breaking away....

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Final Day of Total Immersion Teachers Clinic

We are setting out for the last day, we have a level 3 class today and then it is the end of the clinic.  We have been here since Saturday.  What to expect, you should always pack warm clothes, a wet suit or 1/2 suit, the water is cold, so concentrating is not always easy, mindfulness is best done in comfortable water.  You should expect to have a great time.  You will get focus on your swim in ways that improve you as a coach, teacher and swimmer.  You will receive guidelines for running a class and teaching methods to apply to that.

For each drill there is the introduction, remember time is money, use a direct meaningful statement, move on to the demonstration and rehearsal, quickly do manual correction before they try it in the water.  In the water cue up for the drill, discuss whether you are skating left or right, proceed, apply manual correction with verbal directions.  Give direct meaningful feedback as you call on your next participant.  This is the conveyor belt method of teaching, it is effective and can have added repeats in cold water to not only allow for unassisted practice, but to keep the blood flowing.  Do not underestimate the power of suggestion.  Give verbal focus cues, whether drilling or swimming, what makes a swimmer longer, think tall, think extension, think posture, think grow and streamline.  Make each focus a small competition to measure the changes.  This encourages people to test it a few different ways.  Then move on....
There are many drills that can be reused for many issues, knowing what each drill does to create a better swimmer always helps.

Superman, of course who doesn't want to be a super hero, he is tall, fast etc, he has relaxed hands and he is flying high so he is always looking down, he can afford to relax his head and neck and allow it to float.  He keeps a streamlined body and a wide track.  There are two places you need to imprint into your body and mind connection and that is where the hands belong, they will stroke to this position each stroke, so find the perfect place somewhere below the water at 3:15 this allows your shoulders to be internally rotated which lifts the elbow up, allow your hand to relax lower than your wrist, your wrist is lower than your elbow, yes, there are so many cues, whatever it takes to build a body awareness that allows you to swim with perfection.

Skate position, another favorite of superman, one arm forward, one arm hugging the body with hand in the front pocket, this forward roll of the shoulder improves balance, it is important to do this one in rehearsal as it is not natural and will not get the focus it deserves.  The skate position is achieved by pushing off in superman and pulling arm to the pocket position and rotating just off the front, make sure you allow your head to be supported by the water, not held by the neck, make sure your lead arm is positioned in its imprinted position.  Ask questions of the swimmers to make sure they are thinking of all of the focuses to allow this to happen with precision, build through repetition, do not rush the progression.

Spear - after a big superman push off, a shift into skate position, you now pull your hand out of your pocket by moving your lower arm to position the palm of your hand on track in front of your goggles.  Your finger tips should be as far foreward as your forehead.  This position, arm extended, hand in catch position, head weightless and eyes focused down, body rotated off stomach (just enough) and now hand poised in the position that comes just before the switch.  What is that position, forward of your shoulder even with your goggles, the weight shifts foreward to keep your balance and hold your lead arm.

Spear Switch - now your hand is in target, you have checked to make sure your head and hand have not moved you are ready for a weight shift and a switch, and for those of you a little further a toe flick.  The hand reaches forward to drop into its position, like going through a sleeve, you are also rotating your body from one side to the other while catching and holding water on the other side.  Your weight shift begins at the hip.

Swing switch - arm level with the surface of the water, arcs wide of the body until it is positioned forward of the ear.  Keeping your arm in one plane while the body is held at 45 degrees allows this to be done in balance.  You begin in superman, progress to skate.  Pull hand from pocket by raising shoulder to innitiate the swing, once the shoulder is elevating towards the head the elbow is beginning its sweep forward take it to where you are in the same position met in Spear.  This position is front quadrant it keeps your body in balance before the switch.  Make sure the elbow leads the stroke, not the hand.

When you are ready for the switch it is a weight shift to the other side while extending that hand into its imprinted position from superman.  The other arm grips the water as you shift forward towards your lead arm.  Things to think about is moving forward, not down, shift and extend forward to a rotation that is just enough.  Over rotation will cause the hips to stack and takes more energy to stabilize the body.  It will also drop your arm low to a position where your elbow will drop and no longer be in the catch position.

After getting through these initial drills and finding success in maintaing balance and movement you will be moving through the water with more ease.   You will find that the struggles you have had are no longer slowing you down.  By regularly implementing these drills you can achieve success in swim.  You must focus on each drill for what you want out of it.

Each drill has a focus that can be the primary for the drill, this helps you imprint it sooner.  After you master one focal point move to the next each time you practice it.  It becomes a new way of swimming where you micromanage your swim stroke and push for a sleeker faster feel in the water.

My experience at the clinic was amazing.  My hope was to be able to work with swim coaches to grow and learn off them.  My hopes were met here.  I saw a variety of approaches to teaching, all with merit, some more like my own, others were pushing my learning to a new level.  My awareness of issues and corrections is far more clear now.  I realize in a question posed regarding my own swim by Terry, that he made me look at my stroke a little more in depth and come up with connections of issues rather than independent issues.  This clinic connected the dots on seeing the relationship between balance and co-ordination issues.  What may be a co-ordination issue may be affecting the balance and vice versa.

If you have a tendancy to stroke inside your wide tracks you will lose lateral balance, the body will compensate by working harder to regain balance in the water through widening the splay of the legs, by widening your tracks you will correct your legs they will now move into streamline.  Legs are a symptom of something gone wrongin the front quadrant.  Front quadrant swimming allows you to focus on those things closer to the arm and hip action than the kicking action. 

I worked with Terry who explained his swim and its evolution, you saw the simplicity of the teaching and he made it enjoyable to be working in that way.  I also worked with Shinji, who took us through a clinic style workout that he would put together, more efficient and again simple instruction with plenty of practice.  Dave Cameron came into the picture and the swim instruction took on the pool deck approach which I am used to and took it to a new level of focal points exacting the changes of drills, but put into whole stroke.  This approach worked extremely well for a larger class base and all had success, all felt the improvement.  Shane kept us moving through the learning, he kept us learning from the video and from what we were doing. 

Did I improve.  I improved in my swim, in my awareness, and in my approach to coaching.  I have wanted this help for the last few years so that I could be a better instructor to those that I coach back home.  I realize what I have been doing is on the right path and has worked really well.  I have new tools to improve my ability to diagnose things quicker and put in the corrections necessary.  I am excited to be flying home today, no doubt I will write tomorrows workout, however I don't think it will be the one I want to put on, that will require a large amount of tempo trainers, but I have so many new approaches that I am sure my swimmers will appreciate a fresh point of view.  I know I did.

This is one of the newest certified Total Immersion Swim Coaches signing out.  Swim well, swim long, but mostly swim.

1 comment:

  1. that sounds like an awesome tri lucky duck...many people will benefit from your being there...keep up the great info :)