Body Rotation - Does it generate power in itself?
Question was recently asked to me on some other forum. People are often lost between various schools of thoughts. How can it be otherwise:
- Hip drive rotation
- Serape effect
- Use of gravity
- We should avoid rotating too much
- Being anchored, swimming can't be compared to pitching a ball
- Yeah but what about inside-out swimming
These are often vaguely defined conflicting ideas. Therefore let me avoid using these concepts mentioned above, so that a definite answer be much more difficult to challenge.
For the purpose of the explanation, please allow me the assumption that there's no difference (in actual facts) between pulling yourself over the anchor point and pulling water backward. Just to simplify the explanation.
OK. There's a little dryland experiment that needs to be done to better feel/understand this explanation. It goes as follow:
1. Stand up facing a wall, wearing tight t-shirt ideally, or bare belly
2. Plant both feet at shoulder width, both parallel (so not one feet in front of the other)
3. Raise an arm/hand at shoulder height. Just one is fine. Let us take the right hand/arm. Point toward the wall. At this point, both shoulders are parallel.
4. Your hand is pointing toward the wall. Make sure you allow 6-8inches gap between finger tip, and the wall
5. Now, do rotate the whole body so that you can touch the wall with your finger tips, without moving your feet.
6. At this point, your body is rotated. One shoulder is closer to the wall than the other. Your fingers now touch the wall. Don't forget the hips, they too need to rotate in this exemple
7. Now, perform the opposite rotation. Bring the shoulder of the passive arm toward the wall, and the other shoulder (the one holding that arm/hand pointing at the all) back.
What do you notice? Your hand moved back, quite a lot.
The implications here is that your body rotation alone brought your hand from point B (touching the wall) to point C (much further back, a full foot away from the wall, maybe more depending on your arm span etc).
Now wait.. What's the goal in swimming the freestyle? Pulling water backward. Taking your hand, and by a muscular effort, bringing it back. As I said earlier, some prefer the *pull yourself over* mantra.
Well this demonstration - unless I'm missing a point (and I'm opened for debate) - confirms that the body alone, by rotating, can get the hand to travel backward.
Now where would this theory fit into actual freestyle swimming. Simply explained, your hand enters in the water (Point A) then spears then wait patiently (at Point B). It waits for what? In my humble opinion it waits for the body rotation to shorten it, to bring it back automatically. From there body takes over. Once the body finished rotating (your hand is not at Point C), arm (through muscles responsible for arm extension) take over to finish the stroke.
I'm not suggesting that this whole implication of the body is free of charge. As the body rotates, thus facilitating bringing the hand back, you still need to hold good arm/hand form, hold on to the anchor point, to propel yourself over. This is mainly achieved using powerful and strong upper back muscles.
I humbly believe that it's virtually impossible to swim fast without minimal mastery of this concept.
There's another dryland exercise which I think Coach Distance Dave explained:-
1. Stand by a wardrobe (or similar tallish object)
2. Place hand flat on top.
3. Now rotate away from your hand side.
4. Feel the pressure on your hand pressing down on the surface.
So, this one demonstrates rotation causing pressure acting in a direction along your body axis.
On a related note Charles - I've been trying your inside-out kicking idea - and got my legs to kick and stay up just from body rotation. It's like a miracle, so thanks for that!
No argument. Except for semantics. I'll argue the point in swimming is to travel forward, not pull water backwards. :)
It's an important difference becuase when *most* average swimmers think of pulling the prematurely activate the lats which drops the elbow and leaves core rotation behind.
So I like to choose a different word, "anchor" Anchor and rotate...letting momentum forward bring you to the point where you can press water back (not pull).
But...same effect you are describing here CHarles.
Agreed Sue, and I go as far as believing that this mantra can have a visible impact on one's stroke.
I just wanted to isolate the idea that the hand automatically travels backward as a result of BR.
