Distance per stroke is a commonly used phrase with swimming and triathlon. But many athletes don’t fully understand what it means.
When swimmers see DPS, they immediately think, “Oh, that means that I should just extend my arm more and glide more.” While you will go farther doing this, you are making two critical errors.
Firstly, by extending through your shoulders. You are not only straining your shoulders, you are also not reaching as far as you could.
The key to DPS is understanding that it is primarily a rotational drill. To extend to your fullest, you should rotate your hips while extending forward. By doing so, you will get at least two inches farther and thus have a more efficient stroke. You should be aiming for a straight line from your hip to your elbow and on to your hand.
Secondly, swimmers like to glide because they feel that they will get the most distance. When you glide however, you are slowing down and creating a dead zone in front of you. If you are in a strong current, you will actually move backwards. When practicing DPS, therefore, do not slow down and glide.
Instead, after rotating and extending, start your high elbow pull in a controlled fashion and drive forward rotating and extending with the other hip. Then repeat the catch and pull on the other side. Your hands should almost always be in motion – just not necessarily at the same speed.
Finally, the biggest thing that will have an impact on the distance you travel for each stroke: anchoring on the water. If your hands slice through the water like a knife through butter, it really doesn’t matter how far you reach or rotate. Focus on engaging your hands and forearms on the water to press it back behind you – as a result you will travel further and faster every single time.
Next time you see DPS on your workout be sure to a) extend through rotation, b) don’t emphasize the glide, and c) focus on extension from the front all the way to the back of your stroke. By focusing on those three points, you will be faster and more efficient for it.
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