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All Strokes – Heads-Up Sculling

In an effort to keep practices varied, and the sport fun, coaches are constantly trying to think up drills. Here’s one that combines new and different with demanding and ‘educational.’ Heads-Up Sculling develops your sculling ability and ‘feel’ for the water. It teaches you how to make your hands work in combination with the rest of your arms. And oh, yeah. Wait till you feel it in your abs.

DESCRIBE THE IMAGE Why Do It:
This drill, with the head and the feet held out of the water, will not only give the swimmers something different to do, but also will challenge them to MOVE. It works the muscles in the forearms and shoulders in ways they’re not used to working.

How To Do It:
1. You can choose to use the paddles (based on age, strength, and other factors), but the pull buoy will be pretty important. It’s going to be tough to push off at either end, so you should start just by starting. Allow the pull buoy to help your feet pop out of the surface, and then lift your head and look at your feet. Keep your legs straight and make a ‘V’ with your body. Don’t forget to point your toes.

2. Position your hands just outside your hips, and start with a forward scull. Sweep your hands back and forth, changing the pitch of the hands to create propulsion as you sweep and begin moving forward. If it takes you a while to get to the other end, your stomach muscles (as well as your forearms) will tell you why the head and feet are held out of the water.

3. Once you reach the other end, or turn-around point, aim the palms of your hands UP, and change direction. Now you’re going to head back using a backward scull, and PUSH yourself away from the wall you just left. Maintain your ‘V’ position and make sure that your feet and head DON’T touch the water.

4.  Repeat many times.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Decrease the angle of your ‘V.’ The more you pike your body, the more resistance you have to overcome with the sculling, and the more you will work your abs and forearms.
Coaches can have fun with this drill too. With all the swimmers heads held way out of the water, they’re free to casually, walk along the side, commenting on how the swimmer is performing.

It’s also a lot of fun to have a group begin to head toward one end, and then at the signal (usually a loud whistle) have the entire group change directions, or switch from forward, to backward scull. Even though the swimmers don’t feel they’re going very fast, they’re going to see EXACTLY how much resistance is created when they swim. Hopefully, this will also clue them in to WHY they need to focus so much on all the OTHER stuff that goes on when they’re just swimming.

The added benefit, as noted above, is that if you do this for a while, it’s GREAT for the abs. Enjoy.