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Behind the Coaching at Chelsea Piers

Behind the Coaching at Chelsea Piers

When Chelsea Piers Connecticut opened, Jamie Barone, Director of Aquatics and Head Coach of the Chelsea Piers Aquatic Club, had a vision of how he wanted to run a swim program. From years of experience on high level competitive teams as an athlete in both college and on the national stage as well as a coach at the famed North Baltimore Aquatics Club, Barone believed he could get the same results from athletes with a different approach.

“I wanted to create a program that was fun, with less unnecessary pressure.  One where kids put in the effort because they want to, not because they are forced” shared Barone. “The kids learn from how we teach. We give a lot of support and guidance. No screaming, no double practices and we encourage late specialization.” Barone and his coaches encourage kids to explore other sports until they are in high school.  And parents are strongly encouraged to be a support to their children and “let the coaches do the coaching.”

Although there were many that wondered if Barone’s strategy would lead to success, the owners and management of Chelsea Piers believed in Barone’s vision.  Five years later, the proof is in the results.  Chelsea Piers Aquatic Club has won Age Group State Championships three times, sent dozens of kids to DI and DII powerhouse programs, many on scholarship, qualified swimmers for National Select Camps, the 2017 Junior World Championship Team, the 2018 Youth Olympic Games team, US Nationals, the US National Junior team and built the program into one of USA Swimming's top 50 clubs Nationwide. 

Positive coaching and supporting the whole athlete both in their sport and in life are at the heart of the Chelsea Piers coaching philosophy and is practiced by our coaches across all sports whether they are coaching our competitive teams or our preschool athletes just learning.

Also supporting the Chelsea Piers’ coaching method, Ann Roth, came on board in 2016 as the Head Coach of the Chelsea Piers Gymnastics team and took over as Director of Gymnastics in 2017.  She has used her background in childhood education, physical therapy and coaching to completely revamp the gymnastics program.

"Our job as coaches is to support and guide athletes by creating an atmosphere for the athletes to take risks and learn life skills along the way." says Roth. "We provide a structure that allows them to be part of the process while encouraging them to give their maximum effort. We teach life lessons, through the sport of gymnastics. They learn tools that they will take with them through life long after the cartwheels and flips."

Barone, Roth and David Flower, Director of Chelsea Piers Soccer Club, lead the Chelsea Piers Coaches Academy, a forum for training our staff of full and part-time professional coaches that meets throughout the year. 

Our Coaches Academy met prior to Fall programming commencing and featured a highly interactive, 2-hour, Double-Goal Coach workshop with the Positive Coaching Alliance.  The workshop, sparked by video-based advice from top pro athletes and coaches on PCA’s National Advisory Board helped attendees explore why and how to pursue both winning and the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports.

The workshop kicks off a new partnership between Chelsea Piers and the Positive Coaching Alliance.  Throughout the year, in addition to seminars led by our Coaches Academy Committee, we will hold a total of 6 Positive Coaching Alliance workshops for our coaches.

“We are excited to partner with an organization whose mission “to transform the youth sports culture into a Development Zone® where all youth and high school athletes have a positive, character-building experience that results in BETTER ATHLETES, BETTER PEOPLE” is very much in-line with our core values” said Greta Wagner, Executive Director Chelsea Piers Connecticut.

“The workshop was the perfect way to start the season” shared David Flower. “To be able to learn new ways to reinforce the positive coaching we already practice was amazing for the coaches.”

Chelsea Piers offers competitive teams in Swimming, Gymnastics, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball, Squash, Tennis and Field Hockey.

Registration for Fall Youth Programming is ongoing.  To learn more about programs available and schedules click here.

To learn more about the Positive Coaching Alliance click here.