Synchro guru wants more training for J'cans
AMERICAN synchronised swimming coaching clinician Charlotte Davis has called for more coaches and training for Jamaica to succeed at the international level of the sport.
She gave her assessment of the national programme after a two-week visit which included judging at the Jamaica International Synchronised Swimming Championships earlier this month.
"In order for your programme to progress the first step needs to be increasing the number of coaches and providing coaches the opportunity to acquire more advanced training skills," Davis said.
Jamaica is hoping to send athletes to the 2015 Pan American Games in Canada, which would pave the way for earning a ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"The synchronised swimming skill of the Jamaican athletes ranges from intermediate to age group level," added Davis, adding that "they are very strong athletes and seem to be extremely enthusiastic about the sport".
She noted, however, that coaches "are the front-line workers. They are the ones that work every day with the athletes and deliver the programme. If you can increase the number of coaches and their skill level, you will see better long-term results in athlete performance".
With over 40 years' coaching experience and having guided the US national teams since their Olympic debut in 1984, Davis advised local coaches to devote "time and attention... to teaching the basics of synchronised swimming".
"This will take a good deal of effort and dedication on the part of the coaches to insist that their swimmers become proficient at these fundamental elements before progressing to more complicated and difficult ones.
"The swimmers, too, need to understand that mastering the fundamentals is key to the future success in the sport. There are no shortcuts to achieving their goals. More practice hours must be dedicated to improving the basic skills of the sport," she stressed.
Davis, who has also conditioned World and Olympic solo and duet champions, pointed to the need for more competitive opportunities for athletes, coaches and officials inside and outside of Jamaica "for continued improvement".
"Expanding the competitive experience for everyone, either by bringing outside groups to Jamaica or taking your federation to competitions and clinics outside of Jamaica will help to reinforce their training efforts as well as enhance their competitive performance.
"Clinics should be encouraged within Jamaica as well as the opportunity to attend clinics outside the country. Both would be extremely beneficial to your programme," she insisted.
In addition to encouraging athletes to be punctual, helped by an incentive plan, she believed judges "did a good job" but needed exposure to higher level competition "to distinguish scores in higher ranges".