pop up through that next season. 


So, my kind of take on it was always I would build backwards, right? I know when the championship meets are so I’m gonna put those on a calendar and I’m gonna start working backwards to know how to plan out that next season, you know, from everything from when we’re gonna start to, you know, when our other meats are gonna be, when our, maybe our social functions are going to be so those important dates can be, you know, not only in your mind, but those are things you can get out to your membership. 


So that your athletes know parents know and then it’s something that I would always refer back to on a frequent basis. I mean, almost like a, you know, if not. If not, you know daily, it could be a weekly where it was like, OK, where’s my calendar? 


Right, like I got to, kind of see what’s up because as you kind of get into a season, things become so busy sometimes just having that reference point to know is kind of crucial to kind of keep yourself and everybody on track. 

00:02:49 – Renata  

So, you’re talking about building an overarching calendar that includes as many of the important dates as possible, is that what you’re trying to say? 

00:02:57 – Matt 

Yeah, yeah. It’s not just swimming dates, right? There’s so many other things that happen in a season that you want to just know what’s on the, what’s on the horizon to be able to continue that communication out to people, you know, from the beginning of the year, but also those reminders as you’re, you know, whatever, that you know, if it’s a newsletter, e-mail. Whatever’s going out to your membership, your, your athletes, you know, if you’re talking on deck to them so that you can just kind of keep those reminders coming for them as well. 

00:03:22 – Renata 



So that I think you know from my perspective on the operation side, that would even include when board meetings are coming and when team when you’re going to have your team meeting. 


So visually what I could see. I can see, you know, in your shared drive or you know how you guys communicate electronically. You could have this giant calendar that everybody can plug into that has all the details of all the little minutia. 


But I also saw in one of our clients I saw this like 3-year calendar up on the wall and it was pretty amazing because they obviously you can’t have every little board meet every little meeting in there. 


But what I liked about it is it was very visual that they had all their meets that were coming up. And any, like important dates like award ceremonies or things like that.  


So, it was all visual. It wasn’t just visual to the coaches, it was visual to the swimmers, and I would assume the parents, you know, I didn’t see any parents but to the parents. Anybody who walked by it could actually see that schedule and I thought that was pretty interesting. 

00:04:33 – Matt 

Yeah, I know. Jack, I don’t know about you, but I used my office. I had a whole wall and that’s all it was, a calendar. Right, it was just, it was almost like 2 years’ worth. I think of calendars. There’s everything written out and I referred to that thing all the time. 

00:04:43 – Renata 


00:04:50 – Jack 

Agree. Agree. But as I listen to this, you know I I have to separate certain things. And I think that why I know what we’re talking about right now is the art and the science of coaching, right.  


It’s not just one or the other. And I think that I have to separate the two. 


And when we talk about the science of coaching, you either, you start with looking at a season plan. And based on the season plan, you go into a workout daily and when I look at what a season plan looks like, if I look at the, I start with the dates and then the next category I have is the focus of those dates and then the next one is the competition that falls within those dates. 


The location of where I might be training or competing. Then the quality of work that I’m doing during those weeks and then you need a theme of some sort. 


In other words, something to have a mental part of that what you would like the athletes to focus in on that, so that that’s your calendar and then. 


In a way to break it down even a little bit more, you have a spreadsheet that goes day by day. You have on the top. I had a 31-day column. 


So, I could put I could put what I wanted to do each day in that column and then going down I had each month and that’s the way I set up the season plan and you know in preparation for this talk we talked about whether you wanted as a coach to have a four-year plan or a one-year plan. 


And I always had a four-year plan and the reason that I had a four-year plan was that that is an educational piece to help the athletes start to understand. Why they’re doing what they’re doing based on what USA Swimming sets up every four years. 


Going the year after an Olympic year into the next Olympic Games, and why is that important on any level, there are times that I mean one of the beauties of swimming is that you’re always categorized in a certain time group, so you’re competing against people with equal ability, and it’s based on time and age. 


Well, not many sports can do that. So, you’re never over your head with who you’re swimming against in a particular meet because it’s seeded based on time and I think that’s a beautiful way to plan, right? 


