Rebel Coaches Take a Different Approach


            Different sports require different coaching techniques.  Coaching football or soccer is obviously different than coaching swimming.  For one thing, football is more of a team sport than swimming.  It requires the whole team to work together to overcome the opponent.  Swimming consists of individuals racing against themselves and the clock.  Also, the coach of a football team does not have concrete results on how good each player is.  Their talent is not absolute because there is nothing to measure it by.  Coaching swimming can get difficult because each swimmer has concrete results that measure how good they are, and other coaches badger each other endlessly to try and get them.  If a coach can obtain these results, they may have the key to beating their opponents.  Swimming coaches feel the need to withhold each swimmer’s times from the public in general, so they will not fall into the oppositions hands.  If swimming coaches publish the times, opposing teams can go on the internet, or find the newspaper and get results that could potentially help their team win.

Cheryl Cavanaugh, head coach of the Rebels Swimming and Diving Team refrains from posting results anywhere other teams can find them.  She keeps the times of races to herself and the assistant coaches.  This way the opponents will not know what kind of talent the team has.  Rival teams will experience the element of surprise when the Rebels make their splash.  Coach Cheryl said, “If other coaches ask how my swimmers did at a meet I just say they had a personal best, a sectional time, or a state time. I don’t specify because I don’t want other coaches knowing exactly how good my swimmers are.”  Other coaches in the league caught on to this technique recently, and have started to apply it to their team as well.  Nowadays, coaches can not find results anywhere because every team is being secretive.  To get around this, Cheryl records opposing teams’ times at Conferences and saves them for the next season.  Although it is not always wise to plan meets around old results (because new freshman with a lot of talent could join the team) it is the best teams can do.

Cheryl has another technique that she uses to elude the scouting of rival teams.  When the Rebels are going up against challenging teams, such as Norwood and Framingham, she uses her best swimmers in their best events.  With each swimmer swimming at his or her best, Cheryl is likely to gain more points and win the meet.  When the team has an easier meet coming up, the swimmers are put into events in which they are not used to competing.  This will help get swimmers out of their comfort zone and give them a chance to make cut times they normally would not have a chance to make.  This also prevents the more challenging teams from asking about results and getting beneficial information about each swimmer’s strength in certain events.  This way, opposing teams can not plan their meet according to the Rebels’ strength.

Diving is a completely different story when it comes to coaching techniques.  The diving community is almost like a whole different world apart from swimming.  In the diving community, all the coaches know how good each diver is, and they discuss it with other coaches.  Diving coaches do not feel the need to hide results from the public because the results can change drastically every week no matter how consistent the divers’ skill is.  In other words, you can not compare divers by their scores.  They may have awesome scores one week, but the judge could have had a good day and was feeling generous with his scoring.  Diving is based less upon statistics and more upon each judge’s opinion of a dive.

Diving is almost the complete opposite of swimming in the way that swimming results focus on the positive aspects of each race (i.e. how fast they went, the technique that made them go that fast) and diving results focus on the negative aspects of each dive (i.e. did they make a big splash? Did they mess up the approach?).  It may be tough to coach a swimmer to have a confident mindset when you are being negative about everything the diver is doing, but Chris Brady, Rebels Diving Coach, has found a way to be critical of dives while also being a cheerleader and boosting confidence.  Brady says, “The point of being critical is to show how close to—or far away from—the diver is from perfection.  It’s like sanding down a rough piece of wood.  You’re taking all the rough points away so you just have the good, clean dive.”  Brady teaches his girls that diving is not about how bad you are.  It is about how close to perfect you are.  This way the girls are not thinking about how awful they did after each dive; they think about the things they did good and how they could make their dive even better.  Through this, they gain confidence to make themselves better.

Obviously all sports are different and each coach has a different perspective, but not all sports have to have coaches that not only cater to the team as a whole but each individual as well.  Swimming and Diving are two of the sports that require such coaches.  Swimmers and divers are not just competing against the opponent, but also against themselves.  Coaches of these sports have to keep in mind the different techniques that need to be used in order to win meets and better the team as well.