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Successful Sport Task Management Part 1: Follow Up to 10 Principles of Athletic Success

This is a follow up to an article we posted on Facebook in January 2012. The article was titled “The 10 Principles of Athletic Success.” If you have questions, please know that we answer every email and phone call.

For the next 3 email newsletters, we’ll be discussing Successful Sports Task Management.

Successful task management for a sports season has many, many facets and in explaining my thoughts I will do my best to move from general to specific throughout this series.  Taking a top-down approach helps to account for the variables involved and allows the day-to-day focus to remain on what is happening in the present; with a solid, principle-based structure that we have built on through experience (the past); and some degree of comfort we are heading in the right direction (toward the future).  This top-down approach toward planning allows the freedom to focus on the here-and-now aspects of task management.

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FOLLOW UP:

These principals function well as a base for decision making and problem-solving and lead us directly to our Purpose.  We do our best to keep things simple and concise in order to focus on what matters to our teams.

Our Team purpose is to Learn, to Have Fun, and to Compete.  We want all of our athletes learning not only sports skills to an ever higher degree but also to learn how to have fun and compete at the same time; how to train and have fun at the same time; how to balance their energies and commitments to make it all work.  We emphasize that learning is a life-long process and that there is always more to know and experience.

Having fun can be tough during an exhausting training set or a critical competition – and so goes hand-in-hand with learning.  We do what we can to make training and competition more fun than anxiety-producing.  This focus on fun is especially important at the developmental stages of sport and carries over into high-level performance far more than many perceive.  Learning the skills & rules of the sport should be made as fun as possible as well – not always an easy task for the coach!

Competing is where the rubber meets the road in sport – competitions allow us to see where our preparations have led us.  We delineate competitions into 3 categories: Developmental, Important, and Critical.  Developmental competitions are to get an indicator of where we are in our training, to practice at competing, and perhaps to try a new technique, strategy or tactic that we have been working on in practice.  Most developing/younger athletes have mainly developmental competitions.  Important competitions allow us to compete at a higher level, many times with a little added rest to get a true picture of our skills and conditioning.  Important competitions might include a mid-season Invite, a league championship or perhaps the last meet of the season for the developing athlete.  Critical competitions allow full display of all of the athlete’s capabilities and allow for top-level performances.  We peak for critical competitions, dropping back on volume to assure full system recovery and sports performances, and this peaking phase comprises a significant portion of the end-season for the higher level athlete.  Critical competitions include meets that qualify on to the next level, whether through place or on time.  And we strive not to lose sight in all of the above – competitions should always include both learning and fun at some level for the athlete to find continued success.

Our purpose for our athletes individually is simply: Training, Eating, and Sleeping.  This covers our main bases of both efforts expended and the regeneration required to move on to the next level.  The team purposes above are incorporated into the athlete’s training, which the athlete should strive to adhere to, and then also incorporate the 10 Principles as a base to work from individually at training.  More specific training task management is looked at in Part 4 of this series.  Eating can be an unnecessarily complex issue that we will address in Part 3 of this series, and Sleeping we will address next in Part 2.

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Successful Sport Task Management Part 2: Regeneration and Sleep

We look at regeneration as the ability to recover from a given session, training phase or season and then be ready to move on to the next level.  Regenerative methods can include a wide variety of specific measures (sauna, massage, Epsom salt bath, etc) and for our purpose of moving from general to specific, we will focus on the two main influences on Regeneration – sleep and nutrition (nutrition in Part 3).

Sleep is an often overlooked performance requirement.  And yes, quality sleep is a requirement for improving performance levels.  Sound sleep promotes optimal hormone production and release as well as critical downtime for both the athlete’s body and mind.  These factors that occur during sleep (not during “rest”) allow for full use of the nutrition and training efforts accomplished by the athlete, which fosters higher-level recovery (regeneration!).

Athletes simply must get enough quality sleep to foster solid regeneration.  We recommend a total of 8 plus hours per night and upward of 60 hours per week of quality sleep.  If 8 hours plus per night is not possible and the athlete is not achieving 60 plus hours of sleep per night – we strongly recommend taking daytime naps to cover the deficit.

