Training of any kind can be referred to as a necessary evil. Most individuals would love to be proficient at a sport — or any other skill, for that matter — without the hours of training that are required to excel.
training is no different.
lifeguards bemoan the fact that they must attend in-service
training, I doubt there are many who would question the necessity
The key to how
successful your training is depends on the overall tone of the
delivery and the structure of the training itself.
At the facilities in
Ohio, there are two major seasons. The first is the summer season,
Labor Day to Memorial Day. During this time we employ up to 150
aquatics staff members. The second is Memorial Day through Labor
Day, employing approximately 40 during the colder months, when the
pools are closed. It makes sense in our situation, which I know
many share, to have major recertification and orientation
in-service coincide with the kick-off just prior to the summer
The first key to
success is how you present the need to attend the summer kickoff
recertification and training. At my facilities, each employee is
informed of the requirements for employment, which include
in-service training, at the time of hire. It’s also mentioned
in our aquatics staff manuals. All employees who sign on for the
summer are sent e-mails that list the available dates and times for
their in-service training. Reminder fliers are posted in the pool
office, urging them to sign up early to get the times they
Nearly as important
as the information you put in your e-mail and flier is what you
don’t put in your flier.
Do not threaten or
promote your in-service in a way that makes it sound as appealing
as walking the plank. Everyone knows they have to attend. It is
your task to sell it in the most positive way. This training is
something you are providing to make sure they are prepared for
anything they may encounter.
The larger the
staff, the more time options you’ll need. We offer summer
pre-season in-service training the four weekends prior to Memorial
Day and one “unadvertised last chance” the second week
in June. This last chance in-service is for those attending college
out of state, colleges with late finals and late hires. Each
pre-season in-service consists of approximately 12-14 hours total,
split between a Saturday and Sunday.
To give further
options, the agenda for each day is rotated each weekend. For
instance, the information that is offered on Saturday the first
weekend is offered on Sunday the next weekend. This allows those
who have only Saturday availability to attend two Saturdays and
receive all the information.
It is the time of
year when proms, spring sports, college finals, Mother’s Day,
graduation and many end-of-school year activities occur. That is
why you need to offer options. You’re not going to ask
someone to miss their prom or qualification for the regional track
meet. Make it convenient and easy for everyone to
Every other year, we
recertify everyone in American Red Cross Lifeguarding. Everyone is
recertified at this time regardless of their expiration date. This
puts the whole staff on the same renewal track and avoids
challenges throughout the year to renew individual certifications.
It is done in four stations, for approximately 30 minutes at each
station and is manned by lifeguard instructors on staff. CPR
recertifications also are set up in stations.
Depending on your
staff size and the number of participants per session, you may need
multiple instructors at each station.
taught me to schedule more time than I’ll most likely need.
People are always glad to get out early!
For the years that
you do not need to recertify your lifeguards, merely adjust that
day’s schedule as needed. Another tip is to use a separate
session to go over the manual with new employees; bring the
veterans in later in the day to meet them. Veterans don’t
need to go over items such as how to clock in and where to park
year after year. Bring veterans and rookies together for annual
rule and policy reviews, where you can highlight problem areas and
policy changes, and use the expertise of seasoned staffers to help
The last day of each
in-service weekend concludes with a slide show of highlights of the
previous summer season. We try to take lots of pictures of the
staff at work or any other amusing events of the previous year,
such as the mallard duck who has a nest every year in the same spot
and starts her ducklings on their first swim in the pool. Your
current employees will enjoy reminiscing, and this is a chance for
your rookies to see just how much fun is in store for
Present all your
in-services, either summer pre-season or regularly scheduled, in a
positive and professional way. You’ll be rewarded with a
well-trained staff that takes pride in its skills and appreciates
the opportunities that you’ve provided to