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  #1  
Old 12-12-2009
terry terry is offline
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Default A Summary: How much to rotate (or not)

On a separate forum we set up for internal discussion of teachinq questions among TI Coaches, there was a question posed that I thought would be of value for members of the general forum, so I'm reposting it here for your edification or comment.

The Question
Shouldn't we encourage & teach swimmers to develop a range of degrees of rotation just as we encourage them to develop a range of stroke counts & TT settings.

My Reply
I can sum up my thinking about how much to rotate as follows:

1. Rotate just enough to get the job done. How much is "enough?" Enough to: (a) reduce drag, (b) lengthen the bodyline; (c) allow for power-producing weight shifts.
2. Clearing the shoulder and bringing the hip to the surface seems - empirically - enough to accomplish all of that.
3. Is there any potential benefit to rotating farther than that? If there is I haven't observed it (as a teacher) or felt it (as a swimmer).
4. Are there potential costs to rotating farther? Emphatically yes, which I have both observed in students and felt as a swimmer. These include: (a) increase in instability/discomfort - leading to use of the arms and legs for "steadying" movements; (b) the instability and introduction of steadying movements also increase drag and turbulence; (c) moving one's body mass a greater distance requires more power -- we have also observed students using a leg "windup" or "whip" to generate that increased power to rotate in the other direction; and (d) a reduction in Stroke Rate, because it takes longer to rotate further; if SL does not increase as SR goes down, that reduces speed potential.

Having observed and felt all that, I have trouble seeing a case for teaching a "range of rotations." We may in fact observe a range of rotations (perhaps an outcome of teaching a range of Stroke Lengths which I feel is essential in the TI Coaches toolkit) and perhaps decide to leave it alone, but that's very different from consciously teaching that range.

In general, in recent months I've actively gone in the opposite direction - teaching people to limit their rotation. All the feedback I've received has been positive. They feel more stable, and as a result feel they can make a firmer, better-controlled, catch.

If anyone wants to advocate a different case -- that there are benefits to teaching a "range of rotation" -- I'm all ears.

On the separate question of how more rotation could make it harder to breathe, I don't think it's a matter of head position. It would more likely be that when a swimmer rotates farther, they find it more difficult to maintain a "patient" lead hand. As the lead hand/arm collapses or drifts toward the center -- both of which are very common -- the breathing position feels distinctly less comfortable.
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Last edited by terry : 12-12-2009 at 06:30 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-12-2009
naj naj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1. Rotate [I
just enough[/i] to get the job done. How much is "enough?" Enough to: (a) reduce drag, (b) lengthen the bodyline; (c) allow for power-producing weight shifts.
2. Clearing the shoulder and bringing the hip to the surface seems - empirically - enough to accomplish all of that.
3. Is there any potential benefit to rotating farther than that? If there is I haven't observed it (as a teacher) or felt it (as a swimmer).
4. Are there potential costs to rotating farther? Emphatically yes, which I have both observed in students and felt as a swimmer. These include: (a) increase in instability/discomfort - leading to use of the arms and legs for "steadying" movements; (b) the instability and introduction of steadying movements also increase drag and turbulence; (c) moving one's body mass a greater distance requires more power -- we have also observed students using a leg "windup" or "whip" to generate that increased power to rotate in the other direction; and (d) a reduction in Stroke Rate, because it takes longer to rotate further; if SL does not increase as SR goes down, that reduces speed potential.
Terry, when you re-explained this concept too me at the workshop it became crystal clear that I had abandoned my discipline of rotating just enough to rotating too much creating imbalance. I have been working on rotating just enough to clear my shoulder and concentrating on how this makes me feel. It will be an ongoing process but one I look forward to getting better at.

Keep Swimming!
Naji
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  #3  
Old 12-12-2009
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
On the separate question of how more rotation could make it harder to breathe, I don't think it's a matter of head position. It would more likely be that when a swimmer rotates farther, they find it more difficult to maintain a "patient" lead hand. As the lead hand/arm collapses or drifts toward the center -- both of which are very common -- the breathing position feels distinctly less comfortable.
Just to offer more proof of what you say here Terry ... not that any is needed.

I have mentioned on a thread here somewhere that my breathing to the right is more difficult than to the left. Since I "want" air and realize it is difficult at times I tend to over-rotate giving my face clear aim at the air. While doing this the left extended arm tends to sweep in towards the center ... full-filling what you have said. When I force myself to keep that arm extended things work out better.

It is clarity of points like this "how far ..." that makes things more easily understood for me, at least . Way back ... you suggested that I not become over concerned with my weak kick as the 2BK would work things out. This too "has come to pass..."Thanks.
Mike
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  #4  
Old 12-13-2009
ewa.swimmer ewa.swimmer is offline
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Maybe "range of rotations" would be a handy skill for those of us who swim in sometimes rough open water. I try to have minimum shoulder rotation when the water is flat but when it starts to get rough I have to adust that so I can get a breath.

