This article was first published on SwimSwam on April 6, 2015: https://swimswam.com/5-important-things-in-a-good-coach-to-athlete-relationship/

Coaches play a huge role in a swimmer’s career. From their first strokes to their first big meet, coaches are always there beside their athletes. Many athletes see the great things their coaches do for them, but I’ve run into some who say they hate their swim coach. A strong coach-to-athlete relationship will make you the best you could possibly be. For those of you who don’t get along with your coach, or just want to strengthen your relationship, here are 5 tips for a great coach-to-athlete relationship:


The “just do it” kind of attitude. When your coach tells to fix your catch or to try the harder interval, don’t argue with him. Talking back and purposely disobeying your coach is one of the best ways to create a negative atmosphere. Don’t whine, don’t complain, and put on a Nike t-shirt if it helps.


“Well, back in my days…” Yeah, we all know that coach, the one who talks about the swagger training he did when he was your age. But, hey, you never know, if you open your ears to his Stone Age Training speeches you might actually get something out of it. Listening skills do go for both you and your coach. If you need to talk to him about something, he should always have his ears open as well.

  1. GOALS

What’s the point if you have no point? Sit down and have a talk with your coach if you seriously have no idea what your goals are. As you talk to him or her about your goals, ask your coach what his goals for you are. Are your goals too high or too low? Also, as the swimmer, what goals do you have for your coach? Maybe you want him to notice technique flaws more so that they can be fixed. Whatever it is, be sure you always have a goal in mind.


No swimmer or coach wants to dwell in a negative training environment. Athletes should always have a positive attitude toward their coaches, and coaches must work their best to create a positive atmosphere for all athletes. In the event that you feel negatively about something (sets, practice schedule, expectations, etc.) work it out with your coach. Don’t allow something small to cause a dramatic scene. Oh, and remember to smile at each other. I know firsthand that this small thing helps build a positive relationship (:

  1. TRUST

The MIP (most important part) of a good coach-to-athlete relationship. Without trust, all of the above wouldn’t matter. If you don’t trust your coach, no good relationship can exist. You have to trust that your coach knows what’s best for you so that you can be your very best. The relationship with my coach is based on trust. Before I could listen and do what he told me to do, I had to trust him. Learning to trust your coach will make swimming a better experience for the both of you.

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