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How To Work On The Right Skills In The Right Order

There are a lot of skills that swimmers need to improve.


That can often lead to one of two situations:


1.     Trying to do everything at once

2.     Getting overwhelmed and doing nothing


Both situations are not good, and both situations ultimately don’t help swimmers go fast.


As a coach, that’s not what you’re looking for.


While doing nothing is obviously going to result in getting nothing done, doing everything can be just as problematic.


Ever try to work on certain skills and it just doesn’t click?


I know I have.


It’s immensely frustrating.


And it’s usually not the swimmers’ fault.

It took me a long time to realize what the problem usually was.


Just like you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you run, there are certain skills that are foundational and fundamental.


And if you try to run before you can crawl, that’s going to create problems.


The order in which skills are developed has a big impact on the overall result, and how difficult it is to achieve that result.


To make sure I am working on skills that set the stage for faster and easier development of other skills, here’s the general order in which I tackle skill development for all the strokes.


Each skill is foundational for the next skill.


If there’s a problem in a more ‘basic’ skill, that’s always going to hold back development in a more ‘advanced’ skill.


1. Establish Comfort


If swimmers can’t create some sort of balance and stability in the water, they’re not going to be able to do much of anything else.


If they’re extremely rigid, extremely stiff, and obviously threatened by the water, survival is the priority, not speed and efficiency.


Good swimmers are effortless in the water. 


Poor swimmers are not.


That needs to be taken care of first.


Simple floating and breathing exercises can make a big difference here.


2. Build Alignment


Next up, swimmers have to be able to use their balance and stability to swim straight through the water.


If they’re not swimming straight, they’re going to create a lot more resistance, which means a whole lot less speed and endurance.


That’s going to make everything harder, including learning new skills.


Beyond that, swimmers are suspended in a fluid.


If they’re moving out of alignment, there are going to be compensations for those movements.


That means the arms and legs are going to be trying to control the body instead of trying to create propulsion.


Not good.


3. Create Propulsion


Once alignment is in place, swimmers have to actually create propulsion to move themselves forward.


They need to use the arms and the legs to generate forward movement.


When swimmers are able to balance in the water and they can establish effective alignment, creating propulsion is a whole lot easier to do and whole lot more impactful.


4. Optimize Timing


Once swimmers can create propulsion, doing the right thing at the right time becomes more and more important. 


It’s the final piece of the puzzle that can help to further reduce resistance and increase propulsion.


But the compents have to be there for timing to make the difference.


When Matters


ALL these skills are important. 


However, helping swimmers learn them in the correct order is going to make a big difference in terms of how quickly, how easily, and how dramatically they learn them.


If swimmers can’t create effective propulsive movements, timing doesn’t matter.


If swimmers can’t swim with great alignment, they’ll struggle to create propulsion.


If swimmers can’t relax and be comfortable in the water, they won’t be able to establish alignment.


Once you understand which skills are necessary to learn other skills, you can build your training programs with that reality in mind.


You stop wasting time trying to create a change that just isn’t going to happen.


Instead, you can build the foundation for future success.


I know I’ve spent way too much time trying to improve swimmers’ arm actions when the real problem was that their body was moving all over the place.


There was zero chance they were going to going to improve their pulling because they couldn’t even stabilize their body.


It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to implement these concepts over the course of a young swimmers career, or over the course of an established swimmers season.


By building a solid foundation of the fundamental skills, and then building upon those skills, you’ll get more speed with a whole lot less effort and frustration.


If you’re looking to make this even easier, and you want to know how these concepts apply specifically to each stroke, I lay out the key skills in each of the strokes in Stroke Fundamentals


I also show you the exact strategies I use to help swimmers learn these skills. 


If you want to improve your swimmers’ skills, consider grabbing a copy here.









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