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Zhu Zhigen: Training Champions (like Sun Yang)

Zhu Zhigen: Training Champions (like Sun Yang)

“Translating English to Chinese is difficult. Translating Chinese to English is very difficult.”

I had heard this over and over again but didn’t truly understand until I was watching presentations at FWAC with a translator in my ear. Following along was nearly impossible. It was choppy and I think even the translator was having difficulty deciding on what English words to use. Have no fear, though, as I took plenty of pictures and notes.

Zhu Zhigen, Sun Yang’s coach, gave more of an overview of what is important to him as a coach rather than providing exact training blocks, sets, or drills — the stuff the audience pines for. Honestly, I enjoyed this presentation probably because I believe in much of what he discussed. 

Coach Zhigen talked a lot about the importance of posture, line, and balance. He kept bringing it up in almost every slide — he reminded me of Skip Kenney beating it into your head.

He also seems to be in love with altitude training not only before a big competition but afterwards for recovery. Coach Zhu said that it is very common for most of his swimmers to attend a National meet a couple of weeks after a major championship and go even faster. Though, you must be careful due to the increased chances of an athlete getting sick at altitude. 

What I found most interesting was him being so adamant about not over training your athletes. Most practices are comprised of 65-70% race pace training. Sun Yang would ask him to swim more and he would deny him.

“Anyone can swim a lot. This is not a trick.” – Zhu Zhigen

My favorite takeaway from Coach Zhu Zhigen was for coaches to have more empathy towards their swimmers. I couldn’t agree more. I see some of the sets coaches are throwing up on their white boards and they themselves can’t even touch their toes because they are so grossly overweight. Yet they think 10×400 IM’s for an 11 year old is totally doable.

Oi vey. 

Enjoy the slides: