2018.10 Private Lesson Series Denise.Da

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    Jamee Small
    2018/09/02 – Lesson 1 (30 minutes)
    There are four essential feature of the freestyle stroke we need to make sure are in plae for you to experience the ‘magic’ of the stroke:
    1. The Torpedo Frame
    2. Long, firm Skate Position
    3. ‘Send Force Forward’ through the Recovery Arm Swing
    4. Optimal -Arm-Switch Timing
    Then, smooth, rhythmic breathing is built upon these.
    Over the course of our lessons together, we will work through each of these, making sure you have the essential features in place. In our first lesson, we typically work through the first two features on this list.
    Torpedo Frame
    In our first lesson we explored how to create the ‘Torpedo Frame’ of the body, with the Torpedo and the Superman Glide drills. This frame unifies your shoulder hips and legs into one unified torso unit.
    This frame has two main functions you need to be aware of and take advantage of:
    1. Water pressure pushing up and gravity pushing down can act uniformly upon your frame making it easier to stay parallel to the surface. This frame creates a surface that water can more easily support so you don’t have to expend effort pushing down in order to hold the body up.
    2. This firm, unified frame can more easily transfer force through it.
    Imagine a corridor just below the surface of the water which you body lays in, resting between the forces of gravity pushing down and water pressure pushing up. This is the corridor where you can swim along without having to waste energy fighting against those two natural forces.


    You worked on keeping this frame parallel to the surface by shifting weight forward through that frame. You did this by letting the weight of the head and the weight of the arms be supported by the water, rather than hold them up.
    Skate Position
    Then, upon this more balanced body, within that corridor, you worked on shaping the body into its most ideal streamline shape for freestyle – the shape we call ‘Skate Position.’

    The Skate Position is the base position for the freestyle stroke – the stroke starts and finishes at this stable, streamline position. It is the foundation on which all other parts of the stroke depend. Skate Position delivers force forward. The better your Skate Position, the more easily you slide forward in the water. 

    Sk.1 – Skate Position


    Features to note:

    • Head resting on ‘water pillow’.
    • Eyes looking straight down.
    • Body parallel to surface.
    • Back of shoulder touching the air.
    • Hip brushing the air.
    • Lead arm angled down to the target.
    Sk.2 – Skate Position

    Features to note:

    • Eyes looking straight down.
    • Spine is aligned, head to hips.
    • Body line straight, from head to toes.
    • Back arm tucked to side, hand in pocket.
    • Lead arm on wide track.
    • Lead hand just wider than shoulder.
    • Low (30-45 deg) body rotation angle.

    Drills and Focal Points:

    Balance Drills:
    • Standing rehearsal of Torpedo
    • Torpedo
    • Standing rehearsal of Superman
    • Superman
    • Superman + 4 strokes
    Streamline Drills:
    1. Standing rehearsal for Skate
    2. Superman to Skate
    To help you pay attention, interpret and send commands to particular parts of your body I gave you a selection of focal points in each drill. 
    Torpedo Focal Points:
    • “Stand At Attention,” Good Posture
    • Both hands tucked deep into pocket
    • Long Spine (as if pulled up by a string)
    Superman/ Skate Position Focal POints
    • Weightless Head
    • “Shishkabob Spine”
    • “Tippy Toes”
    Jamee Small

    2018/10/07 – Session 2

    The notes below include the drills and focal points we practiced today.

    Drills And Focal Points

    Streamline Drills

    • Standing rehearsal for Skate
    • Superman to Skate
    • Superman + 4 strokes

    You may view images of these standard TI drill positions on the Freestyle Drill Resources page and you may view videos for some of these drills on the Video Tutorial page.

    Focal Points

    • Arms On Wide Tracks
    • Hands at Target
    • Keep arms soft (like a tree branch)
    • Lead Arm stays on Wide Track
    • Rotate just off your stomach (low rotation angle) or rotate off the hip
    • Scapula touches the air

    You may examine other useful focal points Superman, Skate and Whole Stroke on the 101 Focal Pointspage.

