Will You Be the Last Team to Start Using Headsets?

By SwimSwam Partner Content
September 17th, 2020

Courtesy: ONEswim.com, a SwimmersBest brand.

While you have told yourself that you have justified ‘reasons’ for not using headsets, they are really just excuses. Yes, early technology from large brands were flawed. A ‘headset’ from one of the industry’s top brands turns off when you flip turn and will stop working when you are underwater. But that is NOT what modern headsets can do for you. Early ideas of headsets were to talk to one individual swimmer at a time. But the ONEFocus headset allows you to talk to your entire team at the same time, uninterrupted, flip turns and all.

The main excuses for ignoring this technology are:

  • I don’t want to baby or spoil my swimmers
  • They cost too much
  • I need to correct individual swimmers, not talk to all of them
  • You can’t dive with headset
  • They don’t work good enough for my swimmers to hear me
  • We have too many coaches and groups swimming at the same time

Again, these are all false, uneducated excuses. Yes, the cost is a legitimate factor (ONEFocus starting at $92 per swimmer) but ask any coach or swimmer that is using them and you will realize that they are as critical as goggles. Expand your mind to all the things that open up to your swim group when you consider the ONEFocus headsets by www.oneswim.com.

  • No more waiting for everyone to get to the wall to explain the next set
  • No more trying to fit in technique corrections for 16 kids in 15 sec rest intervals
  • Properly Social distance by stopping/starting everyone from Station Markers along the lane
  • Have everyone in the group hear 100% of what you say every time
  • Quickly ‘flip’ swimmers that are being held back by a slower swimmer to safely reorder the lane
  • Create complex, challenging, and engaging sets that everyone can get right the first time
  • Direct both dryland and in-water mixed sets at the same time
  • Get all swimmers on the same tempo by holding a metronome up to your mic (free phone apps)
  • Become a more relaxed coach
  • Create relaxed swimmers

Still not convinced it is not worth having each swimmer buy their own headset for $85-100? Still think you have ‘logical’ reasons to dismiss this technology for good? Do you really believe that 90% of the industry won’t be using headsets in the next 5-10 years? Can you risk that gamble? Adding the ONEFocus Headsets to your program is not like the complexity and loss of training time as things like trying to video each swimmer each week. You put it on their head and you start talking… you can whisper… they hear you. Everything you see while they are swimming can be addressed immediately instead of forgetting to tell them when they stop at the wall for 15 seconds. The kids in the back of the lane actually get to hear 100% of what you say instead of an abbreviated version as they get to the wall. You can actually create sets that challenge the swimmers mentally and physically instead of settling for easy sets that they can understand from a dry erase board. Your world will change forever and your swimmers will love it.

Technique drills have plenty of value. But if we could fix swimmers by going through a progression of drills we wouldn’t keep seeing technique problems persist for years on end. We have all seen the swimmer that does perfect drills but then races with a host of technique problems. This is because so many times our drills don’t translate to race strokes. The answer is to fuss at them at the wall to fix their problems. But swimmers often don’t know what we mean when we verbally TELL them how to fix their strokes. Let’s say a swimmer is crossing over too far on their freestyle or backstroke. Sure there are plenty of drills to help with this but there are plenty of examples of swimmers that do the drills every week and still have a persistent problem for years. With the ONEFocus headset you can ask them to ‘Janie – enter wider’… ‘now even wider’… ‘a little bit wider still’… ‘there it is, continue right like that’. So often swimmers don’t understand the degree to which we want to correct something and they THINK they are working on what you are telling them but they fail to understand the degree to which you want the change. Headsets make that melt away. With headsets you are fixing RACE STROKES in real time with EVERY swimmer. What else can we want to fix? There are no ‘drill competitions’ so making great drill technique is not our goal… making great racers is the goal.

Traffic Control:
There is a long list of reasons we need to be able to control the traffic in each lane. First is social distancing so they don’t swim up on each other or stop at the wall together. Second is the physical safety to help make sure they don’t run into each other, not properly circle swim, ignore the task you asked for and swim too fast or too slow compared to their lane mates, etc… And then is the factor of ‘effort’. We can’t have swimmers racing to get around the person in front of them and we also don’t want them to swim slower than the effort we asked for just because the person in front of them is too slow at this particular task. With the ONEFocus Headsets you can have swimmers ‘flip’ on your command to reposition them in a lane to make sure they are pushing themselves properly and safely. As ex-swimmers, most coaches can relate to the ‘don’t touch my toes’ distraction and it is easy to see how everyone in the lane is served when the coach can keep everyone sorted out in the lane properly.

Complex Drills Done Correctly the First Time:
What else needs to be said? When you are running through a drill progression and 1-2 people do the wrong drill, you have to add more and more yards to your plan just to get everyone on the same page. You aren’t coaching the group, you are fussing at the ones that aren’t even doing the same drill yet. Headsets let you catch that problem with the first stroke from every swimmer. No more wasted time, not more frustrated coaches. No more embarrassed swimmers. Now you can create complicated drills and help them get it right in the first 25 yards. You can avoid stopping at the wall and just switch drills in a progression without wasted time. You can stop everyone right where they are to regroup or rest without waiting for everyone to get back to the wall.

