Summer Training 2020

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 50 total)
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  • #29842
    Admin Mediterra
    Keymaster

    Hi Tim,

    We can start a discussion here on your return to the pool and any projects you are working on.

    #29850
    Tim Gofine
    Participant
    This reply has been marked as private.
    #29851
    Tim Gofine
    Participant

    Here’s another note/question. If I turn my head without ensuring that the extended arm is fully extended and connected, I lose it. I’m still not sure where the exact point of the air grab is, but I noticed unless I think about it I probably have too much out of the water: only one eye should more or less be out, correct? The question is: is the head actively returned to the water? does it fall back? And, what is the position of the body as the head returns: I think I was leaving the shoulders too square; I should be rotated a bit more along the extended arm line.

    This is all very difficult for non-natural athletes.

    TG

    #29853
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    Hi Tim,

    Though I have only the most shallow introduction to tai chi chuan, I would like to think I have an idea of what you are describing (I wish I could find another instructor who could explain it like this to me – the one I started with moved away). I so appreciate that you are finding a bridge between what you have been studying in tai chi chuan and your swimming. I do think there is something to adopt from there.

    It sounds like you are making the connection from arm, through shoulder down into the pelvis, or center of the body. One side is (not totally contracting, but) relaxing toward the center and the other streamline side is extending. It has probably been easier to explain it as lengthening the body line, where the lead hand is moving away from the foot, but we could also describe this as extending from the center of the body. One side is extending under tension which enables the other side to contract with relaxation, then it rebounds and the two sides switch roles.

    An exercise that is forming in my mind right now as I read your words is to practice just pushing off the wall and extending the body, where the lower body merges with the upper body to form a single, long, sleek fuselage. If we don’t think we’re about to start stroking, and rather think we just trying to stay sleek, conserve that momentum and slide as far as possible, then we should maintain that frame/fuselage tone to the body.

    Before pushing off, sit on the edge of the pool and take 3 totally mindful deep breaths, then imagine the push off and glide and internal tone that you intend to create, then execute…

    Push off and…

    Glide in Superman/Balance Position

    Glide in Streamline Position

    Glide in Streamline, then take one stroke and glide

    Glide in Streamline, take one stroke and glide, take another stroke and glide

    And so on, up until you need to take a breath to keep going.

    The idea here is that the natural internal response of the body should be to lengthen and firm up inside when your intention is to slide as far as you can on a single push off, with no additional propulsive action. This may prime the nervous system to prefer this internal arrangement.

    Once you can tap into and maintain the tone you seek on every single streamline position glide, then you can try adding a single stroke with the intention of preserving that internal arrangement during the stroke action, and then switch it to the other side when the arms switch.

    You can use this progression to break down the whole sequence of sub-actions to see where you tend to lose it. Then you can concentrate your corrective effort on that moment in the sequence.

     

    #29854
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    The breathing action is going to throw a wrench in that whole thing for most land mammals! So, it may be important to really establish the consistency of the frame/fuselage (or use a better analogy from your tai chi imagery) during the first few non-breathing strokes so that the body has an idea of what it’s suppose to be doing during that breathing stroke.

    Then you can approach the breathing stroke in the same build-up sequence of sub-actions.

    Take a stroke, turn the head to look sideways underwater (face does not touch the air) and test just the turning of the head, and do not recover that arm – just glide in streamline, turn the head and return the head. Scan the whole body to see if just that first part disrupted your internal arrangement or not.

    Next, do the same thing by not recovering, just gliding in streamline, but have the face touch the air (and take a sip if you like) and scan the whole body to see if the higher position of the face disrupted it.

    Next, touch the air, and recover the arm, enter and glide on that side (glide after finishing the breathing stroke).

    You are just adding one small step at a time, and testing the system to see where the breakdown point is.

    #29855
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    If you follow the sequence above and glide in streamline before recovering the arm, you can let the head ‘fall back’ as you say, to the neutral position. The rotation of the torso should have gone up to its 30-45 degree position as the head was turning toward the air, and then it locks into that position and remains there while the head returns to neutral. When your stroke rate is slower, you can afford to be more leisure with the head falling back. But when the stroke rate gets higher, one should more actively turn the head back.

