Friday, May 25, 2012

Coaching Courses And CSS App

A couple of announcements this week:

Swim Smooth Coach Education Courses In July / August

Paul Newsome and Adam Young are running a series of our Three Day Coach Education courses in the UK in July and August, in Loughborough and Cardiff. If you're an aspiring coach looking to seriously develop your swim coaching and video analysis skills then don't miss out on this opportunity.

This unique and hugely popular course is recommended and endorsed CPD by Triathlon England and Scotland. Coaches from the UK and around the world are encouraged to apply (see the Olympics while you're in the UK!). For more information and to apply: see here

CSS / Tempo Trainer App: Simulator+

If you have a Finis Tempo Trainer or Wetronome Mk2 then Swim Smooth Coach Steve Casson has written a very neat app for your iPhone or iPad. Given your 200m and 400m times, the app will calculate your CSS pace and then tell you what time per lap to enter into your beeper to pace you out perfectly!

The app also includes a stroke rate stop watch, so you can measure strokes per minute accurately. Very neat and totally free! More more information see here, or search for Swimulator+ in the app store.

Find out more about CSS (Critical Swim Speed) training, and how it can make a huge difference to your swimming performances on our website here:

Swim Smooth!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Two Quick Tips If You Struggle With Breathing

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / One to Ones:

Corby, UK - 27th May 2012
Full information: here

Oxford, UK - 17th June 2012
Full information here

Richmond, UK - 24th June 2012
Full information: here

Majorca Camp, 1-8th July 2012
Full information here
If you're quite new to swimming freestyle, you might well struggle with your breathing. Don't worry, that's perfectly normal. You might be taking on water when you try to breathe or feel desperately out of breath and have to stop for a rest at the end of each length.

Here's two quick tips to help you with this:

The One-Two-Stretch Mantra

One of the biggest causes of breathing problems is if your lead arm is collapsing down into the water as you breathe, as we see with Clare's stroke here:

At this point in the stroke the lead arm should still be out in front supporting you. If it sinks down in the water with little purchase then your mouth will sink below the surface and you'll take on water.

At this point of the stroke you're naturally thinking 'give me that air' and nothing else! The key is to let the breath take care of itself and keep your focus on your lead arm giving your support instead.

To help with this, try repeating this mantra to yourself: 1-2-Stretch-1-2-Stretch where the 1 and 2 are on normal strokes and the stretch is on a breathing stroke reminding you to keep that lead arm stretched forward for support. Give it a go!

Popeye Breathing

Our second tip is to remember to angle your mouth to the side as Paul is demonstrating here:

This looks a bit like Popeye chewing his spinach, which is where the technique gains its name from. Breathing in this way helps you keep your head lower without taking on water, which is important as lifting the head too far sinks your legs downwards.

If you found these tips helped your breathing then take a look at our Bambino Swim Type and see if it rings any bells with your stroke. The Bambino Stroke Correction Guide (here) will give you plenty more tips to improve your swimming, all tailored to your specific stroke style!

Swim Smooth!

Friday, May 11, 2012

HUUB Wetsuits Now On Sale

Now On Sale
Yes, they're finally here, the new HUUB Wetsuit range is now on sale, just in time for the triathlon and open water swimming season!

Using our individual approach to swimmers we designed them to match your specific stroke style. Leg sinkers, buoyant swimmers, strong kickers and experienced swimmers are all specifically catered for with a perfect suit for you.

Select the right suit and you'll immediately feel at home - swimming quickly and efficiently wth the suit complimenting (and even improving) your stroke technique.

The suits were co-designed by world leading Sports Science Professor Huub Toussaint using the very best materials and construction possible, guaranteeing you the slippierest suit possible. This man knows the secrets of what makes a suit really quick having worked with Olympic Gold medallists to study and select the speedsuits that have dominated the last few Olympiads.

For more information and to purchase, see here.

HUUB prototype testing in open water with Swim Smooth's elite triathlon squad

Swim Smooth!

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / One to Ones:
Corby, UK - 27th May 2012Richmond, UK - 24th June 2012Salisbury, UK - 24th June 2012

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sweet Uncertainty Is A Powerful Motivator

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / One to Ones:

Corby, UK - 27th May 2012
Full information: here

Salisbury, UK - 24th June 2012
Full information here

Richmond, UK - 24th June 2012
Full information: here
What makes a great training session from a psychological point of view? A coach we work with closely in Montréal called Charles Gaston-Couturier describes the challenge of a good training set using something he calls 'Sweet Uncertainty', based on work by Brunelle in 1988 [1].

Visually it looks a little like this:
To the left side of the graph we have a goal that is so far within your capabilities it is too easy and boring. On the right side is a goal so hard you know it is impossible to complete, to attempt it would be futile. Somewhere in-between lies a tough challenge, one you're not sure whether it's possible to complete or not, a challenge that once set becomes very motivating.

The most common example of this form of motivation is when you set yourself a race or event goal, for instance "Next year I want to swim that hard 10km race" or "I want to complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2:30".

The Flow State

Psychology Professor Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi describes how the motivation of a challenge leads to the 'flow state' [2] where all our emotions and our entire focus are aligned to help us achieve the goal:

"The flow state is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one... Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

In the sporting world we know the flow state as 'the zone'. Attempt something too easy and we become bored but try something too hard or beyond our skill level and we become anxious and demotivated by the futility of trying. Both extremes make it impossible for us to enter the zone, instead we need that point of uncertainty somewhere in-between.

Setting Yourself Regular Challenges

What is interesting to note is that this form of goal setting motivation (known technically as 'extrinsic self determined') doesn't just exist for mid and long term goals, it works session by session too.

So if you are bored or lacking motivation, try setting yourself regular mini-challenges in your training. This could be a set you haven't tried before or times and distances you are not sure you can complete. It might be leading your lane in the squad through a CSS set or matching a training partner who is slightly quicker than you.

Such challenges don't need to be set in every session because looking forward to them will motivate you in other sessions building up to them. But find that point of sweet uncertainty and motivation (and flow) will be yours.

Swim Smooth!

(1) "La supervision de l'intervention en activité physique" by Brinelle, Drouin, Godbout et Tousignant
(2) "Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi