BREASTSTROKE - Breaststroke Head Position

May 20, 2005
BREASTSTROKE - Breaststroke Head Position

When it comes to technique, breaststroke and butterfly require a bit of a balancing act. On the one hand, you have to develop undulating movements that take your body up and down. Yet on the other hand, you have to learn to send your energy FORWARD. If you work too hard on one aspect, you lose sight of the other. This week's drill is more of a focal point than a drill, and it's meant to keep you focused on moving FORWARD rather than up and down. In looking at the photos and video, you may or may not notice the subtle differences between the before and after shots, but when you try this focal point for yourself, you'll really feel it.


Why Do It:
Making sure that you don't spend too much time going up and down simply means that you'll spend more time going forward. Hopefully, for swimmers, this means you'll get to the other end faster.

How To Do It:

1. Swim regular breaststroke, but try a few different rhythms. Start by swimming slowly, and focus on where your head is in relation to your arms, or biceps. Then increase the speed to fast, and see if you're maintaining the same head/arm position, or if you're diving down farther.

2. If you're diving a little too deep at faster speeds, try the trick of LIFTING your eyes while you are in streamline. This doesn't mean you should look forward with your HEAD. It means you should GLANCE forward with your eyes. This simple movement should help you keep your chin from ducking to your chest, and keep you from diving too deep.

3. While experimenting with stroke rate, time to distance (speed), and effort level (heart rate), you can determine if keeping your eyes up just a bit is beneficial to your stroke. While some swimmers will find that they need MORE undulation in order to go fast, others, especially sprinters who may require a faster stroke rate, may find that less undulation is the way to go. By stopping the head from aiming too deep, you may feel like you're ready to take your next stroke a bit sooner.

4. Finally, bounce it. When you really start to ramp this up, you should get the feeling that you're able to rebound your body off the water, and bounce directly into the next stroke. Imagine there's a mini-trampoline about 8-10 inches below the surface of the water that your nose and chest bounce off of and right into the next stroke.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

If you're really popping your stroke down the pool, make sure you're not going too deep, and make sure you're getting FULL range of motion on EACH stroke. Don't rush it so much that you shorten up.

Be aware of how deep you're going on your strokes. You may be trying so hard that you're OVER trying, or doing too much. Have a teammate or your coach watch from under water. See how close your chin is getting to your chest, or if your head passes a line horizontal to the surface of the water.

Special Quicktime 7 video clip.
Apple came out with a new version of Quicktime, and I decided to give it a shot with this video clip. If you download this clip, you may be able to play it nicely at varying sizes on your computer, but you'll probably need to download Quicktime 7 player first.

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