    Also, keep in mind that you should turn toward air as soon as possible, the moment your lead hand starts establishing the first bit of grip on the water, the head is already starting to turn. The chin and the shoulder go together toward the air.

    There is only one position for the torso – in its ideal rotated streamline position (somewhere between 30-45 degrees – lower the better) and then there is a transition from one streamline to the other. The body is transitioning into that position as the head turns with it, the torso reaches its position and locks in, while the head turns back completely on its own, without affecting the torso, and turning back ahead of the recovery arm. That recovery arm should be slightly later and slower than the return of the head.

    #29857
    Tim Gofine
    Participant

    Mat,

    The fuselage exercises are something I’ve started my swims with for over a year. In the training pool, my goal was to see how far I could propel myself by stretching more. Any more variations on that would be welcome.

    As for the breathing.I was going to ask you for the next step, as I thought I was further along before the recommendation you gave. But then in my pool session last night it became clear what I was doing wrong: when I turned my head for air, I would drop the high shoulder on the return, losing the angle. I forgot about that in difference to focusing on the head: I  could feel the bad outcome.  With the words “the torso reaches its position and locks in” firmly in mind, I practiced returning the head while making sure I didn’t lose the angle. That made huge difference. I have to cement that. I’ll send you a video clip on the weekend. In the meantime, what is the next step/exercise you suggest.

    In terms of kicking, I’m trying to make sure I touch one foot against the other before the flick/ hip rotation. I’m guessing that will help remind me not to drag or splay the legs: is that the case?

    TG

    #29858
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    PROTECT SPINE FROM OVER REACHING

    When in Superman/Balance Position, with both arms in front, the two sides of the body are balanced, and the spine between is braced, with no bending. We slide the scapulae forward to extend the body, rather than reach with the arms. If we reach with the arms alone, it can pull the thoracic spine into extension, or at least put tension on it.We want to lengthen the body line, the spine, without pulling it out of its neutral position, or putting tension on it such that it will be urged to come out of position…

    … because when you switch into Streamline with an overly extended arm, the other arm is dropped and its tension pulling against the spine no longer provides the counter-tension to hold it straight, and the spine is pulled out of neutral.

    You used the term ‘stretching more’ to describe your aim in that drill and I want to make sure you are lengthening the torso only to the limit of the neutral spine, but not stretching from the arms, in such a way that it will pull against the spine. Once the swimmer drops the two arm symmetry and goes into streamline, any pushing or pulling of the spine away from its neutral position by that lead arm will result in a distortion of the swimmer’s spine and/or some deviation from the directly forward path. The body will either contort to rebalance and maintain forward path, or it will deviate from the path. This can also interfere with maintaining a consistent position at the surface, which is necessary for easier breathing.

    So, we want to know that your spine remains long AND neutral, that your transition to each streamline does not cause any distortions to it on the non-breathing strokes. One indicator (but not the only one) that you are doing this better is that the head stays right in its neutral position, cutting through the water at the same depth throughout the stroke cycle, from side to side, on non-breathing strokes.

    #29859
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    So, another cue you can use to urge an appropriately lengthened body line is to ‘slide the scapula forward’ and let the arm in front of it be pushed forward, rather than let the reaching arm pull the scapula.

    IDEAL HEAD POSITION INDICATOR

    The approach I am proposing here is that you get some indication that your body is staying right where you want it on a series of non-breathing strokes, on every stroke, and while transitioning from side to side. One of those indicators is that the head easily stays in position at the surface throughout the stroke cycle, without feeling like you have to hold it up there near the surface.

    That head position is, ideally, at the depth you want your head when you are turned to the air too. If on the non-breathing strokes, just the back of your head is breaking the surface, then at the breathing moment too, just the side of your face is surfaced (the same amount of head as when the back of the head is surfaced). That’s an extremely skilled position to have the head, but its what you are aiming for – the most minimal exposure of the head above the surface.

    The push-off progression and the series of non-breathing strokes progression is meant to help you built that consistency.

    Once you have this sense your body is consistently where you want it to be, then, step-by-step, you insert the breathing action to see how it might want to disrupt that great body position you set up on the non-breathing strokes, identify trouble spots and work on specific preventions or corrections.

