lifeguard training: discussing professionalism

Facilitate a discussion with participants (lifeguards during in-service training, or lifeguard candidates) by asking the following questions:

“Can your posture in the lifeguard stand affect how well you guard?”

Ask your class to slouch forward in their seats with their torso diagonal and legs out stretched.

Ask “what message are you sending out to people?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

    I’m bored.
    I wish my shift was over.
    I wish the summer was over.
    I’m too cool for this job.
    These swimmers are so good they really don’t need me.
    Nothing ever happens at this pool.

“What would pool patrons think of a guard in this stance?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

    pool patrons won’t think you are paying attention

    pool patrons won’t think you care about your work

    pool patrons won’t think they and their children are safe

    patrons don’t think they can take you seriously

    reinforces the notion some people have that guards are just immature teenagers doing a simple summer job, rather than professional rescuers

    they wonder why the manager or other guards won’t do something about this

“What would other guards on your team think of you?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

    other guards won’t think you care

    other guards won’t think you are ready to act

    other guards will think you are overconfident

    other guards would think you can’t watch/aren’t watching all of your zone properly

    some might think you’re ‘cool’ just because you look so ‘confident’. For those who think about team work and doing a good job, your appearance may have detrimental effects.

“How do you feel about yourself like this?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

    not alert
    not ready to respond in an emergency
    not confident

(If participants did not touch on this subject, mention it:

From a teenage guard’s point of view, some adults do not have a lot of respect for teenagers and this would make it worse.)

“Besides posture, what else can negatively affect how the public/other guards view you?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

    not holding your rescue tube across your lap, for example using it as a footrest or sitting on it

    twirling your whistle

    unshaven face, unclean clothes

    vigorously chewing gum, especially blowing bubble gum bubbles

    tapping on the rescue tube as if it were a bongo drum

    tapping feet/nodding head to heard or unheard music

    dancing while on walking patrol

    playing with your hair

    not moving your head as you scan

    slurping a drink through a straw

    mirrored sunglasses that do not allow people to see your eyes when they talk with you
    talking to friends/other guards/passers-by (except as a part of lifeguarding duties)
    not rotating stations properly

“Do you think it would be easier to enforce rules if the pool patrons think all the guards are totally professional? Why?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

    You get more respect.
    Patrons take you more seriously.
    You really are more ready to respond immediately.

“What other things can contribute to being professional?”

Answers: Responses could include the following:

(refer to the Characteristics of A Professional Lifeguard (pages 4-5), Effective Scanning (pages 65-6) INTERACTING PROFESSIONALLY WITH THE PUBLIC (page 94), etc. pages in the copyrighted 2016, released 2017
Lifeguarding Manual).

moving rainbow line:

moving rainbow line:

See also photos at Not Rescue Ready

lifeguard at national park pool using rescue tube as a footrest: april 7 2007 lifeguard at SJSU with feet on rescue tube: Avery Aquatic Center lifeguard with feet on rescue tube: Las vegas hotel lifeguard with feet on rescue tube: Las vegas hotel lifeguard in a stand on duty with his feet on his rescue tube instead of having the tube ready for a rescue

See Enforcing Rules, page 93 and Communication with Patrons and a list of rules on page 92 of the Lifeguarding Manual. Preventative Lifeguarding has notes from various staff manuals, personal experiences and the Red Cross texts. It includes UNSAFE PRACTICES or potential problems TO WATCH FOR, areas where most accidents occur, accident prevention tips that USA Swimming coaches know and suggested disciplinary action for minor and major infractions.

Should lifeguards wear cowboy boots? is a quiz for lifeguards or lifeguard classes