My friend Mike used to have the toughest time getting his lifeguards to participate in in-service training.
Enthusiasm was running low, but why?
Some of his best lifeguards kept showing up late and those who did manage to show up on time weren't engaged.
To make matters worse, some lifeguards weren't showing up at all, meaning that Mike had to plan a makeup in-service training session.
The only lifeguards who actually wanted to be there were new hires…
After this happened several times, Mike finally called a team meeting and asked his lifeguards what the deal was.
No one wanted to answer for fear of losing their job, but once Mike made it clear that he was genuinely worried, one lifeguard stepped forward and fessed up.
Everyone was bored.
They were relearning the same things they’d already learned and didn't feel challenged.
Realizing that they may be on to something, Mike decided to shake things up and be creative with his in-service training.
If this scenario sounds familiar, it might be time for you to get creative.
Here are a few methods I helped Mike implement at his pool.
You can make saving a 'drowning victim' in-service training more interesting by creating an obstacle course.
Have other lifeguards in the water throwing balls and swimming past.
Place buoys that the lifeguard must swim around.
You can even have some of your fastest swimmers play shark and wreak havoc on the rescue situation.
Your lifeguards will see that things are not going to be calm in a real life situation and it will add an element of fun for the lifeguards who aren't playing the victim or lifeguard.
Mike tried this at his pool, and his lifeguards had a blast!
Now everyone keeps asking if “Shark” is going to be a part of their next in-service training.
Lighten Up the Mood
Learning the skills that it takes to be a lifeguard is serious business, and your staff should view it as such.
That doesn't mean that you need to speak in a monotone voice and blow your whistle every time someone ventures a comment.
Keep things light by adding jokes into your in-service training.
When discussing the importance of enforcing rules like ‘no running,’ don't be afraid to act out the situation.
Run past your team like a child hyped up on the ten candy bars and jump in the pool.
Pro tip: splash as many of your lifeguards as you can.
This will jolt them out of their boredom and get a reaction.
You can then address the things that could have gone wrong, like two children running towards each other and colliding.
Open the floor for discussion and allow lifeguards to share personal stories of what they have seen firsthand.
And be sure to add in your own personal stories...
There's nothing like firsthand information to make the situation become more real.
One of Mike's lifeguards once witnessed a girl having a seizure by the poolside.
It was an eye-opening situation for her because she had always assumed she was only needed for drowning victims.
By sharing her story with Mike and the rest of the lifeguards, she was able to point out that not every bad situation is going to happen in the water.
Challenge Your Lifeguards
Lifeguards are naturally competitive, so don't be afraid to take advantage of this.
For each category that you are training them on, create competition.
For example, when it comes to CPR, explain that the lifeguard who keeps time with the compressions the best will receive a free drink.
The lifeguard who is the most accurate in the compression depth will receive a new whistle.
Also, add in team challenges to get your lifeguards competing as a group.
Split up the cliques so that each lifeguard has to work with someone they don’t know.
In a real emergency, they won't have the luxury of working with their best friend, so they need to learn to work with everyone.
You don't have to give out prizes, but this will motivate your lifeguards.
Bragging rights also go far, so if you don't want to give out prizes, make sure to tell your lifeguards how proud you are of them.
Mike had a competition to see if the new hires could swim in place longer than the more experienced lifeguards.
Not only did the new hires win, but it gave them a sense of confidence they needed.
It also pushed the experienced lifeguards to step up their game for the next in-service training.
Mike's lifeguards are now excited for their upcoming in-service training and some are even contributing to the prize box.
Many of his lifeguards are practicing their skills so that they can qualify to be a shark during the next obstacle course.
They're having fun while learning and your lifeguards can as well.
If you're looking for more great tips on lifeguard in-service training, check us out at DigiQuatics today!