Friday, September 3, 2010

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!

10 comments:

Tom said...

Hi, I understand the need for my body to be flat but if I stick my wetsuit on my body is much flatter so how do you adjust for this? if you use a bouy in the pool you neglect kicking so presumably the only way would be to swim in the pool with your wetsuit on but not practical!

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I understand the idea, that one should not drop the elbow (and wrist) but according to the pic (Michelle), I don´t really see the wrist to be low??? It looks quite ideal to me - please correct me if I am wrong!

Magnus

Anonymous said...

yes, I'm confused too, like Magnus. Wrist does not look low. which wrist are you referring to?

Adam

tri4health said...

I think they meant that the elbow has dropped below the wrist. The wrist actually looks fine. This article is the whole reason the first thing I do when I evaluate someone is to drop a periscope and video several angles UNDERWATER! Then you can watch frame by frame together with the swimmer and show them what they are doing and how to correct technique. There is nothing better to show technique issues and most of the time, people look fine above the water; the underwater view is priceless.

Adam Young said...

Thanks for the comments and feedback guys. We probably should have been more clear and said 'Michelle's dropping her wrist and elbow whilst breathing here'.

Relative to the forearm her wrist angle is OK but relative to the water her wrist is dropped and her palm facing slightly forwards:

Zoomed image

This can feel deceptively good when you're swimming because you feel the pressure of the water pushing on the palm as it hits it and this can feel like a good catch. It's amazing how many swimmers do this when trying to lengthen out their strokes. Unfortunately it creates drag and has the knock on effect of causing the elbow to drop, harming the catch.

Which comes first dropped elbow or wrist? We'd argue in many cases it's the wrist. Our body awareness or proprioception is much better around our hands than our forearms. In nearly all cases it's the hand that swimmers are actively monitoring and controlling and that by fixing the wrist/hand position, the dropped elbow also disappears. A little bit of cause and effect methodology there.

For this reason we like to coach the tipped wrist position that Mr Smooth uses in his stroke.

I hope that clarifies - sorry for the confusion there!

Adam Young said...

Thanks for the comments and feedback guys. We probably should have been more clear and said 'Michelle's dropping her wrist and elbow whilst breathing here'.

Relative to the forearm her wrist angle is OK but relative to the water her wrist is dropped and her palm facing slightly forwards:

Zoomed image

This can feel deceptively good when you're swimming because you feel the pressure of the water hitting the palm and this can feel like a good catch. It's amazing how many swimmers do this when lengthening out their strokes, unfortunately all it does is create drag and have the knock on effect of causing the elbow to drop.

Which comes first dropped elbow or wrist? We'd argue in many cases it's the wrist. Our body awareness or proprioception is much better around our hands than our forearms. In nearly all cases it's the hand that swimmers are actively monitoring and controlling and that by fixing the wrist/hand position, the dropped elbow also disappears. A little bit of cause and effect methodology there.

For this reason we like to coach the tipped wrist position that Mr Smooth uses in his stroke. It really helps swimmers set up for a better catch and pull through.

I hope that clarifies. We often talk in terms of wrist positions and that one slipped into the blog without any clarification.

Chris said...

I think that Michelle's high (shallow) hand maybe causing confusion. You describe her wrist as being low, but the picture clearly shows that her wrist is high in the water. To achieve this position Michelle is reaching for the surface at the front of her glide. It may be clearer if you describe the position that her arm should be in relative to her body; i.e. fingers below the wrist, then wrist level with or slightly below her elbow and lastly her arm extended as close to level with her shoulder as possible. This emphasises the importance of maintaining a high shoulder position (relative to one's head) until after the catch phase and into the pull phase.

jim said...
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Abby cristal said...
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