Customized Coaching 2022

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    Mat Hudson

    Hello Shikha,

    This personal discussion zone is your place to leave reports on your practice and questions you may have regarding the training plans we work out together. I can respond to those here, where we can keep a record of the conversation.

    I look forward to working with you!

    Shikha Saigal

    Hi Mat

    I am outlining my understanding of how a practise session is to be approached. Could you pls take a look and confirm if I am on the right track or correct me where wrong.


    OK. I am looking at 3 pages:

    First: MC 1K – Week 1 – Main set 1 head position.

    Why?  See the practise for the week.


    Second: Freestyle Fundamentals – Build the frame – Lesson Review

    Why? To select a drill and 1-2 cues for Main set: head postion.


    Third: Instr for attention practise

    Why? How to execute the practise for the week.

    Here, there are 8 activities listed out this 3 are to be selected for a practise session. The attached file lists those activities and I have described my understanding of what they mean. Could you pls take a look and clarify/correct where required?


    Mat Hudson

    Hi Shikha,

    My apology for a great delay in responding. Since the end of last week we have been moving our family to a new home and the process is taking many days and all of our energy- I’ve been absorbed in managing that. But I have set up my temporary office in the new home and am back trying to catch up!

    I found your comments and posted them to this topic in your PDZ, where we can keep our conversation in one place, under one topic. When you post a reply I will get a notification and you will get one when I post.

    The MC1K course is set up for students to review the general list of fundamental skills for freestyle that they have started to practice after taking a lesson series. This allows the student to more deeply practice and integrate those skills while working toward a specific distance goal (rather than ‘just doing drills’ without moving ahead in strength).

    This general sequence of skills applies to everyone, while the drills and cues each student would choose depend on their particular needs.

    Because each person’s level of development is different from another, the student needs to choose which activities and which cues are most useful, rather than the training plan choose those to be the same for every student who follows.

    Comments on Attached File

    The listed activities are in order of increasing complexity. You choose a few activities that start you where you can successfully achieve the skill and then two more that increase the challenge and make you work hard for it. While starting where you can successfully execute the skill, only activities that challenge your attention are valuable for your development. If the skill is very new and/or it is difficult yet to get control over the skill, then choose three activities near the top of the list. If the skill is easier and is not challenged in drill work, then choose activities lower down on the list. You can do more than 3 activities for a skill, but be considerate of your time and attention strength.

    For Activity #7, in Attention Practice Instructions, you choose between swimming  3x 50 (which is down and back in a 25m pool), or 3x (25 and rest, 50 and rest, 75 and rest). These quantities are flexible because people swim in pools of many different lengths, so modify it to suit your pool situation.

    Shikha Saigal

    Hello Mat

    No problem about the delay. Moving is hectic.

    I needed a little time to apply whatever has stayed with me after reading your reply and going through several related posts.

    When I first saw the activities for Attention Practise, I ignored the first few ( like visualisation/rehearsal ) and directly picked the ones where more distance was involved. I struggled with maintaining attention and no real sense of satisfaction at the end of the session.

    Also, I usually rush through warm-up. 3-4 lengths of breast stroke and then go for the drill.

    After your reply and some more reading – For yesterday’s session, I went for a full 15-20 mins of warm-up. Then chose the first 3 activities where I could maintain awareness of the chosen cue. And then a 200m cool down.

    What a difference! More than physical, the warm-up was mental – to reach a point where you have largely shifted away from all external matters and are now able to observe what is happening in the water. A much more satisfying and integrated session of learning, application and realisation of where something is going wrong.

    Details about the session:

    Warm-up: breaststroke (100m) – backstroke (100m) – breaststroke (100m).

    1st main set: Drill – Balance position. Cue – Arms on wide tracks. Activities – Visualisation/2 min drill/3min drill + 4 whole strokes.

    2nd main set : Drill – Scapula slide to streamline. Cue – Same, lead arm on wide track. Activity – 2 min drill/3min drill + 4 whole strokes.

    Cool down: 200m freestyle. (note: Struggled to maintain streamline position when turning to breathe. It felt like I was leaning heavily on the shoulder of the lead arm.)

    Total duration: 50 mins.

    Thank you for clarifying the description of activities for Attention Practise.

    I’ll probably need to ask you about the distance notations a few more times. I was looking at Week 1 : Distance Practise and saw another format for distance –

    • 4 rounds of (50 + 75 + 100)

    This looks like 4 rounds of (50m-rest, followed by 75m-rest and finally 100m-rest) ? So a total distance of 4 X ( 225m ), correct ? Of course, I may not be able to do this right away but would like to understand the notations used for distance.

    Next? I was thinking of continuing with Attention Practise for this week (2 days) and 1 day of Distance practise.

    Sounds alright?

