Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kick Work....with Tempo Trainers?!?

A few years back, I read somewhere that David Marsh, former Auburn University Coach and current Big Cheese at SwimMAC, once said (paraphrasing) that if you as a coach value a particular concept, you must make it a priority by working that concept into your training plan at least twice per week.  One of the things that I felt extremely strongly about and something I really have made a consistent focus within my two groups' training was the development and implementation of "shooters", or underwater dolphin kicking.  I always told the kids that we would always vary the distances but never the intensity of the kick.  What I found was that most of my swimmers would not do their shooters with the intensity that I deemed appropriate, the cause stemming from their lack of focus on driving their heels back to wind up the snap kick with their hips and ankles.  Because most of my kids tended to snap their kick downward (or upward on backstroke) while floating their up kick (vice versa), I started to look into ways to force that hamstring exercise out of my kids.

We do our share of stroke rate tempo work, both with and without a Tempo Trainer.  However, I was looking to increase their kick rate and so into the pool I went.  What I stumbled on was a great way to force a fast, snappy kick out of kids who may not understand just how fast and snappy their kick needs to be.  So I started to play with different kick rate speeds for my underwater dolphin kicks and came up with a few that translated well with my group.  I started my group on a set of 8x25 with fins on the :40, where I had each swimmer set their Tempo Trainer at :30.  The set was to go halfway underwater, when they came up, it would be streamline dolphin kick on their backs still holding the same kick rate.  What I saw was an almost full group transformation in the speed and explosiveness in their kick.  The next set I had them go 8x25 @ :45 with a kick rate at :27, which put their kicks WELL beyond their respective comfort zones.  With the slight increase in rest, they were expected to hold that pace and they all tried valiantly.  The last set was 8x25 @ :50, but I increased the kick rate to back to :30 in an attempt to refocus them on a slightly slower yet more powerful movements and it worked like a charm.  Time will tell as to whether or not my swimmers will translate this rate of kick into their normal everyday swim application, but the initial response has been crazy promising!

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