Well said Charles, that's all you really needed say "hand travels back automatically"; the complexity unnecessary. It's really egaging the entire body, not just body roll. Coach Dave Cameron describes this nicely, breaking it into specific positions through roll engaging large muscle groups, not fatigue/injury prone shoulders. Those new to TI, this is more intermediate-advanced topic, don't worry.
Thanks for the analogies and comments; I'm pretty sure that this function (I try to visualize the "anchoring") is where I'm struggling to move effectively through the water.
CCCC aka Charles, I am not so sure what you mean with 'generating power in itself' ? If you rotate or spin fast enough you might create some heat that is able to illuminate a little LED ... maybe ...
When you talk about rotation and propulsion (in the swimming direction), this topic has a tendency to pop up time and again. But IMHO this is fairly simple: rotation doesn't give you forward propulsion. If it did, we could see the effect in the isolated movement. If it is not in the isolated movement it cannot miraculously appear in combined movements.
This friendly guy here is so kind to demonstrate the Zero forward- (or backwards-) propulsion effect of rotation - I must have forgotten who that is ;-) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfJ-slsH93s
You can clearly see that body rotation rotates the body - that's it. No mystery to discover, sorry.
My own thoughts on rotation are like this. Strictly speaking sideways body rotation when swimming forward is energy being diverted in the wrong direction. Having said that, there is a trade-off - obviously. The body rotates anyway through the mass of the recovering arm entering the water, the water resistance gets lower when not being flat in the water, the whole chain of muscles involved in swimming works better when it can rotate the body, a pendulum like movement becomes possible. So at the end of the day the positive effects of rotation are clearly bigger than the negative. It might be a good idea though to limit rotation to a 'just enough' amount.
After I successfully learned the basic (TI) freestyle stroke and developed some balance, and struggling for a long time - years in fact - to develop a smooth and effortless breathing stroke (not quite there yet), I now believe that the most crucial, most subtle and most difficult part in swimming (any style) is timing and rhythm. The flowing, so to speak. Some get it immediately and almost 'naturally', some might never get it, or have to learn it the hard way.
I particularly like the clips that you posted in that other thread, like the 'waltz' one.
And I think it is a pity that TI doesn't offer too much for this topic. Particularly since the many drills that you start with leave you with somewhat unrelated and and isolated movements which in combination with looong strokes result in some frustration when you try to incorporate perpetual swimming or faster swimming.
I am sure that Terry and Shinji and all people with effortless, effective and beautiful looking strokes depend highly on sophisticated timing and rhythm, maybe unwittingly.
BTW in general I don't really care whether people think there is propulsion resulting from rotation or not, or from where ever. I am just a little insisting here because it is not a good idea when TI creates the idea that it works with concepts that cannot really stand a physical examination. We don't want to create a cult here, right?
Yes, good point, I think (and almost mandatory to bring it up here). Although I would say that you don't even press water backwards, you in fact press your body forward and forget the anchor - just trust it's there.
hang on in there...
An Addendum. Two actually.
I just realized that in my post the relation between rotation and rhythm and timing is not quite clear.
I think that because of the rotation rhythm and timing are so crucial. You want to use your 'flow' to just rotate enough and without having to limit it 'manually', and ideally you want to create a pendulum like movement, i.e. after having initiated the bi-directional rotation you need only very little energy to maintain it. This requires great rhythm.
The other is a remark to that example given in the beginning which is to show that rotation creates the movement of the arm that creates propulsion.
In the way it is presented it is a bit misleading. It only works when you rotate the body but do not rotate the arm with the body, or in other words it is as if your body is still, you stick your arm up, and a little to the side, and then move it towards your head. That creates strain in your shoulder and the arm will eventually bump into your head, that's why it moves down. Simply physical, sorry, no mystery, again. That what causes the arm to move in the desired direction is not the rotation itself but the fact that the arm moves relative to the body.
This particular addendum, that remark, is the only one in line with my original post. The heart so to speak.
It's possible that I sometimes make the mistake, but every time it is not on purpose. One thing is sure, in this thread, I make the effort of avoiding this.
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