It would be helpful to know what other parts of my stroke I should adjust if I should rotate my shoulders.
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  #5  
Old 12-13-2009
daveblt daveblt is offline
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Terry

In the original TI book we were supposed to end up in a nearly side lying position and were supposed to point the belly button towards the wall as we rotated . Like the book said swimming flat is swimming like a barge and swimming on your side is like a yacht. So now if we are just clearing the shoulders as we swim is it still swimming like a yacht ? Then we come to the breathing . Advice was that if you can't find air when you roll then roll farther however this possibly meant that your body could also sink more if your shoulders were stacked. One of the coaches recently mentioned if you rotate less when you breathe it may be easier to find air because your body is more stable ? Where do we draw the line on how much to roll when we breathe ? And also the question is do we get all the same benefits of rolling just enough as compared to the amount we used to roll ?


Dave
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  #6  
Old 12-13-2009
trondi trondi is offline
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So far I haven't done any open water swimming - more of that later. In a pool though I tend to rotate different amounts according to the swim type and distance.

For example sprints up to 400m I don't rotate a great deal, just enough to grab some air and keep my sprint rhythm going - focussing much more on breathing out fully. For 800/1500m races where my pace is slower and strokes per length is proportionally less I know I naturally roll much further - 90deg to my breathing side and 30/40 deg the other.

My coach and I continually try to focus on minimising the larger roll as it definitely slows my speed down. For me this is difficult as I try to limit my stroke count to 15 per 25m and therefore if I miss a breath that also can make my pace drop off temporarily too, so I do naturally want to give a bigger window of opportunity to breathe fully EVERY stroke by rolling a bit further than I should for maximum pace to be maintained.

I hope to start sea swim racing next year and will definitely need to think through and practice the whole deal with breathing/roll/sighting from scratch? Will a swell, choppy seas tend to induce more roll, change my breathing routines? Only time will tell - but if anyone has some advice it will be gratefully received.

Dave
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  #7  
Old 12-13-2009
terry terry is offline
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Where we used to teach "Swim ON your side" we now teach Swim OFF your stomach. The point wasn't really to swim "like a yacht" but to do what you could to reduce drag. Rotation is only one of the drag-reduction strategies. And similarly, reducing drag is only one of the benefits of rotation.

As for the fact that rotation will adjust as you change speed or tempo, yes that's true. The key point is what thought mechanism or intention is best to make that happen. Your goal isn't to rotate more - or less. Your goal is to swim farther - or faster.

To swim farther, you strive to improve your economy so you can sustain your pace without fatigue. One -- among many --things you may do to swim more efficiently is slightly increase rotation. But your thought isn't "now I have to rotate more" it's "now I have to swim with more ease."
When I decide to reduce my SPL from, say, 15 to 14, the efficiency circuits in my brain and neuromuscular system direct my muscles to adjust their action in various ways. One of the unconscious adjustments may be an increase in rotation.

Going the other way, if I adjust my Tempo Trainer from a Stroke Rate of 1.1 sec/stroke to a rate of 1.0 sec/stroke (to swim faster) my brain and neuromuscular system will give my muscles a different set of instructions, one of which is likely to be a slight reduction in rotation.

That's different from having a practice goal of varying rotation. It seems to me that rotation responds naturally to other inputs - the intention to swim with more ease or more speed.
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  #8  
Old 12-13-2009
CoachKevin CoachKevin is offline
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This is coming in from a thread I started on the Coach's Forum...
Quote:
Originally Posted by terry
I can sum up my thinking about how much to rotate as follows:

1. Rotate just enough to get the job done. How much is "enough?" Enough to: (a) reduce drag, (b) lengthen the bodyline; (c) allow for power-producing weight shifts.


But power producing weight shifts don't come in a one-size-fits-all context, do they? If a swimmer wants to go faster, at some point, they have to generate more power in some way. One way to do that could be more energetic (better) weight shifts within the same degree of rotation, but won't larger degrees of rotation, within limits, accoplish the same goal? And to extend that logic, won't limited, larger rotations, done more energetically provide even more power?

Quote:
Originally Posted by terry
2. Clearing the shoulder and bringing the hip to the surface seems - empirically - enough to accomplish all of that. 3. Is there any potential benefit to rotating further than that? If there is I haven't observed it (as a teacher) or felt it (as a swimmer).
4. Are there potential costs to rotating further? Emphatically yes, which I have both observed in students and felt as a swimmer. These include: (a) increase in instability/discomfort - leading to use of the arms and legs for "steadying" movements; (b) the instability and introduction of steadying movements also increased drag and turbulence; (c) moving one's body mass a greater distance requires more power -- we have also observed students using a leg "windup" or "whip" to generate that increased power to rotate in the other direction; and (d) a reduction in Stroke Rate, because it takes longer to rotate further; if SL does not increase as SL goes down, that reduces speed potential.


