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Making lifeguard training fun By Josh Duffy

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ifeguarding can be challengingly boring, but why let that tedium into your in-services training as well? By being creative, staff are more engaged and can get more out of it, as opposed to just going through the motions.

Point-based competitions Turning your in-service training skills into competitions can be a great way to foster an environment where people want to attend. Prizes for winners are nice, but not necessary (at least initially) as bragging rights can be just as, if not more, incentivising. Here are some point-based competitions that you can implement for various aspects of lifeguarding. Skills: When practicing different skills (such as passive submerged retrieval) during an in-service, have a clear outline of all the things staff need to do for any given skill. Then, staff will start out with a score of 100 and lose points for any and every mistake made, and the person with the highest score at the end wins. Scanning: Have objects hidden in the pool. Staff are given limited time to scan the whole pool, then are tested on what objects they saw. Whoever saw and remembered the most, wins the competition. Time element: Once the trainees are adept at these skills, you can add the element of time to push them harder and keep them interested.

Teamwork and leadership emphasis Teamwork is an integral part of any aquatics organisation. When it comes to emergency response it is of particular importance. So let’s emphasise it during your lifeguard training to stress to staff just how important, and difficult, it can be! Here’s how: Silent practice: To challenge your staff, when performing skills

Keeping lifeguards engaged during in-service training helps them remain focused on the training and the job

or events that require multiple lifeguards, make it mandatory that they not speak. If they speak they are disqualified. This can help staff focus on their own skills, while aiding your staff in identifying areas for improvement. Single leader practice: If silence isn’t working for your lifeguards, or just for a different challenge, try limiting the number of people who can speak to one. By giving one person the ability to aid others, and provide directions when needed, staff can learn to depend on each other, and again can identify weaknesses to improve on. Dictator practice: Just because your lifeguards have mastered the silence or the single leader doesn’t mean there aren’t other methods to challenge them further. Appoint one person in each group the supreme dictator of that group that must give ALL directions to staff. And no one can perform a skill unless explicitly told to do so by the dictator. While this can be difficult at first, once staff get the hang of it, it can really help your lifeguards hone their skills. Remember to start with easier skills, such as active victim rescues, before moving on to more difficult ones. Rotating dictator practice: Having a single person that gives ALL direction is great. But it can be difficult for the weaker staff, while not challenging your skilled and experienced lifeguards. By having the position rotate between staff, they have to be comfortable and confident enough in their skills to be able to pick up wherever they’re told to, and provide instruction. Choose between timed segments of when the dic-

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tator is changed and checkpoints. Each can offer unique benefits. Teamwork, like other skills, can be learned, taught, practiced and cultivated. The same goes for leadership. Just because your lifeguards are not part of your management structure yet doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be placed into leadership roles. In fact, it can be an effective tool to see who among your lifeguarding staff are capable and prepared for supervisory positions. By adding different aspects of lifeguarding to your in-service skills trainings, you can help your employees become not just effective lifeguards, but effective members of society and of any work environment. Remember, lifeguarding is often a first (or early) job, and as such it’s important that we instil in our staff the qualities we want to see in all our employees. Giving staff awards and recognition for desired behaviour or excellently performed skills and responsibilities is an effective motivator in general. So why not apply those same principles to your lifeguard in-service trainings? Fun awards: Not every aspect of a lifeguard training in-service has to be focus on the serious nature of the position. Everyone has found enjoyment in their lifeguarding jobs over the years, in one way or another. So why not encourage that kind of fun in your staff. After all, their enjoyment and happiness is an important key to retaining staff. So why not provide them with some fun and silly motivation or incentives? Give staff various awards that have to do with the skills or emphasis of

your in-service trainings. A good example is an award for most realistic drowning victim. Seasonal awards: If you have ongoing lifeguard in-service trainings throughout your season(s) of operation, motivation from your staff can also be increased through long-term goals. Provide staff outlines for the long-term awards (whether seasonal or otherwise) and their accompanying rewards in order to keep them coming to your in-services and striving for excellence. Some good examples of seasonal awards going off of the ideas above are: fewest points lost, fastest brick sprint, fastest perfect back-boarding. Whichever methods you choose to introduce to your in-services in order to keep your lifeguarding staff learning and improving, it is key to ensure safety is the most important goal.

DigiQuatics founders Josh Duffy and Michael Pierce met as lifeguards at the age of 15. Both were energetic and inventive and were quickly promoted to management positions. Pierce spent time as a water safety instructor, swim team coach, pool manager and certified pool operator at country clubs, private clubs and universities. Duffy also worked as a water safety instructor and assistant pool manager at several facilities. Combined, they have more than 12 years of experience in the aquatics industry. They joined forces in 2012 to create the DigiQuatics management tool, used by more than 37,837 aquatics professionals to manage their pools. Contact: www.digiquatics.com

Profile for The Intermedia Group

SPLASH December 2020-January 2021  

SPLASH! is the leading trade publication for the Australasian “wet industry”, incorporating the swimming pool, spa and aquatics industries....

SPLASH December 2020-January 2021  

SPLASH! is the leading trade publication for the Australasian “wet industry”, incorporating the swimming pool, spa and aquatics industries....

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