We wish not only to get enough sleep but to optimize our sleep in order to be fully recovered and ready to train to a higher level.  The first step in this process is to make it dark.  Quality sleep is best accomplished in total, or near-total, darkness.  Even very low-level light stimulus can cause unwanted waking and disrupt productive sleep.  We, therefore, recommend turning off or making dark all ambient light sources – clocks, phones, radios, TV’s, hallway lights, etc.  If this is not possible or only partially so, we recommend using a sleep mask to sleep in, which will block out almost all of the light in your bedroom.

Quality sleep also involves a quiet environment.  Again, this necessitates turning off phones, computers, TV’s, etc to make your sleep environment as quiet as possible.  White noise might be OK, and this is certainly an individual choice that should be made through experimentation, whether the white noise is coming from a fan, a humidifier/de-humidifier, or a “white-noise” machine.  Another consideration for turning off all unused electronics at night would be the RFI/EMI (radio frequency interference/electromagnetic interference) noise pollution that many modern electronics emit.  If loud and/or sudden noises cannot be kept to a minimum, we recommend using ear plugs (rather than headphones which will come off during sleep far easier) which will block out the majority of noises.

Sleep consistency involves maintaining consistent sleep and wake cycles.  Our bodies function on a Circadian rhythm which has evolved over time from the rising and the setting of the sun.  Athletes should do their best to get to bed early in the evenings as any sleep prior to midnight will help establish a more natural (in-line with the sun) sleep/wake cycle.  Optimal hormone production can also be assisted by an established, regular sleep and wake pattern.

Establishing a nightly routine prior to sleep as well as a morning routine upon waking can influence your quality of sleep as well as your general health and readiness for the day (and training and necessary nutrition) ahead.  30 minutes prior to sleep we recommend reducing all intense visual stimulation (TV, computer, video games, etc) which allows your visual cortex to wind down for the day.  Helpful habits that could be included in this 30 min period would be anything to get ready for the following day (training, breakfast/lunch/snacks ready, school/work things gathered) as well as any healthy habits such as brushing teeth, showering, and making sure that there is water by the bed.  This nightly routine should include any other helpful extras as well – Epsom salt bath, warm milk, meditation – simply be sure to use whatever extra habits help you get the quality sleep required for improved regeneration!

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Successful Sport Task Management Part 3: Regeneration and Nutrition

Again, we look at regeneration as the ability to recover from a given session, training phase or season and then be ready to move on to the next (higher) level.  We covered sleep and sleep-related strategies in Part Two, and we move on to the other main influence for Regeneration – Nutrition.

As with sleep, we try to keep things as simple as possible while remaining effective in regard to nutrition (including hydration).  Eating right is simple – not easy.  First and foremost we want to keep in mind that convenience leads to success (CLS).  That means we need to plan ahead and prepare for the coming week by creating a list of basic foods; planning for meals appropriately; buying our food; preparing some or most of our food for the week; and packing our prepared foods/meals as conveniently as possible to have things ready to go for our sleep and/or wake rituals.  The simplest way to do all of the above is to have a planning/preparing/packing day each week – what we call a weekly ritual.  This all-in-one day allows the readiness and convenience of foods that you have planned for in your diet to be ready to go when you need them.  This greatly increases the likelihood of sticking to your plan and getting the best regeneration nutrition bang-for-your-buck.

First and foremost all athletes should be eating as many colorful vegetables as they can at each meal, and eating colorful fruits less often but still daily.  There are so many benefits to eating a wide variety of colorful vegetables that if we listed them all in an ad most people simply would not believe the hype… Fresh, mostly raw vegetables influence our basic health that much!  Besides the many vitamins and minerals present, there is an astounding (and ever-growing as we find out more) list of co-nutrients, healthy bacteria, enzymes and phytonutrients in fresh vegetables and fruits.  Most often we recommend fresh vegetables, and then in descending order: frozen, dried and canned – raw most often, cooked less often.  There are color-coded vegetable and fruit charts if you are not coming up with many options, with a normal breakdown of green, white, red, yellow/orange, and blue/purple.  Simple – eat a wide variety of colorful vegetables at each meal… not easy.

