ALL STROKES - Rice-Paper Turns

Jul 7, 2006
ALL STROKES - Rice-Paper Turns

A long time ago there was a television show called Kung Fu. Many of the segments featured a young student, who had to pass tests given by his master in order to move into the real world. One test was to walk on rice paper, without leaving a trace of where he had walked.

The same concept can be applied to swimming � with each wall becoming a piece of rice paper. Too often, swimmers attack the wall so hard that they actually POP or BOUNCE off the wall. Or�they STAB at the wall and punch through it. You want a fast turn, yes, but the idea is to plant the feet and drive off the wall � without ripping through the rice paper.


In the video clip you�ll see two turns. In the first turn, the swimmer gets off the wall more quickly, but not so effectively as in the second turn. In the first turn, the pop is SO quick that the drive off the wall isn�t very effective. In the second turn, the swimmer takes just a fraction of a second longer to plant the feet, then DRIVE off the wall. In the second clip, the swimmer� speed LEAVING the wall is greater.

When you practice this drill, you�ll need a friend who can go under water and LISTEN to you turn. That� right. Listen, not watch. In the video clip, you may not be able to hear the difference between the first turn and the second turn. But at the pool, your friend will be able to hear. Have him or her go under water and listen as your feet hit the wall on your FASTEST turns. If your friend hears ANYTHING, then you�ve broken through the rice paper. Your feet should not make any sound when they hit the wall. And your heels should not touch the wall. Try to plant only the balls of your feet. You should feel a nice spring as you leave the wall.

Why Do It:
Trying to balance attack with finesse is part of swimming. This drill offers a great way to learn that balance.

How To Do It:
1. You must SPRINT this drill. Set yourself up a bit outside the flags, and get ready to HAMMER into the wall (that means SPRINT SPRINT SPRINT).

2. Listen and feel. If you�re working with a friend, listen to see if you can hear the feet hit the wall. If so, the �plant� is too hard, and you�ve broken through the paper. If you�re working alone, feel how hard your feet are making contact with the wall. If you feel an abrupt stop, it� too hard. You should almost feel your feet melting into the wall, but only for a second.

3. DRIVE off the wall. Use that stored energy in the uncoiling feel and legs, to spring off the wall and toward the other end.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Heck, the entire thing is fine point. There is such a fine line between slowing a bit too much and introducing hesitation into your turns, and popping off too quickly and NOT getting that drive. This takes a lot of practice to get JUST right ALL the time. Get to it... grasshoppah. :)

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