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Starts & Turns – Rocket Launchers!

Here’s a cool way to have some fun while improving your swimming. Rocket Launchers are a form of plyometrics, which is a fancy word for any exercise where a muscle is super-stretched before it’s contracted. In Rocket Launchers, you’re stretching (or loading) the quads as you crouch under the surface, then you’re explosively CONTRACTING the quads as you jump up.


Why Do Them:
Rocket Launchers are a great way to increase your strength, power, and speed off the blocks, and off every wall. You could do Rocket Launchers on land, but it’s a lot more fun and a lot less dangerous to do them in the water. In the water, you don’t have to worry about stressing the bones in your legs, ankles, and toes.

How to Do Them:
1. Stand in the shallow end of the pool.
2. Crouch down as low as you can under water.
3. Jump as high as you can. Keep your arms at your sides and try to point your toes and get your feet into STREAMLINE as you shoot into the air.
4. When gravity brings you back down, crouch immediately and get ready for another leap. You want to spend as little time under water as possible.
5. Do about 5 leaps without stopping, then push off immediately into whatever swim or kick interval you’re doing.

How to Do Them Really Well:
1. Get EXPLOSIVE. Crouch low and try to jump so high that your feet clear the surface of the water.
2. Get STREAMLINED. Point your toes and hold your feet and legs together as you leap.
3. Keep your movement CONTINUOUS. Don’t pause between leaps. Find a rhythm and stick with it.

How to Do Them Safely:
1. Save Rocket Launchers until you have a strong base level of aerobic conditioning, strength, and flexibility. This is one of the final steps in race preparation, not the first step.
2. Don’t do too many all at once. Start with just 3 to 5 and then take a break. And make sure your muscles are warmed up before you start. Try these near the middle or end of practice. And save these for days when you don’t have any soreness in your knees.