Using practical, easy-to-implement tips for teaching swim lessons can take your classes to a new level and get the results you and your pupils desire. Whether you're a fresh-off-the-block swimming instructor or an existing teacher looking to revitalise your approach and wanting to add more depth to your lessons, you're in the right place.
Knowing your pupils is crucial. It sounds obvious yet straightforward, but it's essential. Are you teaching adults to swim, or are you teaching children to swim? If you are teaching children, what ages are they? If you are teaching adults, what are their past experiences? These demographics possess different learning curves, challenges, confidence levels, and fears. Considering all of these factors will make your lessons personal and effective.
Don't be afraid to vary the types of equipment that you use. Getting stuck in a routine is easy, and using a different swimming aid can often open the mind to new drills and exercises. It can also bring a unique experience to your pupils and potentially enhance their learning, accelerating their progress. Remember, swimming equipment such as noodles, kickboards, or pull buoys are not just for beginners. Mixing these tools into your lessons can keep activities engaging and target specific swimming basics in unique ways. They are inexpensive, versatile, and easy-to-implement additions that can quickly level up your swimming lessons.
When teaching children to swim, turn buoyancy aids and equipment into imaginary objects such as animals, boats or spacecraft. Let the child's imagination go as they kick and pull themselves along, learning as they play.
If you are teaching children, using a variety of games is gold. Quicken the learning process by introducing a fun element, and not only will your lessons be projected to a new level, but you, the teacher, will become more popular than ever! Be it using floating toys for a fetch game to encourage arm pull movements or making it rain when kicking their legs, games help in the natural adaptation of fundamental swimming techniques.
So many times over the years, I have completely changed a child's mindset by turning an exercise they are reluctant to try into a simple game. They engage, willingly participate and then make progress. Win-win!
Turning exercises and drills into games is a powerful way of teaching a child to swim, as it distracts them from learning but keeps them fully engaged. For my ebook containing 60 games for teaching a child to swim, click here.
Patience is your most essential tool, especially if you're teaching adults to swim. Adults usually take longer to feel at ease in the water, and they will really appreciate a relaxed and unrushed teaching approach. Allow them time and space to get familiar with the pool, adjust to the water temperature and learn to relax. Take your time teaching them to get their face wet and submerged, and never progress them to the next stage until they are comfortable and ready.
Make your lessons progressive by building your pupil's confidence slowly and gradually. Don't push them to take on more challenging tasks until they are comfortable and confident. Going back over and fine-tuning an exercise or drill to embed and enhance it is still progress. But ensure they don't remain stagnant and challenge them to a new task every few sessions.
As they grow in confidence, introduce them to more challenging tasks. More accomplished swimmers love races and time trials, greater pool depths, longer distances, and new strokes – keep pushing their limits once they are ready.
Giving honest, regular, and constructive feedback should be second nature to a swimming teacher. It can be instrumental in improving your pupils' performance. Giving compliments, suggestions, and even gentle corrections boosts confidence and brings a sense of accomplishment for both teacher and pupil. Celebrate their achievements and progress and guide and support them where they need to improve.
Repetition can quickly lead to boredom, so you must vary your lessons to keep your pupils interested. Repeat your drills and exercises, but introduce variations such as kicking with fins or using hand paddles. Focus on different aspects of a skill, mix up the order of drills, or combine two exercises into one. Keep it fresh!
Don't forget your contrasting activities too. At the end of each lesson, dedicate 5 or 6 minutes to an exercise that focuses your pupils on one particular skill. You could use this time to fine-tune an aspect of their swimming that needs it. For example, you could use surface diving to help enhance their breath control. You can also use a contrasting activity to pre-teach a new skill that will be coming up in the next lesson. For example, practise star floating to help relax and float, or practise sitting dives to help develop streamlined body shapes. Click here for 101 swimming lesson plans, each one with a contrasting activity.
Teaching adults or children to swim is one of the most rewarding jobs, and with the right tips and tricks in your tool kit, you can ensure your pupils enjoy their swimming lessons and progress into confident swimmers. Keep your lessons varied by throwing in new ideas, keep the lessons engaging, and, most importantly, enjoy the process.
My massively popular book How To Be A Swimming Teacher is packed with more tips for teaching swim lessons than you could possibly need. Tips, drills and professional advice that will make your swimming lessons outstanding. To be an outstanding swimming teacher click here, or simply ’add to cart’ below.