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  #31  
Old 01-02-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
... 2. After turn and good streamline push - take a couple of long (non breathing) strokes *before* getting your first breath of each length. Don't reach for air on first stroke. ...
Interesting and counterintuitive. I'll be sure to give this one a try.

p.s
With respect Stuart reading your blog illustrates how critical it is to know from what point we're starting. The model in it for instance has a much higher head psition that I had (until I posted my video and began working on it). If your head is very high i.e in a totally un-TI starting-out-beginners approach then head low head low head low is great advice, but, after you DO have a low head position then imho/experience it can be too low. If it is, as I found for nearly a year (until someone here gave me permission to change it!), then .. you need to change as just going lower doesn't further.
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~ Aleksandr Popov

Last edited by Talvi : 01-02-2015 at 07:14 PM.
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  #32  
Old 01-02-2015
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Interesting and counterintuitive. I'll be sure to give this one a try.

p.s
With respect Stuart reading your blog illustrates how critical it is to know from what point we're starting. The model in it for instance has a much higher head psition that I had (until I posted my video and began working on it). If your head is very high i.e in a totally un-TI starting-out-beginners approach then head low head low head low is great advice, but, after you DO have a low head position then imho/experience it can be too low. If it is, as I found for nearly a year (until someone here gave me permission to change it!), then .. you need to change as just going lower doesn't further.
Hi Talvi, Yes head can certainly be too low, but then too - head and spine are out of alignment, i.e. tension in neck pressing head down and/or tucking chin to chest. This is a common problem as well when learning head and spine alignment. Often swimmer will press head down in response to "goggles down" focal point. Tension in neck is the source of problem whether lifting head, pressing head, or tucking chin.

I don't use "give permission", but rather encourage swimmers to experiment in both extremes until head/spine fall into alignment, every swimmer is different. Also, even my head wants to drift back up, especially in open water, often after sighting forward. I usually become aware of this when I start finding a bit more water than normal when breathing and my neck begins to ache after an hour or so. Then I may spend next 10+ minutes and return to "neutral head goggles down", "release neck" focal points. But those focals are personal to me and may not work for someone else.

Stuart
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  #33  
Old 01-03-2015
novaswimmer novaswimmer is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Hi Novaswimmer,

1. Do an open turn to get more air, but most importantly, get a good streamline push not stroking too soon. Wait until you're on the surface (air on back), stable and level before you start your stroke. If you stroke too soon, this can throw you off balance, hips drop - anxiety & tension sets in, getting a breath is much more difficult. 2. After turn and good streamline push - take a couple of long (non breathing) strokes *before* getting your first breath of each length. Don't reach for air on first stroke. Both tips allow you to set up (or reset) your body position for a stable breath.
Thanks Stuart! I will give this a try!
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  #34  
Old 01-03-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
...I don't use "give permission", but rather encourage swimmers to experiment in both extremes until head/spine fall into alignment, every swimmer is different. Also, even my head wants to drift back up, especially in open water, often after sighting forward. I usually become aware of this when I start finding a bit more water than normal when breathing and my neck begins to ache after an hour or so. Then I may spend next 10+ minutes and return to "neutral head goggles down", "release neck" focal points. But those focals are personal to me and may not work for someone else.
Hi Stuart, and thanks for replying. I've attached two of novaswimmers diagrams (with changed labels) that help identify/clarify the various orientations being referred to in text.

I found that adopting position B while breathing gave better results than position A: earlier breath (faster turn down). I think this was because although my perception in the water was that I was in position A I was actually in position C. My correction may therefore have been from C to A rather than from A to B. The odd thing is that water flowed over my face in position C but not in position "B".

I find that trying to adopt position i. can lead to better balance than position ii, but that position iii. just results in water going up my nose.

In general my head tends to dive down, mostly because I naturally drop my head in response to certain actions (playing various sports ingrained this tendency).

