Thursday, March 01, 2018

UNCO - The King Of Drills - Revisited

We first posted about the Unco Drill on the blog way back in 2010. As you'll see below it's one or favourite drills which we refer to and use a frequently in our coaching. For that reason we thought it's high-time we should give it a revisit here on the main blog.

You can see the drill video in all its glory in the Swim Smooth Guru here (Standard/PRO subscription required):

UNCO - The King Of Drills - Revisited

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 your breathing timing.

Because of its unique ability to bring these key elements of the stroke together we often call it The King Of Drills!

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 intermediate and advanced level swimmers refining their strokes.

If you have a history of Overgliding in your stroke and still have a deadspot or pause in your timing that is difficult to shift then give this key drill a go. You will 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, but performed with the "dead" arm by your side with the other arm performing a full stroke cycle:


Two key points with breathing during the drill: Breathe every single stroke (even if that feels like too much breathing) and always breathe away from the stroking arm. So if you are stroking with your right arm, breathe to the left every single time.

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 need to emphasise dipping the dead shoulder into the water as there's no arm stroke to help you on that side. Get this right and your stroking arm will recover easily over the top of the water but stay flat on that dead side and the arm recovery will be very tough and the whole drill will feel like a struggle!

If you struggle to co-ordinate 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 +20 seconds recovery as:

25m left arm Unco + 25m right arm Unco + 50m full stoke freestyle

Remember that Unco is a challenging drill and may feel hard to coordinate. The magic should happen when you start swimming full freestyle immediately following the drill. The stroke should feel smooth, continuous, fluid and powerful - very coordinated in fact!

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.

Swim Smooth!

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