Scissor Kicks Are Caused By Crossovers

In the vast majority of cases scissor kicks are caused by crossovers:

The swimmer crosses over the centre line in front of the head, over-rotates and then the legs scissor apart to stop them flipping over onto their back. Over time this becomes a habit in the stroke and feels normal - in fact most swimmers with a scissor kick don't even realise it is there.

In a sense the swimmer doesn’t have two problems but one. Remove the crossover and the scissor kick disappears permanently all by itself. But try to tackle the scissor kick directly with kicking drills and it keeps coming back without first removing the crossover.

How to remove the crossover? By improving your posture and alignment in the water using side kicking exercises, thinking about drawing your shoulders together and back to bring the lead arm straight:

Read the full description of this drill here.

Swim Smooth's Cause And Effect Methodology

Crossovers-causing-scissor-kicks is the most famous example of our "Cause and Effect" approach to stroke correction which is the backbone of all our coaching products. It's a philosophy which greatly simplifies stroke correction and hugely improves the chances of its success.

There are around 20 other C+Es that we employ at different times for different faults ranging from shortness of breath right through to mastering catch technique. Our best selling Book, DVDs and Swim Type correction guides all use this simple but powerful principle to permanently improve your swimming.

Swim Smooth!

Is Your Personality Holding Your Swimming Back?

Last weekend in Loughborough we ran one of our highly sought after 3 Day Coach Education Courses for the 14 coaches selected from the UK, Spain, Belgium, USA and Yorkshire. Competition to attend was fierce with over 100 applicants for the course.

One of the most interesting narratives during the weekend was on the personality traits of each of the six Swim Types and how those traits impact on their swimming:

Paul's video analysis session with the 14 swimmers and 14 coaches.

The coaches show us a bit of their own personality!

It's fair to say that some of the coaches who were less familiar with the swim types were initially a bit unsure about whether such a connection could be made at all. However on the third day of the course we brought in 14 real swimmers who we'd never met before to run a full Swim Smooth clinic. Chatting to them when we met up and then seeing them in the water really brought the personality angle into focus. To quote coach Filip from Belgium:

I was initially a little sceptical on the story that the different swim types were linked to a person's personality but I had to admit that on the 14 athletes initially presenting themselves, I could already define the swim type on 10 of them without seeing them in the water.
(You can read the rest of Filip's report here)

Once you get into the Swim Type system as a coach, you soon find that the personality insight it brings is just as powerful as the stroke insight itself. After all, great coaching is not only about the technical aspects but also making a real connection with your swimmer and understanding what is holding them back inside their head.

So whether you're a swimmer or coach, what one tip can we give you for each type to help from a personality perspective? (For the step by step guide to technically improving each type, see our full Swim Type guides: here)

'Taming The Arnie'

Arnies are intense and driven people who want results yesterday! The biggest single thing holding them back technically is low sinking legs in the water, creating a huge amount of drag and slowing them dramatically. Combined with their tenacious nature this can lead to a lot of frustration.

Arnies: Unfortunately there's no one silver bullet to lift your legs higher in the water, it requires persistent work on a variety of areas in the stroke to bring the legs up. How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time! The message here is whilst it can be done, it does require patience. Where to start? See these notes for some suggestions:

'Boosting The Bambino'

Bambinos are normally quite new to swimming freestyle and suffer from a lack of confidence in the water which is holding them back. Technically, the lead arm often drops or slips through the water when they go to take a breath which further heightens this sense of panic. They also have a tendency to be too slow and gentle in the stroke - almost as if they are afraid of hurting the water!

One of the key steps to improving a Bambino's swimming is to develop a 'go for it' attitude and to add a little oomph and rhythm to the stroke. You might think this would make swimming feel harder but for the Bambino it normally does the opposite - it actually makes it feel easier as they develop a better feel for the water from it.

Bambinos: Forget your worries and just go for it! From our experience, you're nearly always a better swimming than you think!

'Curing The Overglider'

Overgliders are famous for their analytical personalities and are the swimmers who love their graphs, spreadsheets and equations! In fact statistics have shown that 89.42% are likely to be from an engineering or science based background. Unfortunately this does mean that sometimes they tend to spend more time thinking about swimming than actually doing it, which can really hold them back.

