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  #1  
Old 04-14-2012
Earl Earl is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2009
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Earl
Default Catch and Pull ... Looking for a Technique Stategy

Hi All:

Lord knows I have focused on balance, on extending my body line, on a quiet two-beat kick, on rag-doll recovery arms, on a mail-slot hand entry, on just the right amount of body rotation, on laser-beaming from the top of my head to the far wall, on hip drive, on making fewer bubbles, on maintaining a low stroke count, on bilateral breathing (while extending my leading arm through the breath), on breathing out steadily through my nose, on keeping one goggle wet, and on bi-stroke symmetry via miles and miles with the Finis TT Trainer beeping in my ear.

I have purchased "Freestyle Made Easy" and studied and drilled everything therein (from superman glide to extra air flip-turns.) I have watched Terry demonstrate freestyle at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC8ZZ...=plpp_video; I

I have watched Shinji glide through the water as fishlike as a manatee at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJpFV...re=plpp_video;, and I have studied the water ballet performed by Terry and Shinji at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFmnJ...ure=plpp_video.

During all of that, I have patiently buried my feelings of insecurity related to my catch and pull. I have read the warnings about possible shoulder injury from early vertical forearm, and have read and deeply respect Terryís description of the soft hook at http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...04&postcount=5. I understand the warnings (such as those of CoachSuzanne at http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...1&postcount=10) that an old fart like me (Iím 59) simply may not have what it takes to swim with an early vertical forearm, and that even if I can learn the technique, my time might be better spent working on active streamlining (or underwater basket-weaving).

Finally, I understand that TIís decision to place strong emphasis on balance and streamline and to de-emphasize "the pull" ďisnít a simple matter of neglecting a part of the stroke .... It's a Values Statement.Ē See Terryís Comments at http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...8&postcount=43.

But, dang it all, I'm out of patience. I want a killer catch and pull (and I want them now.) I at least gotta try me some early vertical forearm just to find out for myself whether it will make me a better swimmer or just a swimmer with sore shoulders.

So, with that mindset, I combed through the TI forums and even ventured into forbiddenóYes! Forbidden web sites!óin search of a drill, or visualization or other technique that would help me conquer the mystical EVF. Against all odds, I found a video that made some sense to me. Oh sure, it was full of misinformation. (For example: ďwhen the leading arm is fully extended, the back of the hand must be as close to the surface of the water as possible.Ē (What the heck is that about?)) But it also had several nuggets that seemed golden to me.

The video points out that the paddle we use to push and pull ourselves through the water is comprised of the part of the arm that lies between the elbow and the tips of the fingers. The video proposes a drill to keep the upper arm high and nearly parallel to the surface of the water. The early forearm drop is achieved by thinking about trying to lift the shoulder slightly and trying to lift the elbow over and in front of the hand. (Itís impossible to do, but it is a good mental focus point.) You can find this video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3ctB...ure=plpp_video, but beware the occasional misinformation that is presented.

Anyway, I have been working this drill all week (often with a pair of fins and a swimmerís snorkel). I think Iím doing it right, and (miracle of miracles!) itís just not that hard to do. It feels like a pretty good catch and pull, and I have pretty consistently taken a stroke or two off my old stroke counts. Still, I havenít used a stop watch on it yet so Iím not sure itís giving me more speed. I know for sure that it is working my arms, shoulders and lats in a different way, because those muscles are tiring much quicker than before I made the change. (Iím thinking that those muscles will rise to the challenge after I work them a few more weeks.)

I guess Iím wondering if anyone else would be interested in looking at the drills at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3ctB...ure=plpp_video and offering an opinion as to whether itís hogwash or good advice. Even better, perhaps some of you could try these drills along with me so we could discuss whether the changes created in our strokes are good or bad.

For my part, I promise Iíll keep paying attention to the fundamentals (balance, extension, quiet two-beat kick, rag-doll recovery arms, mail-slot hand entry, the right amount of body rotation, laser-beaming from my head, hip drive, few bubbles, low stroke count, bilateral breathing and TT Trainer-induced symmetry (beeb Ö.. beeb Ö.. beeb Ö.. beeb Ö etc.).

Thanks for letting me ramble.

