Frustrated with TI
Am seeking advise on how to proceed as I am really frustrated.
I have been taking TI lessons or going to weekly Fast Forwards for over 14 months, and am having difficulty making it more than 50 yards without needing a break.
Every few weeks I seem to reinvent the stroke based on an occasional comment made by a coach at Fast Forward, only to learn later that my "new" stroke is not TI, and a different coach gives different advise that may or not be something I can build on.
Now, with over 250 hours of dedicated pool-time focused on TI (I am not kidding or exaggerating) and over $1,000 spent, I am really frustrated.
I am otherwise an above-average athlete with a 20 BMI and excellent lungs (and in my early 50's).
It just seems the method of learning TI is fundamentally broken for someone who is athletic but not a natural swimmer. I am really beginning to dislike swimming, and it is not for want of trying.
(Where is the effortlessness in this stroke?)
If I'd dropped $1000 (or £713.92) on lessons for ANYTHING and not achieved a certain minimum standard of skill and relaxation, then I'd be pretty annoyed as well.
I've never used a coach. I can swim 1500m with ease now, but I'm 7 years into this. (Age 46, male.) IF I'd paid that much money for coaching, I'd have expected to reach that milestone at least 4x faster. So, I'd say that this is a problem that TI needs to solve for its customers, make no mistake about it,
My personal experience is that I tend to make incremental improvements on a monthly basis. That's the brutally honest reason why I've never paid for a coach. Even tonight, I got entirely new sensations to do with hip drive that I've never felt before. So that keeps me going.
You might be a bit like me. Are you a stress-prone, competitive person? I can't swim a long distance if I have to share a lane. I like to swim next to the wall and breathe towards the wall so that I don't see other swimmers. Everything puts me off. I need everything calm in order to relax a bit.
Let me also say something about the two beat kick (2bk). It's an advanced skill. In fact I'd now say that
the TI swim style is an advanced stroke. I've gone through three phases of trying to get the 2bk down.
I even went through a long period, more than a year, where I could do 2bk whilst breathing to one side, but had to resort to a flutter kick when breathing to the other side. I mention this to try and "humanise" TI and make you realise that a nice, neat, linear progression is not guaranteed.
On a final note, the one practical bit of advice I can give that turned the
corner in my swimming was to ENGAGE GLUTES all the time, but keep KNEES and ANKLES relaxed and DON'T point your toes.
In the TI coaching materials, glutes engagement is mentioned in passing in just one of the DVDs, to my knowledge.
If you have sinking legs, like most blokes, the glutes are a hip extensor, so they straighten and lift the legs, and greatly help prevent unwanted splaying and waggling. In conjunction with that, do you do hip flexor stretches?
From a very mediocre swimmer who took a long, long time to swim any distance.
Got any video you can upload to youtube?
From a swimmer with BMI > 20 and who hates pushing himself into discomfort and "burning lungs"!
Frustrated with Ti
Late 40's learner, 52 now, never been fit, didn't do Ti.
My guess is you're doing one thing particularly wrong.
Do you ever get told to slow down. That was my bugbear, using speed for balance. Realised it when I tried a snorkel and found I couldswim continuosly no problem, but when I done the math I was swimming at lowly 34 seconds per 25 metres. Also found I had more breath left at the end of a fast 25 metres if I didn't breathe at all. Breathing takes effort.
It's difficult do say anything about this without seeing your stroke. So every answer given here is only a guess what can be the problem.
I'm no coach in swimming but in gymnastics and at low level in Ving Tsun Kung Fu. So I have coach experiences in general but not especially in swimming.
Several thoughts, not really connected:
For lean, muscular men it's often more difficult to get a good balance because the legs tend to sink. So what is an advantage on land not necessarily must be an advantage in water. If you have to avoid sinking the legs with a kick or with speed for that your technique is not fit, it's exhausting. For all balancing and streamlining drills are important but for most lean and muscular men more so than for people with more natural buoyancy.
You are investing a lot of money and effort to get good teaching and good results. I think, good fast freestyle is something you REALLY want to master. Sometimes this is exactly what hinders the progress. To REALLY want to be relaxed seldom works.
I know it from other sports. I always try to do my best, to do the exercises as good as possible. Now as it comes to do the exercises relaxed I have great difficulties. Trying to perfect often stands in the way of being relaxed.
