Neef some insight on relaxing and shaping the vessel
I am a bit confused: TI focusses a lot on the concept of relaxing and turning of muscles that are not necessary. On the other side the body needs tot be streamlined and as straight as a surfing board.
How to understand this correctly?
Elements of shaping the vessel: to keep it straight in my view, you need to push your upper body down, tighten the stomic muscles, push your bottom up and keep the legs aligned. All of this to me seems pretty 'active', muscles driven: relaxing here is equal to a spaghetti going through the water.
Elements of relaxing: the ragdoll arms of recovery, other? Maybe the fact of breathing, then the turning your head down and wait wait till the arm hits the water to drive the hip and dive into the tunnel: is this also 'relaxation'?
Insight on the difference of both concept please
PS it is 'need' some insight: darn spelling corrector that likes to turn words in Dutch
"Relaxing" is a cue. We like to tell people to focus on this because most of the time swimmers are too tense in the water, wasting energy and being so wound up that they cannot move in the water.
However, I have found that people have taken that cue too far (or in other words, cues can be overused past their usefulness in a person). They have, as you have noted, become "spaghetti" in the water (I like to say wet noodles). So in some people I have met who have started with TI, i need to take them back up the tension curve to be able to stabilize and move well.
Water is so nice. It is soothing to be in it. So relaxing to wet noodle/spaghetti status is very easy. But it is not conducive to swimming.
Yes you need to be active. You need to have some tension in the body to maintain body shape and have a stable, firm platform on which to move the limbs. But not so much tension that you either cannot move properly or wasting energy holding so much.
Thanks a lot.
I would like to go further into the areas of relaxation, this swimming element where muscles are loose and tension is avoided.
The ones I see:
- ragdoll recovery
- let your head be supporter by the water: no neck tension
I find this advances very quickly to pretty much every muscle. The real trick seems to be finding the opportunities in when to relax.
Kicking leg-angle-foot: relax on down-kick, semi-flex to get toes pointed, and establish the controlled leg-rudder in the wake, but then relax it. Repeat.
Core: quick inhale then relax to let air expand into diaphragm and throughout recovery, then flex to hold streamline during kick and rotation to apply power to the anchoring arm without flopping the vessel all over the place. Repeat.
Neck: flex to turn to breathe and position chin to air, then relax ASAP during recover and before spearing. Repeat.
Arms: flex underwater when hands and arms are in the core zone: shoulder to hip. Relax ASAP as recovery begins throughout recovery and entry, only flexing again to increase spear length. Repeat.
I find in long swims in pool, that my thighs, calves and soles of my feet tire and want to cramp if I'm pushing off the walls hard into long streamlines and if I forget to relax them while swimming.
I find in long open water swims, that my butt muscles tire from holding my vessel and the lower side legs in position (keeping legs streamlined and not splaying) in that breathing phase. Breathing more to the right, my left butt gets tired. Breathing to the left, my right butt gets tired. So I know that I need to work on keeping things inline early, when they need to be controlled while holding the skate edge, then relax in transition when fully relaxed legs fall into the right position without energy (when I'm flat).
We can always flex everything all the time, and it makes for a great, fast, low SPL 50Y.
But swimming a full 45-75min session, for me means I have to find which can go when. It may seem like minutia but it pays off in longer swims. Recently I found (OK Coach Stuart found) my left forearm flexing during recovery which tucks my wrist into a funny looking claw. Fully relaxing straightens it out, but I have probably over a million strokes flexing that little forearm muscle, so it's taking me quite some effort and time to unlearn that muscle memory.
Good topic BTW.
Thanks a lot for your reply! I understand the other areas you mention like the foot, but there is also a lot a personally do not grasp. Like for example that you can do an excellent 50m by totally relaxing: I then directly thinkof the wet noodle snaking its way through the water.
And if all muscles are prone to relaxation: when to tune and when to relax?
I also have the problem of feet cramps due to push offs.
Sometimes I have the impression of a faster but not harder lap when I am able to use my body as a sort of wip, throwing myself bevond my spear arm in a mix between turning and relaxing, unfortunately I do not grasp the details that would allow me to repeat this in a continuous way
Think of the cues we give you, the shapes of your body and limbs we like to see, the paths of the limbs we like to teach. Try to train your mind to learn the movements first so they look good, and are smooth in movement. We have dryland drills to help with that. In order to move the limbs faster, you'll naturally need to relax some body parts and create tension in others.
It may be hard to determine what is tensing and what is not. Often we are used to our bodies responding a certain way and can't figure out if something is tense. Thus we have produced some feedback tips, like with rag doll recovery arm - we ask you to wiggle the forearm/hand under the elbow to prove you've released tension there. In the spear, we say spear with relaxed hand and droopy fingers. When you spear, are your fingers like steel daggers or are they somewhat droopy?
In your comment above - i go back to the fact that "relaxing" is a cue. It can be overused. Be aware of that - you will need some tension to hold body shape and perform movement. As you learn swimming, you will learn exactly how much tension this is and how much you need during various phases of the stroke, as well as how to tune that up and down given your stroke tempo.
Trying to swim a 50m like a wet noodle is doable, but most likely not efficient or the best 50m you could ever swim. Say instead "fluid" or "flowing" so that you look graceful as you swim through the water. Terry likes to say "gain fluency with the water". There is a lot implied with these statements including a level of relaxation, but it also implies strength and skill. If a dancer flows through their routine, do we say they are totally relaxed? No - we can see it in their muscles which are typically very defined and we see them contracting those muscles as they move.
So try to use more gross interpretations of movement and shape to govern your training, rather than wondering about every little detail. There are things we like to point out (ie. rag doll arm, droopy fingers) for you to confirm your "correctness" but we don't like to get too deep and you don't have much control over individual muscles anyways.
Although I had been to a TI weekend workshop in February of 1999, I never really "got" the idea of relaxing until I went through my TI coach training in 2002.
Coach Kevin Millerick was trying to get me to relax on a drill called Back Balance (which we no longer use in our freestyle training program because it is more related to backstroke). I explained to him that all of the instructions they were giving for the Back Balance drill were, to me, the exact opposite of relaxing. So Kevin told me to forget all of the other instructions and to just try relaxing and see what happened. After I tried it, he told me that all I needed to do was tilt my chin a little more toward my chest and I'd be fine. When I tried it, I suddenly, for the first time, felt so relaxed in that position that I literally felt like I could go to sleep!
Note that Back Balance was a "do nothing" drill that was designed to teach nothing but balance. Equivalent drills in our current program include Superman Glide, Core Balance, and Skate. Of course, when you proceed to the more active drills, "relaxing" will not be as good a description of what you are doing. But, because of your experience with the "do nothing" drills, you will be able to insure that your effort is actually being directed entirely toward propulsion.
That is absolutely a wonderful point Bob!
When I exercise these 'non-active' drills like supermanglide, I always try to focus on shaping my vessel as straight as possible and trying to reach the other side of the pool in as few glides as possible.
Never have I focussed on total relaxation or even approximating a going to sleep feeling!!
Thanks a lot Bob: next pool sessions I will put all my focus on this relaxation and loosen the dropping the SPL target
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