Chances are you've never coached swimming, but you probably know exactly what some swimming coaches are going through.
The New York Times has a big feature on the big issue in the youth swimming circuit right now: high tech swimsuits, and the swimmers (and their parents) who think they need them to compete. Like young athletes from any other sport, youth swimmers want to wear what they see their heroes wear on TV, which are made out of woven fabric, bonded seams and water-resistant coating.
The problem: the cost. Tech suits can run anywhere from $200 to $500, putting an unnecessary financial strain on families while pricing less fortunate families out of the sport entirely.
But that's not the only problem, though. The suits are convincing some parents and athletes that their equipment can be a substitute for practice and technique. From the Times:
Many coaches see any type of tech suit as pointless or counterproductive for young swimmers because their bodies rarely have enough bulk to benefit from the compression effects and their stroke mechanics may not be sound enough to take advantage of the tech suits’ streamlining. They also worry that the suits will overemphasize pressure to succeed and contribute to burnout for certain children.
Here's a great anecdote from former Speedo marketing executive Stu Isaac:
“A parent asked (a coach) if he should buy his daughter a $500 suit, and the coach replied, ‘Your daughter would be a lot better off if you’d just get her to practice on time.’ ”
Another quote, this one from swimming coach Bob Hill: “It’s not a magic suit that gets them their goals. We want our younger athletes to trust in themselves and their training.”
No matter the sport, the issues in youth sports are often universal.