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Frustrated Parent Over 13 Year Old Swimmers Technique


Hello Gary, I bought your book ‘Swimming for Parents’ and understand that by 13-18 years, technique plays a great role in whether the swimmer will excel or not.

My son who is 13, currently,  was winning every race at 12 years old during championship meets, now he seems to be faltering in every practice, and at every competition because he cannot focus on his under waters and breathing at the same time to “get the process right”.

He forgets to breath every 3 at times, and falls back into the same habit of the wrong technique in an effort to win, out of habit.

This is very frustrating as a parent who spends 8 times a week at the pool.  Are there any suggestions that you can give to help him to focus on achieving these techniques during daily practices, without falling back into the same old bad habits?  I am ready to take him out of swimming, as it seems he is unable to focus on technique, thus not get better, and we don’t want to invest the time and money into swimming, he can’t get the technique correct.

Thank You, TR


Hi TR,  As children grow up they will go through stages were they will train and race well and other times were things just may not come together.

It sounds like your sons coach is focusing on the right things with ensuring he has correct technique, developing his underwater skills and working on correct breathing action and timing as a priority.

Teenagers will go through stages were their focus and concentration may not be as good as it may have been in the past and then at other times it will be really good.

As a parent, it is important that we remain patient and supportive when we get that feeling of frustration when our child may not be doing what they are asked to do.

Habits are hard to break and often take time, patience and lots of reminders.  Over the years I have found it useful to provide young swimmers with ‘triggers’ to help them to remember to do something.

An example may be that every time your son pushes of the wall he needs to use the push off as a trigger to do 6 or 8 fast hard butterfly kicks underwater in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.

Another solution to help him improve is for the coach to provide him with only one key thing to focus on, for example breathing at the right time in relation to his arm stroke.  It is important then to provide feedback on the single skill he has been asked to concentrate on not on another aspect of his stroke.

You are right to say that technique is important so keep encouraging him to focus on this and over time, he will improve.



The Swimming Expert

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