Tuesday, January 24, 2012

5 Reasons for a Swim Evaluation

Many athletes are winding down their transition season or "off-season" and gearing up for base and prep phases of training for their 2012 race season. I have already worked with a few athletes who have expressed confidence-deficiencies in their swim stroke, and have inquired about scheduling a swim analysis and evaluation. When I work with athletes on their stroke development, swim video analysis is one of the first tools I utilize to diagnose problems and , prescribe solutions. Swimmers are often surprised at how easy it is to identify inefficiencies and flaws in their technique with a simple 30 minute video analysis and a 1-3 page overview/evaluation.

1. Drill selection! A swim evaluation can serve as guidance for selection of technique and training drills for pool workouts. Most coaches will use specific drills that are aimed to address a specific flaw or inefficiency in your stroke. These drills vary in difficulty and work to correct an underlying body position, pull, or kick issue in your stroke. Many of my athletes will share how they've experienced negative splits late or even close to the end of an individual workout set, even after high intensity intervals, just because they focused on their technique. As we fatigue our technique gets sloppy and so will our splits. Focus on technique will improve efficiencies-even when we're tired.

2. See yourself swim. Most swimmers have never seen themselves swim! This seems obvious but actually it goes deeper than just the fact that we can't see ourselves swimming while we're swimming...I don't know of any pools with mirrors on the walls or bottoms. With any technique-intense sport, it's important to assess one's own technique by self analysis. Football teams do this, skiers do this, synchronized swimmers do this, and even bowlers analyze their form-so it makes sense that swimmers ought to also see what they are doing and be cognizant of what they need to change.

3. What are you doing wrong? Many swimmers have one or more gross technique flaws. What I mean by this, is that most swimmers have one or two technique errors that even a somewhat novice swimmer or coach could point out without too much digging. This might be something like whipping the head back and forth in and out of the water for your rotary breath, it may be a huge splash with the entry of one or the other arm on your extension, or it may be asymmetric kicking or pulling.

4. Room for improvement. Swimming is a sport that can take a lifetime to master. Even the master's swimmers at the Y that I coach will pick apart each others stroke, and many of them are have been swimming the majority of their lives. Maybe it's learning to breath on the other side, learning how to do flip-turns, or maybe it's identifying a muscular deficiency that needs to be corrected in your strength routine...everyone has room for improvement and a swim evaluation can point this out and identify areas for improvement.

5. Humility is good for the sport! Triathlon is a sport that is continually evolving and changing. When I did my first multi-sport event over 12 years ago I was amazed at the variety of athleticism, fitness, and body types that make-up our sport. Triathlon is truly a sport of all peoples and it's one that celebrates the wonder and amazement of the human body and mind, and the magnificent ways we are able to harness their potential. Over the years viruses of pride and arrogance have emerged in the sport. This saddens me. Triathlon is a highly individualistic sport-one in which an athlete tests their abilities and seek to push themselves towards new personal bests! At times I find myself thinking I have arrived in one area or another of the sport-and I need to assess my own ego. Don't get me wrong I am not finishing on the podium or maintaining elite status, but I too can get arrogant about my successes in the sport at times. Submitting to the guidance of a coach or athletic mentor might seem humbling, but it is also the place that improvement and new levels of performance are reached.

Give a swim evaluation a tri. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in setting up an appointment with me or a coach in your area. TriathlonCoachK (at) gmail (dot) com.

Train Smart, Keep Balanced,
Coach K