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Tips for Managing and Positioning Your Lifeguards

Tips for Managing and Positioning Your Lifeguards

Tips for Managing and Positioning Your Lifeguards

At any pool or aquatic center, lifeguards are essential for protecting the safety of all guests. Many of today's pools go beyond a simple rectangular shape, often featuring curving lazy rivers, huge waterslides, wave pools and splash pads, that can all make lifeguard management more complicated. Add to this a young, sometimes inexperienced staff, and it can seem difficult to know how many lifeguards you need and how best to position them. We've gathered our favorite tips for overcoming these challenges so you can successfully manage your team of lifeguards.

Tips for Managing Lifeguards

If you employ lifeguards, it's highly likely that most of them are quite young, maybe even teenagers who have not had much work experience. This can come with some benefits, such as a staff that's full of energy and enthusiasm, without old habits from previous jobs that need some re-training. But there are also some challenges with such a young staff. Here are our favorite tips for lifeguard management:

  • Provide clear communication: This goes for employees of any type and any age, but it's especially important for young lifeguards. Whether it's job expectations, schedule changes or something else, make sure you clearly state the information and ensure that it is received and understood. The younger generation responds best to emails and text messages, so use these methods as often as you can.
  • Set clear expectations: When you have a largely inexperienced staff, you'll want to ensure all the details of the job are incredibly clear. Before you put a new lifeguard on the job, be sure to go over your company policies, lifeguard responsibilities, safety issues and emergency training. Also outline other job basics, like scheduling, policies about calling in or finding a substitute, dress codes and any additional duties such as cleanup or customer service tasks. Some of these basics may seem like common sense to an experienced professional but are not so obvious to a brand-new employee, so be very clear about all of the rules and expectations.
  • Offer step-by-step instructions: Even if something may seem simple to you, different employees may interpret vague instructions differently. For any procedure or duty, break it down into clear, manageable steps. Even for something seemingly straightforward, such as a cleaning task, write out the exact steps for how you want things done. This way, everyone is on the same page and can do their jobs more efficiently.
  • Hold everyone accountable: Challenge your staff to be the best, and make sure everyone is accountable for their actions. Don't let things slide just because your staff is young and inexperienced. Lifeguards especially should know they are responsible for their actions and understand the consequences for negative behaviors and choices.
  • Provide constructive feedback: If you don't give any feedback, your team may not know if they're doing a good job. To keep everyone on track, be sure to provide regular constructive feedback. Reward great service and turn mistakes into teachable moments to keep things positive. Use lots of positive reinforcement to encourage the good work habits you want to see. You should also give evaluations and provide instruction and correction when something isn't going well. You might have the chance to mold these new, young lifeguards into better employees.

Tips for Positioning Lifeguards

One of the most important aspects of lifeguard management is positioning. You want your staff to be located in the right spots around your property to ensure maximum visibility and safety for your guests. The shape of your pools and water features, seating areas and other amenities can affect how you should manage and position your lifeguard staff. Even with a simple rectangular pool, positioning of lifeguards is critical. Here are our best tips for ensuring the most beneficial lifeguard positioning:

want your lifeguard staff to be located in the right spots around your property

  • Understand your challenge areas: Every pool or aquatic center is unique, so it's essential to understand the challenges of your property. Different water features, such as wave pools, waterslides, lazy rivers or unique pool shapes, can all pose challenges and create blind spots that may require more lifeguards on staff to ensure each area is visible and protected.
  • Plan ahead when building or adding on: If you're building a new pool area, adding on to an existing pool or remodeling, try to plan ahead in terms of your design for where your lifeguards will need to be positioned and how many lifeguards you'll likely need for safety. It's impossible to know exactly how many lifeguards and where to position them until you have the pool completed, but you can usually estimate and make a plan. Keep your staffing budget in mind with the suggested designs and special features you plan to install and try to plan for your lifeguard coverage zones.
  • Consult industry guidelines: While every property will be unique, some general standards can give you a good starting place to know where to place your lifeguards. Check in with the industry guidelines for specific water features like slides and lazy rivers to estimate how many lifeguards you will need.
  • Utilize all the positioning options: Most pools and aquatic centers can benefit from a variety of lifeguard positioning options. A combination of elevated stands of different heights and roving lifeguards on foot is best for full coverage and safety. This combination ensures that lifeguards have quick access to swimmers in need while also having better vantage points to see larger areas and deeper water sections.
  • Perform test runs and make adjustments: Following guidelines and making plans are great ideas, but you won't know the exact positioning necessary until your pool is in active use. Try out some test runs with different zone coverage and lifeguarding, making adjustments as necessary for optimal and safe coverage. Perform tests at different times of the day and in different seasons to check for things like visibility, crowd size and other environmental factors. Adjust your staffing as necessary to accommodate for these changing conditions.

Lifeguard Products From the Lifeguard Store

The Lifeguard Store has everything you need for lifeguard management and positioning. From apparel and rescue equipment to elevated lifeguard chairs and other accessories, we've got you covered. Shop The Lifeguard Store for everything you need to equip your team and keep all of your pool guests safe.

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