We are at a critical point in USRPT development

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    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple months and I think this is a good time to voice some concerns regarding where USRPT development is going.

    The USRPTIA has well-intentioned people working behind the curtain. I am also a paying member. However, we haven’t seen a member update since June and their coaching certification review is non-existent. There are a number of factors in play that I am aware of so I’m not blaming any one person but the org is slowly fading away. I began the certification process in June, finally got a response in August, was verbally awarded a bronze cert, and my gold application has been in limbo since then. Glenn was great in helping with this but I don’t actually have anything tangible to show for this certification, nor is my certification listed on the official site (which would be really beneficial to all certified coaches looking for jobs).

    Speaking of jobs, collegiate coaches don’t care about your certifications. They care that you were a GA for 1 year, or were a good swimmer somewhere, or once had 5 swimmers make junior cuts (out of your 100 swimmers in practice). They don’t actually care about knowledge. I was interviewing for a collegiate water polo position and the swim coach was on the hiring committee. I asked her what certifications she had, to make a point about polo certifications, and she said “we don’t need certification to coach in the NCAA”.

    The content of these forums and correct USRPT content on the internet is growing old. Many videos and articles are 2-4 years old now. MA is doing great but there is little momentum for the system. MA shouldn’t be the ambassador; no other athlete is an ambassador for a “training system”. Except maybe Tom Brady with TB12 but that’s debatable. MA should train, compete, and promote his brand and sponsors. Ambassadors need to come from knowledgeable coaches and researchers. Of course, this goes back to legitimizing the certification process. Who can refute bad expressions of the system now? Where do we want a swim reporter to go to understand the system? The general internet, an athlete who tried the system that one time, or a gold-level coach?

    I brought up some issues so I’ll try to list some solutions:

    Internally: Certification needs to be better documented from certification testing through authentication of coaches. USRPTIA should be actively pushing for and growing the bronze-level ranks. I would pay for the cert. The org needs to promote the benefits of the certification.
    Externally: “Marketing material” needs to be aggressively pushed to Athletic Directors listing the value of a certified coach. An NCAA water polo commissioner told me ADs call him all the time asking about water polo certifications to assess new applicants but polo doesn’t have any certifications. ADs want to know a coach has a certifiable level of knowledge.

    College programs should be encouraged to certify their existing coaches in the system. Whether they use it exclusively or not this would spread correct understanding and limit erroneous assumptions and misinformation.

    Dedicated content should be planned and programmed over a longer-term schedule. One of the major pitfalls of media marketing is putting out all your information too quickly. If the org can only create 1 video a month don’t publish 12 in 2 weeks. Spread out the content evenly. There is a ton of USRPT content that can be developed but it is ok to work within time commitment limitations and just put out small amounts of consistent quality content over a longer period of time.

    Higher-level coaches should be available as ambassadors. If I never see another article by a swimswam intern talking about training concepts I’ll quit coaching. Right now, even if a journalist wants more information their only place to turn to are coaches who probably don’t know what they are talking about.

    Lastly, USRPTIA needs to download and archive every piece of content from Dr. Rushall’s SDSU website. If this site disappears after some SDSU IT SNAFU we are in trouble. I have many articles saved but the org needs to maintain this repository at this point.

    More thoughts everyone???

    Ryan Upper
    Bronze-Level USRPT Coach
    Gold-Level Coaching Candidate
    Head Coach, Duke Women’s Water Polo
    Head Coach, UNC-Chapel Hill Men’s Water Polo
    Captain, US Army


    I agree with your points. Aside for this forum, I’m missing a way to communicate with other coaches and be able to evaluate their level or the level of their swimmers. It’s one thing to get advice from other coaches, but their level of expertise and level of swimmers adds weight to their advice.

    I’ve been sending some questions to Peter and Tina (through USRPTIA) but never got any answers 🙁

    I’m for example very interested how Michaels training evolved over the years. which lessons have they learned over the years? What do his current microcycles look like?

    Here some of the questions I sent:

    Season planning / periodisation
    In traditional training you typically control weekly volume and intensities throughout the season in macro, meso, micro cycles. With USRPT this is different. In essence sets are always Nx25 and Nx50, etc. at pace. However, I notice (as my swimmers get older) they have difficulties getting up and running in the beginning of the season. Making no or a very low number of reps at their pace.

    My question is: how do Peter and Michael manage this? Do you always prioritise speed/pace over numbers of reps made? Or do you start of on a slower pace, build volume and only then go back to actual race pace (pace variable, rest constant, build volume)? Or alternatively, do you take more rest in between reps to build volume and afterwards decrease rest (pace constant, rest variable, build volume).

    See also this discussion on the USRPT forums: http://forum.usrpt.com/forums/topic/macro-planningperiodization/

    I think Peter records the results for each set of Michael. I’m interested in how this data correlates to his actual race results. Do you do anything with this? Can you see trends when comparing the training data with races? And can you see evolution in his sets over the years?

    I’m still unsure on the best way to peak for a big meet. I’ve tried 2 weeks of unloading, 1 week, 3-4 days. I often find myself wondering wether we do too little in the week(s) building up to a big meet? How does Michael tackle this? Would it be possible to give a concrete example, for example, which sets and results did he do in the 2 weeks prior to the trials?

    Recently I bought “the non-traditional lore of swimming course”. Are there any updates on when the psychology and nutrition parts will follow? I’m looking forward to this!



    I re-read the older thread and saw you had the same questions. I looked at what I wrote some 3! years ago and thought about what I’ve been doing recently.

    Periodization: I’ve attempted to list some observations in the other forum topic about this. My recent one indirectly addresses an early season situation. Essentially, your more experienced swimmers suffer from peripheral anaerobic fatigue early in the season. There’s really no way around this. They probably aren’t breathing hard on many sets cuz the peripheral muscle can’t regenerate efficiently. As a traditional coach, if we don’t see them breathing hard we think they aren’t working hard.

    The problem with experienced athletes is they know/remember how to go fast. Technique takes years to degrade. But the half-life of mitochondria in 14 days. So, your swimmers are feeling a fast 100 pace on the first 25 but by rep 6 the energy delivery architecture is exposed as being “out of shape”. I think training in the 100% VO2max range may be the best fix for this issue.

    As for 2-week periodization, I think it just comes down to changing one of the variables. When the athlete plateaus tweak something. I’ve found pace (intensity) to be the most demanding. Increasing target volume and decreasing rest are less demanding. Changing a technique item helps to refresh the mental focus. I would be careful looking at MA’s plan cuz he is 1 athlete. We don’t know where he falls in a large population.

    I’ve used a plan where I lock everything in 2 weeks before a meet; no specific techinque item focus, no change in pace or interval. But keep the volume up. The week before I cut volume so that I end up doing 6-8 reps 48-72 hours before. Add more starts and turns but longer breaks between sets. No sprints 2-3 days out. And I take the day off before the event. For individuals, ask them if they feel they locked in their race-pace in the short sets. If they feel they have then move them along. If they say they didn’t give them a few more reps. They should be thinking about this during the meet warmup as well.

    From MA’s Pan Pacs video it looks like he runs through his event sets in the same order and in the same day scheme as the meet. He said he starts this 1 month out. So for a 3 day meet you would train each event you would be swimming each day and rotate the training on a 3-day microcycle.

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