In part I, I introduced the idea that to magnify the impact of any technical change, you need to satisfy two requirements. The change needs to matter AND it needs to show up when you race.
Two simple, yet critical criteria.
This leads us to the next logical question.
What Should You Change?
The biggest challenge in creating technical change is deciding what skills to change. Regardless of your skill level, there will be multiple opportunities for improvement.
To make the most out of any change effort, each change has to be impactful.
If it isn’t, you’re just wasting your time.
Below are several questions you can ask yourself to ensure that the change you’re making is a constructive one.
If you already have a change in mind, or you don’t know where to start, simply ask the yourself the questions below to get started on discovering where the biggest opportunities for improvement are for you.
Is this change cosmetic or constructive? This is the mistake many swimmers and coaches will make. They make cosmetic changes rather than constructive changes. Changing your wrist position during your arm recovery isn’t going to make you a faster swimmer. Changing your body position to ensure better alignment will definitely make you a faster swimmer.
The danger is that cosmetic changes are EASY to make. They FEEL like progress and they’re rewarding because it’s easy to make the change. The problem is that they don’t actually improve performance.
Am I creating more propulsion, reducing drag, or improving rhythm? Answering yes to this question is the bottom line for positive change. The change you’re considering needs to improve one of three areas.
You need to create more propulsion through more effective arm or leg actions, you need to reduce drag by improving your body position and alignment, or you need to improve the timing of your arms and legs to improve rhythm.
If you’re not improving one of these three areas, you’re not making a meaningful change. It’s just cosmetic!
If you’re not sure, remember the saying ‘if there is any doubt, there is no doubt’. You should be sure that your change is impacting one of these areas.
It should be obvious.
It shouldn’t be a guess.
If you’re not SURE that your change is going to positively impact one of these areas, you need to seriously consider why you’re making the change.
Is there a major discrepancy between what I am doing and what champions are doing? If you’re struggling to decide what to change, look at what the best are doing. Watching the best can provide tremendous clues as to how you could change your swimming for the better. You don’t need to conduct a biomechanical analysis for this process to be effective. Simply watch the general movements and compare them to yourself.
Is there a significant discrepancy?
Is there a discrepancy you feel you could change?
Use the best swimmers as inspiration for what is possible. They may provide the clue you need to change your swimming for the better.
Is this the limiting factor? When possible, you want to make a change in the area that is most limiting your swimming. Perhaps your breathing is really impacting your stroke. Perhaps your arm pulls are really ineffective at creating propulsion. Maybe your kicking technique is slowing you down significantly.
The change you want to implement is the change that will help to improve your performance more than any other factor. When considering your skills, reflect on the area that a change would most help your overall swimming.
If you’re not sure, ask a friend or a coach. In many cases, what may not be obvious to you is obvious to others.
In part III, we’ll continue with several more questions that will help you lock in on whether the change you’re considering is the change for you. Stay tuned!