It’s just, it’s so organized. It allows you to understand what you’re doing, but it’s only, the only value it has is if the athlete understands the different times and what kind of time they have to hit. If they want to advance and how they do that. 


So, I  know that’s a lot, but I think that’s where we start in this discussion. 

00:08:32 – Renata 

Okay, so what you’re saying is if, sorry, Matt, So what you’re saying is like even down to the times like cuts or qualifications to get somewhere, the swimmers truly need to understand what that is, not just I want to go to X meet it’s I want to go to X meet and this is what I have to do in order to get to X meet. 

00:08:52 – Jack 

I do believe that. And it’s so important that staff and athletes talk the same language. You know, we talked about earlier in the prep for this. A big part of organizing a team on every level is that you have a common language, but it’s so critical when it comes to how you’re going to train each group and where the emphasis is, but along the way, you’re looking at what? 


Most coaches call the national group or the highest-level group of athletes, and you’re trying to allow that track from start to end. To move in a seamless direction and in order to do that, if all the coaches and all the athletes don’t have a common language, then you have an educational piece that has to be addressed and doesn’t advance that athlete in terms of being able to communicate with the next coach that they advance to. 

00:09:00 – Renata 


00:10:00 – Matt 

Yeah, I think that that common language is huge, right? I mean for the coaches, but the athletes, it just makes them more comfortable as well as they’re transitioning from, you know, potentially one coach to another coach. 


But to touch back on the counter, so if you’re planning out a year of of training and you’ve got your say, then you’re breaking it down to a monthly. How often do you revisit that throughout the year or maybe tweak that throughout the year? 


Or is it something that you kind of lay it, out and you’ve got your plan and you know that’s what you’re sticking with? 

00:10:35 – Jack  

Yeah, and what I did was I would always have the calendar and I went through what I had on the calendar and then I would also have a spreadsheet and on the spreadsheet that we talked about the athletes are going to know specifically what system you’re trying to hit in terms of training so that you aren’t over training a system and you’re able to hit every system and you do it in a way that’s probably based on your past experiences, but also the you know there are a lot of coaches out there and never be afraid to even cold call a coach.  


It’s amazing how much help you can get if you just reach out and ask for it. And don’t be afraid to show that you don’t understand, there’s no school that you go to where you come out and you have a degree in swim coaching. 


And the only way to learn how to coach is to ask questions. 


I mean, you can read about it and that that helps a lot, but there’s nothing like establishing a relationship with someone that’s maybe a little bit farther down the path than you. 


And if you do that I think mentorship is really the the greatest and I think mentorship in swimming is something that’s readily available. 


And I think it’s one of the fastest ways to learn, but I caution people if they’re co-calling someone and they’re trying to establish a relationship with them. 


Understand that if you’re being mentored by someone, it’s your responsibility to continue to reach out and communicate. 


Don’t wait on the mentor to contact you. I see that happen way too often where you get a phone call from someone, and you establish this relationship. 


And then I think they might be afraid that they’re bothering you, but it’s really it’s still up to the person seeking the mentor to stay in touch and organize as many times as they need to talk to you, and as many times as that mentor might have time for. 


But don’t think that once you’ve established a relationship that that mentor is going to call and check in on you, because if they’re worth your while of being a mentor. They’re too busy to do that. 

00:13:10 – Renata  

Yeah, I thank you for saying that, because I think that’s a big area that people assume that these coaches who have the experience are trying to hold on to this information like it’s trade secrets and they’re willing to give off the information. It’s more of the approaches who are afraid to ask. 


And I think the good thing about mentorship is not only do you get the knowledge, but you get to have a conversation to relate it to you specifically. Whereas if you’re in a class, it’s great or in a learning format, which are all great, but sometimes making that transition to how do I take this and apply it to our situation or my situation or my club situation? Sometimes that’s lost and then things don’t get implemented. 


So, thank you for encouraging the coaches to reach out to other coaches, so if you’re doing your planning and you don’t really understand where you need to go or how you make things fit, reaching out to other coaches is a is a great way to make that make that leap. 

