By Lauren Hardy//Correspondent
Kansas City Blazers Head Administrative Coach Laura Hineman found her passion for swimming at a young age. After years of SCUBA and swim lessons, Hineman joined the swim team. While she admits her swimming career certainly had its ups and downs, Hineman says she was always happy in the water, which kept her swimming through college and even today as a coach.
Hineman’s coaching experience began early in life, at the age of 16, as an assistant for a local park district swim team. But it wasn’t until Hineman received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and taught for four years that she decided to make a career switch to coaching full-time. In 2012, Hineman interned at the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) in Florida, an opportunity that deeply enriched her overall knowledge of the sport. We spoke to Hineman about how she has applied her training during her last two years of coaching.
What did you learn from interning at ASCA in Fort Lauderdale?
John Leonard and Guy Edson taught me so much about the sport, education and what goes into being an effective coach. I gained an appreciation of the education, support and resources that are available to coaches and swim programs. While I was in Fort Lauderdale, I was also able to participate in developing education, clinics, and take courses to enhance my knowledge of the sport and then apply it on the pool deck.
How would you describe your coaching style?
“Matter of fact.” I don’t play games when I am on deck. The kids know what I mean and never leave questioning what I want them to do. While I have great personal relationships with my swimmers, it is met with a high level of professionalism and emotional stability. I like to bring a blend of knowledge, science and intuition to the pool deck to educate my swimmers about what they are doing. I also provide my swimmers with support, letting them know I care about their swimming and believe in their ability.
What's the best piece of coaching advice you've ever received?
Leigh Cushing, a coach whom I credit with fostering my love for coaching, reminds me that coaching is a constant learning experience. You can get the information you need from clinics, books, and talking to other coaches, but it is the experiences, observations, successes and failures that we really learn from. I know it sounds cliché, but it is so important that coaches take the time to reflect on their experiences and learn from them. It is easy to sit back and be victims of our own successes and failures, but taking responsibility for them, learning from them, and adjusting is what allows us to continue to improve.
In your opinion, how is the swimming world and swim coaching changing?
Technology is driving the science, knowledge and intensity that we are training and competing with. Swimmers come to practice with researched knowledge and understanding that I don’t feel swimmers had when I participated. While any coach you meet would tell you that this can be a blessing and a curse, I think that if we, as coaches, try to stay a step ahead of it, technology can be an asset to a program. It can create know-it-alls, parent-coaches and ignorance, but it also opens the door for resources and awareness.
What’s that hardest part about being of coach?
Setting the pool aside, knowing when to turn it off, and trying to have a life outside of swimming is by far the hardest part of being a coach. When first coaching and going after my goals, I did not have a good balance between my coaching life and my personal life. I am learning to make this balance a priority, and many might be surprised that while it is scary, balance can also be easy.
Hineman’s 5 keys to coaching success:
- Education: When you are able to apply scientific knowledge and understanding to the sport, you bring a confidence that is unmatched, and your athletes will pick up on it.
- Persistence: Never get discouraged. The path to where you want to be can be long and bumpy. Keep the destination in sight, but be willing to roll with the punches and take some detours on the way. You will end up where you are supposed to be.
- Optimism: It’s contagious.
- Work ethic: We demand so much of our athletes in the form of work. Have the same expectations for yourself, be it on the pool deck or at your desk. Coaching is both scientific and administrative. Get your work done in a timely manner, be organized and set an example for your athletes and staff.
- Be able to differentiate between what is in your control and what is not. Don’t add unnecessary stress by trying to control the things you cannot control.