How can I teach gliding to an 8-year-old girl afraid to push off from the wall or bottom in shallow water? She won't extend her legs to lay out in the water to float for the glide?
Thanks for getting in touch. I had the exact same problem only a few weeks ago. A young lad I was teaching was too afraid to push from the side and glide.
The bottom line is that they have no confidence in floating and therefore think they will sink like a stone. Even if they can swim a little, they think they remain at the surface because they are using their arms and legs for swimming (which is partly true); therefore, the thought of moving through the water without using their arms and legs is a very scary one.
To overcome this, she first needs to know that she can float without moving anywhere. The ‘star float’ is usually the best one. Arms and legs wide in the shape of a star, breath held and face down. Give her some support by holding her hands or arms if she is still scared, then gradually let go a few times until she is confident to float there face down for 5 seconds or more.
Then perform it again, but as she is holding her breath face down, gently pull her along, very slowly, so she can experience how it feels to be floating but moving through the water. Pull her gently and let go so she floats along without your support.
As she becomes more confident, you can progress to a long stretched-out body shape, as you would for a glide and then help her to float along, slowly at first. This might take some practice to gain her confidence because the long body shape is less stable than the star shape.
As confidence grows, she should be more inclined to perform this herself from the poolside, maybe with you supporting her at first.
You might be able to get through these stages in one lesson, or it might take a few lessons. It just depends on her level of confidence as you go along.
I hope this helps, and I wish you every success.