Be The Coach You Want To Be Coached By

Written By: Brian Keane



We have a plethora of things to learn from - books, podcasts, and webinars. In our world today, we're able to learn, listen, and gain knowledge with the click of a button. As coaches, we're continually looking to better ourselves, our student-athletes, and our program. The more knowledge we can obtain, the better we can become. The best lesson that I've discovered in speaking with other coaches is that our coaching approach is different. We all bring something unique to the table.


As a collegiate coach, the aspect of "coaching" is such a small portion of the job. It's ironic that our titles may be "Assistant Coach" or "Head Coach" because the amount of time spent coaching on pool deck does not compare to the amount of time spent recruiting, budgeting, handling administrative work, etc. Yet, the act of coaching is an essential part of our athletes' success. I pride myself on the "coaching" aspect—that time spent on deck, pushing and motivating the team. At Bryant, our coaching staff has a philosophy that we stand by whenever we're on deck… "Be the coach that you want to be coached by." This philosophy is the BEST thing I have learned and embraced thus far in my career.


As a swimmer, I loved high energy on deck. I led the cheers, gave the pep talks, and pushed my teammates in the middle of a repeat set. That was an attitude I learned from my club coach and carried into my collegiate career. That's the coach I wanted to be coached by and the number one reason I love being a coach. I continue to make motivation an essential part of my coaching philosophy. I always bring the energy! I love to fire up the group, get the team ready to go, and continuously enforce positivity.


I'm a huge fan of wall talk. I think this should be encouraged—during that time spent on the wall, between intervals. I'm the coach that is continuously clapping, hollering something of the sort...


"Keep grinding here now, two more! Hang tough!"


"You three are in the right spot today!"


"Let's go, Bulldogs!"


Of course, every swimmer is motivated differently. However, it's undeniable that positivity breeds positivity. Wall talk, as I have come to call it, is a mood lifter. A simple "Let's go" while clapping goes a long way. It's a snowball effect. It starts with me and ends with our athletes cheering on their teammates. This creates an environment where the swimmer is excited to come to practice and perform. Most importantly, they are learning the skill of mental stamina. With a positive mentality, their physical performance is consistently progressing.


Motivational. Positive. Energetic. This is who I choose to be as a coach. Every coach is different, and that's great. My advice to coaches everywhere-don't complicate coaching. Be the coach you wanted to be coached by; athletes respond to authenticity. At Bryant, we're fortunate to have five coaches on staff. This gives us the ability to diversify. Each coach on staff holds a different idea of what it means to be their best version of a coach. As a result, all of our student-athletes have a coach they can identify with. We find this gives our swimmers and divers an atmosphere where they can be comfortable, motivated, and ultimately successful. At Bryant Swimming & Diving, we each have a different coaching approach. Still, we remain united in our season goal - fast swims, lifetime bests, flawless dives, and another conference championship.


Brian Keane is in his second season as the assistant coach with the Bryant University Swimming and Diving program. Last season, the Bulldogs won their third consecutive Women’s Northeast Conference Championship. At NECs, the Bulldogs won 9 individual events and 3 relays. The Bulldog men placed 3rd at the 2020 MAAC Championship, with 5 MAAC Champions, 3 MAAC records broken and 4 NCAA B-Cuts. Prior to Bryant, Keane spent two years as the assistant coach at Babson College. Keane was a part of two seasons at Babson where there were 21 school records broken. He also helped lead the team to the largest point total in program history at the 2019 NEWMAC Championships. In addition to collegiate coaching, Keane has been coaching at Kingfish Swimming since 2015. He coached the 2017 New England 15-18 Age Group Champions and a number of swimmers who have went on to swim at various Division I schools across New England. Keane swam for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 2010-2014, where he was a senior captain for the Division I squad. While at UMBC, he helped the team win the 2011 and 2013 America East Conference Championships.

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