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  • Writer's pictureAli K


A couple of weeks ago, I was very intrigued about the 'learning curve' in sports in general. Learning Curve is a person's progress in gaining experience or new skills. Let's say they are measurements and performances that occur over time... These measurements and performances would be skills, abilities, knowledge, and experiences that would assess your athletes' learning.


The more someone performs a task, the better they get at it, right? An enormous amount of learning occurs when we are beginners and this factor keeps you engaged with your learning. Athletes seek 'mastery' all the time. My interpretation of learning is simple; learning involves a change in behaviour that is relatively permanent and this helps you achieve 'excellence and mastery'. Through this, you promote LOVE OF LEARNING!

I see way too many coaches who are implementing USRPT style training regime to age group swimmers when they should be focussing on perfecting technique.

The reality is that your age group swimmer's love being challenged. That's why they keep on coming back to your sessions. They love the challenge, they enjoy the intricate sets, complex drills, but ultimately, they love learning and seeing their progress. Pressuring them with just swim meet success will not be successful in the long run.

A traditional learning curve looks like this.

HOW TO Save them from the plateau state?

PLATEAU STATE: This is where the 'DROP-OUT' happens, this is where 'BOREDOM' happens, this is where 'MONOTONY' happens, and finally, this is where you 'LOSE THEM'. When learning stops, our swimmers hit the 'PLATEAU STATE'.

The 'plateau' state is referred to those athletes who are no longer learning. Their learning is at its lowest due to a lack of learning. At this state, your swimmers will find it really difficult to have any technical challenges.

As a coach, you have the Power of Control over the 'Learning Curve'. Our task should be to continue inspiring athlete and to continue teaching our athletes. We have absolute control over what age the swimmers will hit the 'PLATEAU' state.

Some swimmers may hit this stage as early as 11 years of age.

Athletes not learning means eventually they'll DROP-OUT from the sport. We should try to implement a new curve to introduce another dimension, Curve - C.

athletes should hit the b & C after 16

We have to introduce new aspects to our practices; variety, excitement, new learning material where our athletes are challenged, introduce new methods, and use of technology.

The plateau effect must be combated if performance is to improve.

Eyad Massoud, a professional swimmer from New Zealand tackles the 'plateau state' by learning and implementing;

  1. Continue learning

  2. Visualisation

  3. Reflection

  4. Mental preparedness

  5. Reliving the training and events

  6. Thinking calmly and in a relaxed state of mind to bring out the best performance

Additionally, implementing the below will help in achieving 'important gains in professional learning' (CURVE-C).

  1. Ensure that she/he has enough rest to offset the effects of fatigue

  2. Strength & Conditioning

  3. Yoga & Stretching

  4. Start using the RPE scale.

  5. Set goals that are motivating and challenging... but achievable

  6. Increase motivation by varying the content and level of difficulty of each practice session

  7. Receive praise and encouragement as little rewards for any achievements

  8. Train to improve the physical and mental aspects of their fitness.

  9. Use Video Analysis

  10. Altitude Training

  11. Endless pools - Resistance Swimming - LED Pacers

I think learning must never stop. We have to keep our athletes engaged with new learning material, which should be age appropriate.

Coach pushing the boundaries


Swimmers pushing the boundaries

As coaches, we ought to learn and push the boundaries.


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