Next, we want to be sure to eat a complete protein at each meal.  Complete proteins contain all of the required amino acids to effect optimal repair and recovery.  We break down muscle tissue during hard/heavy training and complete proteins provide the necessary building blocks to help regeneration proceed after this training.  One serving of a complete protein would equal any of the following foods about the size of your hand or your fist: eggs, meats, fish/seafood, and dairy.  Try to include a serving of protein at each meal, and as with vegetables and fruits above, include variety as best you can.

Along with protein an important building block for optimal regeneration are healthy fats.  We recommend including healthy fats daily, hopefully, some healthy fats with each meal.  Healthy fats include coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds, butter and cream.  Healthy fats slow digestion, help control insulin levels, help rebuild and repair damaged tissues, as well as supply an important energy source.  An effective nutrition plan can not overemphasize the inclusion of these fats on a regular basis.

Water is vital to not only athletic performance but to our lives.  We recommend that athletes drink plain, clean water most often.  There are instances when non-calorie drinks such as coffee and tea are OK as well, and again – for the most part, athletes should be drinking plain, clean water.  A green drink (with vegetables, fruits, flax, coconut oil, etc) is a solid addition to a daily nutrition plan as well and could account for one of your daily meals.  Besides the green drink just mentioned and the workout windows described below, almost all of your fluids should be calorie free – plain, clean water.

Workout windows describe the area on either side of or during training.  This window of opportunity allows for protein, carbs, and fats to be used immediately not only for energy for training but also for immediate repair from training.  We time this window from about 1.5 to 2 hours prior to training to 30 to 45 minutes post training.  Before practice, we recommend a balance of clean carbs, proteins, and fats.  During training we most often recommend plain, clean water – and should training last over an hour and/or be exceptionally hard we recommend some type of training drink (Gatorade, Accelerade, etc).  Post-training we recommend some type of protein and carb combination to speed recovery and to avoid most fat and fiber at this time since these both slow digestion, and we want to get nutrients to our muscles as quickly as possible after training.  An easy and popular post-workout drink is chocolate milk, and there are several others that provide a quick source of protein and carbs (Accelerade, Gatorade Recovery, etc).  Experiment at practices to find out what works best to regularly help your performance (both training and recovery), and then use these same strategies for meets.  Do not complicate things at meets – what works for hard practices will work for meets.

Some probably think that we have forgotten the most important of all macro-nutrients – carbohydrates.  The above vegetables and fruits do contain some carbs, but vegetables especially tend not to have too many calories.  Well, in our opinion additional carbs are a little over-hyped.  Carbohydrates are fuel only – whereas protein is a mainly a major building block, and fats are both building blocks and a concentrated energy source.  Additional carbs would be most grains (breads, rice, cereals), potatoes, corn, and sugar.  In our view these additional carbohydrates should be looked at as activity-dependant, meaning you should eat as many carbs as needed to cover your training needs and no more.  In high-volume, hard training phases this may be a lot of carbs, and conversely, during the off-season this would be not-so-many carbs.  Individual experimentation should guide your efforts in finding what works best for your performance (as well as your waistline) in regard to additional carbohydrates.

There is no magic to eating for performance, just a simple set of guidelines to follow consistently.  Make correlations as you can between performance and nutrition, as well as weight and performances (weight being guided mainly by nutrition).  Temptation and inconvenience tend to be the biggest enemies of nutritional success, so follow the advice above and keep things as simple as possible with effective, convenient meal strategies that suit your tastes and lead you to improved performances and increased regeneration.