FWIW, in refining head position, I haven't found the weightless head concept particularly helpful. Heads are appx neutral buoyancy so tend to stay pretty much where they are put, and the variance about this neutral buoyancy point is very small compared with the forces the neck is designed to deal with all the time. It takes several seconds for such small buoyancy effects to stabilize in the water and I have not been able to feel their impact within the space of a breath, or even using a ssnorkel and even if not swimming. While swimming though there are constant changes to head alignment arising from body rotation and breathing as well from the innate asymmetries of the head and the asymmetric forces ariseing from the oncoming water that have to be managed. These for me further hide any effect of weightlessness in fine tuning head position.
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File Type: jpg HeadPosA1.jpg (79.2 KB, 15 views)
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
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"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #35  
Old 01-03-2015
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Hi Talvi, Yes, Noaswimmer's illustrations are excellent, and certainly highlights how subtle positions are. But as you note what we perceive is quite different. I have had swimmers come in with position A, but the angle much greater at 20+ degrees. To help them correct I gave them focal point to bury forehead, chin high. The swimmer felt as if their forehead dropped 40 degs or more (i.e. to -20) in opposite direction, when in fact they just creeping into position A as illustrated.

"Weightless head" works for some, not others - it's another focal point to release tension in the neck. You don't want to "put the head in location" that requires tension to place, but rather wherever it falls is the correct location. The head is like a balloon, it doesn't take but a second for it to fall or bob into the correct position if you allow it.

A good drill to discover correct head position is go into torpedo (superman with arms molded to front of body, hands like in front pants pockets), feel neck is completely relaxed; now press face straight down with the neck (not chest) and hold for a couple of seconds; then completely release all tension in neck and let head bob up to its natural (weightless) state. This neutral released position is the correct head/spine position. In order to feel and execute this correctly however, torpedo/superman must be done properly - body level, air on shoulders, rump at or crowning surface.

Focal points help get each swimmer close to the correct position and will change over time. Focal points are not set in concrete and will be different from swimmer to swimmer based largely on the swimmers perception (what we feel in the water vs reality). Coach Mat Hudson just wrote an excellent blog on this very subject: Focal Point: A Tool, Not a Rule

Stuart
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  #36  
Old 01-04-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Hi Stuart

The torpedo test sounds good. Thanks. My feeling is that my head has slightly negative buoyancy but I'll give it a try.

Mat sums up the problem many of us are encountering here, and the limitation of self-coaching, or at least coaching without video feedback, as does your story. Without seeing or hearing from you that their actual head position was B they'd have continued unable to correct. One of my "change mantras" is that if it feels comfortable then nothing's changed. The problem with that of course is that wrong things also feel uncomfortable - just in different ways! I hope to get some video in the next few weeks and to see some glaring misperceptions of my own.

BTW I think you mean that your swimmer had pos B and felt like they'd gone to pos. C but actually had gone from position B to A. Your story illustrates a problem with the diagram which applies to the second sequence as well as the first. Having the variants in current sequence makes it difficult to refer to the positions without constant reference to the diagrams as the intuitive sequence runs from minus through zero to plus, rather than from zero through minus to plus.

p.s
really loved these quotes of Matt:

Quote:
A Focal Point is .. an analogy, a metaphorical image in your mind that is intended to approximate the correct control or movement, and get it closer to the ideal pattern. But the Focal Point image is not the actual pattern. It will get you close .. but then you’ve got to open your eyes (i.e nervous system) to recognize and grasp onto the real pattern repeatedly, and gradually internalize that into your neuro-muscular system.....

The list of Focal Points are not a literal whole, they are analogous parts, each which point to the same principles, but from a different direction.
I think that part in bold is what I often feel I am being encouraged to ignore. Perhaps it's time to try and disengage the training wheels and look just for the feel.
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov

Last edited by Talvi : 01-04-2015 at 10:36 AM.
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  #37  
Old 01-04-2015
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Hi Stuart

BTW I think you mean that your swimmer had pos B and felt like they'd gone to pos. C but actually had gone from position B to A. Your story illustrates a problem with the diagram which applies to the second sequence as well as the first. Having the variants in current sequence makes it difficult to refer to the positions without constant reference to the diagrams as the intuitive sequence runs from minus through zero to plus, rather than from zero through minus to plus.
Hi Talvi - ahh right, you are correct. I meant position B where forehead is higher at +5 degs. Swimmers normally come in with more extreme +20 deg to even +45 deg head position. Getting them closer to neutral the swimmer will feel more of a radical C position (-20 degs), but actually just getting closer to position B around +5 degs. I don't think there's a problem with the illustration, it was my own perception automatically rearranged the order - funny.

