So How Should Good Propulsion Feel
In reading about the controversy between straight armed and EVF propulsion, I am becoming more confused. I think I understand about hip drive/core rotation sources of propulsion. Lord knows I might actually use them from time to time. But it seems that I get most of my forward momentum from the action of pulling through the water. It goes something like this:
1. I spear softly with my recovering hand.
2. I immediately begin my rotation to the opposite side.
3. Flip my recovery forearm and hand to vertical position (anchor) or as close as I can get to that position.
4. Continue rotating to other side as I begin pull in anchor position.
5. Finish rotation and glide as set up to do it all over again.
Here's my problem. I think I'm getting most my propulsion from the pulling action but from what I read and what I heard Natalie Couglin say, it sounds like I should be getting most of it from the core. It almost sounds like I should be sticking my arm in anchor position and rotating off of it. In other words my arm should only change position because my body is moving forward , not because I'm pulling water with it. But it looks like Shinji and others are pulling water at least some of the time. So should I be doing work with my arms or should they just be going along for the ride? After the initial catch, should I stop pulling and count on rotation only for the follow through? Is the pulling action I feel actually from the catch?
As you can see, I'm pretty confused.
I find your description of this conundrum a useful one that many will be able to relate to, is this answer that this is a matter of focus?
I don't think it's useful to try to disect the propulsion is this way but to focus on where you want it to come from, in the case of TI through the core/hips and spearing arm. It's not helpful to try to hold a focus at the same time on what each side of the body is doing.
I tend not to think about or focus on what the lead / pulling arm is doing too much, I do use fistgloves a lot and that way I'm probably sub-conciosuly adusting the arm to get a better catch.
The 2BK (cross-kick variety) Drives it...
The 2BK using a cross-kick variety - the one with a one-foot driver (when the body is about to rotate to the side) , using the foot flick - provides the "corkscrew" effect. The process:
o kicks off-the-wall, then initiates the 2BK, say, foot driver is right foot (left foot just drafts along)
o corkscrew affect turns the hip to the left,
o causes a rotation that clears the left shoulder off the water surface,
o allows a graceful marionette spearing left hand to enter the water (all the while the propulsion caused by the 2BK moves the body forward),
o left hand may pull depending on the speed one wants
o as spearing left hand enters the water, right hand at "anchor" at this time slightly past, near or about the head, as it is about to near the point to recover (near the hips or slightly past the hips, depending on the speed)
And the process is repeated by the left-foot driver doing the foot-flick to initiate the corkscrew effect to rotate the hips to the right, to clear the right shoulder off the water for the right spearing hand to enter the water.
If you note, I started off the process from the rear to the front.
To answer your question: YES, you still pull. But the level of propulsion provided by the hand pulls is secondary to the level of propulsion brought about by the corkscrew effect of the 2BK on the core body, thus providing the principal source of forward motion.
At this early stage of my own 2BK breakthrough - sometime in March of this year - am still experimenting with ways to generate more force from the 2BK. At this stage, I have found that (based on my own personal experience):
o that as I try to increase speed, my kicks become more vertical vis-a-vis cross-kick or diagonal,
o there is now more force required from the hand pulls,
o the 2BK I think increases (not sure about the # of beats)
o point of entry of spearing hands becomes variable (depending on the speed) (varies to attain ideal of noiselessness)
o for some reason - with this vertical 2BK - the core body seems to be providing the major part of the overall forward speed
Going back to your hand pull issue...with the 2BK and at more faster speeds...the hand pull force will increase...but it should only be the secondary propulsive source...the core body should still be the principal mover.
The most important sensation in learning to draw power from your core is learning to "spear powerfully." Your description of spearing softly indicates that you are not using your core -- simply letting your high side recovering hand drop with no thrust behind it.
By "spearing powerfully" I do not mean punching the water with your arm. Instead, learn to roll into the spear -- the power comes from your kick and subsequent back and abdominal muscle twist to drive your spearing hand forcibly forward.
