Announcing SS UK Clinics & Coaches Education Course, November 2010

UK Clinic Series November 2010

Swim Smooth are excited to announce six UK Clinics in Loughborough, South Lanarkshire, Bolton, Coventry and High Wycombe in November. Each one day clinic features full video analysis and is strictly limited to 12 swimmers -  perfect for any swimmer or triathlete looking to improve their speed and efficiency in the water.

For full information and to book your place, visit:

** Many previous clinics have filled up within 24 hours - please don't hesitate to book your place! **

Swim Smooth Coach Education Course

Swim Smooth are also announcing our second Coach Education Course in the UK following the extremely successful event in June. The course will run at Loughborough University from 4-6th November.

The Coach Education Course is an intense program for ambitious swimming and triathlon coaches of any experience or level and will teach all of Swim Smooth's coaching methods including advanced stroke correction. The three day course will be delivered to twelve selected coaches by Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome and Adam Young.

The British Triathlon Federation have recently appointed Swim Smooth as official Coaching Consultants to their Coach Education Program. They have requested our knowledge and expertise in developing their swimming coaching resources and delivering coach training. The BTF are recommending and recognising this course as CPD for triathlon coaches wishing to develop their advanced swim coaching skills.

For full details and to apply, visit:

We very much hope to meet you in person in November.

Swim Smooth!

PS. US coaches and swimmers, we're planning to visit your shores in early 2011 - watch this space.

Dropped Wrists And Heroes

Here's a  brief video clip of our Scull #1 drill to watch this week:

The focus here is what happens at 14 seconds in, when we see the problem with dropping your wrists that we discussed in last week's blog. Doing so in your stroke adds a lot of drag, and as we see in the clip, it pushes you backwards!

Also, we have two updates on athletes we interviewed earlier this year. If you want to be seriously inspired, check out:

Brad Hosking and 31 other American and Aussie firefighters completed their incredible Tour Of Duty Run Across America finishing in New York on September 11th. Check out the amazing scenes in this photo gallery.
(our original interview with Brad is here)

Mark Scanlon successfully completed his English Channel crossing in a storming 9½ hours in August. Read Mark's full report here - notice how smooth conditions were in those pictures - not!
(our original interview with Mark is here)

Amazing work guys - big big congratulations from us.

Swim Smooth!

Leading With Your Hands

Thanks for all your emails and comments following last week's blog - your questions were about our description of this picture:

We said it showed "Michelle dropping her wrist whilst breathing", you said "no, she's dropping her elbow". This is an interesting point of perspective and well worth devoting this week's blog to discussing - it could make a big improvement to your swimming.

Here's a zoom of Michelle's forearm and hand:

We can see clearly there by looking at the line between forearm and hand that the wrist angle is good. However, relative to the water, her wrist is dropped and the palm facing forwards.

The problem with the position Michelle's reached there is twofold. With the elbow lower than the wrist it's going to be hard to get a good catch on the water as she's going to have to commence the next movement by pushing the water downwards rather than pressing it backwards. Also, with her palm facing forwards she's creating drag and again it's hard to press the water backwards from there. Instead, she should be in a nice strong catch setup position, as demonstrated by Mr Smooth here:

The key points to this position are that the finger tips are lower than the wrist and the wrist is lower than the elbow. If you can achieve this position you'll generate more propulsion for a given effort and automatically reduce any deadspots in your stroke.

The question we'd like to ask is: What came first? Did the dropped elbow cause the wrist to drop? Or did the hand position drop the elbow? Against convention, we'd argue the latter. As humans we have good awareness (technical term: proprioception) of our hands and so we naturally coordinate and lead the stroke with them. Our awareness of the arms themselves is much lower and so they tend to naturally follow the hand position. By focusing on correcting the hand - tipping the wrist downwards into the position shown by Mr Smooth - Michelle's forearm will automatically raise into a higher elbow position.

For this reason, within Swim Smooth we often talk in terms of wrist positions and like our swimmers to use a slightly tipped wrist if possible. It's an example of our cause and effect methodology that runs through all our coaching. Focus on the thing at the cause of the problem - in this case wrist position - and the rest will click into place. This approach is a much faster and less frustrating way to correct your stroke!

Coaches, try this yourself: If you have a swimmer who drops their elbows on their extension forwards, instead of telling them to keep their elbows high, ask them to focus on tipping their wrist into a slightly cocked position and possibly adopt a slightly deeper hand position too (not right at the surface). It will feel alien to them at first but from the pool deck you'll see the improvement right away. Don't forget to compensate for the distortion of the water in your observations!

Swim Smooth!

Beware Distortions!

Coaches, you need to be careful when critiquing a swimmer's stroke from above the water. Here's a couple of examples why:

James has a low body position which we should work on improving:

However from above the water it doesn't look nearly so bad:

Michelle's dropping her wrist whilst breathing here:

Yet from above the water it's hard to detect:

Refraction at the boundary between water and air bends light and causes objects and depths to appear more shallow than they actually are. If a swimmer's legs appear 20cm below the surface of the water, you won't be far off by doubling your estimate. If you can detect a slightly dropped wrist or elbow, then it's probably significantly worse that it appears.

Fine tune your observation skills and your stroke correction abilities will take a big step forward.

Swim Smooth!

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