How to Handle Swimmers Who Aren’t Ready for the “Next Step”

Over the past twenty years, I have had the opportunity to teach every level of swimming as well as, interact with many different personalities.

Some children are as cool as a cucumber right from the start while others are a little more anxious or hesitant. Combine these differences in personalities and confidence levels in a group setting and you have a lot to juggle.

Occasionally, I notice swim instructors focusing primarily on getting children through each swim lesson without noticing if the child is confident enough to graduate to the next step.

It is imperative to pay attention to how well each child performs a skill before moving them onto the next level.


Swimmers must never be pressured into trying to accomplish the end results and neglect to take time for the developmental steps along the way.

Students who progress through a program that takes time for all the developmental steps learn techniques such as side breathing and alternate side breathing very easily.

As with all skills, we must remember that if a child is pushed before they are ready they will regress. If that is the case the teacher must always step back, review the child's current progress and give them practice drills that will strengthen their development.

Remember in a class situation if the class is working on alternate side breathing and one child is not ready or having a bad day, it is easy to have that child work on breathing on one side while the others work on alternate side breathing.

How do you handle swimmers who aren’t progressing as quickly as the rest of the class? Share your tips and let me know!