Adapting Freestyle Technique to the Individual Swimmer by Mike Bottom (2011)


Introduction: Okay. Welcome, thanks for coming in for this talk. We had an interesting talk this last time. We’re going to have, maybe, point counterpoint this time. I don’t know. It’s got to be kind of interesting. I’ve known Mike for a number of years. I actually remember when he swam because I am that old and he’s not. At Berkeley, Farewell, Count Berkeley, he did a great job there. And he’s moved on to the University of Michigan and is doing a great job there. He has always had a great crop of international sprinters primarily. So this should be very interesting as Mike has a lot of thoughts on freestyle that he wants to share. So please join me in welcoming Mike Bottom.

Mike: Thank you. It’s always interesting when I sit down and listen to these presentations. I vacillate. One of the things that I feel right away is anxiety. I think, oh, I’m not doing that or I don’t really understand that especially in the last presentation by Dr. Prins, he was talking about, ‘Hey, this is simple stuff.’ I’m like going, ‘Wait a second, to work, it’s not that simple.’ And it’s not that simple. And most of us, you’re going to feel that anxiety. And I want to tell you, I feel it with you. Or the other side we go to is you’d kind of get in to a routine where there’s a little bit of an insult that gets thrown in. And you hear from other coaches as well. There’s an argumentative side of you that steps up and says, ‘Hey, well, that’s not right. And that’s not right. And what about this? And what about that?’ And the critical thinking comes into play. And that protects the ego a little bit. What I challenge you to do when you hear this is take a deep breath and know that anything that’s set up here is mostly experimental. Even the science is being projected out here. You could say, well, I’m looking forward to thinking about this. And when I think about something, it’s not about; I never get to a conclusion.

I never get to a conclusion. I always open it up for more thinking. And I think if you look at it that way, you can let go of your anxiety. First of all, you don’t have to put everything into practice right away. And Eddie said a very good thing. He says it’s a step by step process. And you’ve got to start one step at a time. And it’s the same thing with learning, learning is all about you learn a little bit here. Next year, you learn. And then something, sometimes, something will come back to you that was said and you’ll pick it up. So, I challenge you here to kind of keep an open mind and understand that this is just stimulating your thinking. Hopefully, you can look at the three styles of freestyle which I’ve been talking about for about eight years now, nine years now and say, well, that’s a possibility.

When I was in China, I represented the world championships. I was with China. And it was a very interesting experience. I was with a guy named Wu Peng. And I stayed with the Chinese team. And we stayed in a very isolated hotel. And we had a pool that only the trainees were using. No other countries were there. And I got to experience some things that were fascinating. I love to watch and see how the people are interacting and the changes in culture that I see and experience. One of the things I saw was that the Chinese are coming. And they’re coming fast and they’re coming hard. And they’re coming in a way that’s different than I’ve seen in the past sixteen years. They’re coming in a way that’s actually a little bit joyful. They’re coming in a way that’s a little bit more inquisitive. They’re coming in a way that’s more open. And I think it has to do with them opening up to our culture as well as their culture. And they’re dedicated. So the combination of some of the positive things that I’ve seen in our culture which are openness, little more relaxed, but on the same side with the same kind of determination and urgency to do what Eddie talked about again this morning, the extras, all the extras.

What I was experiencing as I walked in on deck with the Chinese team and at the same time, we were swimming in the 50-meter pool, there was a diving well. And at the same time we came in, a group of children came in. I have a five year old and a four year old and there were girls that were smaller than my daughters. And they would come in. And they would set upside. They start to do their exercises. And the coach would bark at them every once in a while. But they’re jovial. And they’re laughing. And yet, they were very disciplined in what they were getting done. And then, they got up on the boards. And I was just, I was amazed at the kind of dives that these 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year olds were doing. And I have not been following diving the way I should have been in my past. But while I was there with China, that was a big thing for them. They won every gold medal. Every gold medal at the World Championships was won by a Chinese diver. And that, with the combination of what I was seeing with the Chinese youth made me think a lot about what we’re doing and how we’re approaching getting better as a country. And I thought, wow.