Focal points, alter positions, determining what's wrong or right is very tough without video and/or a coach. What you can do self coaching, and will give you immediate and objective feedback is ask another swimmer in the lane to watch a specific part of your stroke. You will need to locate one who's not in the middle of a set, but in warm up or cool down phase where they don't mind sparing a couple of minutes

You will need to describe it (position, etc) succinctly which is always a good tool for your learning as well; limit your description to one or two short sentences. For example, ask the swimmer to watch only your hand entry on breathing stroke, i.e. left hand entry at 10 o'clock as chin follows right shoulder to air. Often the recovery arm/hand will drift into middle in front of head on breathing stroke. If that's the case, swim again with the focal point entering awkwardly wide, think extreme 9 o'clock entry and have them watch the actual entry position and give you that feedback.

This engagement and feedback will do three things, 1. Help separate perception from reality; 2. you will know if a change is wrong or right in that awkward or uncomfortable feeling in the new position; and 3. maybe most important, you've raised the curiosity of another swimmer and possibly made a new swim buddy :-) Paired swimming is one of the best and quickest ways to progress. I do this frequently (engage with a swim stranger) when I swim solo and working on a part of my stroke whether correcting or refining. I've made lots of swim friends and new clients as well :-)

Coach Mat's Focal Point blog is awesome, clearly written and very articulate. I always enjoy reading his blogs, very educational.

Keep up the good work!

Stuart
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  #38  
Old 01-05-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Thanks Stuart.

I am in a bit of an unusual position here, not being able to speak the language, but I have found that the coaches at the pool who I have chatted with and got to give me feedback just don't "see" things the same as TI. All, except one (who went off to join the Air Force!) want me to use more kicking, to stroke faster, to have a stronger pull, and to employ a 6bk for instance. I think this is the usual stuff. I lent one of them the PMF DVD and all she said was "nothing new". You can lead a horse to water etc. Nonetheless I can really see the benefits of having a swim buddy. Maybe I could advertise. That's a thought. There seem to be more people in the pools here these days who look like they're learning freestyle in a TI sort of a way (though not using drills) so ... well, hope springs eternal right?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
... I don't think there's a problem with the illustration, it was my own perception automatically rearranged the order - funny ....
I'm a designer so the way something is perceived, used or interpreted is the judgement of it that has the most validity and value. Criticism generates insight and improvement, right? :)
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #39  
Old 01-05-2015
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Thanks Stuart.

I am in a bit of an unusual position here, not being able to speak the language, but I have found that the coaches at the pool who I have chatted with and got to give me feedback just don't "see" things the same as TI. All, except one (who went off to join the Air Force!) want me to use more kicking, to stroke faster, to have a stronger pull, and to employ a 6bk for instance.
Yeah - I understand. I think you can still ask being swim philosophy agnostic, swimmers don't need to be TI - and it could be anyone really, novice or even someone watching on deck (lifeguard, etc). Just be specific on instruction on what to watch for and what they see to give you that feedback. If they go off on other parts of stroke or kick, just reply politely thanks, and repeat the specific question that you originally asked. This too will work to your advantage since the one observing will see how entire body position will change with subtle changes which will raise even more curiosity. Once you've established a swimmer peer/buddy, this immediate feedback will be much more valuable than waiting to watch the video and that's when/if you can get one. Keep trying, you will eventually find a willing spirit or two.

Last edited by CoachStuartMcDougal : 01-05-2015 at 05:50 PM.
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  #40  
Old 01-05-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Then the problem is what to ask them to focus on as I'm not sure what it is that's wrong at the moment. But it is a nice idea to ponder. I'll try to figure out what to ask of them. It'll have to be simple, like: flat unbending body position, amount of shoulder out of water on each side, hand entry point, feet at the surface ... how do those sound?

A lot of stuff, like head psotion, is much more subtle than can easily be communicated: how low is too low, how high is too high, and more!

As you did with the drawings, we believe we see what is there and yet we actually see what we believe to be there. When we've seen an exemplar, and have the ahah moment, our eyes open and then it's so obvious we can't believe we didn't see it all along!
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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