In part II, we began to work through a question that most swimmers and triathletes never even consider- What Should You Change?
This is a critical question because if you choose poorly, you’ll spend a lot of time and energy without much in the way of improvement. Let’s pick up with some more considerations that can help you determine if the change you’re contemplating is a good one.
Will this change make other indirect changes? Breathing is a great example. Imagine you really pick your head up to breathe during freestyle. If you lift your head, it’s going to pull your body out of alignment which will cause more drag as your hips will sink.
To compensate for the high breath, the arm that’s still under the water will have to support the high breath which means that arm is not going to be creating as much propulsion as possible. Lastly, that big breath is going to delay your timing and slow your rhythm.
If you fix the breath, you’ll reduce drag, increase propulsion, and help rhythm. That’s ONE change making a big impact in multiple areas. Those are the types of changes you want to look for.
What else could I work on? Opportunity cost. If you’re going to make a change, it means you’re NOT going to make a different change. If you consider all of the other changes you could make, and still feel the change you’re going to make is a superior option, go with it.
However, make sure you’ve considered the other options as there may be a better one. If there is, make that change. If there isn’t, proceed as planned.
Can I make the change? You may identify the perfect change that you’re convinced is going to make all the difference in the world. However, if you can’t execute that change for whatever reason, it’s useless to you.
Perhaps you can’t get a feel for what you need to do. Or more likely, you may simply lack the strength or range of motion to execute that skill in the manner you would like. If you’re struggling to even come close to what you’re trying to accomplish while swimming slowly, it’s best to move on to a different skill that you’re more likely to be successful with.
Asking these questions and the questions in part II prior to making the change can help to clarify the direction you choose to take. While it may seem pretty involved, that’s the case for a specific purpose.
The change process is hard and time-consuming.
You want to make sure that you’re investing your time and energy into a change that is going to make you faster. Too often, swimmers make superficial changes that have no impact on performance, which causes them to believe that creating change is a waste of time. However, it’s not a waste of time when you make the effort to identify meaningful opportunities.
Further, by answering all of these questions, it will help you get peace of mind that the choice you’re making is the right one. When you’re convinced the choice you’re making is the right one, you’re much more likely to commit to it, particularly when the process gets difficult. It’s at that point your resolve will be tested and you need to be bought in to the process.
For each stroke, limit yourself to one, maybe two changes.
This is critical for two reasons.
In the first case, focusing on one skill is going to greatly increase the chance that you actually make the change. By focusing your energy in one area, you’re much less likely to get distracted. The second benefit is that you’re much less likely to waste your time on superficial corrections if you know you can only make one change. By limiting the number of changes you’re trying to make, you’re much more likely to be selective in where you choose to direct your attention.
As we’ll see in upcoming articles, it takes a lot of work to actually to make a change. As you want that work to pay off, make sure your efforts re directed towards changes that matter. Once you’ve decided to what to change, ignore everything else and get to work!