00:14:14 – Jack  

And I also, yeah, yes. And I also think there, you know if you go to a swim meeting, all coaches go to a swim meet. I mean, they’re different. There are certain coaches that are very isolated and don’t meet people because of their location, but when you go to a swim meet. Take the time to observe what coaches are doing and then situate yourself to be beside a coach that you might be interested in and listen to them. 


And then when that coach isn’t busy, reach over and let them know that you, for whatever reason, you’re interested in understanding. Why they do what they do and how they learned to do that and  that establishes a great opportunity to start to establish that relationship with someone that might be a mentor. 


So, there’s so many ways to do it, like when I first started coaching, I was fortunate enough to be in a pretty big hotbed of coaching and the head coach that I worked for would allow me once a month tojust drive to a different location and watch a different club, coach, coach and you know if you do have an opportunity to do something like that. 


That’s such a valuable way to learn to see what someone else is doing on that, not just what they’re coaching, but back to the art of coaching. How do they communicate to that athlete and what does that look like? 


It’s just, you know, the combination of the art and science. You never quit learning. In those two fields and you’re constantly seeking out ways to improve your communication skills based on your knowledge. 

00:16:14 – Renata  

That’s great, council. Thank you for that, Jack. I think that’s great for everybody to hear. 


I’d like to kind of move from that overarching schedule and you’re talking about your plan now. 


How does a coach take that schedule and work with the rest of their coaches to make sure that it flows downstream and everybody’s kind of on the same on the same path. 


And then how do they work through the things like, you know what I have written down on the sheet is technique, energy systems, yardage and your quad plan like, how do you how do you move that along to the rest of your coaches? 

00:16:52 – Jack  

Matt, do you want to start? 

00:16:54 – Matt  

No, this is all you, Jack. 

00:16:58 – Jack  

I’m sure that you have a lot to offer, so don’t hesitate. You know what? 

00:17:04 – Matt  

I’m learning as you’re still talking. So, I think that’s good. 

00:17:10 – Jack  

You know, Renata I think we’re becoming a little bit redundant because it goes back to creating a season plan and I felt like I categorized that pretty well and you don’t necessarily have to stick with what I say I do. 


But again, I start with the calendar and the calendar. It has an area for weeks, right? 


And that’s where I start. What system am I, I’m looking at one year. Normally when you are starting to design your calendar. You’re looking at a short course season and a long course season. 

00:17:54 – Renata  


00:17:55 – Jack  

So, you’re really planning for two different seasons within the year and to some degree you might have a mid-season meet where you’re going to back off just a little bit that meet is, it falls in December and if it falls in the right place for your team. 


I’m a back up just a little bit. So, you either have three parts to a year or you have two parts short course season and long course season are almost everywhere, right? 


I mean that’s the way USA Swimming works. So, your designing two seasons within the year, some coaches utilize a mid-season in the short course season in December to rest their kids just a little bit, not a full rest to try and get certain times for certain cuts when you go to your championship season in March. 


And then you start the season over again from the end of March, going through July when you have a championship season and then what I do is I have on my calendar weeks, that’s one column, dates, so I might be working just one system for six weeks at the first part of the season, so I might have a week one through 6 with those dates when that falls and then what the focus is like, normally you’re just working on aerobic capacity during that time. 


Then below that or next to that are competitions where do the competitions fall in and what are the locations of those competitions? 


Do I have a training trip planned? Where’s the location of the training trip? And then next to that column is quality. What kind of quality am I trying to accomplish throughout that whole year, each week or the blocks of weeks? 


And then what’s the mental focus like? If you’re going from a club season to high school season. At the end of that high school season, you’re bringing all those club swimmers back together again for the first time in maybe six weeks and preparing them to know that a big part of that is coming together again, working hard to reestablish the relationships you just walked away from, or had established prior to the high school season. 


You know, I have this belief that anytime a swimmer leaves the swimming pool. Between the time they leave and come back, they are not the same person they were when they left. 


They aren’t. 