    Mat Hudson

    Hi Shikha,


    On maintaining stable rotation in streamline, here are a few cues you can try to help improve that…

    1. Shift weight to streamline side (as you rotate) and stay heavy on that side
    2. Make sure the hip and shoulder move together and hold as one unit
    3. More than keeping the arm wider, make sure the armpit is wide, open, and facing the bottom of the pool
    4. Hold the scapula and the hip (on the streamline side) just below the surface
    5. Notice that slight adjustments in leg position can help also (see Counterbalanced Leg Position notes), though this is an advanced skill that might overload your attention initially


    Yes, your understanding of the distance notation is correct. When the number is given (like 25) that refers to the standard length of the pool and a single length. A 50 implies two lengths with no rest at the wall between. When you see 3x 50 or 25-50-75, there is no rest within the repeat but there is rest between the repeats. When the rest amount is not specified then the swimmer should listen to what their body needs to refresh – just enough rest to reset the targeted system, but not too much to let things slow down in the system – you want to maintain learning and action momentum.


    Yes, you are welcome to repeat a practice type during the week as you feel it is beneficial – this is listening to your body and its learning and development needs. You can tell when a particular set was very helpful to developing awareness or control. Though, once the activities (and particularly, their challenge level) become familiar to the body (they become easy to perform), it’s an indicator of progress, but their developmental effectiveness decreases.

    Our whole way of training introduces you to this essential process of seeking the right amount of challenge (like stepping up onto a higher step), working at that challenge level for a while until the body adapts and develops to handle that challenge (working on that flat part of the step), then take another step up in challenge.

    Mat Hudson

    Hi Shikha,

    How is your practice going?

    Shikha Saigal

    Hi Mat,

    A mix of different experiences over the past 2 weeks.

    First – thank you for the list of cues for streamlining. Keeping the streamlined side heavy and moving hips & shoulders together made an immediate difference. Also, keeping the legs scissored while turning to breathe helped keep the body straight and steady. not feeling the load as much on the shoulder.

    I do have the tempo trainer now. Not run a tempo check yet though as I have not been swimming regularly off late.

    Main thing – a sense of inertia over returning to the pool. I do feel good once in the water and am enjoying the focussed sessions; however, I am not as keen to go back the next day. I could put this down to lack of discipline and then apply will/rigour to make sure I swim 3-4 times a week. But I am not sure if lack of discipline is the only issue here. I remember an article of yours where you mentioned one needs to modulate their practise so there is enthusiasm for the next session. It would be interesting to work not his approach. Could you elaborate some more upon this? What aspects can I play around with to troubleshoot this inertia?




    Mat Hudson


    I am glad to hear of this reflection and question.

    There may be a few ways of looking at this lack of enthusiasm when you anticipate going to the pool…

    If one has just started swimming again after a time away or starting to change the frequency or intensity of swimming, then it may take a couple weeks for the body to adapt to the changes and regain its eagerness (what we colloquially call ‘mojo’) to do the activity (at that frequency or intensity). I run and swim regularly, but if one of these drops off for a while I know I just need some time to get my ‘mojo’ back and feel a regular level of satisfaction in it.

    If one has never really worked at swimming with an emphasis on intensity and building fitness (by challenging the muscular and metabolic subsystems) or more frequent and intense work has not been a part of one’s fitness or athletic history, then this is new and perhaps uncomfortable, and the body (and the mind) are going to need time to get acquainted, and importantly, need to experience some reward from doing it. For a while the reward might be in the feeling of accomplishment (and a nice tired feeling) after practices but not during practices – but eventually one needs to feel reward during the practices, so that the process of training itself is satisfying, not just the result of it.

    The lack of enthusiasm could be related to doing this kind of work alone – some people find more motivation, more enthusiasm from doing challenging activities with others to feel the companionship and accountability, while some people are the opposite, and like to work alone and not feel external pressure.

    And lastly, if one does not feel all or most of the activities within the practice to be a good fit for their needs – they don’t see or feel the connection between doing the training activities and the results they are seeking – then this may urge one to alter the practice so that it is a better fit or to alter their understanding so that it makes sense why they are doing (or must do) what is assigned.

    So we might look at modifying the process (the kinds of activities you do more frequently or put emphasis upon) to fit your development and personality needs, and we might look at your understanding, to see if we can make a stronger logical connection between what you are doing and what you want out of it.



    Mat Hudson

    When looking at the process of practice – if one is doing them to just do what has been assigned and get it finished – a performance orientation – then that will lead the person toward a particular action-reward kind of energy flow, the reward comes after completing the work (hopefully). If one is practicing with curiosity, using the activities to observe, explore – a learning orientation – then that will lead toward another kind of action-reward kind of flow, the reward coming within the work itself (hopefully). Our practice approach is emphatically intended to be of the second kind – where one does certain activities in order to learn something about their skills and particular needs, current abilities and limits, and then use that insight to influence how the next activity, the next practice will be conducted. Ideally, whether one runs into failure or successes in today’s practice, there is an eagerness to go tomorrow to apply what she has learned to correct the failure or to build upon that aspect of success. Like practicing music.

    Shikha Saigal

    Hello Mat

    Truly sorry not to have read your insightful note earlier.

    I feel all the possible reasons mentioned by you may apply in light degrees.

    Mainly, I resonate with point 2 I.e. frequent and intense work has not been part of my fitness history.