The reason US swimming is so great is, one, we have an open culture. Two, we have fun doing what we’re doing. Our kids, they come to practice and if they didn’t have fun, we would lose them most likely. So they have fun. And three, they’re dedicated. And they want to work. And Eddie alluded to it over and over again. He said, ‘If you give them the work, they’re going to do it.’ And those three things that we have in our culture, I think we need to embrace, hold on to, and as coaches, stimulate. And one of the ways we could stimulate is to help, to learn different ways to teach things. I’ve actually encountered resistance when working with age group coaches telling me that they didn’t think that kids can learn three different styles of freestyle. Come on, that’s too complicated. And I always go back now to my Chinese experience when I saw these kids doing these incredible dives which then reflects me back to my time when I was a kid and learning all the different things I was learning in the pool thinking, well, could I have learned that? Yeah, I could have learned that. But there was nobody to teach it.

So I’m challenging you again to embrace the American way. Open up your mind. And think about how you would teach the three styles of freestyle to your athletes because I think it’s worth it. I think that if they can learn the three styles, that doesn’t mean any of them are right. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that any of the one three styles of freestyle are correct. Three is easy to teach. There’re three. What we’re going to end up doing and what you’ll end up doing is combining them. So let’s just go ahead and start.

The three styles, and I name them this way because there’s a little bit of logic to it. But it’s pretty simple, hip driven, shoulder driven, and body driven. Hip driven is very efficient. It’s the freestyle that we embrace because we are an aerobic-based culture and sport. And we swim aerobically in long, efficient ways. So we teach this. US swimming embraces this. We, as coaches, need to learn this type of freestyle. The shoulder driven freestyle is something that, as a sprint coach in my last few gigs, we studied this. How can we be more powerful? How do you inflict power unto the water and hold that water and move yourself forward? So it is the most powerful stroke. And it is the fastest stroke. And the last one is body driven. Body driven came about when I was working with my freestylers, 100 meter in particular. And everybody said, ‘Your guys are really dying at the end of their races. You don’t do enough yardage. You don’t do enough meterage.’ And, of course, at that point in my career, I was anti-aerobic training. I was almost the opposite. The only reason I thought you needed the aerobic training was to help your recovery and just so you can swim it out. And I’m still not convinced that sprinters need a lot of aerobic training. But still, I had to have an argument for these people who say your guys are dying. And I had to have a solution to that.

So we figured out, okay, how do you train muscles that are going into acidosis? How do you work them? Well, you don’t. You don’t try to go and use those same muscles. You go to something different. So we went to a different freestyle and it’s a straight arm. I think Eddie called it the straight arm freestyle. But that’s the body-driven freestyle. That’s where the whole body is connected. And it’s a survival stroke. It gets the swimmer in the last 15 meters and gets them to the wall. The first thing to understand and I know that connection has been talked about a lot. And it’s a great topic of conversation. And it should be because I think that connection is what we need to understand in swimming in particular.

Think kayak or paddle or bicycle pedals. If you ever did the kayak, you’re pulling with one side of the handle and you’re pushing with the other in order to get the power out of the lower to pull what you’re pushing. You’re working together. Bicycle pedaling is the same thing. With those of you who are cycling specialists, you lock into those pedals. And when you’re pushing down with one, you’re pulling up with the other. There’s a connection all the way through from one pedal to the other pedal. And you’re connecting and moving those pedals. The disadvantage or the advantage that we’re working with and [Inaudible] [0:11:17] alluded to it is that what we’re working with is fluid. What we’re trying to do is hold on to something that can’t be held on to. We’re trying to have a solid ground where there is no solid ground. I believe we have a great strength and conditioning opportunity in the colleges. But we also have to deal with strength and conditioning coaches. And strength and conditioning coaches who have been working for years and years and years and understand one thing, how to get you strong from the ground up. They build strength from the ground up. They talk about kinetic chains. And they talk about this. And they throw a lot of words that I’ve never heard before and way above my head. And I feel little and small. And then I say, ‘Well, we’re not connected to the ground.’ What do we do? How do we connect to the water? That’s something you have to keep asking yourself. Always ask yourself, what, where are you connecting? How are you moving yourself forward? Where is the power coming from?