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Core Rotation Questions Answered with Video

One of our friends recently had questions about core rotations and core training.  This is the information we sent him:

Core rotations are simply rotating through core exercises for a given amount of time.  For example

Core rotations – 4 min, switch exercises every :30  could just be a series repeating – for instance, alternating pikes and ride-the-bike, or could be a bunch of exercises and look like:

:30 flutter kick

:30 kick outs

:30 ride the bike

:30 pikes

:30 Russian twists

:30 sit-ups

:30 plank

:30 sit-up get-ups

Use what works best with your team – the real effectiveness will come in progressing in exercise time and difficulty, and the effort given by the swimmers.  Some video links follow at the bottom with a bunch of core work ideas.  Please copy and paste the links below into your browser.

Championship Core Training

#1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU0jqP4radE&list=UU0zptkU-mFCY-G-5iE_r0HQ&index=94&feature=plcp

#2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9gwH829DdE&list=UU0zptkU-mFCY-G-5iE_r0HQ&index=93&feature=plcp

#3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnnS0xgARMM&list=UU0zptkU-mFCY-G-5iE_r0HQ&index=92&feature=plcp

#4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUO_ew7OnlQ&list=UU0zptkU-mFCY-G-5iE_r0HQ&index=91&feature=plcp

#5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB3ihY8zcE0&list=UU0zptkU-mFCY-G-5iE_r0HQ&index=90&feature=plcp

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A Variety of Video Explanations

From time to time we get questions about a variety of swim related topics. The following videos were created to pair with our Monthly Workout subscription, which you can find here. If you have any questions, post it below!

WALL CORDS VARIATIONS

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/184/

TURNS WITH CORDS

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/185/

IM FREE WARM UP EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/172/

IM FREE WARM UP SWIM SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/173/

KICK SET EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/174/

KICK SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/176/

SPRINT FREE FLY SET EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/177/

SPRINT FEE FLY SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/178/

TOP STROKE SPRINT SET EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/180/

TOP STROKE SPRINT SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/181/

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Practicing Simple and Basic Concepts

I have been teaching a lot of adult lessons lately and it has reminded me of some very simple concepts that we as coaches most likely overlook and assume that our swimmers understand. Take some time during warm ups to review even with your best swimmers.  I review all of these concepts with my team this week and will need to continue to stress these concepts repeatedly.

1. The ability to rotate the whole body.

Most  swimmers can’t rotate properly.  Start the swimmer on their stomach having them rotate to the side, then on the back, back to the side and completing the whole circle to the stomach. If swimmers can’t rotate with proper form maintaining proper body position then how can they rotate their shoulders and core properly in the freestyle stroke, all the while working on the timing of the breath?

2. Timing of the breath including when to initiate and when to fully exhale and inhale.  This is the biggest mistake by many swimmers including some of the most accomplished swimmers. This is the hardest to teach to adults and younger swimmers. Here is one example of breathing with freestyle.

FREESTYLE: Timing of the breath and proper breathing is the most important concept toinstill. The first thing a swimmer must be able to do is learn how to exhale all air while the mouth is in the water. This will enable you to concentrate on inhaling while the mouth is out of the water. A lot of swimmers take too much time to exhale and inhale during the breath, when the mouth is out of the water. This creates a slow breathing process, throws off timing and body position by turning the head to a non-streamlined position creating drag and usually affecting the hips. The breathing process begins during the catch of the stroke and is completed at the front end of the pull. If you see your arm during the breath then you are breathing late. 

Timing of the breath is the most important beginning to freestyle. If you learn this it will eliminate many errors in mechanics. For example: If a swimmer doesn’t kick or the kick slows during the breath then the breath is too late. If a swimmer has a hip swing it could be due to the breath and lack of head control. Make sure the swimmer is finishing the stroke in the proper place as to maintain the rotation of the arms. Why is this so important for freestyle? It is the only stroke you breath to the side.

3. The ability to relax and float. Teach your swimmers how to float vertically. While teaching adult lessons this is the first thing I teach.  You can’t progress a swimmer unless they are able to relax.

4. Teaching swimmers how to kick with the whole leg while keeping the ankle relaxed.  Teach how to kick starting from the core, there is a slight bend in the knees during the kick but the legs are led by the foot.