Earl
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2012
Janos Janos is offline
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Default

Hi Earl, video showing EVF explains the mechanics of the technique, but it is interesting that he does not then progress to whole stroke, to demonstrate the effectiveness of a good catch. My own thoughts are that the arm is far too high in the water, for a usable and sustainable catch. A point made in the comments below the video about how low the swimmers legs are. The concept of EVF is simple to imagine, but it is a challenge to rotate the humerus in preference to just dropping the elbow when swimming. It is just a question of drilling this thought into your head, and reminding yourself that the action must help to send your torso forward, not up or down. I was always under the impression that if you have a range of movement within a joint, and you can maintain form throughout that range of movement, then it is perfectly safe. The danger surely must only come with hyper-extension at the end of range, or overstretching ligaments and weakening the integrity of the joint. I say go for it, whatever your age. If recent threads are anything to go by, it confirms TI is progressive, so you should train accordingly. :-)

Janos
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2012
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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westyswoods
Default Physical Limitations To A Good Catch

Too often individuals view the ideal and forget what is behind it. Very few of us will even come close to an ideal EVF or good catch as shown in many online videos.

I for one have been trying to improve, yes the word is improve my catch for a couple of years now. I have found that my age 65 and previous injuries are very limiting factors. Flexibility in the shoulder area is a critical piece of the puzzle. Until about three months ago my morning routine included at least 45 minutes of stretching, I found dramatic improvement in my EVF. Have not been to the pool a great deal in the last couple of months and morning routine has fallen off due to other things. Definitely see a difference though.

I don't follow the thought that an EVF creates shoulder injury. I got serious about it as a result of sore shoulders. If done properly and within your own physical limitations, I would believe pressure on shoulders is taken away.

The keys to this are: 1. Wide tracks 2. Use core rotation 3. Don't pull with shoulder use the large muscle of back (lats)

Some time ago there was a great underwater video posted by I believe Coach Brian showing a drill called, The Sketch Drill, this is a great start for development of a good catch. I practice it with a snorkel which really allows for good feel and form.

Have A Great Day

Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
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  #4  
Old 04-14-2012
Earl Earl is offline
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Earl
Default Thanks

Thanks Janos and Westy for your thoughts.

Following up on Westy’s reply, I searched the net and found Coach Brian’s “Skatch Drill” video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZXX9XHx0mM and his blog on the subject at http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/T...tch-Drill.html. (“Skatch” is shorthand for “skating-catch.”) Both the video and the blog were very helpful.

In his blog, Coach Brian advises: “When we reach full extension with the lead arm, the elbow is typically pointing down. Rotating the elbow just a bit so that it points more to the side can allow the hand to come towards the body while the elbow stays in place. That's how a vertical catch happens.” I have practiced that move a few times here at my computer desk, and I believe it is exactly the same move that the guy at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3ctB...ure=plpp_video was trying to describe, only instead of saying “rotate the elbow just a bit,” he describes the move thusly: “Think about sending the elbow over the hand, anchoring the hand at the front of the stroke and trying to keep it there as we bring the elbow over the hand.” Id. At 1:45-1:52. This is just a mental image, of course. The video explains that “you won’t be able to achieve that [the elbow going over the hand], but if you’re thinking about trying to do that, you’ll end up with the catch in the right position.” Id. At 1:52-1:59. Anyway, I get the same motion and feeling using Coach Brian’s instruction as I got using the “elbow over the hand” instruction. What pleases me is that—with your help—I’ve been able to confirm through Coach Brian (a source I know I can trust) that this is the catch motion that I should be looking for.

It’s often very difficult to know whether a change in swimming technique is helping you or hurting you. You can’t see yourself in the water and often the change that you’re working on only produces subtle effects, especially at first. I’m wary of taking advice from many internet swim sites, and so being able to confirm a bit of information through Terry or one of his TI coaches (in whom I have tremendous confidence) is comforting.

Janos, I think your comment that the swimmer has his arm far too high in the water is right on. I think spearing to a deeper entry (as TI teaches) avoids a lot of problems. On the range of motion and shoulder question, I haven’t felt any pain (just fatigue that I think is caused by using those muscles in a way I’m not used to using them), so I suspect you are right that it is safe. In any event, I will try to focus on using my lats more than my shoulders (as Westy suggested).

