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Daily practice advice to incorporate into your workouts

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PRACTICE TECHNIQUES

1. Racing – The drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition, the desire to win!!!! Some swimmers have that desire and others must be taught. You must add racing sets in your workout. Each swimmer must have the ability to start and stop speed (variable speed) thru out the season no matter what phase of training you are currently involved. Drafting then passing, stagger starts and racing different abilities of swimmers in practice must be some part of a weekly routine.

2. Race Pace – This isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. Let’s take the 100 free for our example: John’s goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim we must create and instill muscle memory in john to help him achieve this goal. John will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before he actually swims his big race. This will give John the confidence he needs for his big race. Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace speed and as the season continues change the rest interval and achieve the same result. If John is tired on a given day that you want him to do race pace then you must give him enough rest to achieve race pace. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a desired workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power. Remember that your dryland program is important and must coincide with this type of training. You will do more race pace as the taper progresses. Recovery and over-speed sets are as important and must be incorporated in workouts with race pace. Training with speed and power in the water and during dryland will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

3. Over-speed – Creating and enhancing muscle memory with the possible speed of a time not yet achieved in a race. Creating speed in short spurts helps train the fast twitch muscle make-up of every swimmer. Cords is wide spread example usually incorporated during the taper or resting phase of a season and should be used thru out. Over-speed can be achieved off starts and walls and during very short distances or with correct Tarzan swimming.

4. Tarzan for speed purposes – Swimmers that do water polo use Tarzan to see the ball. They are strong, have arm speed, upper body strength and usually are great at kicking. Wow, everything you need for sprinting!!!!! Sprinting doesn’t always mean short distances. 200’s are now in the sprint category. If you have ever seen Diana Munz swim she has great kicking skills that were evident in her swims off each wall and at the end of distance events. She shows variable speed and power in the distance events with her upper body and legs…………..

5. Recovery and dryland – These two categories make most coaches nervous. I understand the thinking of overtraining, as I have to constantly trust what I believe and not slip into the way I was trained to over train. Proper recovery must be part of each workout phase and the dryland program must match recovery and must constantly change body part emphasis to ensure recovery. Hard work should alternate legs, core and upper body. That doesn’t mean if you are recovering the legs you can’t work the arms, etc…. You can even alternate upper and lower body between dryland and swimming as well as in each set! You can alternate within each set, from set to set from work –out to workout, week to week. Add a true recovery workout once during the week and see how your swimmers respond the next day. Maybe recover for an hour and surprise them by sending them home early, you have now added MENTAL RECOVERY.

6. Each set should include distances as well as the repetitions, mechanics emphasis, and what to do on each part of the swim. For example: 6 X 400’s on 5:00 free with 4 fly kicks off each wall breathing to one side of the pool (to insure breathing n both sides and even shoulder rotation) and make-sure the swimmers know why. Odd swims are variable speed 75% – 95% by 50, with numbers 2 and 4 pace holding 1:02 and number 6 being timed with sprint kicking each wall and last 200. Write it down for them to read and repeat it to them verbally as you know it’ll take many times to get it thru their heads.

7. Make sure your swimmers can read the clock and understand negative, even, ascending, and pace terminology for splits in races and practice. Swimmers should constantly be using the clock even during warm-up and warm-downs so times and speed can be inherent. They must understand when you tell them they need to go out in a certain speed for a race strategy or tell them next time to go out faster or slower. Most swimmers shake their head OK but actually have no idea how to actually physically do it. They understand the concept mentally so you must incorporate this in your training sets. Simple example during warm-up 4 X 200’s with descending send-off tell swimmers to just make the send off as it descends with a goal time on the last 200 that is easy to achieve with some effort in order to reinforce feel of that speed in the water. 4 X 200’s 2:40, 2:30, 2:20 and the last one go a 2:15.

8. Just FYI and my opinion about certain types of equipment: Paddles – I like paddles but it does take away the feel of the water temporarily from the swimmers. Please incorporate a longer warm-down after a paddle set to give the swimmer time to regain feel. Pull-boys – They are made with different styles that fit each person differently and usually result in bad body position during a set. Please watch for this, as pull-boys don’t promote streamline body position. Kickboards – again different styles and sizes. Please don’t do all your kick sets with boards as this takes the body out of proper streamline position. Kickboards are good for isolating the legs. Cords for dryland and over-speed – Good for cross training as talked about previously. Please check the cords as chemicals do eventually cause the cords to snap and that’ll hurt!