They’ve been impacted by school situations. They’ve been impacted by family situations. So, you know, you always constantly need to be checking in with them to see who they are and where they are. 

00:21:09 – Renata   

00:21:10 – Jack   

So, you know, that’s a very, that’s the season planning. 


The calendar is the season planning and then next when I get into the workout design. I have a spreadsheet where every day it’s telling me what system I’m hitting and I’ve given that live thought prior to the beginning of the year. 


So that I know what I’m doing each day I’m measuring, measuring, measuring. 


You’ve got to, you have to measure everything you do. 


And those are the only two pieces of paper you need when you’re talking about training an athlete, training an athlete, and then that’s different for every single group in your team. 


But yet the developmental coach needs to know what the national team coach is doing and vice versa, so that you’re building a common language when you possibly can, and that common language, it’s up to the upper echelon coaches, meaning the coach working with the higher level in terms of ability to understand what the developmental coach is doing as well. 


So, Renata, when you ask the question about ‘how do you communicate that to coaches within the same team that you really need weekly meetings. The weekly meeting may specifically talk about that, but it almost always touches on it a little bit before you go into another topic. 

00:22:44 – Matt 


00:22:45 – Renata  

If I were to go back to your statement about common language, I mean, even like you were talking about even understanding heart rate and how you do heart rate all the way across the board needs to be the same. 

00:23:00 – Jack  

Yes. You know an example of that is, I can walk in to a group or a swimming group and ask them to take a heart rate. And do you take the heart rate for six seconds and then just multiply that by 10? Do you take it for 10 seconds and multiply it by 6? 


When you put your fingers on your carotid artery, do you use your thumb? If you use your thumb, it has a false beat in it. It has another beat, so you aren’t getting an accurate read. 


Do you start with the first beat at zero or one? All of those things need to be understood or else it’s just going to happen the way the athlete or the coach thinks it should happen. 

00:23:48 – Renata  


00:23:48 – Jack  

It’s what the coach is teaching. And honestly, I can go into programs on almost every level, and it’s very seldom explained. 

00:24:00 – Renata  

That’s great. That’s great. 

00:24:02 – Matt  

Yeah, I think that’s cool because that’s also, that’s athlete education, and that’s also coach education, which I think is really cool, right? 


Because if you’re talking about, yeah, your upper-level group is going to be training aerobic capacity, they’re gonna probably be doing a lot more quality work than, say, your developmental group, right. 


But it’s good for the developmental coach to understand that, hey, as they progress through this is how the training changes, right? 


This is what they’re going to be doing as they kind of move through this and I think that’s also a really great education for potentially those coaches of the younger the younger kids who are still developing to understand what they’re going to be experiencing as the athlete goes through. 


Which allows them to understand, potentially, if they’re moving up from a group you know as they progress to their coaching, what the changes are going to be. 

00:24:52 – Renata  


00:24:52 – Jack 



I might be getting ahead of the question, so I’m not sure but the the other important thing is that every coach and every athlete wants they’re capable of understanding, meaning the athlete, not the coach. 


But every coach within a program needs to understand the different systems you can train, regardless of whether they are even training that system. 


And to some degree they probably are, unless they’re very, very early developmental and you know there, there are different ways to do that and the direction that I see most coaches going in right now, are they, they’re really training, they’re training maybe 4 systems. 


I would question whether it’s three or four, but one is aerobic capacity. 


And they have to understand what aerobic capacity does, how to measure it by heart rate, and how to measure it by different distances with rest involved. 


And then you have aerobic power which is, you know, once I don’t want to go into the explanation of these, but I do think it’s important that people understand they need to know they’re training a few different systems and the next one is anaerobic capacity, and then the last one is anaerobic power. 


And really other than doing technique work, which really falls into aerobic capacity. If every coach has a clear understanding of what the head coach views those four systems look like when they should be implemented and how the athlete can measure them based on time and heart rate, then then you’re really setting the athlete up to be responsible for their own results when you get to a championship meet. 