5. Ankle flexibility or pointing the toes without flexing and using the ankle are key. You can always locate a swimmer with tight ankles and see it in their kicking. Usually they do a lot of scissor kicking or straight foot swimming. Teach swimmers how to stretch the ankle and relax the foot during the kick.

6. Teaching momentum

Momentum:  Maintaining a proper streamline and being able to time your breakout into your swimming is key to fast swimming. If you ever do anything underwater and feel yourself slow down then you have lost momentum. Momentum will be different for each athlete based on body type, flexibility and skill level. What and how you do your underwater mechanics and how you breakout into your swimming all effects momentum. 

7. Teaching body position the 4 H’s, Hands, head, hips and heels. Teach your swimmers to do this perfect from the beginning!

Streamlined position: The hands should be crossed hand over hand, some people teach a crossover grab. The biceps should be pressed upon the ears with the shoulders and chest stretched out as much as possible. The head will not be tucked chin to chest but in the same position it would be in as if you were walking. The midsection and hips will be in line with the thighs and feet following directly behind. The legs must be in the same plane as the hips thus reducing drag. This is the basic streamline (spike). Hands, Head, Hips and Heels in line. Once this has been achieved you may begin your breakout by starting your first stroke. Judging the depth of the water is essential for a good breakout by maintaining momentum.

You will be surprised what your swimmers don’t know.

Good Luck

Brad

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Part 5: Repeating Race Pace Sets

This article is a basic summary of those posted past newsletters from this study. Please remember these basic concepts while incorporating the workouts provided in the most recent newsletter.

How often do you need to repeat specific race pace sets for optimal training?

This study recommends 8 weeks to 3 months based on the ability of the athlete. If you document all your sets you will know when to increase the distance of the race pace set or decrease the rest interval as outlined in the last newsletter. Try to repeat the specific race pace set at least 3 times with approximately 36 – 48 hours between before making any changes within a week or two cycle. The brain will establish successive refinements of the patterning with the technique and energy that will occur in a race. Each successive cycle of repeats will have increased demands on the swimmer establishing the aerobic adaptation needed in swimming.

The refinement of race pace technique must also be a major focus of training as well as the mental aspects of racing. This must be worked into the training cycles as well as recovery. Please research the macrocycles of training listed in this publication. Basically, cycles of increased fitness levels will tend to have less recovery alternated with a cycle which emphasizes technique and mental skills.

The science behind this type of training proves that swimmers can peak multiple times within a 6 month period with benefits not achieved by a 4-6 month period of traditional training with considerable demands before a taper. Tapering is so much more than a short rest but an extended period of time where all aspects of the past newsletters are incorporated. There isn’t one formula and coaches need to know their athletes for optimal training. “There is a distinct difference between a two-hour training period and a two-minute race.”

Maintaining race pace work creates the energy demands and energy systems working together as they would in a single race. I will expand on energy systems to the best of my ability in future newsletters.

Just remember that swimmers must understand how to swim each race you are training.

If a swimmer uses the anaerobic energy system first in a race by usually being to aggressive then the race will be performed at less than optimal performance. Remember that your race pace training must match exactly how you want your swimmers to swim the race in a meet. Be as specific as you can in practice. Obviously exact times for specific distances must be repeated as well as stroke rate, flip turn speed, kicking distances off each wall and start, etc..

“Whether or not coaches are willing to alter entrenched coaching behaviors to provide a program that will benefit racing-oriented swimmers remains to be seen. A commitment to follow directives provided here in a disciplined manner is almost a requirement to see changes in coaching effectiveness through to a final, rewarding culmination. The practice sessions that stimulate the techniques and energizing properties for various races will be very different to traditional swimming training.”

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University Swimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical Changes Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 4: Race Pace Set Examples

Here are some workouts from the research I have been reading.  Please add this to your practice routines but make sure that all swimmers are performing at exact Race Pace. If a specific distance wasn’t at Race Pace then the swimmer needs to rest until able to perform and resume the set.

