Training in Disguise: Shake up Your Monday Practices With These 4 Games

Photo Courtesy: Kayla Riemensperger

By Kayla Riemensperger, Swimming World College Intern.

Do you ever walk into a Monday practice dragging your feet and dreading diving into the cold water? Or perhaps you have worried yourself sick questioning how challenging the main set was going to be that day. For many swimmers, Monday practices can feel like an all-time low; however, there is a way to make training not seem so mundane and repetitive.

Here’s the good news – there is a concept called training in disguise! By disguising training within fun sets, coaches can still work on imperative skills in the pool without having to write boring sets. One way to do this is through a variety of pool games!

Who knew that you could work on power, breath control, reaction times and many more skills merely through games? Here are four games that coaches can use to disguise learning certain swimming techniques and skills.

1. Running Dives

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Photo Courtesy: Kayla Riemensperger

Rules: Starting at the block end of the pool, have your swimmers line up in a single file line a few feet back from the edge of the pool. Make sure to send your swimmers at least five seconds apart to prevent diving on top of each other. Instruct your swimmers to take off with a running start and dive into the pool while holding tight streamlines.

This game allows swimmers to work on their entries into the water. If their streamline has weaknesses, their arms will immediately come apart on entry. If you want to challenge your swimmers even more, have them attempt to dive through a circular noodle held at a fixed distance from the edge. This really reinforces a powerful, tight entry into the water.

2. Sharks and Minnows


Photo Courtesy: Lola Gomez, Daytona Beach News Journal

Rules: Have all your swimmers gather on one side of the pool with one hand holding on the wall. The swimmers on the wall are now your “minnows.” Pick one swimmer to go to the middle of the pool, this swimmer will be your “shark.” When the shark calls for the minnows, all the swimmers on the wall must push off and swim to the other end without being tagged on the head by the shark.

Minnows are allowed to swim to the other end however they may please; however, if a minnow is tagged on the head by a shark, they become a shark for the rest of the game. The game continues until there is only one swimmer left. To win, the last swimmer left standing must make it past all the sharks to the other end.

Warning: This game can get aggressive if swimmers grab onto each other to get to the surface, so it is not recommended for younger ages.

This game can help with underwaters, power, breath control and shoots the heart rate up! It’s also a perfect way to increase competitiveness in your swimmers.

3. Cat and Mouse

Jun 18, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Morning warm-ups in the main racing pool during Day One of the Arena Pro Series at Santa Clara, at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara, Calif. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Robert Stanton/USA Today Sports Images

Rules: This game, also known as “catch your partner,” involves a little bit of competition among your swimmers. Pair up your swimmers who are similar in speed and wait on the wall together. On the coaches go, one swimmer takes off three to five seconds ahead of the other.

The job of the second swimmer is to catch the swimmer in front of them. The length of the swim is up to the coaches, but most only play this game with 25s or 50s. If you get caught by the person behind you, then you are given a dryland exercise by your coach.

The dryland exercises can include anything from squats to push-ups, etc. It is also up to the coaches discretion on how many reps the caught swimmers will complete. Have the swimmers do a couple rounds of cat and mouse as a fun way to work on racing speeds.

This game works on speed as well as strength with the dryland component – and it’s fun!

4. Pigeon


Photo Courtesy: David DeCortin

Rules: This game is much better for smaller groups due to limited starting block space. First, have your swimmers stand on the blocks. Next, begin telling an elaborate story. Your swimmers should be listening carefully for the word “pigeon” in your story.

Try to trick your swimmers by saying words that sound similar to the word pigeon. As soon as you say the word pigeon, your swimmers have to react by jumping or diving off the block. The last swimmer to leave the block is out as well as any swimmer who jumps early. Keep playing until there is only one swimmer left on the block as the winner!

This game is perfect for swimmers who need to work on reaction times off the blocks.

Commentary: All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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