Do you happen to be in between seasons? Are you concerned that your conditioning will faulter because you’re not getting enough work? Here’s a fun little game you can play with a friend in your backyard pool (as long as your pool is deep enough).
The ball toss is a simple drill that can be fun, demanding, and it can also clue you in on how to connect with the water better for your breaststroke kick.
In the video that accompany this drill, the swimmers are using a small medicine ball which weighs approximately 7 pounds. This makes the drill very challenging from a fitness perspective, and somewhat impossible for people just learning the breaststroke, or "egg-beater" kick used in the drill. Feel free to substitute a volleyball, or water polo ball, or even beach ball for that matter.
How To Do It:
1. The rules of this drill are simple. Catch the ball, and throw it back to your partner as quickly as possible. The ball should not touch or go below the surface of the water. Your head should also not go under the surface of the water.
2. Pass the ball back and forth trying to go over an imaginary line, like a volleyball net. If you throw the ball too low at your partner, the ball will surely crash into the water. Give you partner a chance to catch the ball.
3. Use an "egg-beater" kick to keep your head above the water. The "egg-beater" is really a type of breaststroke kick, only using one leg at a time. By alternating your legs like this, you’ll present constant upward thrust on your body enabling you to keep your head above the water.
4. After you’ve passed the ball back and forth a set number of times, 10 is a good number, swim a couple easy lengths of freestyle to loosen up your legs again.
Repeat this process MANY times.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
See how high you can toss the ball without dropping below the surface of the water. How much of your body can you get out of the water. Speed up the rate of return, or how quickly you toss the ball back to your partner, like the old game of Hot Potato! Make your passes quick, high, and accurate. Control the ball, don’t just toss it and hope your partner can get to it.
If you’re having a tough time staying above the water, drop your hands under the surface in between throws. You’ll notice on the video the swimmer on the left always has his hands above the water, while the swimmer on the right drops his hands for support in between tosses. Also, slow down the rate of passes if you’re having trouble. Of course, if this is still too difficult, no worries, don’t use a ball at all, work on your egg-beater kick, first with your hands below the surface, then lift them out of the water slightly. Raise them little by little until you feel your legs holding your body higher in the water.