11 Things Your Swimming Coach Is Always Yelling

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11 Things Your Swimming Coach Is Always Yelling

By Allison Peters, Swimming World College Intern

We all know what it is like to have your swimming coaches yelling at the top of their lungs during practice, trying to get our attention. Here’s a few things that you can improve on to reduce some of this noise.

1. Don’t breathe in and out of your turns

Let’s just face it, even the most dedicated athletes can have a lazy moment. Being a distance swimmer myself, I have grown accustomed to breathing just about whenever I feel like it. Just know that breathing in and out of your turns not only adds time to your race, but actually slows you down after you propel off each wall.

2. Dolphin kick past the flags

Obviously there are some exceptions to this. For example, don’t dolphin kick past the flags if you’re swimming the 100 breaststroke. Other than that, always use it to your advantage. The dolphin kick was Michael Phelps’ signature move each race. It was practically his secret weapon that helped him take down his opponents in multiple Olympics. If you strive for perfection like Phelps, listen to your coach and do the kick all professional swimmers have down pat.

3. You don’t need 10 breaths in a 50 freestyle

For the top sprinters on my team, I’m always hearing my coach tell them to not take any more than three breaths in a 50 freestyle. Taking a breath during your sprint takes away the momentum you built from your start and turn. As all sprinters know, it only takes one breath for you to be in or out of a final night swim.

4. Finish the ENTIRE cool-down

It’s the end of practice and you’ve had enough of swimming, you just want to get out and go eat everything in your refrigerator. So, you cut that 400 warm down into a 50, along with some dolphin dives and blowing bubbling rings up from the bottom of the pool. It might seem fun, but the point of cool-down is to flush out the lactic acid you built up in your system so you’re not tight and sore the next day for practice or a race.

5. Don’t breathe into your finish

No matter if you’re a distance swimmer or sprinter, there is never a need to breathe into a finish. Don’t believe me? Go watch Michael Phelps’ 100 butterfly final swim in Beijing. Keeping his head down and winning that gold medal is what made him the most decorated Olympian in history.

6. Don’t break stroke

It can be hard to swim butterfly in a lane with a bunch of other swimmers, but sometimes it just has to be done. Don’t try and take the easy way out and break stroke unless you really feel like you’re going to hit and seriously injure another swimmer.

7. Breathing at the flags doesn’t count as doing the whole lap underwater

My club coach was always yelling this at my team in high school. If you have an underwater set and you come up at the flags, you’re cheating yourself about five yards each lap. That’s only going to hurt you in the end.

8. Complaining about the set will not change it

No matter how much you pout, cry or yell, the set is going to stay the way the coach wrote it. It’s meant to be challenging and hard. If it’s not, you’re not getting anything out of it and you won’t go any faster at championships than you did the year before.

9. Don’t circle swim in your races

Doing this when you race actually adds to the yardage you have to swim. Would you rather race 50 yards or 53 yards?

10. Do the breathing pattern correctly

If your coach says breathe 5, 7, 9 by 25, then don’t breathe every 3. These types of sets are coaches’ favorite to reset if they see their team doing it incorrectly, so you might as well do it right the first time.

11. KICK

I’m guilty of this too. Pretty much every meet I turn to breath and I see my swimming coach making the signal for me to kick more. Getting into a good kicking rhythm in your race is important for every swimmer – don’t let your arms do all the work!


  1. avatar

    This is pretty much tells me that I suck at swim and i shouldn’t swim. Just kidding but a lot of the things that were mention in this post I can relate to. 11. Is my whole swim team including me. My coaches tell a at us to kick every practice as well as meets. I don’t know if I circle swim during a race but now I will make sure I dont. I try to work on my breathing such as breath on my right to left and count the pulls until I breath. It’s hard breaking a habit you have had since freshman year. But I did find this article very useless and reminds me of things my coaches tell me every day at practice!

  2. avatar
    Tom Trapp

    I have been coaching springboard and platform diving for over 30 years and this article makes me laugh. Most of the time when I share an aquatic facility with a swim team during practice, the swim coaches just sit there and say nothing because their swimmers heads are under water and the athlete cannot hear them. Then at a swim meet, the swimmers cannot hear much because they have to wear a cap and cannot hear, for the most part, the coach yelling. Most of a swimming coaches working life is spent being silent during a practice/meet. As a diving coach, we have to continuously give feedback to our divers during a practice after every dive which is probably at least about 100+ more times, per diver, than a swim coach, which includes yelling. Then at a meet, we have to do the same thing only there are at least 2 events going on at once which never happens during swimming. So if a swim coach is tired of yelling coaching swimming – try diving, which they probably won’t do any way since most of them hate the the sport and don’t care anyway!