A. Race Pace sets

1. Please adjust the amount of time spent on each rest interval based on your swimmers progress.

2. Determine desired Race Pace, 100, 200 etc. please document and keep results.

3. Continue to lower the rest interval as suggested below and continue past :20 rest.

4. You will then increase the distance holding Race Pace and start over again with :30 rest.

Weeks 1 and 2

16 x 25 at Race Pace :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 3 and 4

16 x 25 at Race Pace :25 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 5 and 6

16 x 25 at Race Pace :20 rest, 1:30  additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 7 and beyond

8 x 50 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 8.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 8 and beyond

6 x 75 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 8.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 9 and beyond based on your swimmer

4 x 100 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest maybe breaking the 100 at the 75 for :15 rest at first then lowering the rest between 100’s and at the 75.

B. Short Anaerobic set

I think all of you know how to accomplish this.  Feel free to us the 23 week and 14 week programs for a plethora of workouts and your guide for the whole season. www.fasterswimming.com

 

C. Short Sprints Across Pool

1. This set should be your main set lasting about one hour.

2. Fly kick underwater on back/stomach simulating what you want on each lap in a meet.

3. All strokes working on breakouts as desired in a meet.

4. High-Quality swimming, Cords, power racks, etc.

5. 20 x short sprints stroke at Race Pace(you will need to figure this out per each set distance)

:20 – :25 rest interval

 

D. Short Sprints using a specific distance.

1. Similar to above but only lasting about 15 minutes.

2. Tarzan would be another option http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1199220097116&set=vb.44218826036&type=3&theater

 

Basic Layout:

Monday –  A and C

Tuesday – B and C

Wednesday – A and D

Thursday – B and C

Friday – A and D

 

Sample workout from study:

Warm up:  2 x 200 IM at 80% and 90% rest one minute.

Underwater kicking skill: 12 x 15(short) double leg kicking deep on :45.

Recovery: 300 backstroke at own pace.

Race Pace Set 1:  20 x 50 free at 200 Race Pace on 1:00

Recovery: 400 kicking. Choice of two strokes.

Race Pace Set 2: 30 x 25 fly or breast at 100 Race Pace (include underwater work) on :45.

Recovery: 200 back kicking

Race Pace Set 3: 30 x 25 back at 100 Race Pace (include underwater work) on :45

Recovery: as needed.

 

Be consistent with this program!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University Swimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical Changes Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 3: Race Pace

The purpose of this article is to elicit thought. There are many quotes that I feel this best explains my readings of all the studies I am sharing with you.  Our goal is to become better coaches!

Below are a few concepts to consider while planning your workouts.

Swim Techniques at Race Pace

  1. Stroke efficiency is developed for the pace at which training is performed as discussed in previous newsletters.  To improve race performances, stroke efficiency must be improved and swum at race pace to achieve the best training effect.
  2. Stroke rates at practice must match stroke rates needed to achieve race pace times in a meet. “Hard extended swimming that accumulates lactate does not accommodate the learning of the skilled movement patterns associated with the effort’s velocity.”
  3. Race Pace training will have the greatest relevance for singular competitive swimming performances at all levels.  For example, slow kicking does not train anything related to racing but would be a great recovery activity. Training that is not race pace (irrelevant training) has one use, recovery activities between and after race pace sets

Ultrashort Training at Race Pace.

  1. Please plan short rest intervals as work intervals that are too long result in the accumulation of lactic acid.
  2. Consistent ultra-short training at race pace produces race pace performances that sustain fast twitch fiber use with greater amounts of oxygen thus increasing aerobic conditioning. This extends the ability to sustain a swimming velocity with good mechanical function as long as the athlete maintains desired speeds.
  3. The athlete will improve the most with race pace/ high-intensity speed which enables all necessary energy systems with the proper neuromuscular patterns.

Specific Race Pace Training

The best way to help a swimmer who is plateauing is to increase high intensity (race pace) training. Usually, a swimmer in this situation has years of swimming at slower speeds. They are in really great shape from all the unnecessary overtraining. You can’t swim a meet at race pace if you don’t train at race pace.  This applies to all athletes and their training as this improves both aerobic and anaerobic factors.