    Jamee Small

    2018/11/04 – Session 2 of 3


    Well done today. I owe you the 20 minutes I spent chatting with you, thinking we started at 2:30 instead of 2:00.

    We covered several topics today. I’ve list and linked few options and possible solutions to apply to your breath management while we’re are reconstructing not only the stroke but the nervous system.


    Options and observations for Breath Management

    • Set the tone for practice with Breathing Exercise such as 10 x 10 x 10 Drill (Continual stretch of 10 seconds holding breath, 10 seconds of steady exhale, followed by 10 more seconds of holding breath. Feel the stretch)
    • Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing out of and in the water to sustain breath during short distance.
    • Emphasize the Exhale
    • Examine the Breathing Patterns leading up to, during and after the Flip Turn (Demo).
    • Meditation and pauses can help calm the nervous system, that might otherwise be costing you quality breaths and valuable energy. To learn more on applying meditation in swimming check out this week’s podcast, Mindful Swim Meditation: Swimming As Meditation and the latest blog Stroke Training As Meditation.
    • Add pauses at the midline to reset and direct the nervous system to be calm and relaxed.


    Four Essential Features

    The TI skills for freestyle are built on certain principles of physics and physiology that urge us to work on them in a certain order in our lessons. Those principles are first Balance, then Streamline, then synchronized Propulsion.

    With these principles guiding us, there are four main features we want to see in your freestyle stroke in order to make it smooth, effective and marvelous:

    1. the long, firm Torpedo Spine
    2. the straight, firm, stable Skate Position
    3. Send Force Forward in the Recovery Arm Swing
    4. ideal Arm Switch Timing

    In the first couple lessons we worked on Balance and Streamline. In today’s lesson, we built upon those two principles and set up movements for Synchronized Propulsion, starting with the Recovery Arm Swing.


    Send Force Forward Thru The Recovery Swing

    Today we practiced the Recovery Arm Swing – how you transition from streamline (Skate) position on one side to the other. You may view the outline for the activities we did in the Send Force Forward lesson. The Recovery Arm Swim is designated into 3 parts – the Exit, the Recovery and the Entry. We discussion the Exit and the Recovery.

    I started you with the review the main focal points, then we moved to the water, and worked from the most simple drill, Swing Skate. And, from there you can gradually speed up the motion to more normal-speed whole strokes.

    This month, as you practice, if you start to move through the motion faster, enough to start lifting your arm completely out of the water, still keep the fingernails brushing the surface of the water. This will give you some feedback from the water to let you know where your hand is, reminding you to let the knuckles drag, let the elbow lead the swing for the first half.


    Dry Land Practice

    Here are a few videos to review for further study of the Recovery Arm. All videos can be found on the Dojo under Library > Video Tutorials

    Jamee Small

    Hi Denise.

    I dug around in our content and found another post on breathing. Take a look at this Checklist for Breathing to help improve the quality of your air exchange.

    Jamee Small

    2019/01/06 – Lesson 3 of 3

    In our session we focused on your recovery swing in order to correct the discomfort in your right shoulder.

    A critical shoulder-safety piece here is to have a strong enough thrust out of the water so that the shoulders can clear the surface. This also requires that the underwater stroke be finished at just the moment the shoulders break the surface so that they can immediately use that precious, short time to sweep forward before the body plunges back in.

    During the sweep, because of the way the shoulder joint is designed, the elbows and lower arms should ideally be below the shoulders, closer to the surface, or at least level, in order to lower the risk of shoulder tendon strain and injury. When the elbows are flung behind the back and arms swept forward behind the scapular plane, this increases the risk of shoulder injury. And the higher the arms go above the surface, the more you are working against gravity unnecessarily, the harder gravity will shove the body deeper on the entry.

    So, keep the arm sweep close to the surface.

    Coach Mat chimed in to demonstrate how to lay on the ground and practice the arm swing where you can more easily pay attention to how the muscles are working in the upper back and shoulder.

    Then we did a standing rehearsal and practice the swing bending over.

    You may also try standing with your back against a wall to practice swinging your arm without pulling the elbow behind the back – it will hit the wall if you do! In this standing position, remember that at the beginning of the swing, right at the exit moment, you are careful to not touch the wall with the elbow, but as the elbow swings toward the head, it needs to stay near the wall (this would correspond to the elbow climbing higher to apex at the entry position).