If you can ice skate, you will know you have achieved core power when you feel a similar side-to-side swaying motion that you feel when ice skating.
Early on, I used full-sized rubber fins to serve as an anchor against which I rotated my core.
Terry gave a suggestion on this that I like. There is definitely pressure on your forearm anchor. And there is effort in your spear. What you want is "intention". Focus your attention and intention on getting your spear forward.
Also, finish your stroke to the front. And remember that one of the laws of swimming is that every action accelerates from beginning to end. So the arm stroke begins with the anchoring very slowly and ends with the spear as the fastest portion. I do a bit of one arm free to find this constant acceleration feel. It takes some work to get the arm to spear as one unit with the body, with momentum, and silently. But it is fun when it happens.
Then I start over-thinking my stroke pattern and focusing on too many details at once and I'm right back at 14. Don't underestimate the effect of simple, positive thinking, and pure joy. When I get back to enjoying the feeling of the water flowing around me, I can usually get the 2 strokes back again.
I've also had the experience where, when sharing a lane early in the morning, I was consciously trying NOT to pass my lane-mate. Focusing on gliding more and slowing my stroke. To my surprise, I swam faster!
Eric's post about how powerful and impactful the right intentions can be help to clarify this conundrum.
I've found that rather modest intentions can have surprisingly significant outcomes.
One example: When I swim with an intention to "make the pressure on my hand and forearm feather-light" the result I feel is more power coming from my core.
When I swim with an intention "to feel my gut doing the work", I feel power distribute throughout my body and to all parts of my stroke.
A different intention but a similar outcome.
When your focus is mechanical, a keen observer might be able to pick out what you're working on -- for instance a shift from Ear Hops to Mail Slot.
Whereas a shift in intention would probably be harder to discern from poolside. It's more felt than seen. But the result can be equally significant.
"Holding, rather than Pulling" is an intention. I can observe the change in a student's stroke when I suggest that intention -- if they've been visibly "muscling" or "strongarming" the water back.
What I observe when they swim with that intention is that the arm still moves back as before (I.E. A "pull" still happens.) but there's a greater harmony and integration of the arm action into the overall body action.
The goals of this intention are to:
1) Shift the workload from fatigue-prone arm muscles to tireless weight shift.
2) Allow sufficient time for the hand and forearm to establish a firm "grip."
3) Allow your hand and forearm to maintain the "armful of water" (others refer to this as EVF) position through the early part of the stroke.
The "Featherlight Forearm Pressure" intention would be a good followup to the "Hold Don't Pull" intention. After 20 or more hours of practice with those intentions you should find them blending (or "chunking") into a single thought.
My two favorite intentions of the moment are:
1) To "nudge" (rather than "drive") the hip; and
2) To minimize the effort in my 2BK.
The two intentions reinforce each other. My goal has been to see how much "effortless power" I can coax out of the naturally-occurring weight shift, by focusing on coordinating the beginning of my stroke (where holding-not-pulling occurs) with my 2BK -- core-driven by the weight shift, rather than thigh-driven.
This is all part of the "circuit tuning" I've been doing in preparation for the National Masters 2-Mile Cable Swim on Aug 15. I will add intentional drive to my stroke late in the race - the last 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile - but if I can maintain a good clip using more integration than effort prior to that I should be able to deploy a much stronger "finishing kick" after swimming 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 miles at a pretty brisk clip.
I made the same discovery via practice with the Tempo Trainer.
When I raised my tempo above .9 sec/stroke (.86 to .89) I found that my 2BK became more "disciplined." There was no longer enuf time for the foot to slide sideways or to have extra "steadying beats." So the action became more vertical, and thus contributed more directly to weight shift, with a noticeable increase in the power naturally expressed by the weight shift.
When I felt that I recognized how important a more-vertical kick was, that became a separate intention.
