Fly stroke - Deep knee bends are out!

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Fly stroke - Deep knee bends are out!

Post by Don Wright on Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:28 am

The water in my uniform depth pool is about 130cm/4'3" and there have been some occasions when towards the end of the fly major kick downbeat - (the one where you intend/hope to inhale on the start of the arms up-sweep) - when I have, to my horror, found my toes touching the bottom.  At that time, the body is at it's worst inclination to the surface (arms are by the sides momentarily, about to exit the water, and legs extended at the end of the major kick downbeat), but some of us (ouch!) like to make sure the finish of that major kick downbeat is a powerful one,, by drawing the heels up in the direction of the butt before the lower legs kick down - that gives the lower legs a bigger range of movement.  However, it seems to me on deeper thought, that this is not a very good idea - remembering that we move at our best when up close to the surface.  So, by ensuring we limit the depth of our knee bends - hopefully this reduces the range of lower legs "kick-down" and consequently the trunk will not be at such a low angle to the surface, and the toes are less likely hit the floor tiles in shallow water!  That will make the body action more of a ripple or proper undulation, as it is supposed to be!  The use of deep knee bends, breaks the continuity of the undulation.

On further thought - it seems to me that if I remember, after the minor kick downbeat finishes (I.E. when the hands have entered, with the head in line with the spine as the downbeat of the minor kick finishes - so as to screw as much forward movement as possible from that temporary stream-lined attitude) - then "pressing the buoy" by pushing the head down a bit will raise the legs up to the surface as the major kick upbeat starts. This will get the feet up near or maybe just above the surface as the arms do the in-sweep or "scooping" action, with the feet up out of the way.  That will reduce the later risk of the feet going too low, during the arms up-sweep!

Not sure If am right - but have in mind these "snapshot" ideas of where I should be at key stages of the fly stroke : -

1) Stream-lined attitude at arms entry, after their recovery  (or push-off from the wall) - completing a nice sharp minor kick downbeat, head looking down

2) Nod the head down  ("pressing the buoy") as the arms descend to a high elbow catch - the "head nod" action aids the "upward curl" of the body doing the upbeat of the major kick.  That upward impulse starting somewhere about the shoulder blades.  So the "snap shot" at the catch, ought to show the forearms out front with elbows high, body curled upwards with feet near or breaking the surface

3)  Start the "scoop" (aka in-sweep) with the forearms hanging vertically down - bring upper arms out and back around towards the ribs - but at the tail-end of that arm action get ready for "snapshot" position (4)

4) As the the upper arms come closer to the ribs towards the end of the "scoop", change the orientation of the forearms so that they lag behind the movement of the elbows and the hands can come close together with palms and forearms ready to press initially down and back - hands probably beneath the head or neck.  At this stage, the upper arms are close to the ribs and have just gone past the vertical, with forearms/hands out in front but lower down.  Meanwhile back at the legs end - the feet are drawn forwards a bit, closer to the butt - i.e. the knees bend as the thighs are "thrown forwards" so as to bring the heels forwards, a bit like the preparation for a breast stroke kick, but with legs kept together. Essentially, the fly major kick can be said to start from the hips!

5)  The head needs to be raised a bit now, in preparation for the big up-sweep of the arms and the start of inhalation as the head pops out of the water.  The arms are swept back and up for the up-sweep, with elbows still bent (that lessens the strain on the shoulder joints!). Meanwhile, the lower legs thrust down strongly to complete the major kick downbeat.  The inhalation is a "snatched" business taken during the early stage of the up-sweep.  IMO it is better to start the down-thrust of the lower legs a very short instant before the arms start their up-sweep to the surface, because that again, lessens the strain on the arms - the kick downbeat has an upward leverage effect on the body!

6)  If the whole body motion is a continuous action, then after the major kick downbeat, the recovery of the legs upwards to the surface ought to be a sort of "rebound" action.  But if the body action has not been very continuous, then "all is not lost" because once the recovering arms pass the shoulder line, the body is in effect "toppling forwards" a bit, due to the sudden change in weight distribution - and that will help return the legs up near the surface - in effect, doing the minor kick upbeat!

As the arms exit the water for recovery, IMO one should be able to hear some disturbance of the water at the legs end, due to the finish of the major kick downbeat - If you don't hear any disturbance, then there is probably insufficient power in the kick and the arms may well drag in the water during recovery! (Have seen this with one struggling beginner!)

Hope I remember to put this into practice!!!

As I mentioned in the P.S. to the previous post, am grateful for the raised issue of increasing DPS in FS stroke.  (As an aside -  there are times when going through my little mainly FS routine when I intend to do a bit of 1-arm fly before the full stroke stuff, and forget my intention, by pushing off from the wall and starting FS arm action - it's an ingrained habit now "Doh!"  Rolling Eyes  - back to the wall and start again, concentrating this time!)  Have tried 2 slow FS variations aimed at getting further (within my limited capacity).  In one of these I slow down the continuous "on-the-go" arm action, so that UW pull and recovery action are about 1/2 my normal speed - but well within my energy range. the only trouble with that was the weight of the slower recovering arm was quite noticeable.  The other slow variation leaves the just pulled-through arm by the hip with the other lead arm outstretched stream-lined, before as momentum drops off, getting back into action again.  Both of these variations certainly helped me energy-wise! Who knows, I may be able to do 100m straight off without any rests one day (before I "pop my clogs" hopefully)!

Don Wright

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