An overtly intellectual approach can also cause them to lose touch with the feelings and natural rhythm of good freestyle.

Overgliders: Take a leaf out of the Swinger's book, just get in the water, swim on feel and try developing your swimming intuition! Your analytical approach will ultimately help you understand what you need to do to improve but try not to let it overshadow developing your kinaesthetic feel for the water.

'Inspiring The Kicktastic'

Kicktastics tend to be self-contained people who are very organised and diligent with their approach to swimming. However they have a tendency to stick to what they know and persevere with what they've always done since swimming as a child.

Kicktastics: Challenge yourself and work on some different areas of your stroke, don't be afraid to experiment and try something a little different, such as catch development drills and experimenting with a further looking head position to optimise your individual balance in the water:

'Supporting The Swinger'

Swingers have normally been swimming for a long time and have a decent level of performance, notably in open water swimming. Whilst they're confident in their abilities they may have a low opinion of their stroke having been told over the years by swimming coaches who subscribe to the 'longer is better' mindset that they don't have a good technique or they need a longer stroke.

The danger here is that Swingers often give up on their stroke technique as a lost cause when in reality there are nearly always areas they can work on on to improve significantly, without fundamentally changing their stroke style. Common areas to address are any cross-overs in the stroke, sweeping of the hand underneath the body or a tendency to over-rev the stroke rate at the start of an event.

Swingers: Appreciate that you are in fact succeeding because of your stroke technique, not despite it. Be confident in what you do well (swim with rhythm and purpose) and simply tune up a small few areas in your stroke that need work with a rounded set of drills.

'Motivating The Smooth'

Whilst Smooths look brilliant in the water and are the envy of the pool, they are not without their problems, most commonly a lack of motivation to train. Having spent years and years training and racing they've very much 'been there and done it' and commonly suffer from black line fever.

Smooths have all the talent in the world, it's very much a matter of firing them up and getting them swimming proper sets in the water on a regular basis again.

Smooths: Set yourself some new goals and challenges, ideally something you've never done before to get those competitive juices flowing again. Open water races would be a great choice and gives you the opportunity to work on some sighting, drafting and navigation skills you might have never tried before which really keeps things interesting.

Swim Smooth!

The Three Keys To Becoming A Much Better Swimmer

220 Magazine have just released their interview with our Head Coach Paul Newsome which was filmed recently at The Triathlon Show in London:

In it Paul talks about two very important concepts for better swimming: Swim Smooth's 'Three Keys' and using Tempo Trainer Pros for fitness training and developing your pacing skills.

To supplement Paul's interview, here's an overview of each:

Swim Smooth's 'Three Keys'

As you develop your swimming it's important to appreciate there are three key areas you need to work on to reach your potential in the water:

Key 1. Your stroke technique to move more quickly for the same level of effort.

Key 2. Your swim specific fitness so that you can sustain your stroke technique at a strong level of effort.

Key 3. Your open water skills such as sighting, drafting and swimming straight.

A good way to look at these three areas is to consider that each is broadly worth the same amount of time to you. So if you're swimming 30 minutes for 1500m but want to get to 24 minutes, then look at this challenge as you aiming to gain 2 minutes from technique, 2 minutes from swim fitness and 2 minutes from open water skills.

This is how the swimmers making large improvements do so. They don't gain everything from one area, which is extremely hard to do, instead they work year round in a balanced program combining all three keys, gaining performance from each.

Using exactly this approach Paul coached professional triathlete Kate Bevilaqua from 65 minutes for the 3.8km Ironman swim down to a fantastic 49 minutes (previously covered on the blog here). That's a huge gain, taking her from last pro out of the water to the very front of the field:

Tempo Trainer Pros For Fitness Training

Secondly Paul mentioned how Finis Tempo Trainer Pros are extremely useful tools for developing your swim specific fitness. Tempo Trainers are best known for being used to control your stroke rate for technique development but they can also be used to set a swimming speed to sustain over a training set.

Set the pace on the Tempo Trainer before starting your set.
For instance, if you are looking to swim at 2 minutes per 100m in a 25m pool, just set the beeper in mode 2 to beep every 30 seconds. Then set off on a beep and control your pace to turn and push-off on every beep. This really helps you develop and tune in to your pace judgement, an essential part of improving your distance swimming.