9. Coaches flexibility: Stay flexible and evaluate if the swimmers are getting what you wanted out of each set. Don’t force the issue if motivation isn’t the issue. Change the set to achieve your goal, scratch the set if needed, adjust it or use it later in the season. If you change the set explain why and try to get them to understand the reason. If you can’t explain it you’ll never be able to teach it. If too much info is written for the set slowly increase the stimulus over time. Flexibility is hard as a coach feels the time constraint to get it all in. Fight that urge and back up, as that’ll help the swimmers more in the short and long term.

10. IM (Individual medley) and the importance of doing sets in IM order. Training the muscle memory of going from one stroke to the other and breathing patterns. Breathing patterns change from one stroke to the other, as does the timing of each stroke. If the swimmer doesn’t understand that controlling the breathing of each stroke will help the success of the IM swim then breathing will control the swim detrimentally. When switching each stroke the swimmer must gain control of the breathing pattern before settling into the race strategy of each stroke. When control of the breathing pattern is achieved then the swimmer can work on what the coach desires for each stroke in the IM based on each swimmers strengths and weaknesses. Each swimmer should be able to negative split each part of the IM. For example in the 400 IM splits should be fly – 28-28 as the start affects the first split, back – 30-29, breast 34-33, free 27-26. The 200 IM would be a controlled sprint, as race pace should be incorporated in practice for this event. Share splits with your swimmers before and after each race. Each swimmer should have practiced what you want in the meet at practice.

11. Old school breathing – Have you ever been told to only breath 3 times each lap in the 200, hopefully not. Breathing is your friend in events longer than a 50 and helps the body alleviate the pain you feel in your body by exhaling and eliminating the lactate acid your muscles are producing as a by-product of the work you are demanding of them. Breathing too much or poorly (mechanically incorrect) in the 50 can slow you down. Breathing is important in the timing or the breast and fly and essential to the backstroke. Breathing is covered in mechanics of each stroke. You can’t expect a swimmer to change or do anything different is a meet that you don’t train at practice. Please keep that in mind ……… Breathing should never compromise streamline position especially before and after each wall or flags to flags.

12. Heart rate is a great tool to see if your swimmer is sick, stressed, over worked, needs more rest or is out of shape. You can measure this many ways by creating a set that helps the swimmer with maxing heart rate and measuring how long it takes to recover. Remember that I am not a doctor nor should you diagnose a swimmer from this, it is only a tool and can be used to help you at each phase of training. This tells you about aerobic conditioning, fatigue during the holiday training and the amount of resting needed to create race pace or sprinting and definitely during taper and resting before meets. Consult a doctor or read up about heart rate, as there are plenty of studies and info on the subject. This will help you with flexibility and changing your workouts when needed.

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Race Pace

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Race Pace isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. The main emphasis of Faster Swimming is if you train at slow speeds you will compete at slow speeds. If you train 500’s and you are a 50 freestyler you are not maximizing your potential. If you train long fly sets with bad mechanics and timing you can’t expect that to change when you are trying to sprint!

Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace (goal speed) and as the season continues lessen the rest interval and achieve the same result. For example, 8 x 25 on :45 holding race pace at the beginning of the season. As the season progresses 8 x 25 on :30 holding race pace. Continue to shorten send off as taper progresses finally holding race pace for 4 x 25 on :15. This same concept is applied to IM and long freestyle swims. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. If your swimmers are tired on a given day and you need to do race pace then you must set send off that help swimmers achieve race pace. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power.

Let’s take the 100 free for our example and say your goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim you must create and instill muscle memory at this speed. You will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. You can have your swimmers either hold pace to a hand touch or to a flip turn(feet). If you want the swimmer to hold race pace based on their race strategy then build that into your sets. For example, first 25 hold 11.5 from the block to the feet. Middle 50 hold 24.0 to the feet and the last 25 hold 12.5 to the touch. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before you actually swim your big race. This will give your swimmer the confidence needed for the big race.

