How to Choose a Swim Team
Deciding on a swim team can be difficult. Start the process by thinking about what you want out of a team. There are certain questions that you should ask yourself. Once you know what you want, go speak with the coach and see if the team fits your needs. This guide contains important attributes to consider when picking a team.
The Type of Team
Before choosing a team, make sure you’re looking for a type of team that you can join. Most club teams are for swimmers 18 and younger. Masters teams are for swimmers 18 and older. College teams require that you are a current student at that school. There are many other types of teams as well. Make sure that you’re looking for a team that is meant for you.
The Coach’s Approach
Consider whether you like coaches stopping you to talk with you about your strokes. You might be a swimmer who is looking to improve, and would thus love feedback about your stroke. Some coaches stand on deck observing the practice. They constantly stop swimmers to talk to them about proper technique.
Other coaches will leave you alone to let you focus on the workout. On some teams, the coaches actually get in the water and do practices with the swimmers. With this methodology, they’re not constantly giving you feedback.
Many teams fall somewhere in-between. Each team is structured differently. Think about what you want. Ask yourself if you’d like to improve your stroke, or just get a workout in without being stopped. If you tell your coach what you prefer, they’ll likely do their best to accommodate your needs — despite how the team is structured. After all, they are there as a resource for you.
Schedule a meeting with the coach. Talk to him about his philosophy and approach to coaching. You can learn a lot about the coach’s personality this way. Also, you’ll see if you’d work well together by getting to know him.
Fun or Serious
Hot Tip: Ask for Workouts
Ask the coach for some example workouts. Talk to him about what the sets are generally like. This can tell you a lot about how serious the practices will feel.
Ask yourself whether you’d like to be on a serious team or one that likes to have more fun. You might like to focus and work hard without distraction: You get to the pool and you mean business.
Or, maybe you’d like to make buddies at practices, do fun relays, and joke around. The swimmers can greatly affect the environment of the practice. Of course, many teams fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. Think about the balance that you’d like in your team.
The Strength of the Team
The strength of the team can affect the environment greatly. If the team is really strong, their practices might be tougher, the tone more serious, and people more focused.
If the team isn’t as strong, they might focus on other aspects of the sport: Having a good time, learning new things, and enjoying other swimmers’ company. Of course, this is not universal. Consider the type of atmosphere you think you would enjoy, and search it out.
The Social Aspect
Some teams bond really well. Swimmers and coaches hang out away from the pool. They might get food or drinks after practice. Having friends on a team can help motivate you to go to practice. You’re not just going to the pool to go work out — you’re also going to hang out with your friends!
Having a bunch of buddies at the pool, though, can also be distracting. It might lead to slacking off while in practice. If you’re worried you might rather socialize when you get to the pool and not get a good workout in, get a feel for how social everyone at practice is. Consider what kind of teammates you’d like to have, because this can greatly affect the atmosphere of the workout.
When you check out a team, don’t just talk to the coach. Check out the swimmers as well. Sit back and observe a practice. See if the swimmers hop in the pool and start working out, or if they greet each other first. This can be a good indicator of how social the team is.
Check out the facility to see how it feels to you. Maybe you’d like a popular facility where multiple teams practice. It can feel fun to be a part of something big. On the other hand, you might like to work out somewhere more private. Teams practice at a variety of pools. From private clubs, to public pools, to gyms, each pool setting will feel different.
Find out how much the swim team costs. All teams cost different amounts. If the pool is at a gym, then you might have to pay gym fees as well. Some teams have a pool entrance fee as well as a team fee for the year. Ask the coach what all the fees are that you’d have to pay. Some teams will let you attend a few practices before you start paying. This way, you’ll be able to see if the team is right for you first.
Finding the time to work out can be difficult. If the pool is far away, staying motivated to go to practice might be a challenge. Think about what distance would be a struggle for you to reach. If it’s 25 minutes away, you may have trouble finding time to go to the pool. You might even have difficulty convincing yourself to go. If the pool is five minutes away, you might be a lot more inspired to head down to the pool.
Hot Tip: Use iSport to the Fullest
If you’re looking for a team in your area, check out the iSport tab labeled Teams
. Here, you can type in your location and find pools near you.
All teams have different practice times. Think about whether the offered practice times fit with your schedule. If you get off of work at 6 p.m. and practice is at 6:30 p.m., consider whether you’ll realistically head to the pool. For some, working out at the end of the day can be great. For others, starting the day with a solid practice can feel rejuvenating. Many teams offer multiple practice times so you can find a practice that fits into your busy day.
Test a Few Teams
All of these factors greatly affect the environment and feel of the team. If you’re not totally sure what you want, try out a couple of practices with potential teams. Trust your instincts. Choose the team that feels right for you. If you think about what you want, you’ll be sure to find a team that makes you happy!