    It is very land-mammal of us to want to thrust the head higher, farther up and out of the water to get that breath, but we want to practice being more and more minimalist about this lift until it gets so comfortable to make what feels and looks like no lift at all. Any thrust of the head upward will provoke small to great distortions of body position underwater because once you push up against gravity, gravity will shove down somewhere on the body in response.

    #29860
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    PROGRESSION NOTES

    So the progression for practicing zero-disruption breathing is:

    1) Develop totally linear trajectory of the body in non-breathing strokes. Once that is consistent, then…

    2) Maintain linear trajectory while practice turning and looking at the wall (as if turning to breathe, but not all the way) in non-breathing strokes. Once that is consistent, then…

    3) Maintain linear trajectory while practice turning the face all the way to air (a little excessively)

    4) Maintain linear trajectory while practice turning the face minimally to air.

     

    SPEED HELPS

    It occurs to me to note that the speed of swimming can have some affect on this sense of linear trajectory. A plane needs to hit a certain speed before the wings experience sufficient lift. A bicycle is much easier to balance once is has some forward momentum. I think there is a little of both of these in the swimming situation – an extremely slow swimming speed is easy in one way but the body rides deeper because the lower body has more time to respond to the pull of gravity on each stroke. A long, straight, firm body line has water flowing smoothly under it and with a little more speed, it offers a bit more lift to that lower body, which makes it a bit easier for the head to stay right at the surface. So, try your progress at different speeds and see how that changes the ease of staying in position.

    #29861
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    FOOT POSITIONING

    You might try the cue ‘upper inner thighs touch each other’ when you lock into streamline position. Another cue could be ‘one knee points to the back of the other knee’.

    If you keep the upper legs close, and knees minimally flexed, then the feet may find their position.

    During the switch of the feet, that big toe might get close to brushing the inner side of the other foot if someone were watching from behind, but they likely shouldn’t touch.

    #29862
    Mat Hudson
    Keymaster

    Am I sensing and addressing your questions? Or am I missing something still? I’d actually like to find a time to chat with you – I think I just need to check in and hear you explain things and I can ask more questions and respond with better understanding.

    #29866
    Tim Gofine
    Participant

    I found a trouble spot tonight during non-breathing strokes. As I get more and comfortable with my weak side breathing ( the left) , I notice more about my right side. I find this hard to express, but there was an asymmetry to my entry and recovery: when I thought both were the same, as evidenced by the same degree of bend on recovery, there was actually another asymmetry on the timing meeting I could only tell when during one lap I did something that revealed a different synchronicity that resulted in a smoother transfer of energy. It felt better, and I could replicate it. It was the same when I realized  earlier this week I could turn my head properly if I was confident I would not flatten my shoulders when my head returned. If that was set , then the head turn to air could move on a string in a relaxed way, and I wouldn’t lose momentum. Something happened better with the smoothness and timing on the recovery.

    #29867
    Tim Gofine
    Participant

    I understand what you mean. The stretch comes from ‘opening’ the back, definitely. It’s a lengthening that occurs from behind, not pulling from the fingertips.
    That process is a Tai Chi Chuan element, by the way, although the name eludes me. An explosive rounding of the back as it opens can propel an opponent who has encircled from behind backwards. The elements describe directional forces of nature. I hope my constant references are not irritating; Indo the same thing in reverse with my Tai Chi teacher. “In the water, you want a still head leading from the crown, also”. I know I told you that I had a brief correspondence with Terry years ago when I began to realize how much was shared between TI and Tai Jii. The focus on balance, contrasting weighting, inner muscle movements, the quiet release of power, the importance of line and position, the constant refinement and adjustment, and the translation of the movements of creatures to humans are common language.

    #29868
    Tim Gofine
    Participant

    Yes, you’re addressing my questions wonderfully.  I may be making a mistake, but I find I can  understand what you mean, for example  by movement of the scapula when in the water because I am working on developing that same thing in movement on land. It’s not intuitive but once you come to understand how one feels it informs the other. Gifted athletes get it right away and the rest of us have to discover it. I believe I’m understanding what you are meaning, but I know my understanding will also arrive in layers.
    Certainly, let’s find a time.

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