Skill Aquisition, Deliberate Practise #SwimTechTues

Deliberate practise is a conscious focus, awareness, and adjustment of your movements with the goal of perfecting the movement. It is a continuous cycle of evaluation, modification, adjustments, reflecting, evaluating and making further refinements.

Once you have mastered one flaw, you move on to the next. Sounds like what we do with our swim stroke right?

Deliberate Practise

Deliberate Practise in Swimming

Obviously we need deliberate practice.

We need to analyse our swimming with coaches or using video to see what our body is doing in the water; there needs to be conscious of our balance in the water, rotation, and high elbow; we need to control our effort and paces. Especially for beginners, your stroke needs constant analysis and refinement. As you swim, you need to think about your stroke and hold it in the forefront of your mind.

Deliberate practice though can be exhausting and overwhelming, so we also need flow in our swimming–where we just let go of everything analytical and just be with our stroke.

Deliberate Practise

Being able to flow with your stroke is where it becomes more natural

From Deliberate Practise to Flow

Sometimes you just need to “swim”, and forget about all the little bits and pieces that you’ve been thinking about to correct your stroke. This is where I like to get athletes doing 50s, 100s or other distance reps, starting with a drill and then finishing on full stroke. On the full stroke, I don’t actually want you to think too much. The idea is that hopefully the drill exaggerates a part of your stroke enough that the technique resides in the subconscious part of your brain for you to feel it when you swim on the following length.

Try this – for thinking about rotation in your stroke from the hips – do 25 metres kick as rotator kick then do 75 normal easy full stroke, and just swim without concentrating on anything. For thinking about getting hold of the water and a good solid engagement/catch, you could do half a length scull, 1 and a half lengths swim. In each case, the drill gives you your deliberate practise. You focus on one element of your swim. In then doing the full stroke you can aim for that easy flow and relax into your technique.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

3 Ways To Improve Your Swim Posture #SwimTechTues

3 Ways To Improve Your Swim Posture

Good body positioning is truly important to swimming because of how alien water is to move through for us as humans. Strong swim posture is key to getting this right.

Growing up – and at various points in your life – it’s likely you have been told to stand up straight or not to slouch. That same advice should be carried to the water, where your swim posture significantly affects body position. Posture can also affect neck/back pain – and possibly more importantly, your power output. Remember, swim proud!

Head Position

First, pay attention to your head position. If your head is too high or too low, your hips and legs will drop and cause drag. Try this: lie flat on the water, arms out in front (streamlined) and head between your arms. Don’t forget to point your toes! Vary your eyeline and where you are looking, and see if it changes the level of your legs and feet. Try looking straight ahead – with your eyes on the waterline, and go all the way down until your chin is on your chest. Everyone will have a slightly different sweet spot – but the majority of people will find that they need to look down – or more likely lengthen their neck and stand a bit taller than they have done previously. This will also help create a bow wave off of your head and a subsequent pocket of air to easily breathe into.

Swim Posture head position core

See how the head position affects the depth of the legs

In the photo above, you can see how when the eyes are looking down, it’s far easier to stretch the neck and body long but more importantly keep the legs afloat with minimum effort.

Core Engagement

Let’s look closer at the role of your core in the water. If your core lacks engagement during freestyle you will likely feel a disconnect in your stroke. Your core should function as the connecting piece of your upper and lower body, allowing for symmetry in which your shoulders and hips are rotating together on the same plane, and also as a driver to make your stroke move forward. Imagine extending the crown of your head toward the wall ahead, while also extending your toes to the wall behind you. Additionally you can focus on drawing your belly button toward your spine, and squeezing your buttocks (I encourage athletes to imagine that they have a £50 note between the cheeks). This helps to create length in the torso and tautness in the core to stabilise the spine.

Swim Posture

Focus on keeping a long spine – a straight line from neck to shoulders to hips to feet

Balance and symmetry

It’s easy to unintentionally roll your shoulders forward and “slouch” during freestyle. Focus on controlling everything from the hip and engaging your core to keep everything as stable and strong as possible (see above) . By remaining tight through your core and stretching your spine you can help recruit the bigger muscle groups of your back for the entire pull. Also by stretching from the hip rather than the shoulder, it also helps to eliminate an arm cross-over in front of your head. Among many things, a cross-over can cause your legs to scissor open wide or fishtail in an attempt to counter-balance your body. I love side kick as a drill to work on this – with the focus being on stacking the shoulders one on top of the other. This will force you to engage your core muscles, improve your kick efficiency and reinforce that strong body position.

Swim posture alignment

Keep your shoulders and hips square to keep everything in alignment.

Build these elements of swim posture into your stroke steadily – focus on one thing at a time and within a few sessions you’ll begin to notice a difference.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!