Feet, hips, core, scapula, neck, shoulders, hands, and that’s the chain… If I were to describe the kinetic chain, that’s the kinetic chain of the hip-driven freestyle, from the feet, through the hips, through the core, through the scapula, through the neck, through the shoulders, through the hands, you got to throw arms in there. Yu could even describe it more. But that’s the kinetic chain that we have to work with as coaches especially in the hip driven freestyle. All right, let’s talk about hip-driven. And this is Ian Thorpe when suits were legal. And he was wearing the suit. He was the first man to wear the suit, I think, wasn’t he? I think he was. He’s got the whole deal. Now, if you can go down and replay that, you just have to go down and hit play again, I think. And it’s the most efficient stroke. And the nice thing about him, especially on that right arm, you could see how he gets that elbow up, the hand down, connected the opposite kick into the outward catch. So the opposite kick, oops, now, we got to go back. If you look here, look at his opposite kick, right here, into the inward drive of the hand. There’re actually two kicks that drive him forward. Two kicks on this side and one kick on that side. And that allows him to skate on his hips.

So if you already know the 6B kick, have you ever figured out where the six beats come? Truthfully, I just figured that out two days ago, three days ago when I’m thinking about this talk and I’m standing on deck with Mark Hill who was my assistant coach who is amazing at understanding and seeing a stroke. But, I mean, you could see it here, you got one, two. Those two kicks on the same side allow the body to skate out on the hand or on the side or how you want to describe it. Then, the hand slightly slides out, at the same time, it’s skating out. But it’s not sliding out as an S-shape. It’s sliding out as a result of the rotation of the shoulder. So I used to fight the thought of the hand sliding out because you don’t want to slide your hand out. Actually, you want to put your hand in and come straightforward. And the hand just slides out as a result of the rotation of the shoulders. Why do we do that? You do that, the reason is, is because in a little bit outward from the shoulder, you engage the lat. You could try this on your own. Have a kid press with their hand right in front of the chest. And I got my most muscular guy of the group and I say, ‘Come over here.’ And I say, ‘Push down here.’ And you could see where the muscles are. A lot of packed muscles, you still get some lat muscles, some high lat muscles. But then, when your hand is moved out a little bit wider up high and you press down, you will be amazed at how much lat is connected with that just a slight movement outward. And that’s why we do that.

And then, this is what we do a lot of. We work on this kick. Go ahead if you’re going to do it again. This kick into the high oval, watch, boom. That kick on the same side moves the hip around and allows the connection to happen. And I would like everybody up here, everybody just stand up for just a second. And the reason I have you to do this is because I do this on deck everyday to try to figure out what’s going on. When I’m looking at a guy swimming, I have to kind of almost move myself because that’s the kind of guy I am. I have to try to understand. I used to be a swimmer so I kind of can understand. But to move my left hip forward, let’s just say, put your right hand up. Now move your left hip forward by bending your knee and just kicking yourself around. You see how it works? It’s pretty cool because it helps you remember. I mean I was the kind of kid that had to throw the ball that remembers my right hand. So this helps me to help, okay, when my lower kick brings my left hip around to my right side. So it brings my left hip around to my right side. You can see how that works. And you might find yourself doing that. And truth is, the more you do this, the more you could really understand the whole idea of connection. You try with your other side if you want. Same sidekick brings a hip around.

Now if you tighten your core, tighten your abs, and then you could feel how it even comes around more. And it goes all the way up to your hand. You could start to feel that connection that your swimmers feel. We don’t all get in the water anymore. I don’t ever get in the water. I used to get in all the time just so I could feel this stuff. I have to do it on land. Eddie gets in the water. He can figure that out. And then you use a core to connect the opposite hip. Some of the drills that we do, go ahead, and the next one is a connection drill. And this is, I think this is Matt Patton. This is Iain Hume. He’s an English swimmer. We use a lot of equipment. I love equipment. I think it breaks up the, I mean not having practice. Did I say that? Remember, I come from a sprint background. And it’s really hard for me to see guys swimming back and forth and not working on some sort of technique. But right now, we got two big kick. I’m in six beat, right fin, left paddle, right fin, right paddle, left fin, right paddle, left fin, and left paddle. And what you’re doing there is you’re just trying to understand, and it’s more of learning, at the same time, you can keep their heart rate up. They’re learning that the two different ways to use their kick, to manipulate their stroke.

