STARTS - Drill Sequence for Beginners (and Pros)

Jul 30, 2003
STARTS - Drill Sequence for Beginners (and Pros)


Below is a clip of a letter I got from an old friend and student about his son. I won't name any names, but this young man (the son) just missed being selected for the county championships. To make sure this doesn't happen again, I'm going to honor the request of the father (JOE), and release a part of our upcoming video on starts and turns.

"His undoing begins with his start. Anything on the website about getting off the starting blocks? Of course you could make the drill of the week something start related. Still 2 more days until it's time for Wednesdays update. That would be an awfully nice gesture on your part."

See! I listen! Hope this helps and I'm glad we have this avenue to answer requests.

WHY DO IT: Are you kidding? Why focus on entire video, or DRILL OF THE WEEK on learning starts? Well, since it's the fastest you'll EVER go in a race, it's the place to set up great speed, as well as reducing the amount of swimming you'll ultimately have to do.


HOW TO DO IT: Step by step. Especially with young swimmers, throwing yourself headfirst at something JUST isn't natural. Start low, and easy, and as a comfort level increases, so does the height of the take off. Don't advance until each level is mastered. Moving up and onward too quickly can result in the good ol' belly smacker! This is the ultimate good start prohibiter and will stick in a kids mind FAR longer than a nice entry.

Take your time!
1. Start in a kneeling position, one foot over the edge of the pool, arms stretched above the head in a streamline position, back leg bent directly behind the body.
2. Simply fall into the water. DO NOT PUSH OFF yet. Make sure the hands are entering the water BEFORE the back feet leave the deck or side. This will build the feeling of slipping into the water, rather than HITTING the water.

3. When you've practiced the previous step many times, aim the hands a bit farther out. Still barely pushing off, but just aiming farther out. Step this spot out little by little without rushing these steps.

4. Now, stand up. Lean over at the waist, hands still held over the head in a streamline position, and fall in. Like in step one, try to make sure the feet are still on the deck when the hands touch the water.

5. Still standing as in step 4, only now, bend the knees a bit and aim the landing point a bit farther out. Again, little by little upon an increased confidence level of the swimmer.

6. Now move up to the blocks. EXACTLY like the previous two steps EXCEPT you will not be able to have your feet still touching when the hands touch the water. Simply fall over, keeping your head held tightly between the arms.

7. Now give a little jump and move the landing zone a bit farther out.

8. Lean over, and take ahold of the bottom of the blocks. Keep the landing zone tight and close to the blocks. At the beginning of this, the swimmer will pretty much aim directly down. This will continue to make sure the entry is clean and smooth... and won't hurt.

9. Step by step move the landing point out. When learning, urge the swimmer to use the eyes to target WHERE they're going to land. Think of it as "keep your eyes on the ball" in baseball. Move the spot out a bit after a few starts, and when the landing starts becoming very flat, STOP moving out. Too far means SMACK!

Simply put, in short races, a start can make or break your ability to achieve your goals. There is MUCH more to learn, and this is absolutely the basic track start shown. This is an easy start to learn, but is still not the ONLY way to start, and not the only start young swimmers should learn. Of course, there is MUCH more information being put on the DVD (I know, it's taking a while, but it's coming), so keep watching the site for more information.

Now, I can only hope more of you will see that a simple request gets ACTION. We're dedicated to giving you what you want, we just need you to tell all your friends how cool we are about it. If nothing else, I at least hope I made Joe happy!

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