As well as the coach understanding. Why you’re doing what you’re doing, how you’re measuring what you’re doing and what kind of adjustments need to be made based individually on an athlete reporting to you that well, today I could not do the anaerobic capacity the way you wanted me to do it. What do you recommend? 


And you can’t do that with 20 people in a group or 30 people in a group, unless they aren’t educated and knowing how to measure those things themselves. 

00:27:29 – Renata  


00:27:30 – Jack  

That’s just so essential. 

00:27:33 – Renata  

I could think about back on my own time. You know, I think if I had understood the systems, I probably would have, there’s probably certain times that I probably would have engaged a lot more and understood what I was doing a lot more. 


I just think that me, as a swimmer, it would have pulled me in. If I had understood systems when I was swimming. 

00:27:56 – Jack  

Yeah. And I think #1 is the coach. I used to have to carry a CHEAT SHEET with me when I started doing this and I have to look at, okay, this is how much rest they need or recommended rest. This is where the heart rate should be, and this is the system that I’m training. 


And then I thought, well, you know, I’m gonna start every season by sitting the kids down, getting out of white board, and even if the kid had been in the group for four years, you’d go through it again. 


And you go through it so many times. That you can ask any swimmer in the group to stand up and do the same thing. Then you know you’ve done a good job of explaining it. 


If the athlete can’t coach another swimmer on how to hit a certain system based on heart rate and time based off of their best time. Then you aren’t doing a good job of explaining it. 


And the the same thing holds true of technique. You know, I used to start every season by going through technique, proper technique, why we’re doing what we’re doing and how it applies to the way that you’re swimming because it’s different for everyone, but until you can have half your team get out of the water and watch half your team and work one-on-one and correct stroke, you just aren’t really taking utilizing all the resources that you have. 


And then you have started to apply the art of coaching as to where every athlete is a coach, you know they can actually be at the wall waiting on another set to happen and watch someone swim in and give them some advice based on what they observed as they swam by each other in terms of underwater technique. 

00:30:04 – Renata  


00:30:05 – Matt  

Yeah, that’s awesome. 

00:30:07 – Renata  

Yeah. Well, this has been great. Thank you so much Jack, for joining us today and sharing information on how coaches can plan and what they should be looking at in their plan and transferring that over to the rest of their coaches and their athletes and their swimmers and teaching their swimmers about the planning, energy, systems, and just what they’re doing. 


I think it’s really wonderful. I really appreciate it. 


If the audience has any questions, you can always write us at info at info@yoursportsresource.com 

00:30:40 – Jack  

And you know Renata, there’s so many good books out there, too. There’s just so many. 

00:30:50 – Renata  


00:30:51 – Jack  

I do think that if someone doesn’t know where to start with the book. Then ask a coach that they respect. A coach that knows them too. 


I am not just good at telling anyone something, but I don’t know the person and I don’t, you know, I don’t know enough about him to make a recommendation. 


If I had a little background. I might feel comfortable doing that but contact someone that knows you if you don’t know someone that knows you, then yeah, contact us and maybe we can help them out. 

00:31:27 – Renata  

Alright, great council. Thank you very much! 

Yeah. Well, this has been great. Thank you so much Jack, for joining us today and sharing information on how coaches can plan and what they should be looking at in their plan and transferring that over to the rest of their coaches and their athletes and their swimmers and teaching their swimmers about the planning, energy, systems, and just what they’re doing. 


I think it’s really wonderful. I really appreciate it. 


If the audience has any questions, you can always write us at info at info@yoursportsresource.com 

00:30:40 – Jack  

And you know Renata, there’s so many good books out there, too. There’s just so many. 

00:30:50 – Renata  


00:30:51 – Jack  

I do think that if someone doesn’t know where to start with the book. Then ask a coach that they respect. A coach that knows them too. 


I am not just good at telling anyone something, but I don’t know the person and I don’t, you know, I don’t know enough about him to make a recommendation. 


If I had a little background. I might feel comfortable doing that but contact someone that knows you if you don’t know someone that knows you, then yeah, contact us and maybe we can help them out. 

00:31:27 – Renata  

Alright, great council. Thank you very much!