You will do more race pace swimming as the taper progresses if you follow the workouts laid out in the 23-week training manual. Recovery and over-speed sets are equally important and must be incorporated with your race pace work. Remember that your dryland and lifting program is important and must coincide with this type of training. Jumping and reaction time are extremely important and should be included in all your workouts. Training with speed and power in the water, as well as dryland, will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

Dryland and weight training should incorporate the same basic principal as your swim training: Training intensity is directly proportional to your competitive results. For swim training, intensity is based on goal speed to improve sport performance specifically. For weight training, intensity is based on percentage of max effort and speed to improve strength, speed, and power generally. For dryland, intensity is based on work density (movements per time) to improve work capacity, speed and power endurance generally. Quality (intensity) is important in your dryland and lifting as well as in the pool to improve your performances generally and specifically.

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Preparing for Championships through Taper

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Now is the time of year when everything counts. Hopefully, your swimmers have trained well and if they haven’t well then last call.

Taper time is a well thought out process of preparing your swimmers for championships.  Taper means QUALITY work and QUALITY recovery just to begin.   Race Pace, Variable Speed swimming and kicking, Understanding the process of resting legs, etc are huge components of this 7-week preparation. This is the time of the year to emphasize exact race pace speed needed for the big swim.

I have included a few videos to help you through the process. Heart rate is a great tool to establish what your swimmer needs. Tarzan is used to spark the nervous system and work the fast twitch muscles of the whole body as well as Overspeed work.

This process and all information is spelled out on the weekly outlines included in the Faster Swimming 23 and 14-week books. The 23 and 14-week book include the exact swim and dryland workouts throughout the taper process.

I would be glad to help just let me know, thanks!

Brad

 

Please copy/paste the links below into your browser.

Heart Rate Set Explanation:

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/146/

Heart Rate Set Swimming:

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/147/

Tarzan

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/78/

Overspeed with cords

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/111/

Pulling Cords

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/112/

Overspeed Drag and Pull

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/237/

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Weight Lifting During Taper

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Coaches – please remember when the core of your training is aerobic you don’t need to lift with an aerobic agenda. Your swimmers are raising their heart rate a lot more than you think while lifting so just lift for speed and strength. Make sure that your swimmers maintain flexibility after lifting. Stretching after any lifting will increase blood flow which aids in recovery. Your swimmers must remain flexible in swimming and maintain your full range of motion.

Always lift your larger muscle groups first when organizing your work-out routine. Basic Guideline: Day 1 Back with biceps and one leg exercise and 15 minutes of ab work. Day 2 Chest with triceps, finish with legs. Take one or two days off or do Legs and Abs on the third day and not with day 1 or 2. Remember that you don’t have to be sore to increase your power and that definitely hinders speed.

Example of how to work thru set (chest exercise):

Let’s say you begin doing flat bench warm-up with 135 lbs. Begin with 2-3 sets warm-up with this weight doing +/- 8 reps, now let’s begin. As you increase your weight you must maintain the speed of each lift, for example, if you increase your weight to 155 lbs and did 5 reps total and 4 of them maintained speed and you struggled with the 5th rep you should have stopped at 4 reps. Now increase the weight and try for 2-3 reps maintaining your speed. Remember that we are training you for power and speed, working your fast twitch muscles. If you are more of a distance swimmer this will only help your training.

Lifting is cross training and is essential for full body strength, power, and speed. It is old school to lift aerobically if you train 2-6 hours a day aerobically in the pool. You eventually reach an aerobic threshold and then the rest of your training is useless. An example of aerobic lifting would be 3-5 sets with 10-15 reps or circuit training where you spend 30 seconds or more at stations, sound familiar? That type of training has a purpose but not when you are getting your aerobic training from swimming, maybe pre-season for starts.

Make sure your athletes aren’t starting preseason training for another sport when you are trying to taper them for Championships. The only time to really worry about cross training will be when you are resting for a meet or in the taper phase or your season for the season end championships. Example, don’t start running during a taper especially if you are in conditioning phase of another sport or throwing if you are in softball or baseball. Things to consider as they will impact your swimming performance greatly. Start other sports after championships.