    • avatar
      Karon Nowakowski

      I have no idea where you coach, but my daughter has been a competitive swimmer for 10 years. Her coaches have been the loudest, most energetic, fantastically boisterous critics and cheerleaders I could have ever hoped for. She gets constant feedback at practice, instructions before every race, encouragement during every race, and constructive criticism and praise after every race. Her coaches are responsible for 10-25 swimmers at a time, but make each one feel that they are the only one in the pool. Please don’t say that my daughter’s coaches don’t care.

    • avatar

      I don’t know about other swim coaches, but I’d leave practice nearly exhausted from running up and down the pool yelling at and stopping swimmers with corrections. I’d prefer a kid miss 50 of a set and learn to do something correctly than to allow them to continue with or while developing bad habits.

      I also coached 1 and 3 meter springboard diving for many years and I LOVED IT! I loved the interaction and the ability to help the kid to change as it was much easier to do with diving than with swimming. The kids were never breathing hard and could pay closer attention to my instruction due to less fatigue.

      But, I got far more hoarse coaching swimming due to far more yelling while coaching swimming than I did diving. But, that may have just been me during 30+ years of coaching.

    • avatar
      John Moncure

      Your comment would make anyone who knows the sport of swimming laugh Tom as you obviously you don’t know jack about swimming…30 years on the deck and those are the best observations you could come up with?? Too bad you are wildly wrong on all counts. 1. The swim team you share space with obviously isn’t a good program, since no swim coach worth their salt would ever “sit there”. 2. Swim coaches can talk(and doesn’t need to yell but can if required) to their swimmers all practice long…its called wait till in between intervals, or perhaps walk along and give none verbal instructions to the swimmer while they’re swimming. 3. “like a 100 times more feedback”? Yeah ummm…not at all a reliable mathematical evaluation. 4. “Swimmers can’t hear the coach because they wear a cap”? Do I really have to point out how stupid that comment is?
      Sounds to me like another blowhard ‘mr know it all’ coach who is feeling a bit saltly because he feels inferior to swim coaches. Have a nice day…and try not to take yourself so seriously.

    • avatar
      Dan Patterson

      Sounds like an excellent diving coach with overexposure to pseudo-swim coaches who like the paycheck and are immune to supervisory review. Sad to say I’ve occasionally seen such sad excuses, for swim AND diving coaches over the years. Coaches shouldn’t be yelling in either practice or at the meets, unless at effective moments when the swimmers can hear and need to hear the yell. Much communication can be visual from the deck and conversational before and after swims. Some of the points made indicate the coach’s message isn’t being receive and the coach needs to re-evaluate HOW message is being communicated to reach each swimmer.

    • avatar

      I too am exhausted and hoarse from “yelling” during practices. I coach beginner 11-15 year old swimmers. I have to speak very loudly to be heard when they are in the water, this is regardless of whether they are wearing a cap or not! Our pool deck is a very small, enclosed space and it is difficult to be heard by 30 kids. I don’t yell at meets (usually, there was that one time about 5 years ago) because I don’t want to look like an ass in front of my kids’ parents. They don’t send their kids to me to be yelled at.

      I think #12 should have been FLIP TURN. This is probably the only thing I actually yell during practice. The other 11 are things I get tired of repeating!

  3. avatar
    Hops in Central Coast CA

    I see Phelps taking the breath.

  4. Jan Hagan

    Perfect Practice Makes Perfect – Forget what they do wrong and just help them understand they what and why of doing things right.

  5. Andrew Foote

    Need to add one. For the chronically late who try to skip the warmup. Your performance will suffer.

  6. Filza Aleem

    Sania Shahzadi Swimmer Mahanoor Rajput Iffrah Malik Ujala Abid

    • Holly Campbell

      That’s #1…if only the kids understood how much it helps their race. ?

  7. Trent Ziegler

    Hannah MillerSteph ‘Thayer’ SchlangenJennifer Stinson PiepgrasMyranda Erickstad

  8. Tania Wilhelm

    Aurora a quien le recuerda la 9 y la 11? Angie, Marcela adivinen en quien pense yo?

    • Tania Wilhelm

      En realidad estaba pensando en tus sets de tecnica y cuanto los odiamos ???

    • Aurora Castro Gross

      Di Marce y yo somos la 11 jajajaja Marcela Guzman Villegas me humilla enfrente de todos los estudiantes por mi patada jajajajajajajajaa

  9. avatar
    Brian Williamson

    Relax and enjoy the experience.just do your best .☘️

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