More Efficient Use of Time and Yardage:
Whether you count yards, or quality, or effort, everything can be more efficient when you have headsets. You can race effort with ‘easy’ -vs- ‘all out’ kick sessions without stopping and without going back to the wall. You can watch the clock instead of yardage by changing gears every 15 seconds or 30 seconds and throttle their effort on your command instead of based on yardage. This is far more efficient use of time and avoids the wasted time of everyone waiting for the last person in the lane to finish up before leaving again. With something like a ‘kick only’ or ‘pull only’ or drills, there is little value in stopping everyone at the wall. This wastes time because of your need to ‘talk’ while they all bob and stare at you like little baby seals looking for their mommy. You can talk while they are swimming. You can stop them right where they are without wasting precious minutes to gather all your little seals up at the wall to hang on your every word while you ‘talk’. Get the work in without the wasted time at the walls on some of your sessions. Aren’t you tired of your little seals pretending to be listening to you and then they push off and ignore everything you said? With a headset they either do it when you say, … or you say it again while they are swimming. Life is great with headsets!

Tempo controlling trainers and metronomes are heralded by some and ignored and unknown by others. Hey, at $70/swimmer they can be hard to justify for most teams for sure. But the days where you buy a Tempo Trainer for EACH swimmer to put under their cap and beep at them is long gone once you have the ONEFocus headsets. Instead you can have every swimmer listening to a free metronome app from your phone that you hold up to your coach mic. Now you can SEE who is ignoring the tempo. Now you can build their tempo faster every 50 yards. Now you can have an ‘easy’ pace tempo and at your mark change to an ‘all out tempo’ effort. Now you can have swimmers doing dryland swim-specific exercises on the same tempo as others are swimming in the water on the same tempo. For more details on how to use metronomes and Tempo Trainers with the ONEFocus headsets, here is an entire article on the topic.

Mixed Dryland/In-Water at the same time:
Thanks for coaches like Dave Salo and Coley Stickels, the process of swim training continues to evolve and change. Instead of endless yardage to wear out swimmers, you can also hop out of the pool and slam battle ropes and THEN race all out. This helps train swimmers to race the ‘back end’ of their events without building on sloppy ‘junk yardage’ in the water. With this mixture of dryland and in-water training in tandem, coaches can design sessions that focus on race pace, target specific muscles, or target specific swim movements.This also allows for more social distancing of swimmers by having some out of the water and some in the water. But this type of training will require some good lungs on the coaches or … well headsets are ideal. Since they work in the water and out of the water it is a great way to have swimmers spread all over the lanes and the deck and you can still keep track of everyone.

How much is it worth to your team to have happier coaches and happier swimmers? What will your swimmer retention be like when kids are not frustrated, confused, or beaten down from hearing only negative corrections? Let’s face it the time we have to talk to kids while they are at the wall is very limited. Thus it is nearly impossible to find time to say the positive things that your swimmers have fixed because there are too many negative things that need to be corrected. With headsets, their rest intervals get to be their time to joke, relax, share with each other as you can tell them what they need to hear (good and bad) in real time while they are swimming. Have them swim an ‘easy’ or ‘pace’ distance while you discuss the details of the next set. No one is talking over you and everyone hears your every word…. happy baby seals… happy coach.

Swim Meet Warm Up:
Swim meet warm up routines are different for every team. You can micromanage or leave them completely alone. But either way with headsets you can; switch swimmers to different lanes, start them on the blocks from the far side of the pool, round them up as a group when you are ready for dives, call them in when their time is up and so much more. But you can still be the ‘cool coach’ that pays no attention to their kids because they can run their own sets… while secretly talking, encouraging, supporting, and getting them ready for the meet with your headsets.

Some Other Unique Uses for Headsets:

  • One-on-One Training Sessions
  • Beginner/Learn 4 Stroke groups
  • Open water (spotting, pacing, course corrections)
  • Blind swimmers
  • Synchronized swimming (timing, music, precision)
  • Water polo teams (offense and defense on different channels)

The Basics about the ONE Focus Headsets:

  • 2 Charging Choices with every headset – in the car or wall outlets
  • Protective Cases with Version 2 (optional for Ver1)
  • Optional Charging Station for Coaches (house 12 with a table top or wall-mount choice)
  • Coaches can have their own mic that are interchangeable with the same transmitter
  • Allows 7 coaches on 7 different channels at the same time
  • Unlimited # of swimmers per channel
  • Compatible frequencies between different versions
  • Easy to install even for beginners (just tuck each ear bud under their goggle straps)
  • Bone conduction so place on bone in FRONT of ear, not over ears themselves
  • Easy Install – Put on your cap first, then goggles, and then the headset