Swimming Drills: The Cure For What Ails Your Stroke
Is your swim sick? Do you feel weak and fatigued even after the easiest of workouts? You may need a prescription from Dr. Drill, M.D. Like medications, there are many drills to chose from, so knowing which drill will cure your stroke is essential to getting well. So how do you know which one to choose?
When my coach allows me to chose a drill (dangerous ground), I usually go with drills that are the easiest, what I am good at, and what will get me through the drill set as quickly as possible so that I can get to the main set where all the “fun” is. I, therefore, end up rushing through the drills and consequently, ingrain bad habits instead of improving my weaknesses. What I should be doing is choose my drills to target my weakness. Here are some common swimming weaknesses and what you can do to “cure” yourself of these bad habits:
Have a weak pull? Try the fist drill. Make a tight fist and swim as you normally would. This forces you to make a paddle out of your forearm instead of just using your hands to pull you through the water. To prevent you from cheating and opening up your fist, which defeats the purpose, grip a tennis ball.
Timing off? Do catch-up the right way. Many swimmers do catch up from the stream line position which can be problematic since it may lead to crossing over. Instead hold a kickboard on each side so that you mimic your stroke more.
Crossing over? Tarzan to the rescue. Swim with your head completely out of the water. While this puts more stress on your shoulders and does not allow you to rotate, what it does allow you to do is become aware of where your hands enter the water. To improve body position and leg drag, focus also on keeping our legs up by arching your back a bit and pushing your hips towards the bottom of the pool
Low elbows? Zip it up. With each stroke keep your hand close to your body as if pulling an imaginary zipper up for body from your hips towards your head.
Low power? Do it Doggy style. This drill is tough but allows you to feel your hips snap as you power yourself through the water. Extend one arm out in front of you with the other by your side. Pull your extended arm a back as you would during swimming but bring the other arm up through the water. Neither arm should leave the water.
In your next workout, check your stroke for signs of sickness and then find the right drill antidote; take the drill 6-10 times a swim session (usually with water). Fortunately, you cannot overdose on these prescriptions.