    You will find some videos on recovery swing rehearsals on the Video Tutorial page. That one that stood out the Elbow and Over-Rotation Video Tutorial

    For in water work….

    Focal Points

    • Let scapula slide away from spine – let muscles loosen
    • Let shoulder (armpit) feel like it is opening up, on the swing
    • Elbow starts low and gradually climbs toward the apex of the entry position
    • ‘Swing The Bag’ – let the lower arm swing freely like it is numb and heavy

    Remember the Scapula and the elbow are both sliding forward up the spine. The scapula travels slower and the elbow faster, but both arriving at their final destination at the same time.

    Beware of…

    • Pulling the scapula toward the spine – tightening muscles in upper back
    • Dropping elbow toward the end of the swing
    • Shoulder not sliding all the way forward to match the other side
    • Pushing the lower arm forward, rather than letting it drag behind until last moment



    • Superman with 1-Arm Swing – swing the left arm a few times, then swing the right arm a few times.
    • 2-Arm switches – you may alternate arms as in a normal stroke, but pay attention to just one side on each repeat.
    • Whole stroke with variable tempo – 4 strokes slow, 4 strokes medium, 4 stroke brisk


    I’m interested in what your PT has to say about your shoulder joint, if you care to share.

    Jamee Small

    2019/08/04 – Session 4 of 6

    Stable Lead Arm
    Read further explanation of Arm Switch Timing and the ideal arm positions.
    • Swing Switch (two arms) with pause at Entry moment
    • Whole Stroke, without Breath
    • Whole Stroke with Breath and focus on One Side
    • Whole Stroke with Breath and focus on Alternating Sides
    Focal Points
    • Maintain Lead Arm Until Wrist Puncher’s Water
    • Reach Lead Arm Further with Recovery Swing
    • “Straight Arm” with Full Forearm Facing Ground (Upper Arm Soft and not hyper rotated)
    Rhythmic Breath
    You may view our video, “Improving the Timing of the Breath in Freestyle‘ for explanation and demonstration of Timing of the Breath. For more videos see, Video Tutorial page. 
    Skills for Rhythmic Breathing
    1. Positioning of Head and Lead Arm
    2. Timing of Turn
    3. Air Management (exhale/inhale)
    Read further about Rhythmic Breathing and it’s characteristics, including Head Position, Lead Arm Position, Timing of the Turn, and Air Management.
    • 3 Stroke to Skate, with Turn to Breath
    • 3 Strokes, Breath, 1 Stroke
    • Whole Stroke with Breath (focus one side)
    • Whole Stroke with Breath
    Focal Points
    • Keep head in line with spine
    • Keep extending lead arm while turning/returning the head
    • Begin Head Turn at Set the Catch
    • Turn a bit faster than torso is turning (but no whiplash)
    • Return Head to Neutral Before Recovery Swing
    Further reading on Breathing, including Breathing Patterns (What breathing pattern should I use?) 
    You may read the introduction for the Catch and Hold. Your aim is to feel a firm grip on the water continuously as you pull through utilizing the shape of the arm but the empowerment via the torso. The body will slide straight forward in response to the catch pressing straight back. The better the shape and path of the catch , the more force available to transfer into forward motion.
    Here is another video on “Maintaining Elbow Orientation in Freestyle.” The first half is dedicated to the elbow in Recover, the second half explains and demonstrates the Catch. 
    • Swing Switch (two arms) with pause at Entry moment
    • Whole Stroke, without Breath
    • Whole Stroke with Breath on One Side
    • Whole Stroke Breathing on Alternating Sides
    Focal Points
    • Set the Catch
    • Touch the ball with entire forearm and palm 
    • Elbow slide out and upward to make shape of arm
    • Hesitate ever so slightly after ‘Set The Catch’ in order to Load the Torso. 
    • Pull with the Hip
    *Remember proper straight elbows at your lead arm lands at target zone, ready for the Catch. See if this eases the strain on Left Shoulder.
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