What to consider while planning sets:

  1. Make sure all swimmers understand the speed (race pace/goal time) you are asking them to swim.
  2. Keep your rest intervals: 10-:30 seconds. “One reason short intervals “work” is that when a high-intensity repetition is completed, the aerobic system continues to function fully paying back any accumulate oxygen debt developed in the repetition.  If the next repetition commences before the aerobic system begins to abate, the demand on the cardiorespiratory system is continuous although the exercise is intermittent. For the whole set, the aerobic system works maximally just as it would in a race. If the rest period is too long, the aerobic demand in the rest period decreases.”
  3. Race pace sets can last an hour.  Distances will increase as swimmers improve. For example,20 x 25’s on :40  alternating 2 x 25’s holding 100 race pace for the first 50, then 2 x 25’s holding race pace for the second 50.2:00 min rest20 x 25’s on :30 as aboveRepeat as needed, adjust send off’s as needed. Swimmers have to swim at race pace always
  4. The Faster Swimming  23 week and 14 week programs are designed to decrease the rest intervals for race pace while increasing the distances of race pace repeats over the course of the season.

We as coaches really need to incorporate race pace(high intensity) training and understanding of the concepts mentioned in this article. Please do your research and experiences to develop your swimmers!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of: Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 2: Planning Your Practices

Here are basic concepts to keep in mind while planning your practices:

1. Any swimmer that is poorly conditioned with bad mechanics will see improvement with any activity associated with swimming.

2. Once your swimmer advances in conditioning and skill level basic practices no longer apply and actually retards further development.  Higher levels of practices are needed to mimic racing demands of the athlete mentally and physically.

3. Keep in mind that practices must mimic racing demands of the athlete. Coaches must understand the principle of specificity mentally and physically. This is the learning process involved in understanding neuromuscular patterning and its importance in regards to energy systems.

4. “It is erroneous to practice swimming if the skill amplitude and rate do not reflect the intended race-specific qualities”.

The purpose of this article is to elicit thought. I have many quotes as I feel this best explains my readings of all the studies I am sharing with you.  Our goal is to become better coaches!

We all know about aerobic conditioning but do we really understand it. Coaches always say “you need an aerobic base to taper”. Does this mean cranking out yardage or is this individual to the athlete? If you are set on yardage, yardage, yardage you are training the athlete to train and not creating the physical and mental demands on the body needed for one race. This is going to take a lot of research on our part as coaches to really understand and apply.  I have thought for years that swimming is way behind track and field, in regards to training the athlete for a specific event. All the scientific studies researched in the study I am referencing below arrive at the same conclusion. “In traditional training sessions little, if any, happens that will influence better race performances. Training largely improves training but not racing.” This applies to the first concept listed above while planning your practices.

“Skillful and efficient performance in a particular technique can be developed only by practice of that technique.” This means at race pace to mimic the demands on the neuromuscular mechanism needed to ensure that energy systems in a race have been put to memory. Muscle memory, at race pace only, involves the neuromuscular memory of the energy systems used.  “Movement patterns in the brain incorporate the energy sources for the movement(s). Technique and energy are inextricably linked in movement patterns no matter how complex they might be.” If you practice at a slower pace the movement pattern and energy system associated is different than what is needed for racing.

Body position is a key factor to consider. Even a slight change in a swimmers body position or stroke mechanics changes the movement pattern and energy system demands of the race. This happens all the time to our swimmers at the end of a race and practice sets. Practicing at race pace involves body position, mechanics and intensity. This loss of control can be viewed as detrimental fatigue. Try to recognize whether this fatigue is physical, neural, mental or a combination of all three.

We all currently train our athlete’s through fatigue so understanding how “in-performance” recovery applies is extremely important.

We as coaches really need to incorporate more individual training and understanding of the concepts mentioned in this article. Please do your research and experiences to develop your swimmers!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of:  Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy