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Old 09-05-2015
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Default Focal points for 200 breaststroke

Three years ago, I began training for 200 breaststroke - an event that at one time had seemed to be an impossible dream, since I was running out of steam by the end of a 50 breaststroke. I finally had a chance to do the event in competition for the first time this year. Here is the set of focal points I used in my practices (I actually used these same focal points, with one exception, when I swam it in competition, and kept track of which length I was on by what focal point I was using):

1st 25: Nose down at stroke cycle end
I used this focal point to counter the tendency many of us have to keep looking forward at all times when doing breaststroke. Focusing on pointing my nose at the bottom of the pool at the end of each stroke cycle helped to insure that I returned to a streamlined/superman glide body position at the end of each stroke.

2nd 25: Look down when breathing
One of the inherent inefficiencies in breaststroke (which cause it to be the slowest of the 4 competitive strokes) is the need to break out of a streamlined horizontal body position in order to breathe. Focusing on looking down when breathing helped me to minimize the degree to which I did this. Part of the benefit undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that it forced me to used the markings on the bottom of the pool (rather than looking forward) to determine when I was approaching the wall.

3rd 25: Reach full extension
The objective of this focal point was similar to that in the first focal point, except that the focus was on arm position rather than head position when returning to a streamlined/superman glide body position.

4th 25: Toes pointed at stroke cycle end
The focus here was on streamlining the lower body at the end of each stroke cycle. There are really 3 phases to a breaststroke kick, and the second phase consists of snapping your legs into a straight position, parallel to the spine, with your toes pointed in line with your legs. If I'm doing this part of the kick properly, I feel my body soar as my legs and toes snap into this position.

5th 25: Heels before toes
My ankles have become more flexible since I first began doing breaststroke in 2000, but pointing my toes far enough apart on the first part of the kick has always been a struggle for me. So in this focal point, I try to exaggerate the toe spread by actually trying to have my heels kick back faster than my toes. I can't really achieve this, but focusing on trying to do it causes me to spread my toes more than I would otherwise do.

6th 25: Spread before recovery
In this focal point, I focus on perfecting the timing of my armstroke and kick. I focus on not beginning the third phase of the kick (the recovery) until my arms reach their maximum spread and I am about to circle them inward. The goal is to be ready to spear my arms forward as I am about to begin the first phase of the kick (in which you point your toes outward and kick back), thereby kicking my arms forward.

7th 25: Do mini-pull
This shifts the focus of the armstroke from propulsion to minimizing drag. Another of the inherent inefficiencies of breaststroke is the fact that the arms can't be lifted out of the water when they are being recovered, so it is possible, if your recovery is poor, to lose much of the momentum you gained through the armstroke and kick.

8th 25: Focus on moving forward
This focal point calls on the brain to employ all of the skills that were honed by the previous focal points and use them to maximize forward motion. It's a particularly nice focal point to use at the end of a race!


Bob

Last edited by CoachBobM : 09-05-2015 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 09-05-2015
Grant Grant is offline
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Great post Bob. These focal points are very valuable. Your post encourages me to spend more time practicing my slow breast stroke.
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2016
deggy1
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachBobM View Post
Three years ago, I began training for 200 breaststroke - an event that at one time had seemed to be an impossible dream, since I was running out of steam by the end of a 50 breaststroke. I finally had a chance to do the event in competition for the first time this year. Here is the set of focal points I used in my practices (I actually used these same focal points, with one exception, when I swam it in competition, and kept track of which length I was on by what focal point I was using):

1st 25: Nose down at stroke cycle end
I used this focal point to counter the tendency many of us have to keep looking forward at all times when doing breaststroke. Focusing on pointing my nose at the bottom of the pool at the end of each stroke cycle helped to insure that I returned to a streamlined/superman glide body position at the end of each stroke.

2nd 25: Look down when breathing
One of the inherent inefficiencies in breaststroke (which cause it to be the slowest of the 4 competitive strokes) is the need to break out of a streamlined horizontal body position in order to breathe. Focusing on looking down when breathing helped me to minimize the degree to which I did this. Part of the benefit undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that it forced me to used the markings on the bottom of the pool (rather than looking forward) to determine when I was approaching the wall.

3rd 25: Reach full extension
The objective of this focal point was similar to that in the first focal point, except that the focus was on arm position rather than head position when returning to a streamlined/superman glide body position.

4th 25: Toes pointed at stroke cycle end
The focus here was on streamlining the lower body at the end of each stroke cycle. There are really 3 phases to a breaststroke kick, and the second phase consists of snapping your legs into a straight position, parallel to the spine, with your toes pointed in line with your legs. If I'm doing this part of the kick properly, I feel my body soar as my legs and toes snap into this position.

5th 25: Heels before toes
My ankles have become more flexible since I first began doing breaststroke in 2000, but pointing my toes far enough apart on the first part of the kick has always been a struggle for me. So in this focal point, I try to exaggerate the toe spread by actually trying to have my heels kick back faster than my toes. I can't really achieve this, but focusing on trying to do it causes me to spread my toes more than I would otherwise do.

6th 25: Spread before recovery
In this focal point, I focus on perfecting the timing of my armstroke and kick. I focus on not beginning the third phase of the kick (the recovery) until my arms reach their maximum spread and I am about to circle them inward. The goal is to be ready to spear my arms forward as I am about to begin the first phase of the kick (in which you point your toes outward and kick back), thereby kicking my arms forward.

7th 25: Do mini-pull
This shifts the focus of the armstroke from propulsion to minimizing drag. Another of the inherent inefficiencies of breaststroke is the fact that the arms can't be lifted out of the water when they are being recovered, so it is possible, if your recovery is poor, to lose much of the momentum you gained through the armstroke and kick.

8th 25: Focus on moving forward
This focal point calls on the brain to employ all of the skills that were honed by the previous focal points and use them to maximize forward motion. It's a particularly nice focal point to use at the end of a race!


Bob

I'm just starting to practice breast stroke too after spending so much time focusing on just front crawl freestyle. Great step-by-step and intuitive break-down of stroke technique. I'll definitely be using this as a guide.

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Old 05-09-2016
deggy1
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deggy1 View Post
I'm just starting to practice breast stroke too after spending so much time focusing on just front crawl freestyle. Great step-by-step and intuitive break-down of stroke technique. I'll definitely be using this as a guide.

Have always struggled getting the technique with this stroke. Just popped for a quick 30 minutes session on my lunch break and tried out a few of the pointers, really helped, already feels smoother than I remember. Thanks again.



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  #5  
Old 05-12-2016
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Glad it was helpful!


Bob
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