This weeks training tip will be a continuation of last weeks post on rotation and head position. If you missed last week, review the post and practice the drills before starting with this week (they are meant to go in a sequential order)!
Remember, proper rotation is pertinent to creating an efficient swim stroke. Although it is rare to see a stroke with too much rotation, it is not at all uncommon to see too little or single-sided rotation (rolling well to one side, usually the breathing side, and not the other). The head should remain stationary rather than roll with the body unless you are breathing. A neutral and proper head position is one that looks at the bottom of the pool. Often times you find the head position angled forward looking toward the wall and slightly turned to the side. Cranking the neck to keep the head overly lifted places excess stress on your neck and back and causes your hips to begin to sink making strokes more difficult and less efficient.
Proper rotation will result in:
1. Easier Arm Recovery and Injury Prevention.
2. Using Your Larger Muscles and Core For Power
3. A Longer Stroke
4. Reduced Drag
This weeks video will be part two of a progression highlighting drills to help develop proper head position and rotation; see last weeks post for part one.
Drill 1: Shark Fin
Focus: Rotation + Head Position
This drill will help develop balance while swimming on the side and encourages a high elbow recovery.
Start in a position as though you were going to begin kicking on your side. Life your trailing elbow up towards the sky (the elbow/shoulder out of the water) and drag your fingers along your side until you have reached your shoulder, making a shark fin. Slide your hand back down to your hip and take one stroke to rotate your body to the opposite side. Repeat. Remember, your head position should be in the same neutral position you used while kicking on your side; your eyes should be looking at the bottom of the pool unless taking a breath.
Drill 2: Catch-Up
There are two variations of this drill – with a board and without a board (both are shown in the video). If you have never done this drill, I recommend starting with a board as it really allows you to focus more on body position and less on the mechanics of the movements. Once you have mastered the board variation, ditch the board and try it solo! Start as though you are going to kick with a board. It is important to note hand position on the board with this drill – hold the board at the bottom so the only thing touching the board is your hands; if you hold the board at the top with your arms rested on the board as you do while kicking, the board will quickly get in the way. As you are kicking, take strokes with your arms alternating sides, as though you are swimming. Even with the board, you should still maintain good body rotation – the pulling arm/shoulder should be pointing towards the bottom of the pool and the recovery arm/shoulder should be pointing towards the ceiling. Your head should remain in a neutral position with your eyes looking toward the bottom of the pool except when breathing. Once you have mastered the mechanics with a board, ditch the board and try it solo. Notice when I am doing the drill without the board, I am waiting until my recover arm hand touches my top lead hand before initiating the next stroke. When I am in a pulling position, my body is turned so I am facing the side of the pool with my head down.