Even if you know the right exercises, and how to manipulate those exercises to keep the learning coming, you need to make sure that how you set up your practices is aligned with what you’re aiming to accomplish.
How you set up practice sessions, and how you create sets to be performed, will great impact how effective you are in accomplishing your goals.
When trying to get it RIGHT as quickly and effectively as possible, there are clear training guidelines that you want to be mindful of when designing or participating in any training sessions. When trying to optimize your learning, the overriding consideration is to limit the amount of fatigue created.
While the rules below are fairly prescriptive, if there is ever any doubt, remember that the focus should be on getting as much skilled practice as possible, while creating as little fatigue as possible.
Go as slow as you need. If you’re swimming too fast, it can be difficult to learn a new way of moving through the water. This happens for two reasons. In the first case, swimming too fast will cause fatigue, which will make it more challenging to learn. Equally as important, when you try to swim fast, you’ll default to the swimming skills you’ve always used. It’s very hard to swim differently when you’re swimming quickly.
Start off slowly. If you’re executing your new skills well and learning effectively, consider picking up the speed. However, don’t do so until you’re sure you’re swimming effectively. While this can be challenging to do from a psychological perspective, remember that this is a small part of a long-term plan designed to help you swim faster than you thought possible.
Do as little as you need. While you do want to accumulate practice repetitions, and more practice will help you improve, this is only true provided that you are accumulating QUALTY practice repetitions. 300m of really focused work is infinitely better than 3000m of sloppy execution. While it can be tempting to assume that the more you do, the faster you’ll improve, this is rarely the case.
Most swimmers are unable to maintain the quality of their efforts when they are consistently focused on improve the quantity of their efforts. At the same time, if you believe that you’re practicing really well, feel free to add more total volume. However, do so gradually to ensure that you’re still maintaining a high level of skill. If you are, feel free to add more.
Accumulate quality repetitions instead of volume. The more you practice, provided that you’re practicing with a reasonable standard of execution and focus, the faster you will improve. You want to do as much as you can while keeping quality high. More is only better if the quality of execution is high. All of the strategies above are designed to ensure that you are able to get as much practice as possible, while keeping the quality of execution as high as possible.
You don’t HAVE to follow these rules. If you’d like to set up your training differently, feel free. However, these rules are specifically designed to optimize the rate at which you learn skills. While it is NOT designed to optimize your fitness, it WILL maintain the fitness you’ve already developed. Most importantly, it will allow you to make the technical changes necessary to further enhance your swimming, while setting you up
Training with these rules will help you create change fast. The sooner you can create change, the sooner you can return to training that is more in line with developing your fitness. Focus on one goal at a time, and totally dominate that goal as quickly as possible. These training guidelines accomplish that objective. When in doubt about what to do during this phase, remember one concept- swim with as much quality as possible, for as many repetitions as possible, while keeping fatigue as low as possible.
FASTER. EASIER. BETTER.