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Old 11-22-2010
PASA PASA is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central California
Posts: 49

Originally Posted by suds View Post
In a few instances I've spent a good deal of time practicing a technique from the book or from a video only to discover in the forums that "we no longer teach that technique". I guess I'm not the first one to make this complaint, but it really has been frustrating and it also introduces a strange kind of uncertainty. I sometimes wonder now if I'm spending time on a drill or technique that I will later learn has been dropped or replaced. I've seen in the forums where advice has been given in terms of what video to look at first etc. It still seems that there is a lot of overlap in the materials and for the newcomer it's daunting. I've been considering purchasing more videos. I'm still not sure if "Easy Freestyle" and "Freestyle Made Easy" are the same thing. It would help a lot if there was some kind of a resource that listed all of the materials, when they were first introduced and perhaps put in an order or grouping that would help organize them. Perhaps it could be indicated which pages or chapters in the book(s) coincide (specifically) with specific lessons or sections of the videos. Perhaps some kind of glossary could clarify the names given to techniques. When they were introduced, how the names were chosen, if they've been altered or dropped over time.
suds, my first thought upon reading your post was that TI is itself following the principle of Kaizen - continuous improvement - as it has evolved over the years in seeking the best ways to help people of all levels of skill learn to swim better, or lean to swim period. But I agree that in reading some old posts has confused me at times when they refer to drills by names I don't know because my entry point into TI was the Easy Freestyle DVD. I suppose the key to learning to swim using TI principles is to use what ever starting point you happen to find first, embrace it, learn as much as possible, then look at more recent works, including this forum, as you go to help you continually improve. I found the Easy Freestyle DVD to be a wonderful teaching tool for myself, and since I feel that I've gotten pretty far using the lessons in that publication I don't have much interest in the newer self-coaching DVD. But if I were starting out today on my first steps of a self-coaching journey, I'd probably get that instead of Easy Freestyle.

I do like your idea of a TI glossary with historical terms. Perhaps the TI folks can include one in the back of the replacement for the blue and yellow book and separately publish it online.
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Old 11-22-2010
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Francisco, USA
Posts: 169

Originally Posted by drmike View Post

This is a personal quirk, but for some reason “Stroke Thoughts” always reminds me of Jack Handey, which engages the abs but defocuses my mind. IMO the original “Focal points” is more to the point, therefore more effective.

Thanks a lot! Now I will no longer be able to read "stroke thought" while keeping a straight face. (I guess that also betrays my age...)

As to the question -- I agree with several posters here. I prefer and use Focal Point. Stroke Thought always seemed a bit vague and more like an overall feeling rather than a particular aspect (even if the Focal Point I'm using is an overall feeling).

I've gotten confused and a little frustrated more than once trying to figure out the name game. I understand why they change sometimes; I just feel like I need a scorecard to keep track. IMO, "swing switch" is very evocative and makes the most sense of all the names for it.
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Old 11-22-2010
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 2,453
Default Change vs. Reinforcement

I find myself using both. Focal points works for me when I'm teaching or learning singular specific technique aspects, it's more concentrated and focused. A stroke thought for me integrates several feelings or clumps of focal points that have gelled together.

or not.

I use focal points when teaching drills or 1 x 25s of a specific technique. Stroke thought is more fluid and flowing for when swimming longer distances.

Just random thoughts. I think they refer to the same thign and the proper choice of word can be used depending on context (do you want to change a behavior or reinforce a behavior?) Hmmm
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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Old 11-22-2010
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: London, UK
Posts: 804

I prefer 'focal points' to 'stroke thoughts', since the first phrase:

1. captures the idea of concentrating on a single aspect of the stroke;

2. is more immediately intelligible, perhaps because it is already widely used to isolate an aspect of something under investigation; and

3. doesn't carry the possible implication that one is thinking about the stroke as such rather than a component of it.

On the other hand, it may be useful to distinguish the stroke aspect in question from the thought itself. 'Stroke thoughts' is better on this count.

More generally, Terry, I'm assuming the new edition of your book will deal separately with the general principles of TI freestyle (e.g. wide tracks) and the stroke thoughts that people have found helpful in implementing such principles when they swim (e.g. reaching over a barrel - not one I use, but for the sake of example). At least that's how I approach TI freestyle. Step 1: what should I be doing (general principles)? Step 2: how should I think while swimming in order that I achieve Step 1 (stroke thoughts)?

If you took this approach (I accept you may well have other ideas) then perhaps a helpful terminological distinction would be that between 'Principles' and 'Stroke Thoughts'. The first are (I think we agree) universal while the second is an open-ended category from which individuals can pick and choose as suits.
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Old 11-22-2010
bsaaditya bsaaditya is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 39
Default Definitely "Stroke Thoughts"

Here's my reasons why:
  • 'Focal Points' sounds restrictive, because it seems to place emphasis on points of improvement as opposed to organic development of the stroke. While this might be useful only for drilling, 'Stroke Thoughts' can be applied to both drills and whole stroke. It's a more positive approach that emphasizes mindfulness and continuous improvement.

