Sunday we were back at one of my favourite pools – LondonFields Lido. After a long warmup we went straight to the single arm drill as it is so effective & so good for all aspects of the full stroke. It is a ‘fast’ drill so will not allow swimmers to cool off in our openair lido but we allow it to flow into and out of full stroke to keep swimmers challenged and moving. Currently the sessions need to keep HeartRate levels low to keep respiration levels low in the lane. As mixed squad training is slowly reintroduced so technique after a long layoff works on all levels.
This drill might keep frustration levels high though but if you understand why we do it, the how might be easier! Ideally with any drill if you know what is happening to your stroke during the drill it might help you to focus longer.
I explain in great depth why we perform them hoping to convince the sceptical. Making the drill harder/easier is a key coaching skill so that all swimmers find something of value hence the 5 levels of progression here. Some of the new swimmers tried the old fashioned way (Traditional single arm in the videos here) and we talked about its limitations. This old drill has been progressed to allow the advanced version to more closely mimic full stroke and how we wish the body to rotate. A progressive mainset was created as follows.
Using equipment to make the drill easier/harder and helping the swimmer feel where and why things were happening was the focus. At nearly 2km this mainset is of use for light fitness but with a technical theme. I often refer to this style of swimming as Techncial Endurance. Lots of opportunities to practice the key movements, learn the fundamentals, build on them and at all times feel the drill shaping and flowing into the full stroke.
We started with a mixed 1000m warmup but you could do less if pushed for time before continuing with.
18 x 100m AS FOLLOWS, REST 10, MAKING USE OF ALL EQUIPMENT
1) 3×100 as 25m advanced single arm left/right into 50m full stroke with fins&paddles. Use the paddles to help accentuate the hold you have on the water and work the drill most effectively. Breathe away from the pulling arm once the arm finishes its revolution. Trying a little old fashioned Single Arm would be of use at this time to convince newcomers to ‘go with’ the new version.
2) Repeat no paddles. Think about your hand shape to help offset the lack of paddle. Make sure you are pulling with the hand and forearm.
3) Repeat with fists clenched on the drill. Only the drill, you want the full stroke swum well with the hands feeling like you have added invisible paddles. This progression will ask more of the forearm, kick and rotation to offset the lack of hand shape.
We looked at a way of ensuring you do rotate while performing the single arm drill by adding a shark fin movement. This is why we do not often do the single arm drill with a snorkel. You can remain flat, get your air and not fully reap the full rewards.
4) Repeat with a sharkfin between single arms to feedback on rotation to tell you if you have any body rotation. Shown here – Single Arm with a twist! remember you do not need to swim this as tight as the sharkfin suggests, it depends if you have a traditional high elbow led recovery or straighter arm looping recovery.
We offered two versions of this drill depending on style of recovery- check out the straighter arm lift of the clock drill also shown in the previous videos for guidance. So you either lead with your elbow pointing up at the highest point or fingertips as a straight arm lifts.
Both FC styles have merits, the top swimmers will be able to switch between the two – watch Michael Phelps/Nathan Adrian finish their FC races and they often shift to straight to keep momentum/speed high. This might be of use in an openwater start where you need a fast start but later things calm down into more of a relaxed mid race cruise
Coach Abbie talks about this at a recent ASCA conference if you really really are interested! At speed the straighter arm is faster but needs more strength so maybe suitable for a faster openwater start but at slower speeds (long distance openwater, mid race cruise) high elbow uses more muscles so can be more relaxed with a lower energy cost. At faster speeds the high elbow cumulatively uses more energy as the recovery is slower. This is up for debate among coaches but it is not a bad review of the principles!
5) Repeat with the Singapore variation as a further challenge to mind and body!
6) 3×100 FC build to fast ‘easy speed’ rest 15 no swim aids
200 easy feeling all the elements of the drills coming through and shaping a great new FC stroke. Having worked so hard to swim with just the one arm, returning to both should feel incredibly strong –
2km technical mainset