In the sport of swimming, one of the most difficult tasks is to change your skills in a meaningful and permanent way. Most swimmers will either focus on inconsequential technical changes, or they’ll try to create a change for a week and then give up.
Swimming is a technical sport, and improvements in technique will improve performance. However, these improvements in performance will only occur if the following conditions are met-
Technical change should be consequential. If you’re going to make a technical change, it needs to be meaningful if it’s going to significantly impact performance. If you change the position of your pinky finger or you alter the trajectory of your arm recovery, these changes may LOOK different, but do they result in faster swimming?
Too often, cosmetic changes are made that result in swimmers looking different when they swim, yet they don’t swim any faster. As we’ll see below, it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to create change.
If you’re going to invest that time and energy, you need to make sure you’re getting a performance payoff as a result. Successful technical change starts with knowing what to change.
Transfer. If you can’t execute the technical change you desire in a race, you haven’t made a technical change. While this may seem rather intuitive, it’s lost on most people. There is a very big difference between making a technical change during a drill, or while swimming very slowly, as compared to racing at full speed in a competition.
It’s pretty simple to create change during relaxed, slow swimming. It’s very difficult to create changes that show up in races, which is why it doesn’t happen very often. There needs to be a plan to make it happen. If not, you’re leaving it to chance, and the chances are not good.
With these conditions in mind, you’ll have two primary tasks to accomplish if you hope you make a technical change that will improve your performance.
First, you’ll need to identify what you’re going to change, ensuring that the change you make is going to positively impact your performance.
It has to matter.
Secondly, you have to ensure that the change you make is permanent enough to show up in competition.
You need a sequential plan for making the jump from technical excellence at slow speeds to technical excellence under competitive pressure. If you can accomplish these tasks, the odds are very good that you’ll make change that will improve your performance.
In this series, we’ll explore how to make it happen.