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:
Ploymetric exercises are one of the best ways to improve your power, speed, and strength. Rocket Launchers, in particular, are a great way to increase your power off the blocks, and off every wall. They offer very specific training for the muscle groups used in starts and pushoffs. 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 go 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 interval you are doing. One of my favorite sets is 5 X 50 kick, with 5 Rocket Launchers before each 50. I’ve also used Rocket Launchers with age-group swimmers. For safety, we do the jumps as a group, then take off 5 seconds apart on the intervals. It’s a lot of fun.
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. Skip them all together if you have an injury or soreness.