As a shameless plug, you can purchase your Tempo Trainer Pro from our Swim Shop here:

Swim Smooth!

Photo & Video Highlights From The Triathlon Show Last Weekend

Last week on the blog we previewed our visit to the 220 Triathlon Show in London and our Swinger vs Smooth Smackdown which featured Olympic Silver medallist David Davies and Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist Ross Davenport.

We heard from many of you from all corners of the globe who would have loved to have been there so here's our picture and video highlights of the weekend to enjoy. If you can, come and join us at the Bike And Tri Show in Manchester this weekend for more seminars and endless pool sessions (timetable at the end of this post).

On the first day in London Paul Newsome hosted the show-headlining Q&A with 6x Ironman World Champion Dave Scott. Dave is a real smooth operator and entertained the crowd with inside stories on his victories and discussions on nutrition and training methods:

Dave's views on swim coaching are very much in alignment with our own and it was great to hear him speak about how he got the best out of his own swimming using the Swinger style. It was a real honour to work with Dave again over the weekend, here's 'Mr October' with some of the members of the Swim Smooth UK team:

L-R: Emma Brunning, Adam Young, Annie Oberlin-Harris, Dave Scott
Paul Newsome, Fiona Ford, Linda Newsome (aka Mother Smooth!) & Stevie Akred

Next Paul presented a new presentation he's been working on about our Swim Types system with special guest David Davies, Olympic Silver Medallist in the 10km Open Water Event. It was fascinating to hear Dave speak about his Swinger stroke style and how coaches tried to change him over the years, but it always slowed him down. His original coach Dave Haller in Cardiff knew exactly what he needed and capitalised on that - his results speak for themselves:

"People used to say I looked horrible - like a spider, but when I tried to lengthen out and slow
down my stroke rate I simply became slower, not more efficient - being like Sun Yang just didn't work for me."

This was the busiest presentation of the entire weekend with over 300 people in attendance:

Standing room only!

Immediately afterwards we ran the much heralded Swinger vs Smooth Smackdown in the Zoggs Swim Zone between Silver (2008, 10km) & Bronze (2004, 1500m) Olympic Medallist David Davies and double Commonwealth Gold Medallist (200m freestyle & 4 x 200m freestyle) Ross Davenport:

Paul Newsome demonstrates arm recovery styles to the audience with David Davies (nearest)
and Ross Davenport (far side) in the Zoggs endless pools

Of course we filmed the session for you but are saving that for future viewing! Suffice to say, Ross' and David's differing stroke styles were immediately apparent for the 300+ audience to see. David (right) uses the straighter arm style of the Swinger whilst Ross (left) uses the higher elbow of the Smooth:

Who won? Well unfortunately we couldn't have a real race because these particular endless pools weren't configured to go fast enough for elite swimmers at race speeds but the real lesson here is that both are brilliant swimmers and both styles are equally valid. Simply put there's no one right way for all swimmers to swim. Choose your own stroke style based on what naturally works best for you and the environment in which you are swimming.

Paul with Ross and David after the swim:

And a little later when we filmed David's stroke properly:

Adam, Fiona, David Davies, Annie and Paul post filming

As if that wasn't enough, on Saturday night we won the prestigious 220 Best Wetsuit Brand award with our HUUB range for the second year running! ( Dave Scott is now a brand ambassador for HUUB along with Olympic Gold and Bronze medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. A fantastic result and big congratulations from us to Deano Jackson and the whole HUUB team!

On Sunday it was back into the pool to deliver a jam-packed Video Analysis and Stroke Correction session with the 220 Triathlon Magazine Editor, Helen Webster:

Helen has only just learnt to swim but did brilliantly. You can only imagine how she felt doing a session in front 150 people - thanks for being so awesome Helen!

Also thanks to all of you who came and said hi to us during the show. If you're planning to visit the Manchester show this weekend don't forget to bring your video footage of your stroke on a USB drive so our team can give you some feedback on your stroke:

Swim Smooth!

The Bike & Triathlon Show, Manchester Timetable:

Sat 8th March: 11:15am-12:00pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 1 (Swim Types)
Sat 8th March: 2-3pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 9th March: 12:30-1:30pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 9th March: 3:15pm-4:00pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 2 (Diesel Engine)

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