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-   -   What are your favorite focal points? (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1025)

ames 12-14-2009 11:39 AM

What are your favorite focal points?
 
A few weeks ago, when I realized my focus was wavering when practicing, I wrote down dozens of focal points from the Easy Freestyle manual on index cards, sealed them up in baggies, put them in my swim bag... and never looked at them again. Instead, I find myself going back to a few thoughts that work the best for me:

"Soft Hands"--If I have tension I feel it in my hands and if my hands are tense, probably my forearms, shoulders, and neck are too.

"Swim a Little Flatter"--This one brought such immediate improvement in balance and breathing that I hardly have to think it anymore.

"Solid Catch"--I am not to the point where I feel like I am really holding on to the water as my body passes by it, but I do feel the resistance of the water as I stroke.

"45 Degree Hands"--I have noticed in some videos that when Terry's spearing hand first enters the water, it is angled towards the wall. Don't know if he would recommend consciously doing this, but when I do it, it feels good and I seem to swim more smoothly. Don't know why.

What are your favorite stroke thoughts?

ames

terry 12-16-2009 01:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ames (Post 7753)
"45 Degree Hands"

Ames, if I understand you correctly, this refers to extending to catch with a flexed wrist and sloped forearm?
Today, while swimming I was thinking about a phrase that would capture this idea. I hit upon "Soft Hook." From shoulder to fingertips, the arm is slightly hood-shaped rather than arrow-straight. And with muscles relaxed to avoid stiffness, the hook is soft.

For the last couple of years this has been one of my Top 3 focal points.

as 12-16-2009 03:02 AM

solid catch
 
hi,

i put a lot of my attention on the catch - on the feeling of holding or bracing the body and water and swiveling the body past it.

the easiest way to experience the "solid catch" for me is to swim with fists. have you tried it? after a lap or two of that, which both shortens your "lever" and increases your sensitivity to the forearm, swimming with a relaxed open hand makes the "solid catch" sensation fairly easy to achieve. key elements include patient catch, vertical forearm (so you leverage more surface area), and relaxed hand.

there used to be a lot of talk of "fistgloves" and i enjoyed working with them, but not enough to bring them to the pool and change in and out of them several times in a swim. so i just make the fist even though that could be seen as adding some tension.

and another focal point i use is "wide tracks".

sometimes my focal point becomes "enjoying".

ames 12-16-2009 03:09 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Yes, but with the palm turned outward somewhat towards the side wall. Here is a photo of Shinji doing this, slicing his hand in at an angle. I think about my index finger and middle finger hitting the water first.

ames

daveblt 12-16-2009 03:41 AM

I have a habit of swimming with a little too much front quadrant timing so a focal point I use is to slow down and sometimes stop my recovery hand for about a second just before it enters the water . At the same time I try to kick , rotate , and make sure that my lead arm starts pulling before or just as the recovery arm enters the water .That second also give me a mental cue of whether my hand is on track ,if my body is relaxed and balanced , ect. Then I go back to whole stroke trying to keep the same timing .


Dave

HandsHeal 12-16-2009 04:07 AM

Soft Hook
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7806)
extending to catch with a flexed wrist and sloped forearm... [the] "Soft Hook." From shoulder to fingertips, the arm is slightly hook-shaped rather than arrow-straight. And with muscles relaxed to avoid stiffness, the hook is soft.

To date, this is one that I thank Terry most for giving us. The thread 'Hands Down' describes some of the 'struggle' as I began to incorporate the 'Soft Hook' (I had named it the 'Bulbous Bow' but will henceforth gladly defer to 'Soft Hook'). Now, it has become part of me and it's hard to imagine how I got along before or why it didn't just come naturally down through the years. Relaxation in this portion of the stroke gives a wonderful continuum to the flow - relaxed recovery, relaxed spear, gentle move to anchor, flick... sweet!

Grant 12-16-2009 04:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ames (Post 7813)
Yes, but with the palm turned outward somewhat towards the side wall. Here is a photo of Shinji doing this, slicing his hand in at an angle. I think about my index finger and middle finger hitting the water first.

ames

My understanding is that the hand entering the way you describe can cause impingement of the shoulder joint which is a major cause of pain and injury for swimmers. In terms of the most neutral entry the mail slot or flat entry is the safest.
I supose if the hand is slanted as you say only on the entry then the stress is not nearly as great as if the hand is kept in that position for the catch and the pull/non pull.

ewa.swimmer 12-16-2009 05:20 AM

hips
 
This is something I "discovered" halfway through a 2K lagoon swim recently. I have never been able to get a natural feeling 2 beat kick and although I've come a long way with my TI skills in the past few years when my stroke fell apart during a long swim I had to try a number of things to get it back.

Instead of my hips going just up and down, I picture them pedaling a bike. Yes, I know it's sorta weird but that's the only way I can describe it. My kick fell into a 2 beat kick and when my stroke starts to get rough I can concentrate on this focal point and it's all good again.

ames 12-17-2009 02:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Grant (Post 7817)
My understanding is that the hand entering the way you describe can cause impingement of the shoulder joint which is a major cause of pain and injury for swimmers. In terms of the most neutral entry the mail slot or flat entry is the safest.
I supose if the hand is slanted as you say only on the entry then the stress is not nearly as great as if the hand is kept in that position for the catch and the pull/non pull.

Yes that is a good point and I thought about it as I started doing it and I will keep it in mind. But I don't think the action is quite as awkward as I may make it sound. First because my body is rotated as I start my spear so that my hand is naturally angled slightly towards the side wall, I just turn it a little more. And second because by the time my arm is fully extended my palm is facing down. No, I don't pull with my hand angled towards the side.

I don't really think this action physically changes my stroke but it does something psychologically. I would compare it to wanting to be an excellent free throw shooter, so I copy, say, Steve Nash's pre-free throw routine. It's not that his particular 3 dribbles and knee flex routine give him his high percentage, but by doing the same motions I may be able to picture in my head how he looks when shoots his shot and feel the same way as I shoot mine.

ames

sasquatch 12-17-2009 08:08 PM

the "anti-paddle"
 
my focus changes frequently (but consciously) during a pool session, but usually centers on many of the things already discussed; particularly those related to the catch and aptly named "soft hook"

Quote:

Originally Posted by as (Post 7812)
there used to be a lot of talk of "fistgloves" and i enjoyed working with them, but not enough to bring them to the pool and change in and out of them several times in a swim. so i just make the fist even though that could be seen as adding some tension.

if anyone is interested I got these as an alternative to fist gloves and enjoy using them

http://www.finisinc.com/Company/Tech...addles/PT.aspx

They have essentially the same purpose as fistgloves/fist drill, but I'm able to keep my hand and forearm relaxed. They are also quick to get on and off and are more durable than the fistgloves I ripped.


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