Fine-Tune Lifeguard Skills
Fine-tune lifesaving and water rescues skills regularly; take in-service training seriously.
When athletes come off of the bench, they are expected to step in and do their best to salvage a difficult situation. When lifeguards come off of the bench, though, they are expected to perform at the highest level possible right away. There is no time to learn on the fly, a life may depend on it.
The Lifeguard Training Conundrum
A lifeguard’s number one job is preventing water-related emergencies. When a lifeguard does their job effectively, however, they spend very little time putting their water entry and lifesaving skills to use. The lifeguard conundrum is, if practice makes perfect, and a good lifeguard prevents every opportunity to practice, what happens when an accident that can’t be prevented occurs?
Because they don’t have the luxury of honing their lifesaving and rescue skills while on-duty, lifeguards absolutely must take in-service trainings seriously; it is the only way to ensure they are prepared to answer the call of duty when a swimmer is in distress.
Lifeguard In-Service Training
In-services trainings are the ideal time for lifeguards to:
Lifeguards should be encouraged to make mistakes during in-service trainings. Allow guards to demonstrate each skill completely before offering constructive feedback. If a lifeguard makes any mistakes while demonstrating a lifesaving technique or a water entry skill, offer suggestions or critiques, and require that they demonstrate the skill again.
Lifeguards should be required to continue to redo each skill until completely accurately. If a lifeguard needs several attempts to successfully complete a skill, it may be necessary to pull them from the schedule and reassess their training.
Every in-service training should start with an opportunity for lifeguards to ask questions or raise concerns. They are the ones “in the field”, and as such, have the greatest sense of opportunities for improvement with your aquatics program.
Communication is a very, very important part of lifeguarding, but it is understandable if some lifeguards are reluctant to ask questions in front of their peers. Consider implementing an anonymous question box for your lifeguard crew to use.
Practice Working as a Team
Regardless of whether you have a single-guard pool, or a crew of twenty or more lifeguards, working as a team is of the utmost importance. Guards must communicate effectively during lifeguard rotations, during rescues, and during in-services. In-service trainings are a great time to identify which guards contact EMS, which guards clear the pool, and which guards take the lead during a rescue.
Work on Conditioning
Lifeguards should spend time in the water during every in-service training. In addition to performing water rescues, lifeguards should also spend time conditioning. Lap swimming, brick drills, and wading are all good conditioning exercises.
If a guard struggles through any portion of the conditioning exercises, it may be necessary to pull them from the schedule until they are better suited to handle to physical rigors of water rescues.