Experiential Learning With Scull #1

Hello from sunny Mallorca where Paul Newsome, Adam Young and the rest of the Swim Smooth team are running two editions of our 3 Day Coach Education Course, with twenty coaches on each course.

Here's the group shot from the first course:



Perhaps the hardest area of freestyle technique to coach is developing a swimmer's catch technique. With that in mind, we have the coaches spend some time in the water working through some key drills and exercises focusing on developing a swimmer's propulsive technique.

One of these drills is the Scull #1 drill, an excellent exercise to develop your feel for the water at the front of the stroke. Check out the following short clip of the coaches trying this and under Paul's guidance experimenting with different stroke flaws (which might be present in your own stroke) to feel the effect:

View here: https://youtu.be/F1BvEHR4uhM

The next time you swim try this same sequence yourself (outlined below) but first make sure you've mastered the basic Scull #1 drill:

The Scull #1 Drill

Use a Pull Buoy (make sure you don't kick) and have your chin on the surface:


If you have sinky legs you might need a larger pull-buoy such as a HUUB Big Buoy to keep your legs up in this position.

Lightly scull the water left and right in front of your head. Move your hands down in the water so that your elbow is higher than your wrist and the wrist is higher than your fingertips.

The key is to angle (pitch) the hand so that your hand is angled slightly inwards when sculling in and angled outwards when sculling outwards:


Get this right and you should move slowly through the water. Remember only to scull left and right - don't scoop backwards, that's breaststroke and definitely cheating!

Finally (and importantly for the experimentation below) keep your fingers together and hold the fingers and hand flat with a little firmness or "tone". About the same level of tone as you would use during a handshake - that's a "regular gentleman's handshake" not a "bone-crusher"!

You can see a quick video of Scull #1 here:


And if you are a Guru subscriber, watch our full drill video with complete coaching points here:


Experimenting With Scull #1

Now we get to the experiment the coaches ran. Give this sequence a try the next time you swim:

- Perform 5 meters of regular Scull #1

- Keep sculling but spread your fingers wide on both hands - what happens? Do you lose feel for the water and speed?

- Perform 5 meters of regular Scull #1

- Let your hand and fingers go limp - again do you lose feel for the water and speed? Some coaching programs actually teach you to hold your hands loosely - this exercises proves why you need to keep some tone and hold the hand flat without cupping.

Perform 5 meters of regular Scull #1

- Still sculling, bring your fingertips up and show the palm forwards. Many people (particularly Overgliders) try to overly lengthen their stroke and get into this position when they swim:


What happens now? Moving backwards? Feel your legs dropping?

You Can't Beat Experiential Learning

Sculling is a fantastic drill for developing your catch and feel for the water but it also allows you to experiment and find out what moves you forwards and what keeps you high in the water.

Remember everything you discover performing the drill will have the same effect on your full freestyle stroke too - so make those corrections to improve the effectiveness of your freestyle.

Swim Smooth!
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1 comment:

Sue Allingham said...

Brilliant description of how to scull.
The pictures & videos are really helpful.
Feeling the tone is very important, I will be sharing this with quite a few of ny swimmers, who have been finding this exercise hard and cheat by doing breaststroke.
Thank-you & have a great weekend. I am off for a swim in the pool with my Tempo Trainer 😁🏊‍♀️
Sue

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