How to choose the right swimming instructor for your child?
When you decide to enrol your child in a school, kindergarten, piano lessons, or sports club, what are the key factors that influence your decision-making process? Is it the way the venue, a classroom, or a swimming pool looks like or who that piano teacher or a coach is? I agree that it is important what the colour of the walls is, type of chairs the school has, how tuned the piano is, whether they have any broken windows, maybe clean showers or toilets at the swimming pool, etc… I truly hope that all this comes second and that the most important factor is the person who is going to teach your child.
So how does one make that choice in such a variety of options? How to choose the right swimming instructor for your child? Is it important that he/she has an appropriate degree or this document should be accompanied by relevant and practical knowledge or experience? Could he/she transfer that knowledge in the right way to your child, even though he/she might have a degree with honours? Is a good swimmer necessarily a good coach? Is it
relevant that she has blue eyes or he is bold and has a beard? Does he/she have a smiling or serious face? There is an endless number of questions like these, making you feel hesitant.
Maybe we actually need to ask a different type of questions. Do I remember my favorite teacher or coach? What was his/her name? Can I tell a certain anecdote about him/her? Do I still remember and apply what he/she taught me? If the answer is yes, then this could be the right approach for you to choose a good instructor for your child.
I can tell you what my swimming instructor was like. I remember him telling us jokes and making us laugh almost all the time, but when we needed to swim that was our sole focus. His authority was not based on shouting at us, but on his knowledge, commitment and results he had in his portfolio. He was a very broad-minded guy showing interests not only in sports but in other topics too. I felt I could talk to him about anything. He knew how to approach us in the right way, sometimes he even looked as a bigger child than we were…
Even though swimming was boring at times, he made my each and every lesson a great fun. That’s why I probably ended up taking swimming lessons for more than 8 years (since I was 5 until I was 13). My instructor’s name was Miroslav Rajkov (Bata).
If I were to choose a coach for my kids, he/she would need to be just like my coach Bata. He/she should be: positive, optimistic, cheerful, authoritative, consistent, on top of having the relevant knowledge and experience. Every experienced coach should be encouraging kids on a daily basis and go beyond what is written in the instruction books and manuals. That’s why I would suggest that he/she should:
Be creative in disseminating knowledge. To build up his/her own unique style of coaching, the one that would make kids like and respect him/her, but also be able to hold their attention.
Have clear goals for both himself and kids, why he/she is teaching them something and what they should remember.
Have positive energy as it will help the children achieve better results.
Be good at time management and lessons dynamics, contributing to the more effective learning and establishing learning habits.
He should be able to understand both individual students and also create a team, generating and developing mutual support and respect among team members.
Be able to communicate children’s progress and challenges to their parents or others who are relevant part of children’s everyday life.
Be able to answer all concerns or questions both children or parents have.
Be able to build trust and credibility as those will be greatly appreciated. Children can feel that and they cannot be fooled.
Believe me, each successful professional is aware his/her own responsibility in transferring the knowledge of, for example, each stroke or diving skills, because once he/she sees a smile on children’s faces he/she will know that they are on the right track!
Therefore, each instructor should earn that smile and trust! Then you as a parent will know that you made the right choice.