Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Evaluate your swimming stroke: Part 3 - Drilling

In the previous 2 posts we evaluated your swimming stroke and looked at some of the more common aspects of the stroke that are often problem areas for many swimmers and triathletes.

In today's post I want to look a few drills that will help you reduce the impact some of these problems have on your stroke and will allow you to swim more comfortably and more efficiently.

When it comes to drilling, it is not about how quickly you can complete the set or how fast and powerfully you can move through the water. Take your time, pay attention to the body and the position it is in. Remember: perfect practice makes perfect!

Drill #1: Zipper drill - For ensuring a high elbow position



Pretend you are pulling a zipper up from your hip (at the the end of the Pull through phase) up the side of the trunk to the arm pit (the Middle recovery phase).

By focusing on this, you will automatically maintain a good, high elbow position going into the Hand entry and Forward reach phase of the stroke.

Drill #2: Finger tip drag - Improved Thoracic spine rotation and stroke length

Finger glides require you try to drag the finger tips lightly along the surface of the water as your arm moves from the Mid recovery phase, to the Hand entry phase of the stroke.

This will again get your attention focused on your elbow and hand position, and challenge you to get a good "reach forward" in the Forward reach phase.

Drill #3: Stutters - Creates awareness of arm position before hand enters water


Stutters require you to focus on maintaining a good, high elbow position after the Hand exit phase.

Instead of going straight into the Hand entry, I want you to momentarily hold the arm stationary, halfway through the stroke, and then allow it to enter the water.

Drill #4: Catch up - Enhance your ability to "glide" between strokes



Although often used, this drill is not executed very well.

The bottom line is that there should be only 1 arm moving at any given time during the stroke, meaning the left arm should be laid out ahead of you, while the right arm is going through the stroke.

When the right arm has completed the stroke, it replaces the position the Left arm held, while the Left arm goes through the stroke.

Purpose - Keep the entire body nice and long and elongated, and allow you to really focus in on your entire stroke.

Drill #5: Back lying kicking - Great as a beginner kicking drill

Using a kick board, lie on your back in the water and hold arms straght up over the head, grasping the board.

Now, focusing on generating power from the hips and not the knees, propel yourself along the lane by licking.

Keep your hips up and ankles as relaxed as possible, and when you master this, you are welcome to kick in the prone (face down) position.

Finally, we bring all 5 of the drills together and work on the stroke in its entirety. Always keep the individual drills at the forefront of your mind while swimming and pay close attention to the feedback your body is giving you.

Happy swimming!

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