UNCO: The King Of Drills

Unco is a special drill which helps you develop the rhythm and timing of your stroke. We love Unco at Swim Smooth as it brings so many elements of the stroke together and forces you to time your catch, pull and body rotation correctly. You can even use it to polish up the timing of your breathing.

Australians love to shorten any word and put an 'o' on the end - in this case shortening 'uncoordinated' to make Unco. This probably tells you straight away that it is quite a challenging drill! We'd encourage any swimmer to give it a try but it is probably best suited and most beneficial for upper intermediate and advanced level swimmers. If you are a bit of an Overglider or have any deadspots or pauses in your stroke then give it a go, you'll find it really interesting.

Performing Unco

Unless you have an exceptionally propulsive kick, always use fins when performing Unco. It's a one arm drill, performed with one arm by your side whilst performing a full stroke with the other arm:







(sequence above taken from our forthcoming DVD "Catch Masterclass")

Breathe away from the stroking arm and breathe on every single stroke - even if you don't feel you need to - this helps drive your body rotation. We suggest you start with your right arm stroking and breathe to your left as shown in the pictures above. Once you get the hang of it you can swap sides every 25m or so.

The key to the drill is to make sure that you rotate your body fully to the dead side, ensuring that you dip your non-stroking arm and shoulder down into the water as shown in the last picture. The mantra of the drill is 'stroke and drip... stroke and dip...'. You will really have to emphasise dipping the dead shoulder into the water as there's no arms stroke on that side to help you. Get this right and your stroking arm will recover easily over the top of the water. However stay flat on that dead side and the arm recovery will be very tough!

If you struggle to coordinate the drill don't worry that's normal - in fact it's the whole idea and simply highlights that the timing of your stroke may need some work. When you get it right it should feel smooth and rhythmical.

Try 4x 100m with fins as: [ 25m left arm Unco + 25m right arm Unco + 50m freestyle swim + 20 seconds rest ]

You will feel the magic of Unco when you swim normal freestyle immediately after performing the drill. We recommend you perform a short swim every time following Unco, keeping the fins on and just feeling the rhythm and timing of the stroke. The improved smoothness and efficiency can be a revelation.

By the way, The Feel For The Blog has just exceeded thirty thousand subscribers, all since July last year! Thanks for reading, thanks for forwarding the posts to your friends and thanks to all our contributors. We've got some great material planned out for the coming months to keep you on an upward curve with your swimming and hopefully inspire you at the same time. Enjoy your time in the water!

Swim Smooth!


Anonymous said...

This is an awesome drill! Both my coach and I knew there was something wrong, but we couldn't quite nail it down. This drill did that. Now it's part of my workout every day.

Tony Dardis said...

We do something similar, but with the non-active arm out in front. Very UNC, but if you do it for 2-300m it gets smoother. This looks better, since with ours you need to figure out how to breath around that non-active arm.

Anonymous said...

Like the drill but not if it introduces a catch as shown in photo 3: shoulders still rotated, arm way underneath the body, low elbow. However, I am NOT an expert and really dig this website. If I'm wrong, please explain. Thanks. Mike

Unknown said...

Excellent drill. As a mono breather I could really tell that my stroke was uneven and my balance off, on my non-breathing side (left). And to top it all off I'm a stinkin' glider. I peeked up to see what my hands where doing and sure enough my fingers were high. Bummer. No more slacking I guess. Bi lateral breathing and high elbows it is. Fabulous. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Tried this yesterday morning. I have always known there is something wrong with my left side stroke. My roll is off and my legs cross when I kick. This drill really highlighted that imbalance. Now I just need to work with my coach to figure out what is causing it.

Thanks Swim Smooth. Any additional information on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Great drill. Used it this morning and it really highlighted my imbalance.
Would love more information on how this drill should 'feel'. For me, I found that I was having to dolphin through the water to maintain balance/momentum. Is this surge 'normal'; because when I did the normal 50 I found I was surging much more than I normally do.

Unknown said...

Excellent drill, made quite a difference on dipping the shoulder.

I also got the feeling of bouncing up as I moved from side to the other. Is this normal?

Adam Young said...

Hi guys,

Yes a little lift and drop is normal in Unco but not too much. If you really feel you're lifting high then you're pressing down on the water at the front and it's likely you do this in your full stroke too. This is a classic problem that people have when catching, instead of pressing down work on pressing backwards - which is a lot easier so much so that it might feel very strange or even wrong at first!

There's definitely a surge to unco as you're only getting propulsion from the one side but this should be a surge forwards, not upwards!

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