Basic Stroke Technique
1. Head Down Hips Up!
2. Hips before hands.
3. Feel with your finger tips.
4. All strokes move from slow to fast
"Line your fingers up, wrap your thumb around - hand over hand, wrist over wrist, arms squeezed behind your ears with your elbows locked straight, pinch your buns together and point your toes!"
You've heard this a million times. Yet you still push off the wall with your arms more or less in front of you, hands separated, head up so you can see where you are going, toes pointed at the bottom of the pool. We call this the "Superman" position.
"Wait just a minute!" you say, "I have my hands together - I don't do that Superman thing!" OK, maybe you do have your hands together, barely - "fingers over fingers" maybe. But your wrists are floating out to the sides, your elbows are bent, you're still looking out over the top of your hands and there is still daylight between your arms and your ears.
I know that each and every one of you knows how to get your body into a full streamline position. Every one of you has been able to demonstrate a good streamline position while standing on the pool deck.
So what's so hard about doing it every single time you push off the wall? Two things:
First of all, it takes physical effort. If you are not very flexible you will find that you really have to stretch to assume The Streamline Position. But, as with all stretching exercises, the more time you spend in Streamline the easier it becomes. Ideally if you spend enough time in Streamline Position it will eventually become a relaxed position for you. The harder it is for you to assume Streamline Position the more important it is for you to do it often and for extended periods of time.
Second, it takes concentration. Until you can automatically assume The Position instantly as the legs are driving you off the wall, you must apply a bit of brain power every 25 yards.
You know, an excellent opportunity to get in some "streamline time" is when you are doing kicking drills without a kickboard. Use this work as a streamline stretching drill as well as a kicking drill. You will go faster during the kick drill and make significant strides toward improving your streamline position flexibility.
You will find that you will glide farther when you push off the wall. This will allow you to take fewer strokes per lap (which should already be a goal for each of you).
It also takes less energy to be able to glide a long distance off walls than it does to have a short push off and swim the rest of the way.
You will move faster through the water after your push-off which will help you achieve faster times. -off which will help you achieve faster times.
Plant Your Feet!
Turns can make or break any race, so having REALLY fast turns is extremely important to competitive swimmers. Some swimmers, however, focus so much on spinning around QUICKLY, that they sometimes place their feet too high -- or too low -- on the wall. When they plant the feet too low, it's usually because they can't WAIT to push off and start swimming again. Indeed, planting the feet too low causes the push-off to be too shallow and they HAVE to start swimming right away. But this isnt the most effective use of the wall and turn.
Other swimmers concentrate SO hard on getting a big, strong, LONG push-off that they spin around too far, land their feet too high on the wall, and push off too deep. Again, this isnt the most effective use of the wall.
Practicing turns is something that should be done at a specific time in practice, or after practice. Although you'll have plenty of opportunity to work on turns during practice, you can focus more completely if you take a few minutes and do just turns.
Where you plant your feet on the wall is a very important aspect of having great turns, and practicing this early in your career will make proper foot placement instinctual later on.
Why Do It:
Planting your feet in the right spot on the wall allows you to jump off the wall in a direct line toward the other end. It gives you the greatest speed possible off the wall.
How To Do It:
1. Approach the wall in a smooth swimming fashion, or simply hang on to the wall in a face-down position.
2. Do a regular turn as fast as you can; however, when you feel your feet on the wall...
3. STOP!!! DO NOT PUSH OFF! Look back to see where your feet landed on the wall. Are they too high or too low for a good push off? How will you know? After you check where your feet are, push off and see where you go. If you head DOWN, your feet are too high. If you head UP, your feet are too low.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Try to spin as quickly as you can, and try not to slow down to concentrate on planting your feet perfectly when you first start this exercise. Thinking too much prior to attempting this, the first few times, can slow down your rotation. The goal of this drill is to get you used to perfect foot placement at the highest rates of rotation from your body.
Be aggressive as you rotate, and get your feet solidly on the wall to prepare for a solid jump off the wall. Make sure you use your eyes during this drill, simply feeling it isn't quite enough. During the drill, look at the exact spot that your feet land on the wall.
Preparing for a Swim Meet
· For dinner the night before a meet, eat plenty of carbs and a small amount of protein.
· Eat a light breakfast such as a not too sugary bowl of cereal and a banana, or an energy bar if you're swimming a morning event. Eat one or two hours before the event. Bananas, crackers, and plain toast with no butter in modest amounts are good food. The best foods are pasta, cereals, bagels, breads, fruits, and vegetables. These are out of the stomach in two hours, therefore should not be eaten more than three hours before swimming or they could override the energy in time for the race.
· Drink plenty of liquids. Fruit juices and water are the BEST liquids. Many people think that Gatorade is good but it is made out of all sugar. Only drink this five minutes before an event. Drink plenty throughout the day and during the meet. Lack of liquids do affect your performance as well, even before you feel thirsty.
· Be sure you have water and healthy snacks at the meet
· Get a lot of practice during the few days before the meet. Try not to over-exert yourself! You need to save some of your energy, but keep in shape.
· Go to bed as early as possible, you need a lot of sleep.
· Rest. If you have school, do not rush between classes. Take your time walking up and down stairs. Do not over-exert yourself, save it for the race.
· You should stretch before your meet; stretch for about a 1/2 an hour at home, doing arm swings, and stretching those quads, especially for breaststrokers.
· It's a good idea to elevate your feet for about an hour while you're resting. Lay on your back and put your feet up on a chair. Breathe slowly and deeply. Now is a good time to do visualization of your race strategies or relaxation exercises.
· Especially during the summer, you need a ton of water. Four to six water bottles should get you through the meet. Stick to one bottle of Gatorade, about a sip before/after races. Too many Gatorades will give you a sugar high, which means "let down" just when you need the energy.
· Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun.
· Listen to some good pump up music. Plug in your MP3 player and listen to your favorite mix of tunes. Dance if needed but don't wear yourself out.