If you aren't relaxed in water it takes a lot of effort to be balanced, to breath, to get good timing. In a relaxed stroke you swim with the whole body. The force you need to get forward comes from the core muscles, not from the arm muscles. That makes a big difference because the core muscles are much bigger and naturally more adjusted to long endurance movement than the arm and leg muscles.
So: are you really relaxed or are you swimming "with" your arms and legs?
And that's the other point: are you too relaxed? Relaxed does not mean floppy like a pudding. Relaxed means just enough tension in just the right time. It's difficult to breathe and it hinders streamlining if the core ist floppy. You see, it could be difficult to get the right way between floppy and stiff. In both cases you can't connect the core movements with the arm/ leg movements. But whereas you never can run or jump when you are floppy without getting injured, in swimming being a bit too floppy normally does less harm then being too stiff :o)
What problems a trainer sees in your in your style not only depends on your flaws in your style but also of the experiences of the coaches. The problems the coach strongly had himself or the problems most of his other students have, are the problems he will correct first. The flaw that he corrects will be in your stroke but they are not necessarily really your first problem. As many flaws and problems may cover another, it's not always easy to hit the point, even for coaches. Nonetheless these corrections will help in whole but at first will not bring the overwhelming result one expects.
And the other thing: not always coaches and student are speaking the "same language". The explanation that helps one student sometimes another one doesn't help at all. He will need another explanation.
only little thoughts additionally to Inge's, BX's and Tom65's.
...and I'm irritated about your Fast Forward - courses. Because TI-FF-courses or TI-Smart Speed-courses are ment for swimmers, who are able to swim at least 100m with relaxed strokes. And from TI's point of view there are several things before that, especially TI-balance and TI-streamline...
If you're really winded after 50m, with your skills described, you must care a lot of unnecessary tension while swimming.
Seems you are a goal-oriented athlete, willing to put time and focus into your way. So I can't imagine the second thing: When in TI you should have worked with several FPs. And I can't imagine that you don't notice any difference before and after mindfully doing some drills/relaxed TI-movements 4000-7000 times...
- First Charles Couturier (missing his posts here in the forums...), a non TI-Coach, leads one-day courses where he brings everyone (till he posted it) to swim 700m continues FS in one day. His secret is nearly Inge's: SLow down. And his secret to swimmers who couldn't get it on first attempt: Slow down even more!
- Second my TI-hint: Assure yourself, that you're really working with a TI-Coach. And if not too discouraged for now, take a one- or two-days Workshop on TI-foundation led by a TI-mastercoach. Neither other participants nor myself ever said: Nothing found to help me, nothing happened with my stroke/struggle... Maybe, maybe, maybe... you're the very first, then your only chance is to be proud of it being a very singular swimmer. (We're all singular swimmers by our own, but you...)
- Third as Inge wrote: Put a video-link showing your actual stroke in the Forum asking for some advice. (Best would be side-view and front-view, both above and below surface.)
Hope you'll find some encouragement and joy in (TI-)swimming again!
What excellent comments you have got so far.
What really caught my eyes when reading your post is what also Werner reacted to
Check if he or she is on this list
You are copping massive drag somewhere
Master this you must:
Then you will progress.
"Posture Line & Balance"
P.S what is your breathing pattern?
Go every 4 max (above this is hypoxic training)
Or ideally every 3 bi lateral
If you are going every 2 and are not a pro or high speed swimmer then you are "gassing up" and won't get beyond 50mtrs (2 lengths)
Thanks everyone for taking the time to offer me instructive advise.
Coach Johnny and BobM -- the real issue is that I think the Total Immersion learning approach, at least as I have experienced it, is fundamentally broken.
I reached the breaking point a few days ago when it occurred to me that my goal of participating in some form of triathon this year is getting less likely.
More specifically, I took the 4 week class in January, 2017 with the hope of doing at least a Sprint triathlon in late August, 2017 (although my biking and running would put me at the Olympic and maybe the full-triathlon level). As the summer went on, the TI did not fall into place so all plans were postponed. My reset goal was to focus on TI in the fall and winter to build it up, as part of my ongoing hardcore 12-14 hours/week training since January, 2017 in all three disciplines. That is 750+ hours of focused, hardcore endurance training, with swimming the weak point.
My realization was that, at the current rate, it looks like triathlon plans might have to be postponed another year.
The TI marketing message, in simplified form is: an easy-to-learn stroke that, with a bit of effort and continuous learning, will become effortless. I also bought George Leonard's Mastery book (which I try to follow).
My TI learning experience is broken because, after the formal class, there was no real follow through. I immediately participated in weekly Fast Forward after the course and did not miss a session for many months.
