Instructions for Attention Practice

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This is the general outline for your Attention Practice:

  • Tune-Up (a.k.a. warm-up) – your choice
  • Main Set 1
  • Main Set 2
  • Review (a.k.a. cool-down, or wrap-up) – your choice

If not already assigned in the practice plan, for each main set choose any three (3) of the activities below and do them in the order that they are listed below:

  • 1 minute Visualization
  • 2 minute Rehearsal
  • 2 minute Drill
  • 3 minute Drill + 3 or 4 whole strokes
  • 2x Drill + 6 to 8 whole strokes (about 25m)
  • 2x (2x 25m, or 1x 50m) with 15 seconds of drill for active rest between each
  • 3x 50m, or 3x (25-50-75)
  • 1x 150m whole stroke with focal point

While doing drills you may stop and stand when you need a breath, or use interrupted breathing. I highly recommend that you do the drills in short repeats (6 to 10 seconds at most) and give your brain quick reset opportunities with each break for breathing.


  • To increase awareness of details in body position and in the stroke movement.
  • To increase control over those details.


Each main set will be about 5 to 15 minutes or 300 to 800 meters long. A different skill project will be assigned to each main set (those sets are given below on this webpage).


Work around rate of perceived effort (RPE) 2. The physical effort should be moderate, while the mental effort should be very high.


The challenge level (the neurological complexity) is determined by the focal points you choose and the standard for quality you set for each of those focal points. Read about this topic in the links above.

Focal points will be suggested for each Main Set, and you may choose any to suit your individual needs. You may choose 1 or 2 focal points to use for each set.

You may view many more of from our collection on the 101 Cues for Freestyle page.

Level 1 swimmers may use one single focal point and practice the discipline of holding attention on that one focal point.

Level 2 swimmers may blend two focal points together and practice at that greater level of complexity.

In addition, I urge Level 2 swimmers to practice counting strokes on much of their practice sets, to monitor the external effects of focal points. Make it a habit (that you can turn on/off as needed).

If the skill requires training one side of the body you may break the set into two rounds and concentrate on one side on the first round, then concentrate on the other side on the second round. This can make it easier to hold attention and build control.

Remember, your objective for these attention practices is to improve control, not accomplish distance. Choose quality over quantity every time.

Stroke Counting

Level 1 swimmers need to practice counting strokes on each full, whole stroke length. I explain the importance of this in Why count strokes?

Level 2 swimmers need to practice improving stroke count (if you are not using an SPL within your Green Zone) or holding your intended SPL consistent on every length (if SPL is in Green Zone already).

So, be ready to count strokes on most of your full swimming lengths in this class.

Success Is… (a.k.a. Measurements)

Your quantity objective is to achieve the distances for each set. Your quality objective is to successfully achieve your focal point goal 70-90% of the drill or interval at 2 or 3 Star performance (see Simple Rating System for Your Practice Results article above for definition of Quality Star Rating).

Failure Points

When you notice yourself failing to achieve your objective for the task that is the trigger for you to find the possible cause so you can make adjustments in your focal point or adjustment in your task complexity. If you start to do much better then notice what specific change you made to affect that improvement – then protect and memorize that change.

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