Here's an exercise you can do to any practice, that will help your athletes learn balance.
Why do it: A great freestyle is based on a solid body line. Sometimes swimmers MASK that line by using their arms and legs for support. This exercise can help focus on the core.
How to do it: 1 - Swim freestyle with your legs together and toes points. 2 - Don't kick.
How to do it really well (the fine points): This works on a few things; - In order to keep the legs up, there needs to be SOME velocity to keep things in line, so they can't go too slow. - When the legs start to fall, the swimmer will need to tighten their core to keep the line rigid. - When they've mastered keeping the legs in line, when they start to add the kick back in, the goal is that the kick is now more propulsive than supportive.
While visiting STEVE Haufler in Orinda California, he showed us his new favorite drill for freestyle.
Why do it:
If your swimmers have a tendency of losing balance, or crossing over when they breathe in freestyle, this can help with that.
How to do it:
1 - Pull your left arm first and breathe to the right as the left arm enters. 2 - Your right arm will have already started to pull and will be about ¼ to ½ of the way through the pull. 3 - Take your breath quickly and return your face to the water before your right arm enters. 4 - Your left arm should still be extended. Kick in Position-11 for 6 seconds and repeat by starting with your left arm again.
How to do it really well (the fine points):
Practice the drill with breathing to both sides. Once the swimmer can do the drill correctly, it’s time to tell them to “back off” or “let go” of the complete Position 11 after the breath.
The result will be a very smooth and balanced freestyle stroke with relaxed breathing
To celebrate our friend Joao de Lucca qualifying for the Rio Olympics, we'll look at his drill for developing his catch.
Why do it: Don't miss the beginning of the catch, and this drill will help you focus on the initial step.
1 - Start by making sure you're head is in the neutral position, eyes looking downward, both hands forward. 2 - Initiate a catch by dropping the hand and forearm into the catch position. 3 - Keep the elbow very high, close to the surface as you initiate this catch. 4 - As soon as you feel the catch, let go and send the hand back forward back to position 11.
How to do it really well (the fine points): Don't depend on the power of the catch to move you forward, but keep your kick consistent to create momentum.
Keep the head down, but when it's time to grab a breath, quickly turn the head at the initiation of the fingers dropping, get some air, and turn back to the head down position.
While visiting Palo Alto Swim Association, Coach Tisha showed us many cool techniques in her teaching. Here's a very simple one.
Why do it: When working with developing swimmers, sometimes you need to get the point across of WHAT NOT TO DO. When teaching streamline, if the swimmers aren't getting it, show them the opposite of what you want.
How to do it (these are pretty self-explanatory... Create resistance): 1 - Push off in the "Y" 2 - Push off in the "T" 3 - Push off in the "A" 4 - Push off in the "X" 5 - Get back to the "I"
How to do it really well (the fine points): This is the standard OVERTEACHING used very often by teachers. Show them the extremes of the little mistakes they're making, like hands apart, or feet apart during the streamline.
Have them check how far they go each time to further make the point of the proper streamline being THE WAY to leave the wall.
Making sure you put the force in your breaststroke in the most productive place, will help you swim faster.
Why do it: Pushing the hands too hard into the OUTSWEEP of breaststroke puts too much emphasis on a non-productive move, and can limit the effectiveness of the actual pull.
How to do it: 1 - put on some fins so develop a consistent forward movement. Kick in gently in the extended position. 2 - Use the still water in front of you to push the hands out to the corners. 3 - Turn the fingers out slightly, and allow the water to push the hands out with NO effort at all. 4 - After you have a good feeling of the water pushing the hands out, continue through with a quick catch, back to extension.
How to do it really well (the fine points): SLOW DOWN! Do your best to feel the water pushing your hands, and DON'T go into the catch until you really feel the hands sliding out with no effort at all.
Make sure your catch is then quick, and get back to extension to start the process again.
You can follow Felipe on Instagram @felipelimasw You can follow Felipe on Twitter @FelipeF_Lima
While at Auburn University this week, we had the opportunity to spend some time with breaststroke great, Felipe Lima.
No matter how good a swimmer is, great swimmers continue to work on the details of their stroke. Felipe reminded us of specific things HE continues to remind himself about during all of his training.
1 - Keep the head in line during the underwater pull. When swimmers get tired, there is a tendency of dropping the head during the pulldown in the underwater pull. Keep the head in-line for more direct line, allowing for better velocity and a better breakout.
2 - Keep the hand speed through the recovery. No matter how long you're holding your glide, don't allow the hands to recover slowly. Build the instinct to attack the recovery on every stroke.
3 - Keep the recovery narrow. One of the biggest problems of developing swimmers is the relaxed arms, or bent elbows during extension. Keep the recovery narrow and the arms STRAIGHT into extension.
hile working with Sid Cassidy and Ramon Walton at St. Andrews Aquatics, they shared with us their method of teaching a piercing start.
Why do it: A clean entry can allow you to carry more velocity into the water, and into your underwater dolphins.
How to do it: 1 - Start by getting the swimmer to understand the start is ATHLETIC... Have them JUMP as far as they can from the blocks. 2 - Move off the block and have the swimmer lean over in the streamline position, and while remaining solid from the shoulders to the fingers, slowly fall and jump into the water. 3 - Initiate making the line active, by swinging the arms a few times, the flowing into the streamline line, and in rhythm, fall and jump into the water. 4 - Move it to the blocks, and do a few starts.
How to do it really well (the fine points): When doing the leaned over position from the side, the focus is on the FLAT BACK. Give the swimmer enough time in step 2, to really isolate that flat line, before moving to the active action in step 3.
Don't rush it, and your swimmers will be slipping into the water, carrying great momentum into their underwater dolphins.
Make sure you have the right tools to make better decisions on technique. While this video features reasoning on why to test more of a sideways, spinning breaststroke turn, the confirmation of the validity of the technique lies in the testing procedures.
Don't just adopt new techniques because they're in vogue, but see if they really make a difference by doing a bit more analysis with common tools.