Understanding how to rest legs through weight training and kicking is key to performance!

Distance swimmers gain from lifting for speed and power. When training for the mile your coach is preparing you in the pool. Lifting as prescribed is a great form of cross-training that will not only help power and speed but help in recovery from all the slow twitch muscle work.

There is a local team that over-trains swimmers and forces bad weightlifting mechanics upon its swimmers. I was asking them about their weight lifting program and he told me that they push multiple reps to ultimate failure. Does any coach even old school, train that way? HOPE NOT! Do coaches ever give hard swim sets where swimmers don’t finish to the wall and complete the set? Do your swimmers ever pass out or sink to the bottom? Then why would you train that way in the weight room?

Each person has a certain muscle make-up that helps pre-determine success for particular events and if a coach doesn’t try to recognize individual differences then true success or full potential will never be known. In short, there are fast twitch and slow twitch muscles in everyone and each person has a different percentage of each. The hard part on coaching is trying to recognize the tendencies. Long distance training or over yardage will reinforce the slow twitch muscles and slow down the fast twitch fibers of that swimmer and the swimmer that is predisposed slow twitch will reach his or her full potential. Weight training correctly will help maintain the fast twitch fibers thru-out this type of program. Remember there is no need to lift aerobically as you are getting all you need and more in practice. There is an aerobic threshold for each swimmer and program that each coach needs to recognize for each training group. What is that yardage number is yet to be determined and hasn’t been studied enough yet? Once this yardage figure is reached the remainder of practice aerobically is useless. I would place the figure to be around 7,500 +/- yards per work-out. Once a swimmer is in aerobic shape and this can be determined by max heart rate sets based on time after the set is complete for a full recovery. The faster the recovery to resting heart rate the better shape the swimmer is in aerobically. The heart rate set must be completed using a set that is a slow build in speed that utilizes slow twitch fibers as they recover faster due to their size and energy demands on the body. Now if a swimmer is predisposed to fast twitch you may begin his or her training. I have developed a 9-week weightlifting program that would start during the finish phase of getting swimmers in shape aerobically and continue thru the sprint phase of training or as some prefer to say the beginning of taper and finish with a 4-week speed work taper that all finishes with the championship meet. You must have some sort of speed work in every practice even if it for 10 minutes at the end of each practice or trailing warm-up. You can’t let the fast twitch of any swimmer to be detrained at any phase of your season.

Coaches please remember the key ingredient to this whole program is based on training swimmers for the exact event. Most coaches still believe that training swimmers for the mile will prepare you for the 500. I believe that training swimmers for the mile will prepare them for the mile and hurt the speed needed for the 500. I said speed for the 500 and speed and power are part of each event. Training for the 50, 100 and 200’s take more speed and power but it one of the important components of training after a swimmer is in shape aerobically. Please remember that while you are in the aerobic phase of training that speed work must always be worked in the work-out and the basis for your lifting program.

The Faster Swimming Strength program and support videos will help you taper lifting with your swimming for Championships!

 

Good Luck at Champs!

Brad

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Grand Prix Meets

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Coaches I feel we need to voice our opinions about a few issues at the Grand Prix meets.

I was recently at the Indy Grand Prix meet in March.  As some of you know they have capped the meets at 700 swimmers. One of the Grand Prix meets closed in hours.  The B flight was very small at Indy and could have been expanded by allowing more into the meet. Spring Juniors Nationals can run a quality meet with almost double the swimmers…

Capping the meet at 700 swimmers has had a ripple effect for the meet.

1. Coaches are signing swimmers up for the meet in advance and deciding whether to attend later.

2. There were over an hour of scratches each day and a lot of no shows in the meet.  This affects the posted meet timelines as well as hurting swimmers who get closed out of the meet.

I feel we need to address space in warm ups especially at National Level meets Sectionals, Grand Prix, Juniors, etc.

Swimmers and Coaches work all year preparing and tapering for a great meet just to attend these meets and compromise proper warm up space.

To provide proper warm up space do we have schedule meets differently or have scheduled breaks during the meet.  I am sure many of you have thoughts on how to handle space issues so please share your ideas.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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

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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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