So if you’re using a right hand in paddle and a right fin, you’re learning exactly what you just learned there. You’re learning to kick your hip around in the connection. You talk to them about getting the elbow up, the fingertips down, the hands slightly out, and the kick that hip around. Right fin, left paddle is the one that it allows them to drive what we talked about in the beginning. Drive that hand into the glide. Drive that hip upward. Again, if you have a left paddle or left fin, you’re going to move that hip around on the opposite side. So if you put on a right paddle, left fin and you kick down, your hip’s going to come around so that hand will come out further and you can glide on it. Now, the hard thing is to teach them now. You want to glide on it so you want to take another kick with that left fin. So they’re going to want to take the, if you’ve taught them right, they’re going to want to bring that other hip back around with the same sidekick. But that kick is just, you’ve already moved to the side so if they kick the kicks to the side, then they can move the hip even more around with the opposite fin. So that’s why you put a fin on the opposite side so that same sidekick is not real, it doesn’t move the hip much. So that kind of gives you an idea on that drill.

We have another drill. These are just drills we do to work on the hip-driven stroke. And these drills which we do, I try to get them in at least three times a week at different parts of the warm up or even the main set or the pre-set. We use a lot of the snorkel; almost always use a snorkel when we’re doing this kind of drills. So you could see us setting up. Now, we talk about the different power, how you applied power to the stroke. And we’ve talked about the hip rotation. It’s called the hip-driven stroke. But the next area of additional power is the rotation of the shoulders. Not to be confused with the shoulder-driven stroke because it makes it simple if you could tie it up that way. But the shoulders add to the power of the hip driven strokes. So you could see he sets up with the arm out. Sets it up, he does the kick first. I’m sorry, bring the hand down, elbow up first and throws a kick in to bring the hip around. And then the shoulder comes in to apply the power to the hand, that rotation plus that power of the hand. And these, again, these drills can be done by 6, 7, 8 year olds. And we do it with our college guys. In clinics I’ve done, we’ve done this with the 6, 7, 8 year olds.

Now, maybe you have to go back a little bit at one step and do it in the water and teach them to move their hips from a vertical position to move their hips around with a kick. We do a lot of that with the younger ones which haven’t crossed their arms here. And they’re just looking at you and they’re kicking. You say, ‘Now, bend your right foot. And kick as hard as you can.’ And they’re going to spin. And then you have them spin halfway. Then you have them spin a four round. That just teaches them to manipulate their hips with their kick. Again, understanding that connection, it’s not like swinging a baseball bat. If you’re going to move your hips, you have to connect somewhere. And what we try to teach the guys, the older guys is that connection needs to come especially in the hip driven from the kick, not the arms. Do you understand the difference there? If they initiate the connection from the hand which a lot of people do and you’ll see it, is when they start their pull first and then their hips kind of follow around. If they initiate with the hand, there’s a lot more arm strength that’s involved in the stroke. There’s a lot more energy that spins with the arms as opposed to the core. So the idea is we teach from the kick up in the hip driven as opposed to the hand down. How are we doing here?

All right, this is a hip-driven training set that we use. Now, we use Avidasport. And it’s a new technology that’s been very helpful in training some aerobic-based athletes. Probably the biggest change that I had to make as a sprint coach or as anaerobic coach was when you’re training distance-based or aerobic-based athletes, training is such an important component of their success. And what I started doing in the very beginning was talking to the guys. In the middle of the set, I pull a guy out and start talking to him which is easier to do with the sprint. All right, what is the matter? They’re just behaved. Get up and do it again. But if you’re in the middle of the training set, and truthfully, the guy has taught me this very quickly. I pulled a guy out. And I started talking to him about the stroke. And he looked at me. He goes, ‘Mike, can I get back in the water?’ Didn’t hear a thing I said, he was so worried about the yards he was missing that I realized that was not going to work.