Earl

Last edited by Earl : 04-14-2012 at 06:38 PM.
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2012
Ladyfish Ladyfish is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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Posts: 65
Ladyfish
Default Time for a camcorder!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl View Post
Itís often very difficult to know whether a change in swimming technique is helping you or hurting you. You canít see yourself in the water .....l
Hi Earl,

Having invested so much time and effort into your swimming certainly justifies the purchase of a waterproof camcorder so you can see what you are doing. I have a Kodak Play Sport and also a Flip Cam with the underwater housing. They both work well and are very easy to use. They cost about $150 each. I find a flexible plastic tripod (called a "Gorillapod") is ideal because you can hang it on the edge of the pool(the camera hangs upside down) and film yourself underwater from every angle without a helper to hold the camera.

A magnifier/hood is a nice accessory that lets you easily watch the playback on the tiny display.

You can play the vids back on your computer, put them on Youtube, make screenshots and compare yourself move-by-move with the masters Terry and Shinji. You can also post them to this forum here for feedback.The possibilities are endless.

Be forewarned though....once you are able to do this you will have a new way to obsess about your swimming BUT you will also be able to identify flaws and see when you have corrected them.

So let's say you want to try the EVF. Film a swim of about 50-100 yds with that focus then immediately view yourself on the camera and you will see if your position was correct or not. Instant feedback is an awesome learning tool.
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Ironman Series Books "Fearless Swimming For Triathletes (Meyer & Meyer 2011)" and "Functional Strength For Triathletes (Meyer & Meyer 2012)" and others
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  #6  
Old 04-15-2012
Earl Earl is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 10
Earl
Default Great Idea

What a great idea. After all, I deserve it, right?

When my son-in-law and I started learning TI (about four years ago), I made a waterproof case for my camcorder, but it was very primitive. (Once you sealed the camera inside the case, you couldn't see the viewfinder, so you just had to kind of point the whole thing in the right direction and hope for the best.) I don't think we got any useful video.

Anyway, thanks for the idea. I'm going to take a look on Amazon.com and see what I can find.

Earl
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  #7  
Old 04-15-2012
CoachStuartMcDougal's Avatar
CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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CoachStuartMcDougal
Default Vivitar DVR 850W, $70!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl View Post
What a great idea. After all, I deserve it, right?

Earl
Hey Earl, It's not that you deserve it, like a tempo trainer, uw cam should always be in your bag.

Here's a gem I use in TI Workshops and private lessons, Vivitar - excellent and below $100. $70 at Target ... Vivitar DVR 850W

Happy Swimming and Cam-ing!

Stuart

Last edited by CoachStuartMcDougal : 04-15-2012 at 02:59 AM. Reason: correct cam url
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  #8  
Old 04-15-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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andyinnorway
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl View Post

Janos, I think your comment that the swimmer has his arm far too high in the water is right on. I think spearing to a deeper entry (as TI teaches) avoids a lot of problems. On the range of motion and shoulder question, I havenít felt any pain (just fatigue that I think is caused by using those muscles in a way Iím not used to using them), so I suspect you are right that it is safe. In any event, I will try to focus on using my lats more than my shoulders (as Westy suggested).

Earl
I think there is something in that comment. EVF is much easier when your spear high in the water.

I am not sure but I think part of Terry®s rationale for deep spear, is that as well as assisting you with balance, it also makes it easy to get the hand flopped and moving backwards in a stress free manner, rather than focusing on a more elite EVF. The result is more of an otter movement, great paws, relaxed arms.
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  #9  
Old 04-15-2012
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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westyswoods
Default Magnifier Hood

Ladyfish,

What is a magnifier hood?


Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
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  #10  
Old 04-15-2012
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyinnorway View Post
I think there is something in that comment. EVF is much easier when your spear high in the water.

I am not sure but I think part of Terry®s rationale for deep spear, is that as well as assisting you with balance, it also makes it easy to get the hand flopped and moving backwards in a stress free manner, rather than focusing on a more elite EVF. The result is more of an otter movement, great paws, relaxed arms.
Spearing high will drop the hips and put unnecessary pressure on rotator cuff, as well as come in flat and not take advantage of weight shift. And worse, palm facing at pool bottom, not anchoring facing back. EVF is more associated with a "pull" context, not an anchor position. That said however, with correct body position and its precise timing, you get the EVF as a consequence - without having to think about its placement. UW recovery arm will find its leverage.

Here's "Six frames of Shinji", front view, taken from his Before/After TI video from 0:32. At risk of being cliche', six frames are worth a thousand words

Cheers,

Stuart
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