    Once I gravitate to a technique/approach, I strive to learn it properly, try to find a teacher/instructor with whom I feel secure in learning the correct way. And then I get complacent 🙂  Establishing self-practise has been a major challenge for me – in all my practises. Been doing better since the last 4-5 yrs though.

    Recently, there is a switch within that signals this is the time to go for “achievement” and to see the culmination of correct technique. Which is why I wanted to work in a more structured manner and go for a tangible goal e.g. swim 1k.

    A few more things come to mind regarding inertia over returning to the pool:

    First, I feel wired after swimming. Hyper-alert as though I have had 2 cups of coffee back to back. Any idea about this “wired” feeling? Note: I don’t imbibe coffee/tea/any other intoxicants.

    Second, my right shoulder aches a bit after each session. So I give myself 2-3 days to settle down before going to swim again. It is an old pain from my days in the IT profession. Comes and goes.

    Ok Mat. I realised I may have meandered a bit in this note. But wanted to share more about my background and where I am now regarding practise.

    I do agree with your approach where practise should give an insight into where one is and lead you to your next activity. Keen to translate this to my sessions in the pool.

    So – could we look at how the process may need modification for me?

    Thank you,


    PS: I was recently in Vietnam and had the chance to swim in Halong Bay. Good to be in open water.

    Mat Hudson

    Achievement Orientation

    If you believe or trust that the path presented to you will get you to that 1K goal, then it may take some faith and discipline to do the practices (with appropriate personalized modifications) to get to that reward. But I also anticipate that as your body gets stronger in various dimensions of performance (neural, muscular, metabolic, mental), just from being persistent in the practice, that will boost your enjoyment in the act of training.

    Post-Practice Hyper Alert

    I hear a lot of people describe a nice alertness or awake-and-aware feeling after swimming. I too am sensitive to caffeine and do not generally like its effects on my body. As an introvert I realize I am sensitive to stimulation (in a world with enormous stimuli!) so I crave down-regulating activities. My mode of swim and run training provides this, and produces for me a personally pleasant awake and aware effect. Does your comment suggests that this hyper-alert feeling a little uncomfortable for you? If so, while we could discuss how you manage your attention during the practice, you may also consider a mental warm up and cool down routine for approaching and leaving the swim practice time.

    I’d like to discuss where you feel the pain and if you can identify precisely where in your typical stroke cycle it may be aggravating that spot or at least correlated. We may be able to troubleshoot – that pain may indicate that there is a correction needed in your stroke mechanics or that you have an underlying situation for which we need to make a compromise in the mechanics to reduce risk of irritation.

    Vietnam! That sounds wonderful.

    Perhaps its getting time to set up a zoom chat to reflect on your experience and discuss how to adapt this practice path to fit you better.

    Shikha Saigal

    Hi Mat


    The best time for me to swim was around 5.30pm. I would wrap up by 6.30/7. So the hyper-alertness is disruptive because I cannot sleep till 3AM ! Which is why I tend to put off a swim session when I know I have an early start the next day – so at least 3 times a week.

    This situation may resolve itself as monsoon have set in here. No more glaring sunny afternoons so I should be able to swim earlier. Still – wondering why I would feel so wired mentally.

    Shoulder pain:

    I will send you an image where the area is highlighted. It is the back portion of the right shoulder joint. Starts from there and then radiates further if the body is not rested enough between sessions.

    Mid-May, I immediately felt pressure on my shoulder while struggling to maintain stable rotation in streamline.

    I tried the cues you suggested and found much improvement with moving the hip & shoulder as one unit and especially with counterbalanced leg position. This reduced the instant discomfort felt while swimming.

    Towards the end of May. I added a few more lengths of full stroke swimming after drill work. No pain/discomfort while swimming. Felt it a few hrs later though. Pain subsides with 2-3 days of rest.

    However, between the post practise hyper-awareness and rest reqd for the shoulder, I end up swimming just 3 days every 2 weeks !


    Yes. I will reach out to you next week.



    Mat Hudson

    Hi Shikha,

    I am very concerned about the shoulder pain – the movement we aim for should reduce conflicts in the tissues and joints, not increase them. We shouldn’t need to rest a joint after swimming, unless it was already damaged outside of swimming. So pain like this connected to your stroke is a signal that something is off. When we meet on a video call I can ask you to show me what movement and where the pain is and we can check your understanding of the movement pattern at different parts of the stroke that could be related to that pain.

    Shikha Saigal

    Hi Mat

    The shoulder pain is an old one. It started during my days as an IT professional (about 15 yrs back). Long hours at the desk. At that time, the pain was far more troublesome – I needed to prop my shoulder on a pillow to be able to rest/sleep.

    The pain eased out when I changed many aspects of my lifestyle. It is no more an ongoing pain, in fact no issue at all for the most part. However, whenever there is strain on the body or any stress – my right shoulder is the first place to express that imbalance. So it remains a sensitive area.

    What I did note is that after a vigorous yoga class, if there is any ache – it is an even ache i.e. both arms or both shoulders will feel sore. However, after a swim, only the right side hurts – so I must be doing something inefficiently due to which there is strain on the right side.

    Look forward to going through this with you next week.


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