Inside Look at Total Immersion Teacher Training
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on March 5th, 2010

Suzanne Atkinson of Pittsburgh, an experienced cycling and triathlon coach from Pittsburgh (who manages to combine a very professional coaching business, Steel City Endurance, with her “day job” as an ER physician) is attending the Total Immersion Swimming Professional Training program I’m leading Feb 28-Mar 6 in Coronado CA.  I was impressed by Suzanne prior to our first meeting when I viewed the “audition video” all coaching candidates are required to submit with their application to attend training. In that video we want to see evidence that they’ve already mastered the main points of TI technique. Suzanne sent us a link to a video she’d prepared with voiceover and graphic analysis of the improvement opportunities in her own stroke.  I immediately wanted her on our team.

Throughout the week, Suzanne has kept a daily chronicle of her experiences as a TI teacher trainee on her blog. I’ve read it with great interest for the insights it has brought to certain things I now do so instinctively  that I barely think about them. One was a comment on a talk I gave “framing” the activities we would do over the course of the week.

A key part of our training experience is a workshop we’re conducting with “live” students all week. The workshop is 10 x 1-hour lessons, offered two per day Mon thru Fri. We’ll also coach a day-long TI 2.0 workshop for experienced TI swimmers on Saturday, giving each trainee nearly 20 hours of real-world teaching practice, mentored and observed by experienced TI coaches over the course of the week.

At the beginning of each lesson I’ve gathered our 16 students for an overview of the activities – averaging 3 to 4 drills or exercises — in the coming hour. I start by demonstrating the final drill or skill we’ll do in the session and explaining how it will improve the ease and efficiency of their whole stroke. Then I demonstrate the activities leading up to it. taking care to illustrate how one activity sets up the one to follow.

This is critical because in the middle of the hour of learning that will follow, each student will typically become so absorbed in the often-granular details of the skill they’re working on at the moment (for instance 3 considerations for finding the right position of the lead hand in Skating drill) that they can forget the point of WHY it’s important to have it there — i.e. its consequential effect on whether you move your body forward, or just move your hand back, in the stroke.

I’ll continue to read Suzanne’s blog for the self-awareness it affords me. And perhaps you might pick up some  useful insight as well.

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2 Responses to “Inside Look at Total Immersion Teacher Training”

  1. Alan says:

    Glad to read that new things/experiences are still/always happening! looking forward to Suzanne’s blog, thanks.

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  2. Terry, I’m so glad to be part of the team, and thanks for the shout out to my blog. I am still digesting everything I learned and have days 4-7 to upload still after some minor editing.

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