So what we’ve done and what this has helped me do is coach these guys in a way that doesn’t interrupt their training. And there’re other ways to do that. There’s video. Another thing we do is I have my managers take video of a guy. And then he emails it to him. So if I say, you’re working on your outsweep of your hand. You need to get that out there or you’re dropping your little finger. I have the manager take the video and email it to him. And after it gets done, I say, ‘Hey, I sent you a video of your little finger dropping.’ And that helps him. So there’re different ways to coach athletes that I’m learning. So, this is a good hip-driven training set, two on a right paddle, right fin, two on a left paddle, left fin, and two on a right golf ball. We use golf balls to help them understand this little bit of an outward sweep and the power that’s in the outside press of the fingertips. If you want a demonstration, you have somebody doing a pull up; have them pull up with their thumbs like this and like here. And you’ll find that there’s a lot more power in these pull-ups especially it’s a wide grip if you’re connecting these fingers.

So what we try to do is with the golf balls, it eliminates, it puts all the pressure on the outside of the catch. So we use those. And the golf coach sent me over about 200 balls just so I could color up. I say, ‘Hey, could I borrow a few of your golf balls?’ And she said, ‘No problem. I got 200 golf balls.’ And these guys, what they can do with golf balls, I can’t believe. They go everywhere. But that’s part of the fun. So you could see, we do right golf ball, right fin, left golf ball, left fin, again, teaching them to connect with the outside high elbow moving the hip around. Again, hip-driven stroke connected from the kick. Four times, two inner fins and paddles descend one to four reducing stroke counts per length; again, it’s difficult for these guys especially when they get to a point where they’re doing training sets to think. And that’s the most dangerous time for these guys and gals, is when they start to get in the training sets and they go. There’s a certain point. Every coach has seen it. They’re thinking about their strokes. They look beautiful. You’re patting yourself on the back because you’re such a great coach. And all of a sudden, they hit this point where everything goes. And they’re just, it’s survival mode. They’re just trying to make the intervals. They’re gone. We, as coaches, had to figure to out how to get past that. And Eddie said it again. I’m going to keep going back to him. We need to keep their strokes solid all the way through. And he said that, ‘You guys are doing a great job.’ I don’t know if you heard that. He said, ‘You guys are doing a great job doing that. It’s us. It’s us college coaches. It’s the coaches of the older athletes when they get into the training mode that we have to keep reminding them of how to get it done not just about getting it done.’

So again, this is the training set that we use. And I encourage you to use video. Video is such an awesome tool these days. And it’s so easy. I bought an underwater video camera online for 160 bucks. It has, whatever they call, a stick that you pull out or a card you pull out. I just plug it in. Upload the video and send it. It’s so simple now. When I want to get an underwater shot of a guy, I look to his friend where I say, ‘Hey, will you go over in that outside lane and get a shot of that guy?’ ‘Sure, coach.’ Boom, he’s gone. He takes a shot. I say, ‘I don’t want more than six seconds. Any more than six seconds and I can’t email it.’ And then the guy will watch it. So, six seconds is a magic number.

All right, moving on, shoulder-driven strokes, a few years ago, Russell and I get along very well. Russell Mark and I got in a little discussion in the middle of a national team meeting. He was talking about freestyle. And he talked about the most, what I call hip-driven stroke. I can’t remember what [Inaudible] [0:30:25] is called at the time. But it was the most efficient stroke. And then he said, it’s the fastest stroke. And I let him go on for a while. I’m his friend coach and let me just tell you the truth. I got a little upset because that was part of my, instead of listening, I was not listening. I was arguing. And the truth is it isn’t the fastest stroke. The fastest stroke is a shoulder-driven stroke. But no question and the French have proved this right. If you look at, you can see, this is Pieter van den Hoogenband here. Can you go back to the beginning? You’re going to see hip-driven stroke. And you’re going to see shoulder-driven stroke in the next one. There you go.

