"Smartening up"?

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"Smartening up"?

Post by Don Wright on Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:39 am

Have come to realize that my efforts at doing 6-beat kicking in FS are worse than pathetic!  To remedy that I looked up Sheila Taormina's description of what I ought to be doing, and also referred back to those excellent diagrams in Maglischo's old tome. I don't seem to have very good "proprio-perception" so think it would be wise for me to concentrate on the proper 6-beat kick routine while doing 4-arm stroke inhalations - that will give me more time to observe/correct my faults!  As "Sprinter" knows well from his efforts to just help me doing flutter kicking while on my back - it turned out to be a rather "fruitless" task!  Am currently exploring other possible "avenues" to improvement.  A major problem in my case is that my feet are in a semi-frozen attitude (due to the ravages of arthritis),  the max angle between my shins and outstretched insteps is probably of the order of 115-120  degrees - if I attempt to "point the toes", the toe-end of my insteps do flex slightly - but the upper part towards the shins seems fixed - so on a FS flutter kick downbeat there is a high probability that I am "hooking" water forwards! Rolling Eyes

There seems however to be the possibility that by getting the foot much higher at the start of each kick downbeat - that I may be able to increase, what little effective range I have, for those "kick downs" - and this can be achieved by "pressing the buoy", pushing the head down below the level of the upper arm as I do the arm extension just after water entry following recovery.  My initial efforts at doing this seem to be most promising (just kicking while prone and head pushed down a bit) - so will pursue that line of thought!  This reminds me of some old advice that "SolarEnergy" gave us on the old SwimSmooth forum - in which he described as a young lad, how his coach bawled out to him to "Tap your feet on the surface!".  Yes I know it makes the stroke rather  "splashy" but it seems to work.  In all our strokes it seems most important that we strive to keep those darned legs up high.


Am not worried about problems in inhalation in FS while "pressing the buoy" for the major part of the stroke cycle - there seems to be a "buoyant reaction" to pressing the head down which aids getting the mouth clear of the water line at the required time.

Don Wright

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Re: "Smartening up"?

Post by Tom65 on Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:07 am

Don Wright wrote:

Am not worried about problems in inhalation in FS while "pressing the buoy" for the major part of the stroke cycle - there seems to be a "buoyant reaction" to pressing the head down which aids getting the mouth clear of the water line at the required time.

Probably helps form the bow wave, but that was a revelation to me when learning to swim, found I had to consciously press my head down and breathing became much easier, still check it from time to time, normally after an unexpected mouthful of water.
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Re: "Smartening up"?

Post by Don Wright on Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:06 am

Tom65 wrote:
Don Wright wrote:

Am not worried about problems in inhalation in FS while "pressing the buoy" for the major part of the stroke cycle - there seems to be a "buoyant reaction" to pressing the head down which aids getting the mouth clear of the water line at the required time.

Probably helps form the bow wave, but that was a revelation to me when learning to swim, found I had to consciously press my head down and breathing became much easier, still check it from time to time, normally after an unexpected mouthful of water.

Hi Tom!

When I wrote I don't seem to have very good "proprio-perception" - I didn't admit then, to the problem I've had in counting the number of kicks/cycle.  It is all too easy for me to cheerfully count 1-2-3 as I do the head-down stroke, and do the same as the other arm recovers - ah! - but does my counting actually tie up with the kicks I do - Doh! (Yeah, I know I shouldn't count till the kick is actually done!)  I did have a re-read of what Paul Newsome wrote in the SwimSmooth manual - about age-groupers 6-beat flutter kicking. Think he made the point it just needs to be a light action that helps keep the legs up near the surface - aiding balance but not providing much in the way of propulsion  (that can be left to the would-be sprinters)!

As part of my usual routine I do a couple of lengths "pressing the buoy" leaving the legs absolutely idle - copied that idea from a "GoSwim" drill clip I once saw. The demo chap did quick normal FS arm action/snatched inhalations.  I suppose the head action does impart a bit of undulation along the rest of the body, so that might augment forward movement.  Also, I always need to do that "push down of the head" when doing FS with bilateral breathing - 'cos am very awkward inhaling on my "less happy" side.  So a "push down of the head" just before inhalation on that awkward side helps me avoid water intake mishaps, due to the subsequent buoyancy uplift.

As part of the general "smartening up" have spent time "re-styling"  Rolling Eyes  my back crawl.  Yonks ago I was using the "Maglischo described" double down-sweep/double up-sweep action for each arm's UW action.  Until arthritic problems in the wrist joints made that too painful to continue - so I reverted to doing a simple semi-circular arm sweep - until recently. Am now trying to take "on board" the arm action style described in Sheila T's book (Swim Speed Strokes) and find that a definite improvement over the simple semi-circular arm action.  It seems to involve more concentration on the orientation of the hand/forearm (pulling back till the stroking arm is in line with the shoulders, then pushing back/down a bit, till the hand is beneath level of the thigh, before releasing pressure on the water, prior to turning the palm on its side so as not to pull the hips down as the arm exits).  It doesn't require much wrist bending - plus, providing better forward movement than using the old semi-circular sweep.

On fly  (to which am deeply attracted!) I found it helpful to make up a simple mantra to get "into" each stroke once the arms have recovered from the previous stroke (or outstretched at push-off from the wall)  SHOVE (do a vigorous dolphin minor kick downbeat) - NOD (the head down below level of upper arms under-sides to initiate major kick upbeat, with feet breaking the surface) - then CATCH.   I haven't got as far as formulating a short mantra for the "guts" of the arm action yet  Smile - am still busy putting the first "partial" mantra into practice!  At the mo - the rest of the stroke is just "do the best you can!"  Rolling Eyes  and if/when getting short of air, do a couple of 1-arm fly strokes, with easier inhalation to the side as in FS, before returning to full fly strokes.

Saw a young bloke recently doing a length of fly - arms going like bees wings, but little surface evidence of leg down-thrust to aid motion.  I noticed he was stretching his arms cautiously after doing that fly dash - so I suspect he found it rather a strain on the arms.  It just reminded me of the need to draw the elbows/forearms/hands in, almost under the body in preparation for the big up-sweep.  Without those seemingly dropped elbows - there is a lot of strain on the arms!

I haven't ingrained into my noddle yet, the habit of presenting the insteps of the feet at a good angle during the dolphin kick downbeats. Sometimes I remember, but most often don't  Sad  - too busy concentrating on what the rest of the body is doing (*)!  Think the big toes should be kept almost in contact throughout the kicking - but keep the heels together during kick upbeats, and just part them during the latter part of the kick downbeats - so as to present the insteps in a more effective direction. The major kick downbeat final phase of the lower legs/feet down-thrust, needs to be quite vigorous, so as to help "lever" the front end of the body higher to facilitate inhalation, otherwise the mouth may not clear the water line.


* The old YouTube video clips of "A Shaw way to fly" are in 3 "lesson" clips : -

Lesson 1 : -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QRElrG-NtQ

Lesson 2 : -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-YEAEN3amE

- in the "standing drill" of lesson 2, the "voice-over" at one stage says "Direct the knees forward" - to imitate the start of the major kick downbeat, before pulling the arms through.

Lesson 3 : -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDFQ5ccLQJ0

in which the "voice-over" says that "Fly is arguably the most intelligent of the strokes" - Hmmm!!! Smile

Don Wright

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Re: "Smartening up"?

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