Terry, when I watch your Perpetual Motion video on YouTube I see what looks like a good 45 degrees of rotation to both sides. I stopped it at :32 & :35 seconds in. A little further on, in the Coral springs pool, at about 1:22 & 1:25 it looks the same from underwater. Am I seeing it wrong?


Quote:
Originally Posted by terry
Having observed and felt all that, I have trouble seeing a case for teaching a "range of rotations." We may in fact observe a range of rotations (perhaps an outcome of teaching a range of Stroke Lengths which I feel is essential in the TI Coaches toolkit) and perhaps decide to leave it alone, but that's very different from consciously teaching that range. In general, in recent months I've actively gone in the opposite direction - teaching people to limit their rotation. All the feedback I've received has been positive. They feel more stable, and as a result feel they can make a firmer, better-controlled, catch. If anyone wants to advocate a different case -- that there are benefits to teaching a "range of rotation," I'm all ears.

I asked that question because I've always been under the impression that (rhythmic) rotation is the genesis of propulsion as we teach it. We may now teach that a correctly timed kick is the genesis, but the overwhelming majority of propulsive force comes from the (core) rotations, doesn't it?

I think this begs another question - realizing that SL is how far the body travels not how far a swimmer reaches forward, is better rotation enough to facilitate that or does a swimmer need a combination of better & more rotation to get the most (distance, speed, even ease) out of each stroke?

Quote:
Originally Posted by terry
On the separate question of how more rotation could make it harder to breathe, I don't think it's a matter of head position. It would more likely be that when a swimmer rotates farther, they find it more difficult to maintain a "patient" lead hand. As the lead hand/arm collapses or drifts toward the center -- both of which are very common -- the breathing position feels distinctly less comfortable.

I can see how too much rotation can cause the lead hand to wander inward, but isn't the propensity for the lead hand to wander downward primarily, if not solely, a balance issue? This is where I most often see labored breathing - poor balance leads a swimmer to both press down for support & lift up to breathe, together causing the body to sink. Once they learn the counter-intuitive skill of pressing, it mitigates the desire to press down, allowing them to roll leisurely to breathe.

Isn't this issue of How Much Rotation also at the heart of why we stopped teaching swimmers to "stack" the hips & shoulders? Left to their own devices both after workshops or having gone down the self-help route, they swam with too much rotation, practically imitating the drills. Because we taught them to drill that way, they then swam that way. We just didn't do a good job of connecting the dots for them. By that I mean we didn't make it clear that "stacked" was a drill thing, necessary to learn how to rotate in the first place, but whatever (range of) rotation allowed them to swim with flow was the swim thing.
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  #9  
Old 12-14-2009
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
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As to the degree of rotation and it's impact on ease of breathing - let's make sure we are pursuing the correct goal. After all, the easiest way to breathe is in head-up breast stroke. What we seek is the most efficient form for freestyle. It might not be the easiest, but it can get easier with practice.

To some extent, the body is like an ice cube or a block of wood. A certain amount of the body will be above water, depending on the density of the body. So in a flat position, the distance from your mouth to the air is less than in a "stacked position". The less rotated a body is, the closer the mouth is to the air. Unfortunately, only the young lady in exorcist can breathe easily in a flat position.

Rotation accomplishes two things, and is a by product of a third:

1. Rotation allows the arm to come out of the water for a low drag recovery. If the arm doesn't come out, you create a lot of drag.

2. When the head moves with the rotation of the body, the mouth comes to the air allowing a breath.

3. Beyond that, rotation is a by-product of the weight shift and extension. As I move from track to track, there is rotation. As I extend my wrist through my target, I add a bit more rotation. But it's not my goal to rotate, my goal is to hold water with one arm and drive my other arm forward with my body.

One final point - As far as I can tell, an extended body line, whether flat or rotated presents the same amount of frontal resistance to the water. Is it truly more streamlined to be on your side? My experimentation shows little difference. Perhaps I'll experiment again,as I'ts been a long time since I did, and my Superman Glide has gotten better.
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  #10  
Old 12-14-2009
CoachKevin CoachKevin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naj View Post
Terry, when you re-explained this concept too me at the workshop it became crystal clear that I had abandoned my discipline of rotating just enough to rotating too much creating imbalance. I have been working on rotating just enough to clear my shoulder and concentrating on how this makes me feel. It will be an ongoing process but one I look forward to getting better at.
naj, when you experienced what you describe as imbalance, did it happen simply because you rotated more or because you didn't "press" as well when you rotated more? Did your your head position change or did your lead hand position change with more rotation? If you're not sure, try it on purpose next time you're at the pool & see what you find out.
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