When I began practicing that intention without the Tempo Trainer, I found I needed to begin with short repeats and mini-kicks (ankles separating by only a few inches) because the neuromuscular circuits for a compact, vertical 2BK were not yet robust.
As I practiced this movement more -- and "grew more myelin" on that circuit, I was able to gradually increase repeat distance. Two years later I still can't maintain that kick for a full mile or more of racing, but I can maintain it for 200m to 400m repeats. I'm still working patiently on strengthening that circuit -- along with countless others.
I think this is a brilliant question. It is much more important to know what your technique should feel like than what it should look like to an outside observer - because you can't watch yourself from outside.
This is one of the great things about how Terry describes TI. There is a review here that makes that point -
But a couple of stroke descriptions above were so confusing to me that I think either (a) you guys are doing something seriously wrong, or (b) your description could mislead someone else. So before I describe what I feel, here are my thoughts on those earlier posts...
Please don't take offence, but have you guys actually had any TI training, books or DVDs, or are you trying to learn from posts on this forum. Your descriptions are so far off everyyhing in the TI materials
OK, I better make sure my own description is clear!!!
I will try to distinguish Feelings from Intentions...
Assuming I have just speared with my left hand, so am on my left 'rail' in patient catch position...
I 'sense' it is time to take my next stroke based on a mixture of -
- my "internal clock"
- how fast/slow the pool tiles are passing underneath me
- a sense of my momentum coming from skin, inner-ear or whatever. I just feel my speed.
My right hand recovers from hip or thigh to in front of my head.
At the same time I allow my left foot to drift/float slightly up and sideways to the "catch" position I have learnt by trial and error(!) When I sense it is in place I kick...
I feel a kind of jolt like a mini detonation as my foot 'bites' against the resistance of the water.
Through repitition my body is learning to time a number of things together. (This is something your CNS just does, you can't intellectualise it.) As the foot jolts, I
- rotate (nudge) my right hip down.
- spear with my right hand
- pull with my left arm.
To an outsider it might look like a ripple of cause and effect from foot to spear. But it doesn't feel like I passively allow a ripple to pass through my body. It feels like all these things happen actively exactly when the foot bites.
I feel my right arm slide into the water like into a sleeve. You can actually feel the surface run up your arm if you pay attention!
I feel my right shoulder drop, stretch and drive behind my arm
Sometimes I feel my chin touch my right shoulder. (A little check to avoid spearing too low, or raising my head)
I feel stretched out and powerful
If I am taking a breath on this stroke, I also feel the bow-wave. And I feel the air around my mouth when I breathe.
These are the things that matter, but I know a lot of people are worrying about the 'pulling' arm. So...
I am dimly aware of my left arm pulling. This is not my focus - my focus is spearing. The left arm automatically pulls as the right arm spears. I sense some water pressure on my left palm & forearm - but it is no big deal, certainly no strain. I don't really think about the route my arm takes to my hip or thigh. It seems to do a wiggle when it is half-way there (same as Terry does). This is not a conscious decision - my hand seems to like doing this, so it can feel the water a bit longer. So I allow it to.
At the very end of the stroke I think my hand 'pushes off' the last bit of water it is gripping. But my attention (intention) is not on this arm; it is reaching forward for the next rung of the invisible underwater ladder. I pull myself forward over my anchored arm; I never feel like I am pulling water back towards me.
Something I do NOT feel is any obvious sense of 'propulsion' from the kick. It is not like a flutter kick designed to move me forward. It just provides something very solid to brace against for a split second.
Things I feel when it goes wrong: One or more of -
My foot break the surface, and fail to kick properly.
My foot flick feebly through the water because I got the position or timing wrong and it didn't bite.
My elbow or upper arm slap the surface when I spear wrongly. Also I hear it splash. Normally I only hear my nose bubbles.
I think the two most important things are
1. Foot jolt
2. Intent to pull yourslf along a ladder, not grab water.
Hope this helps someone out there!
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