In prior articles, I discussed the two major mistakes you’ll need to avoid to improve your swimming and your triathlon performance. You need to avoid complicating your swim training, and you need to resist the urge to train like you do on land.
The solution is simple- CHANGE. You need change what you do each time you jump into the water, and you need to change how you do it. You need to simplify your approach to your freestyle skills, and you need to make your skill development the focus of your time in the water.
Here are some ideas to help you do that.
Use a simple approach to skill development. Rather trying to work on 15 different freestyle skills, keep it simple. Aim to improve a limited number of skills. Choosing 2-4 skills is a great place to start. If you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. To improve, you’ll need to concentrate your efforts. While it’s hard to ignore areas that you think might help, remember that you’re choosing to put more time and effort into the skills that WILL help.
Focus on the fundamental skills that have the biggest impact. While working on a limited number of skills is sure to keep it simple, it might not be particularly effective if you choose to focus on skills that aren’t important. It’s my suspicion that improving the position of your pinky isn’t going to help much. You need to decide which skills are most important, and focus on those skills relentlessly. Ignore the rest!
Focus on a minimal number of technical exercises. For every skill or technical problem, there are probably 100 different exercises you could use to work on that skill. You need exercises that are the MOST effective for YOU and the skills you’re learning. If the exercise helps you move in new and better ways, use it. Stick with what works for you and avoid getting distracted!
Chase competence rather than mastery. Rather than perfecting any one skill, focus on getting good enough on the important ones. This may seem at odds with what I’ve discussed before. The idea is that you need to make sure you’re making progress on the skills you identify as being important, rather than focusing on 1-2 skills you’re seeing success with. To dramatically improve your swimming, you don’t have to be great at any one skill. You have to be ‘good enough’ at the important ones.
Shift your practice habits. ‘Training’ becomes ‘practice’ and ‘fitness’ development becomes ‘skill’ development. Make that shift in your mind. You go to the pool to practice. You go to the pool to develop your skills. You’re NOT going to the pool to train. You’re NOT going to the pool to develop your fitness. Once you shift your mindset as to what you’re aiming to accomplish, you’ll find your swimming start to improve dramatically.
Place skill development as the priority over EVERYthing else. Remember what is limiting your performance. It’s technique, NOT fitness. As a result, every time you get in the water, you should be focused on improving your skills rather than improving your physical fitness. If that scares you, remember that the more you practice your skills, the more you’ll swim. The more you’ll swim, the more you’ll be improving your fitness. You’ll get both!!
Structure each practice to maximize learning rather than performing. It’s easy to work on the skills you’re good at and perform sets that you’re comfortable with. However, that’s not where learning happens. Learning happens when you’re struggling. Make sure you are working on skills that are important for your progress, and you’re working on those skills in ways that challenge you.
To avoid the mistakes most triathletes run into, you’re going to have change from what you’re comfortable doing, and you’re going to have to act differently than most of your peers will choose to act. Rather than complicating your technical improvement, you’re going to simplify it. Rather than focusing on training and developing your fitness, you’re going to practice and focus on developing your skills.
Change is scary. However, if what you’re doing isn’t working, you have to do something different to get what you want.
Want SPECIFIC action?. Stay tuned for details in upcoming articles.
FASTER. EASIER. BETTER.