Coaching Association of Canada

Meng Chen, ChPC - Synchronized Swimming

Insights from the Pool Deck

Meng Chen (pronounced MONG CHEN) has been Canada’s national team synchro coach since 2008. The 34 year-old Chinese ex-synchronized swimmer sat down with Stéphane Côté, Synchro Canada’s Communications Coordinator to discuss her journey and what the National Team is looking forward to on the road to Rio 2016. In that interview, she also listed some great coaching tips that we are happy to share with you here. 

1. Everything is about basic skills.

We cannot emphasize this enough. In order to keep progressing, we must make it a priority that athletes be able to hold perfect basic positions: everything else will be built upon that. We must also realize that being talented does NOT replace having perfect basic skills: everybody needs to work on this. I am convinced that Jacqueline Simoneau was able to win the figures competition at Junior Worlds because we spent all summer working on basic skills.

2. Don’t just plan: put your plans into practice.

Canada is lucky to have many very qualified coaches who can come up with effective and well-designed training plans, but the challenge is to translate those plans into perfect practice.

3. Be fair and clear with your athletes: give praise when praise is due, but only then.

While it’s crucial to praise your athletes for a job well done, they also need to develop the skill of being self-critical, which comes when you only get praised when you deserve it.

4. Don’t pamper your talented athletes.

You may think you’re helping them by overlooking certain things that you know they can make up for with their talent, but you’re not. The more talented an athlete is, the more you must ask of her.

This last piece of advice best exemplifies what Meng is all about. She is a strong-willed and demanding perfectionist, but she’s also a passionate, understanding, and open-minded mentor. She works her athletes to the bone, but they love her for it.

To read Stéphane’s full interview with Meng, click here.