Analysis of swimming performance: perceptions and practices of US-based swimming coaches

J Sports Sci. 2016;34(11):997-1005. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2015.1085074. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


In elite swimming, a broad range of methods are used to assess performance, inform coaching practices and monitor athletic progression. The aim of this paper was to examine the performance analysis practices of swimming coaches and to explore the reasons behind the decisions that coaches take when analysing performance. Survey data were analysed from 298 Level 3 competitive swimming coaches (245 male, 53 female) based in the United States. Results were compiled to provide a generalised picture of practices and perceptions and to examine key emerging themes. It was found that a disparity exists between the importance swim coaches place on biomechanical analysis of swimming performance and the types of analyses that are actually conducted. Video-based methods are most frequently employed, with over 70% of coaches using these methods at least monthly, with analyses being mainly qualitative in nature rather than quantitative. Barriers to the more widespread use of quantitative biomechanical analysis in elite swimming environments were explored. Constraints include time, cost and availability of resources, but other factors such as sources of information on swimming performance and analysis and control over service provision are also discussed, with particular emphasis on video-based methods and emerging sensor-based technologies.

Keywords: Swimming; biomechanics; coaching; inertial sensor; video analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Video Recording