Teaching Competitive Racing Starts: Practices and Opinions of Professional Swim Coaches

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The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of coaches’ perceptions regarding the most important elements of the competitive swim start and the progressions coaches use to teach the skill to novice swimmers. A survey was developed specifically for this project and administered via an email link sent to all registered USA Swimming coaches. The final survey elicited 471 responses. When coaches were asked if a progression was used when teaching starts, 4.6% reported using a written checklist, 89.8 % a mental one, and 5.5% none at all. Of those that used a progression to teach racing starts, 78.3% used a personally designed progression while the remaining 21.7% used information provided by a professional organization. The information obtained from the survey suggests that teaching the racing start is an informal process. The lack of use of an authoritative resource utilized in teaching racing starts to novice swimmers warrants further investigation with regard to the safety of this complex skill.