Welcome to the mid-season hump. The excitement of the season opening has ended. Now it’s those
same kids acting out, those same parents dropping their children
off for aqua-babysitting and the same view from the stand.
It’s too soon to think about the season end, but not for
playing hooky. You know the drill: sudden family travel plans;
college start date changes, unscheduled weddings and a host of
other activities that crop up as guards lose interest.
Even those who show up have been working with the same group for
some time. They know who usually comes in late or is likely to
leave early. Friendships have formed, alliances broken. This is the
time morale is most likely to slip.
Why should you care? Low morale can lead to low performance.
Lethargic lifeguards have a slower response time. They may be more
likely to arrive late, or not show at all, leaving your facility
understaffed. Boredom can cause guards to lose interest and even
abandon the job entirely.
How do you get your lifeguard team over that mid-season hump?
Build fun into your in-service activities. Focus on maintaining a
work environment that is exciting, unpredictable and challenging.
In-service time might be at a premium. Plus, there are usually
critical issues to cover at the mid-season training point.
Mid-season is when performance gaps have been identified based on
job performance evaluation.
Unused skills may need refreshing.
Take time for the luxury of fun?
Most certainly! Fun doesn’t take very long. Short,
challenging, interactive activities can not only lighten the
mid-season hump load, but also reinforce teamwork concepts. Here
are two interesting and unique activities specifically designed to
create a positive mind shift to help get everyone over that
mid-season hump. Most important, these activities are FUN!
No equipment is needed for this simple and short activity, making
it easy to incorporate at the beginning or end of any water
Standing in waist-deep water, participants form a circle. Their
first task is to form a knot. Once the circle is formed, all
participants walk into the center of the circle and extend both
arms. Next, each person grasps the hands of someone else. An
individual should not grasp hands with the person on either side of
him or her. An individual should grasp hands with two other people,
giving his or her right hand to one person and left hand to a
different individual. Once all participants have grasped hands, a
knot has been formed.
Then the group task is to untangle that knot, reforming the
original circle (but with different individuals to either
In untangling the knot, several rules apply:
- Hands must remain grasped.
- Hands cannot be let go and then re-grasped to facilitate untangling.
- Hands may be temporarily released to adjust swimsuits.
To make Knots more challenging, blindfold all water participants
and place an additional person on deck giving untangling
directions. This activity also can be performed as a team event by
dividing the group into two teams. Each team makes a knot, and on a
start signal, race to see which group untangles its knot
For this activity, Spin Jammers are needed. A Spin Jammer is a
specially designed Frisbee with a central cone on the concave side.
It can be spun while held atop one finger. (Spin Jammers are
available from US Games, P.O. Box 7726, Dallas, TX 75209; phone,
800.327.0484; Web site, usgames.com.)
Swimmers are randomly spaced, treading in deep water. A swimmer
starts the Jammer spinning on one finger. When the disk is
spinning, the swimmer finger-tosses Jammer to another swimmer. The
receiving swimmer catches the disk on one finger, keeps it spinning
and passes it to another swimmer.
For increased challenge and/or greater participation, there are a
variety of variations on the basic toss and catch. This makes using
the Jammer an excellent way of enhancing conditioning, as well as
Give swimmers their own Jammers and ask them to toss and catch,
keeping the Jammers spinning on one finger throughout. Count the
number of passes (to self or to another swimmer) made without a
For a group drill, count the number of passes that can be made
within the group, without a miss. All swimmers must receive and
pass once before any can receive a second time. Specify the number
of passes in a set amount of time. Continue partner passes while
traveling a width/length of the pool.
Training activities described here are from Grosse, S.
(2009). Lifeguard Training Activities and Games. Champaign,