I have since come to the conclusion they were of limited value. There seems to be the assumption that the stroke would somehow fall into place with enough practice.
Fast Forward offered the same or similar drills virtually every week. I am not saying these drills are not useful, but there was very limited feedback on the drills or the swimming. (I actually think I have been doing some of these drills incorrectly for over a year -- how does that happen?)
After a few months with limited improvement, I started actively eliciting feedback from the coaches. Once I got them talking, there was usually a flood of observations. They HAD BEEN watching and evaluating but not saying anything.
For example: I apparently was over rotating by shoulders. It took nearly 6 months for a suggested solution (to take wider strokes) was made (and only after I had to miss several weeks of Fast Forwards because my stroke was an unnatural motion and really screwed up my shoulder). I then adapted to the latest advise and taught myself a new stroke, thinking it was TI.
After 2 months of this (in during which I was able to swim 1,200 yards non-stop and I thought I had finally found my effortless "jogging" speed), another coach ripped into me about my stroke breadth being way too wide and I wasn't stretching enough.
A third coach later advised that the problem was not the breadth but that I was not leading with my elbow as I brought my recovery arm out of the water. I have since adapted to his advise (and invented another stroke which I think might be TI) and it feels like the videos I watch (that was in late February, 2018)!
Note that I was twice told not to follow TI Youtube videos but to take direction only from the coaches feedback. In other words, trust us and we will teach you the stroke.
So, my TI learning experience is broken because:
- Fragmented learning because of different coaches (at least 5 of which 1 may be TI certified, although others do seem very competent)
- Cookie-cutter style advise that focused on basic streamlining and mail slot positioning and timing (as an isolated movement). (I also swim too fast.)
- Virtually ZERO feedback on how to include the mail slot as part of the bigger fully body flip/rotation move. NO feedback on what to do with the hand after it enters the mail slot. NO feedback on how to do the pull, etc. NO comments on how to bring it all together into a single fluid maneuver, etc.
- Insufficient useful feedback
The lead coach is on the list you sent me and I am sure you know him well. He coaches TI full-time, and has participated several times in the TI marketing videos.
Again, I am not criticizing the stroke (as I am sure it works). I am venting frustration on how it has been marketed and taught to me (despite a very big effort).
CoachBobM -- after 50 yards I am exhausted because I am trying to bring together all the latest, isolated pieces of advise into a single continuous, fluid motion (and am clearly expending energy in many of the wrong places). My approach is to keep it simple by focusing on right side every stroke until I find the basic stroke, and will later focus on bilateral breathing at a later time.
I have since stopped Fast Forward and am taking TI lessons from a single coach to maintain a consistent conversation.
(And yes, I admit I am venting with these posts but am really pissed off and disappointed. it is not the money; it is the wasted effort and miss-set expectations.)
As requested, here is a recent training clip:
You should restrict to one water sport and not try to learn all at once. That's too much.
Your balance is good, but your head is too high, and you make a banana. Look down to the pool bottom and your back will lengthen too.
Your recovery is quite well and relaxed, but try an earlier entry and a deeper spear. Your stroking arm has a dropped elbow. You should try to catch more water rather with the forearm than with your hand, fistgloves can help to feel the grip ;o)
You wrote, you already swam 1200 yards with fairly easy stroke.
besides the Kaizen-learning-cycle:
conscious incompetence and
there is another rule wich says:
learning is always up and down. You learn something, you think you mastered it and then comes the point where you think, everything you learnt is gone and you can't do anything against it. You try hard but it doesn't work at all. That's normal and your skill will reappear but of cause this phases are frustrating.
In Ving Tsun I had weeks and months where I had the feeling I was just as far as a novice. The last phase was in autumn. I'm doing VT for 8 years now, 3 times a week, several week ends, basic training at home... and I wasn't able to do basic Drills in a way that is expected in my level.
These regress times will occur from time to time. They mark that you achieved something new. But that new skill is not steady yet. You can't do anything against this regression but having patience and go on until this phase ends. Sometimes a short break can help. A holiday or going to the pool just to relax and play in the water. Trying a new style, butterfly for example and then going back to freestyle calm and serene again.
Another point: I'm also often reluctant correcting all flaws I see in the technique of my students. It makes no sense to work on new focal points on a higher level when the student is just on the way getting the clue on the lower level. Sometimes it's better to wait and correct the technique after the basics have really been imprinted.
