This week’s drill is an old standby that has survived the test of time for well over 30 years. Must mean there’s something to it. It’s offers a great way to focus on fast hands in the breaststroke recovery.
Why Do It:
Head-Up Breaststroke with a Dolphin Kick, is a drill that teaches fast hands not only FORWARD (on the recovery), but also backward, sideways and through the entire part of the pull. The hands HAVE to get back out front quickly, or the face will drop into the water. With just a small dolphin kick to hold you up, you’ll also need to speed up your outsweep and insweep to make sure you stay up on top.
Some coaches and swimmers might argue that drills such as this get the body out of its most effective position, and thus are useless. But I believe that teaching your hands, forearms, and entire arm how to produce leverage, or propulsion, is a great way to awaken parts of the arm that are not usually asked to perform. After doing this drill, when the body gets back into a more proper position, the arms will work even better.
How To Do It:
1. For younger swimmers such as our ‘demo guy," I like to use a pull buoy to allow them to focus more on their arms. When swimmers start to get bigger, stronger, and more mature, they can drop the pull buoy, and really hammer this out.
2. The swimmer is allowed ONE dolphin kick per pull cycle, continuing to build a proper body rhythm into this drill.
3. The goal is to allow NO part of the head or face to go in the water. As you can see from the video, even as fast as our swimmer is turning over his breaststroke, his face is still partially going in. The swimmer will be asked to fight this, requiring him (her) to begin the outsweep part of the stroke IMMEDIATELY. When compared with the longer drills we’ve posted, this starts to play the stroke game from both sides of the equation — long and smooth, or short and powerful. This can help the athlete discover the stroke that’s best for him or her. It also gives a great workout along the way.
4. Try to look down. This drill has a tendency to cause the swimmer’s head to tilt up and back, as they try to keep their chin dry. It’s better to allow the face to go in for a bit, than to allow the eyes and head to tilt back.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
When done correctly, this is a very demanding drill. This should NOT be done for long distances, and the goal is NOT to tire the swimmer. Rather, this drill should be done for very short distances with maximum effort. I like to mix 25s of Head-Up Fast Hands with 25s of easy free. The intervals are usually very easy as well, to make sure the swimmer is READY to give maximum effort to the drill.
If you notice that the swimmers are NOT being extremely aggressive with this drill, then it’s time to switch to stretch-cord butterfly. At least give them that option, and you’ll probably see more effort on these short, quick sprints.