Swimmers' Compliance to Training as a Function of Observation: A Pilot Study

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Adherence to prescribed training intensity (i.e., swim speed) has been conveyed as a key parameter regarding improvements in seasonal performance. Evidence has also suggested swimmers have difficulty complying with coach-prescribed training. How this compliance is affected by a coaching presence and oversight has yet to be examined.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine swimmers' compliance to prescribed training intensity during 3 observational conditions using activity monitors.

Method: Individualized prediction equations were created via linear regression analyses for intensity using arm-stroke and leg-kick activity counts during a series of seven 91.4-m swim bouts in a group of 17 collegiate swimmers. Equations were used to calculate intensity performed during a standardized training session during which only the observational condition varied (e.g., a coach present on deck, no coach present on deck, and an appointed observer in addition to the coach present on deck). Compliance was calculated from the difference between prescribed training intensity and performed swim intensity. Comparisons were made between observed coaching conditions for compliance using a repeated-measures analysis of variance.

Results: Swimmers' compliance to prescribed training intensity during the no-coach condition was less compared with the other conditions, including (a) when a coach was present and (b) when a coach and an additional observer were present (η2 = .58).

Conclusion: The presence of a coach or lack thereof appeared to be critical in terms of swimmers' compliance to prescribed training intensity. Additional observation by nonsupervisory individuals appeared to have no significant effect on swimmers' compliance.