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Old 12-19-2009
terry terry is offline
Head Coach
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,305
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Originally Posted by HandsHeal View Post
“Ease” has a rather abstract meaning. That stroke thought might not be generally effective, because of the wide variation in skill levels, and thus internal representations, coming to TI.
I've enjoyed this thread because it has resulted in group-articulation of principles for learning and improving, many of which are commonly overlooked by swimmers in their unexamined pursuit of more speed, more endurance or any tangible goal.

You raise two key points here: (1) the influence of internal representations - i.e. the concepts that guide our actions; and (2) the importance of giving instruction that facilitates the specific goals and outcomes that are so essential.

So let's consider the word "ease" in both of those contexts:

1) A concept that guides our actions. We posit ease as an "organizing principle" or a "highly valued general goal" of swimming. This is critically important because it counters the traditional or prevailing orthodoxy that "hard is good" and "harder is better." If you believe the prevailing orthodoxy then an overarching thought at the beginning of a repeat, set or race will be "Swim hard." With that as your goal, it's virtually guaranteed you WILL swim harder. It's nowhere near as certain that you'll swim BETTER. And as Ames noted above, one very likely side effect of "Swim Hard" as an intention will be that you tense up. And that will hurt your effectiveness.

So for us to posit ease as a foundational goal is important in changing concepts.

2) However simply doing so isn't enough. Therefore we translate ease into specific stroke thoughts in many ways. Here are just a few:
  • Hang your head.
  • Hang your hand.
  • Cooperate with gravity.
  • Featherlight catch. (Or "Gather moonbeams.")
  • Rotate less. (Swim OFF your stomach, not ON your side.)
  • "Nudge" your hip.
  • Get your legs to "draft behind" your torso.
  • "Flick" your toes.

And those are just instructions on "mechanical" ease. Then we have a whole range of instructions for "strategic" ease, such as my thoughts on how to swim faster: (1) Focus on sustainability, not velocity. (2) Reduce the resistive force of the water before increasing the propulsive force you generate. (3) Work the "math" of speed - training your brain for better combinations of SL and SR - rather than heedlessly whipping your limbs faster.

I could go on.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 12-19-2009 at 04:14 PM.
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