  • 'Focal Points' signify a theoretical approach that might need some work on the part of the swimmer, before adapting it in pool practice. That gap is bridged with 'Stroke Thoughts,' which better signify a theory-in-practice model of improvement.

  • 'Focal Points' might project the idea that imporvement of a particular aspect of technique can be arrived at by restricting one's awareness to that aspect and concentrating more upon it, whereas 'Stroke Thoughts' encourage expanding one's awareness, the thought acting like a springboard that might lead to unforseen improvement in other areas.

So this poll's really a no-brainer for me. The potency of 'Stroke Thoughts' is tremendous and in my experience, they have helped me improve way more than concentrating on 'Focal Points.'
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Old 11-22-2010
galax galax is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 24

Originally Posted by Lawrence View Post
I prefer 'focal points' to 'stroke thoughts', since the first phrase:

1. captures the idea of concentrating on a single aspect of the stroke;
I'm agree, in my opinion "focal points" is better than "stroke thoughts"
moreover I'm fond of that terms
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Old 11-22-2010
FrankJ FrankJ is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: london
Posts: 56

To me, focal points and stroke thought convey slightly different approaches to improvement while swimming.

- Focal points conveys an idea of active focus and deep concentration, and therefore a more active and intense mental effort on the part of the swimmer.

- Stroke thoughts to me, suggests a softer approach: a frequent, but not continuous, drifting of attention towards different aspects of the stroke-arm entry, wide tracks, body rotation, etc.

In my case, trying to hard to focus has led to tension, while a softer focus has had better results. The times I truly relaxed, and the (rare) times I had a feeling of flow, it was when I was not actively trying.

Instead, I like to calmly think of my stroke, with whatever imperfections there are, and sometimes, think more on feeling how the water is moving around me, rather than how I am moving in the water.

So, I prefer the ‘stroke thoughts’ terminology….
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Old 11-22-2010
terry terry is offline
Head Coach
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,305
terry has disabled reputation

No worries on being thought "whiny." Quite the contrary, what comes across quite clearly is that you've made a serious personal investment/commitment to swimming the TI way. As someone else noted, we strive to make this Forum a safe place to express yourself, but with a few reasonable ground rules that are mainly about avoiding things that make it harder for people to scroll through threads and find the best thoughts.
[These are: (1) Quote only the pertinent part of a message, not the entire thing. (2) Physically remove, rather than delete, posts when you change your mind about them.]

A couple of these posts made me more receptive to the idea of retaining Focal Points. For me the compelling argument in that direction is that the most important result is that they facilitate Focus, which is essential to Flow States.

A couple reinforced the idea that Stroke Thoughts is preferable because it's a more direct description.

While in Asia, I gave 8 or more slide/video presentation. Doing so many gave me a chance to hone a unifying message or theme about TI, which was:

What distinguishes TI from all other swimming methods is that we've transformed what has always been viewed as (1) a lifesaving skill, (2) exercise, or (3) sport into a movement art designed to (1) increase your sense of empowerment, higher purpose, and mastery; (2) create flow experiences, and (3) help you remain youthful in body, mind and spirit.

Yoga - a 5000 year old religious tradition, from an exotic culture, employing a nearly dead language - is a $7.5 billion industry because it has done this successfully. How much might swimming gain in popularity with the same approach.

So I want to carefully, thoughfully employ language the advances that theme.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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Old 11-22-2010
hagargolf hagargolf is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 18

I'll direct my comments towards the naming convention. My vote would be to use terminology for the new book that matches the new PMF in 10 Lessons DVD.

I started doing TI by watching the Easy Freestyle DVD and at the same time got the old blue and yellow book to read as well. There was definitely confusion and a bit of frustration in the naming convention when trying to match up reading about a drill and watching it on the DVD.

I feel that as new people are introduced to TI, they will purchase the newest release of the DVD and/or book (after the new one that you are working on is written). The terminology should be the same in these two items so it is clear to new person that what they are reading about and watching is the same thing.

I also liked the idea of adding something in the Appendices that correlates the different names for the same drills through the history of the TI book/DVD releases. This will be helpful for old or current TI swimmers and coaches to maintain consistency through the practice of TI moving forward. Thanks and can't wait for the new book!
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Old 11-22-2010
danielguadagnoli danielguadagnoli is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 8

Terry, I vote Focal Points; another user said it well in that not all focal points are related to stroke elements.

Also, Stroke Thought (like Stuttgart.....) is a harsher sounding set of words to pair together than Focal Point.....maybe Stroke Focus?

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