Friday, October 8, 2010

Try Aiming For 80% Not 100%

One problem with aiming for 100% perfection is that it tends to make you mechanical and rigid when you swim - so you lose touch with the rhythm of the stroke. It also means you try and over-ride rather than work-with your natural stroke mannerisms, which is extremely hard (or impossible) to do. A third problem with targeting 100% is you tend to overdo and exaggerate stroke corrections too much.

80% perfection might be a much better target - relax when you swim, lightly feel your movements and get it 'nearly right'. The Swinger knows the power of this more natural approach to stroke correction - it's the secret of their success.

Swim Smooth!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Swimming is like Zen:

The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's-eye which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art

Eugen Herrigel from "Zen in the Art of Archery"

Substitute archer with swimmer and hitting the bull's-eye with swimming like Mr Smooth and you get the picture.

GeorgeY

Rog said...

I assume this would only apply for the full stroke, as surely the point of drills is to exaggerate part of the stroke?

Linds said...

I’ve started learning to swim free-style this year by using your DVD for beginners. (It’s very good, by the way.) I’m sorry but I don’t understand the concept of trying to be 80% perfect rather than 100% perfect. Do you mean I should try to get all aspects of the stroke just nearly right, or should I try to perfect certain aspects – like bilateral breathing and body roll, for example, and be a bit less concerned with my recovery or catch? Also, as a beginner how can I tell what is poor technique and what is my natural stroke mannerisms?
Thank you,
Linds

Adam Young said...

Hi Rog,

Drills aren't always there to exaggerate movements, they're more often about isolating a movement so that you can practise it and get a feel for it. And yes, sometimes even aiming for 80% during a drill is best, again because of that word 'feel' which tends to be wiped out by a 100% rigid focus.

Hi Linds,

We really meant the former - aim for 80% perfection in every aspect of the stroke, because ultimately that can lead to a much faster more efficient stroke. It will also lead to a more relaxed feeling in the water - which is very important for a beginner.

However, as a beginner, you certainly want to focus on thing in a certain order. The 10 steps in the Learn To Swim Program should give you that focus in the short term.

> Also, as a beginner how can I tell what is poor technique and what is my natural stroke mannerisms?
A very good question - and something not unique to beginners! This is perhaps the fundamental challenge of swimming versus other less technical sports. This awareness of good technique is what all our coaching is aimed at helping you develop.

When you do something to harm your technique it's normally very quickly apparent to you. However, when you make a small improvement the benefit isn't always obvious and can sometimes even feel wrong! Here's a few suggestions on this front:

- When you make a change that you're not sure about, trial it over a little bit of time - perhaps 6 sessions would be about right.

- Be objective about it. Does it allow you to swim faster, or further? Is your heart rate lower or your breathing a little easier?

- If and when you are up to swimming some longer distances (e.g. 400m) then trial the changes out over some longer swims. In swimming, some changes can feel good initially but because they work small muscle groups too hard, they can be hard to sustain. When swimmers complain of 'my strokes falling apart' this is often what's happening.

Hope that helps!

Linds said...

Thank you very much for your comments. They are very helpful. I'm sorry I haven't got back to you earlier. I wanted to discuss George's comments about the Zen of swimming with a friend of mine who is a Zen rochi and I had to wait a while before we could meet up. What I found out is this: in Zen there are no short cuts. One would aim for 100% perfection in technique and only after hours and hours and hours of practice would one ever get close to losing one's sense of self and being at one with the process of swimming. This would involved being totally aware of every aspect of the swimming - the feeling in the body, the movement of every part the body in the water, the movement of air in and out of the body, the sounds, the sights, in fact the entire enviroment in which the swimming is taking place. So no quick fix, and definitely not for the faint hearted.
Thanks again.
Linds

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Ginger Sanches said...

I am really bad at swimming. I guess that it could be dissertation interesting for me, but for now I am playing tennis and just going for a walk sometimes.