Capital Wave Coach, PLAY! Water Polo Program
Sometimes, when the practice may not be going exactly as planned, that little voice in my head asks, “Why? Why are you doing this? You could be at home right now, feet up, enjoying a glass of the best that Scotland has to offer. Instead, you’re here at a pool where it’s loud, hot and noisy.”
That’s usually when I look out at the young water polo players in the pool, try to find one that probably isn’t having the best day of their young lives (don’t worry, there are not many players in that predicament) and tell them –
Life’s always better in the water.
This serves two purposes. One, I am reminding myself of the joy that I get from being in the water and, two, I am sharing that fact with my captive audience.
Make no mistake, life is always better in the water.
I am living proof of this and I see the evidence of this almost every day.
When I drive my daughter to swimming at 5:00 AM, no one in the car is particularly happy – it’s cold, dark and everyone else is tucked up in bed. But, as soon as she sees her friends and jumps into the water she is transformed, she is smiling. I didn’t know someone could smile while swimming twenty 100s, but I’ve seen it. The water did that.
I saw this on a large scale at a swim meet last year. The main pool was being used for the competition but there was a large dive tank for warming down after their event. The tank was full of competitive swimmers aged 8 – 12, not doing laps, but jumping into and out of the pool, trying to touch the bottom and playing with friends. The dive tank was of such depth that most kids of that age would be clinging to the sides. Yet, these kids had nothing to fear. The kids were completely comfortable in the water – it had become their playground. The water did that.
When my mother wants a complete escape, the only solution is aquafit. As soon as the music starts and her limbs get moving her stress levels subside. She would not be doing this type of activity on land. The water is essential to her participation, to staying active and to making her life better. The water did that.
Over the first few weeks of this water polo season, I am seeing similar happenings in the water. The look of joy when scoring a goal or stealing the ball from an unsuspecting player is always fun to see. At our recent practices, we’ve had some senior players in with our younger athletes and it’s working wonders – the younger players now have role models that they will never forget. You can see it on their faces and in how they play. The younger players are stepping up their game in order to make an impression, all the while absorbing aspects of the game that are difficult to coach and that only come from experience. The water did that.
How will I know that I have succeeded as a coach?
It’s not how many players that I have coached receive a scholarship or are invited to a provincial or national team. Those are nice-to-haves, bonuses.
I will gauge my success on the players that I now coach continuing to be in or on the water in the years to come. Hopefully, the players continue to develop their water polo and swimming skills, or maybe they move on to other activities such as open water swimming, canoeing or kayaking. As long as they stay active and enjoy the water, that’s what’s important.
Years from now, if I ever run into a former player, on deck or on shore, that I’ve coached and ask them if they have their swimsuit and want to swim a couple of kilometres or just pass the ball, I hope they will answer, “Yes, my suit is in the car. I’ll be right back.”
That is success – spreading the joy of being in the water and allowing the experience of just being in the water to improve the lives of others.
I feel privileged to belong to a club that aspires to these values and that I have been entrusted to bring this joy of the water to our youth.