In your example: Overrotating of cause is not really good. But there are other things, balance, streamlining, timing... which are more important and which should be imprinted first before working on higher skills.
I can't tell you if this is the normal frustrating "step back" in the normal learning cycle or if you are confused by small focal points that you try to settle too early and before the basic is set.
First I would concentrate on the very basics. Then I would add ONE FP. So in your case: relaxed swimming with slightly over rotation. When you work on your rotation other things will not work that worked before. Never mind, concentrate on the rotation you canít concentrate on several thing at once.
You will have to be patient. Keep in mind that it takes time to imprint a new skill and also that you will not hit the point at once. In your example, you had an overrotation in your stroke. When you try to fix it you will tend to underrotation. That you will correct with overroation. Less than at the beginning, but you will hit the goal after several corrections in the one and the other direction.
And your decision to take lessons with a single coach seems well done. Sometimes several coaches can be inspiring, sometimes itís confusing.
21 years ago (about 2 years before I became acquainted with TI), I went to a 1-hour stroke clinic on flip turns. At the time, I already knew how to do freestyle flip turns, and was going in the hope of learning how to do backstroke flip turns (at the time, I could only swim a single continuous pool length of backstroke because I had no idea how to do turns). So I was initially disappointed when the instructor said that they were only going to cover freestyle flip turns. But I was glad, in the end, that I had gone because I identified 7 things that I had been doing wrong in my freestyle flip turns.
The next time I went to the pool, I tried to think about these 7 things every time I did a turn (I was working on 800m freestyle at the time, so I was doing a lot of turns). But I ended up pretty much wasting the entire practice time, because I found that I couldn't think about 7 things at once. So at my next practice, I focused on only 2 of the 7 things, and postponed working on the other 5 until after I perfected those first 2.
From your description, it sounds like you may be having the same problem I did: trying to focus on too many things at once and getting overloaded. Instead, try, on every lap you swim, to have just one thing you're focusing on doing well. You may find that it is best to focus on just that one thing at every practice, and to move on to another focal point when the first one starts to feel comfortable. Or you may find that it works better to vary what the focal point is from lap to lap in each practice.
Let us know how you make out!
Hi, the youtube-link didn't work for me, but instead took me to some Micky Mouse video.
I didn't find all that much information about TI fast-forward workshops/training sessions. However, I assume, that they're bringing pace into the equation, while the TI-basics neglect pace to a great extent.
My personal take is: Swimming Pace should indeed be neglected for the first couple triathlons. I must admit that I'm the wrong person to give this advice, because swimming has always been my strongest discipline in triathlon. However, I can definitely give you this piece of advice:
Being in the top 10% of swimmers, but in the worst 10% of cyclists really sucks. :-) It's so much nicer to have it the other way round. In addition, cycling and running have a so much higher impact on your overall result, that you can safely disregard pace for your first triathlon.
Now, pace doesn't seem to by your problem. You say, you're barely able to swim 50 meters disregarding pace.
To me it feels like a great challenge and really interesting to hear, that the TI-method seems broken for you! What I do need to say: If you're taking TI-specific advice from coaches that are not certified TI-coaches, it is kinda unfair to blame the TI-concept. I would rather say, TI-advices from non-TI coaches should be taken on one's own risk.
However, I must also admit that I have heard very critical voices from an experienced TI-coach about the certification process (I'm not a TI-coach myself). So, if you confirmed this critique through your own experience with a certified TI-coach, that should be alarming and even more interesting for the TI-coaches in this forum.
While I'm certainly not in the position to give you technical advice for your swimming, I would like to give you my perspective on the following:
The first goal for your first triathlon should be to get you safe, relaxed and comfortable through the swim leg (in this order). No matter how many coaches you engage, they should all target this goal first. Nothing beats feeling great, fresh and powerful in T1. Feeling dizzy, burnt-out, little sick and short on breath for the sake of a 5 minutes faster swim has a much greater potential of ruining you first triathlon experience.
Any update James, or have you left the forum? Feel free to Contact me. Iím very curious about your swim. If you reached a 1200 continuous swim at a jogging pace, thatís a good foundation to start training for a sprint. So with the corrections from a coach who may or may not be TI certified now you can only swim 50 m? Somethings not right about that and thatís why I am curious.
Is than a clean 2-5k or wetsuit assisted?
Yes you probably take a sip of air and clear it on the next stroke, most people dont and take too much in and fail to clear co2 which then builds up as gasses them up within 50m or so
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