Off the Blocks
June 18, 2014
Wow, does time fly!
Only one more meet, and then our team will dissemble for another year, only to pick back up next March, another year older and wiser.
This past Monday was fun. I am lucky enough to be good friends with a lot of people on that team, and for me, it was like a small reunion. But I am exceptionally proud of our swimmers. All of the coaches were old friends with the other team’s coaches, swimming with and against each other practically their whole lives. It was a fun and congenial atmosphere.
Laid back and relaxed.
Exactly what summer league should be. Full of awesome competition, fun and exciting … well done, team!
So, again I ask, what did we learn?
Swimming, while team based is very individual. This sets it apart from almost every other sport. Cross-country or track is just about the only other sport that is similar in that you represent a team, and the points you earn help that team, but ultimately, you are trying to make yourself better by improving your own times. The only way we can really understand how and if we are doing better is to challenge ourselves at meets, pushing beyond the limits for the 30 seconds or minute that we are in the water.
It is always a lot to think about … how should my fingers enter the water … what kind of kick am I doing … where is my head (both literally and figuratively)?
There is such a thing called muscle memory.
Muscle memory can be your best friend, and can be your worst enemy. If you’ve worked hard at practice, forcing yourself to do the little things every time, every wall, every stroke, your body will remember what to do. The opposite is also true, however. If you’ve not taken practice seriously, or listened to your coaches, or made yourself do the things you know you should, guess what happens when you get to a meet?
There is a little term that I’ve always used with my swimmers … you play like you practice.
What are the little things?
- keep the head still
- roll the hips to extend the arm
- straight arm pull, not bending the elbow until the stroke is finished
- no breath off the wall
- streamline dolphin kicks off the wall
- breathe every three strokes
- keep head still AND back
- rolling the hips so the fingertip entry is correct
- deep pull
- dolphin kick/streamlines underwater
- high elbows and fast hands
- strong, strong kick
- head down
- 2 hand touch
- straight arms
- breathe every other stroke at the catch
- head down
- kick at the top of the stroke and the bottom
- 2 hand touch
These are all extremely important and, done consistently and perfectly, make you stronger and faster. The muscle memory will be there, and meets will be a chance to shine. But they take discipline. If you allow yourself to slide, say to yourself, “Its just warmup, I don’t need to do a flip turn,” or “I’ll do the bottom-arm pullout (not breathing off the wall) next time,” or “It’s a 50 fly! I NEED to breathe every stroke!” you will do it in a meet.
I’ve seen it happen with every single swimmer that isn’t disciplined in practice. Most of the time, they don’t even realize it. The muscle memory is there and it is done automatically.
I challenge you all … take this last week and commit yourself. Do the little things.
Every practice. Every length. Every wall.