GAINcast Episode 66: The Champion’s Choice (with Chris Webb)

To get athletes to be champions, we have to get them to think like champions. This requires a team culture where athletes are given space to independently choose to do what it takes to win. This is exactly the environment swim coach Chris Webb has set up with several clubs. On this week’s podcast Webb joins us to talk about the steps he is taking to install cultural change at his new job with T2 Aquatics in Florida.

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Webb has been working with elite clubs across the country for several decades, including stops at Carmel Swim Club and most recently as head coach for the Fort Collins Area Swim Team. Wherever he has been one core philosophy behind his approach is what he calls Champion’s Choice:

“You can coach an athlete to a high level, but if you handle them with kid gloves and count every stroke you are actually making that child non-functional in a chaotic environment, which is what sports mostly is. We created athletes that could not function without us.”

Training is not enough to be great. Champions will choose the right things outside of training too. Click To Tweet

The key to developing this is to give the athletes space to explore on their own. Culture was also a central topic of the podcast. Culture is something that goes in both directions, but to and from the athlete:

You don't tell kids what the culture is. Involve them in the process of building & defining culture. Click To Tweet Cultural change is stopping microcurrents one way & using every microopportunity to reverse the flow. Click To Tweet

In the second half of the podcast we also talked about training methods, long-term planning, and more:

There is no need to hurry progressions. There are ways to get better w/o chasing the next movement. Click To Tweet Reverse engineer positions you want, then figure out how to mobilize, strengthen & connect positions. Click To Tweet Athletes need balanced doses of speed and technique. They are not mutually exclusive. @WebbSwim Click To Tweet

To hear more from Webb you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further Reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:

  • Don’t forget to join HMMR Plus. Sign up and you can also get access to our new webinar on medicine balls, plus all our other webinars, online meetups, articles, our sports science newsletter, and more.
  • Webb recently joined T2 Aquatics in Naples, Florida as their head coach. You can also find Webb on Twitter at @WebbSwim.
  • Webb used to coach with Chris Plumb and Ian Murray at the Carmel Swim Club. You can hear us chat with Plumb and Murray on GAINcast 52.
  • Swimming was also the focus of GAINcast 29 with University of Tennessee coach Matt Kredich.
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