Friday, September 30, 2011

TAS Sneak Peak: Foundation Skills In Kick

All... here's a sneak preview of a blog I just wrote for my 'Coaches Corner' column available at the Team Aquatic Supplies Blog.   

Hello 2011-2012, most Canadian clubs have been underway for a most of September as we ramp up for a big Olympic year cycle.

I'm back here in Toronto at TSC, with a large group of young men and women all looking for a breakout year and a shot at moving up a level, whether it be a regional swimmer looking to get to Provincials, or a Provincial swimmer looking to get to Easterns and/or AGN, and a few kids with a shot at going from an Easterns level swimmer to making the big leap to Senior Nationals .  The skill level in my group is quite varied but the good thing is that everyone can benefit early in the season from really focusing on developing their kick skill.

Obviously kick is a skill that should always be an important focus of a program, if it's not I'd hazard to guess that such a program would be playing from a place of disadvantage.  Kick is such a dynamic skill in today's swimming world so for the purpose of simplicity, I like to view development of early season kick into 3 foundation skills.  Firstly, underwater fly kick.  Second, aerobic kick fitness.  Third, surface kick technique.

Underwater fly kick is widely considered "the 5th stroke" but ultimately the skill of underwater fly kick should be considered the second stroke.  If your best stroke is freestyle, backstroke or fly, if you bring to the dance a powerful underwater fly kick then you have a considerable advantage over those who are just average at that skill.  For those who were at Age Group Nationals this past summer in Montreal, if you managed to watch the men's 16 year old 100FR final, ESWIM's Omar Arafa  really impressed with a great underwater fly kick off the 50m wall to just pull away from a strong field.  Arafa won the event in 51.15 because he was so dynamic starting the second half of his race with a fly kick that was simply superior to others in that race.  The message is clear, programs need to really work on underwater fly kick and it's a habit that needs to be started early in the season.

In addition to underwater fly kick you then need to build on the traditional skill of kicking at the surface, sometimes with a kick board and sometimes without a board.  The skill of kicking is something that needs to be developed early in the season from an aerobic fitness perspective and even more importantly from a technique perspective, especially with lesser experienced swimmers.  As a coach, I feel that if I start improving the technique of all four surface strokes early in the season, that will allow the swimmer to develop a feel for good technique while they develop the feel for the water that will carry them into core training later in the fall.  Stay tuned for that and keep visiting the TAS blog!

I'll spare you all the details of what I'm looking for in each of the 4 surface kicks, but I'm going to experiment with some video as this season progresses and perhaps I'll have some good video to share with everyone later in the season.

Ultimately, the combination of working on underwater fly kick, surface kick aerobic fitness, and surface kick technique early in the season we're looking to build into two important results.

Firstly, the improvement of the 3 foundation skills will provide a base to develop an effective anaerobic kick ability.  If you had the opportunity to listen to the Coach Mike Thompson podcast, available on iTunes (search: coachmikepodcast), you would have heard American Olympic Gold Medallist Garrett Weber-Gale on the inaugural podcast and his boasting to being able to kick a 50m LC kick in about 25 seconds... you can't do that unless you have good foundation skills that then allow for an explosive anaerobic kick ability.  You can also catch Ryan Lochte on YouTube (video below!) showing off his ability to do a 50 underwater fly kick in 25 seconds.  Again, great foundation skills leading to a dynamic anaerobic performance.

The second result that I look for by developing the 3 foundation skills of kick is the benefit of a better kick will immediately result in a better body position in the water and ultimately that will lead to a more effective pull. If you combine a better kick with a more effective pull, then I'm willing to bet that such a swimmer will be set for some breakthrough results.  I'm a believer that a good kick can make a better puller but it's tough to correlate the other way around, an effective pull really can not help nor mask an ineffective kick.

So now... get kicking early and often in practice and hopefully we'll see a lot of great swimming this season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Path To Success

Friday, September 23, 2011

Some Fun New Body Weight Stuff For Dry Land

I'm always looking for new dry land stuff to really challenge my swimmers. The majority of my group is pretty good at dry land, and we have a pure dry land Wednesday AM workout where we get to really push the envelop for 105 minutes.

I found some of these really basic exercises that can be done with large groups that I'm going to give a try to this year...

Pretty standard stuff but I like the detail in 'The Prone Cobra'

Top 10 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Advanced... by kevingianni

This guy is a little odd and the video quality isn't so great but a few of these are really, really good.
That's it, I won't completely bore you with everything I watched but there is some good stuff here. Good luck!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nick Saban Doesn't Take Winning For Granted

Nick Saban is the current football coach of the University of Alabama, and he's one of only 3 current NCAA football coaches with 2 National Championships (Dennis Erickson, Joe Paterno). This clip from 2008 was after Alabama's season opening win over a favoured Clemson team. The important facts... In 2007 Alabama went 7-6 but through hard work Saban led the Tide to a 12-2 record in 2008 and then went undefeated to win the 2009 National Championship. In the last 3 seasons in Alabama, Saban is 36-5 and it's not because he's blessed with superior players (although he has some), it's because the man can coach and is never placated with just winning.