The shoulder driven-stroke, this is [Inaudible] [0:31:21]. Yeah, nice stroke [Phonetic] [0:31:25]. The connection to the shoulder is what gets it done here. Now, it’s a full connection stroke. But it is the power, and my definition, comes from the shoulders. The shoulders are connected all the way through the spine. The hand drives in to the water with the connection all the way through to the spine. One hand is always on the water. You could see the one hand is in the front end, one hand is in the back end. There you go. This is a great shot here, one hand always on the water but nothing in the hip driven. Don’t pull out too early. That’s an important thing. You want to make sure that you’re finishing the stroke. And there is a debate about that, always a debate. There’s a big debate about everything. My personal belief is that you have to finish the stroke. And that would mean changing the angle of the hand. And you could see this individual here does it really well, changing the angle of the wrist here as you’re finishing the stroke. And again, that could be debated. And I’m not asking you for debate. I’m just asking you to think and give it a shot. I just feel like it extends the stroke, not just in the back end. The argument that people have about the extension of the hand and the bend of the wrist is that, oh, you’re not getting any kind of propulsion there. And my thought is that it’s not about the propulsion in the back end at that point. It’s about the connection in the front end. And remember, we went back to the bicycle pedals. Think about the bicycle pedals. What you’re doing down here is affecting what’s happening up here. And if you’re connected through the shoulders through the spine, that press here is actually driving that shoulder forward and down. So you’re finishing. You’re driving this shoulder forward and down by extending the shoulder. If you were to pull it out early, you would lose that connection.

So, I’m thinking about kicking to a catch. The opposite foot now is the key to the shoulder driven. And we play with this all the time. Gary Hall, Jr. was a master. The guy was a master. And he still is a master at understanding what’s going on when he’s standing on land, being able to totally put himself in the water. I have seen him sometimes just standing there with a blank stare on his face and manipulating his body. And I knew where he was in his mind, he was probably in an Olympic final going slow motion thinking about what his arms were doing and his body and his kick and the timing of everything. And he would do that regularly trying to understand how to improve his stroke. And I have never run into anybody quite like him. And I always thank him every time I see him for what he did for my coaching career just watching it, watching the way he related what he did on land to what he did in the water.

So if you think about it, when you kick with the opposite foot and you’re driving your hand in, so just think about it for just a second. When you kick with that opposite foot, that hip is coming down. And the more powerful that kick is, the more powerful this connection could be because in reality, you’re not moving that hip. You’re applying force through the hip. The hips are flat. So that kick on the opposite side is applying force to the water as a stabilizing force, a stabilizing force that allows you to have the power on that drive end with both the shoulder and arm. Can you picture that? So this guy kicks here. You saw that? Thank you. You’re doing an excellent job. He understands this. You opposite kick into that catch. There’s a dropped shoulder. You don’t want to drop the elbow. You’re sure you don’t want to see that. Flat hips, we talked about the flat hips. The reason you have flat hips again is this is not where you get your power. It’s up here. If you’re going to get some power in your upper body, you’ve got to have stabilization through the hips. We do a lot of boxing. That’s something we do a lot of on land. And if I have the guys, there’re two different ways to box. I have hip driven boxing and shoulder-driven boxing. If it’s shoulder-driven boxing, you’re trying to get more speed out. And you’re more connected through the hips. If its hip driven boxing, you want to try to get more endurance, you can do this for a longer time. It’s a little bit slower on the rate. Again, you’re going through the hips but the hips are moving.

The connection of the recovery arm with the catch arm. In the earlier presentation, there was a thought about lever arm. We call it lever arm distance. And we teach the sprinters, this is something what he was talking about, something we have talked about for about 8 years now, 9 years, is that the longer the lever arm, the faster the hand moves through the water. And it just makes sense, right. If you’re closing this angle right here, at the same speed, you’re closing this angle, your hand’s going to move faster if you close your angle and your arms straight out as opposed to here. And any of your swimmers can get that. They can figure that one out. I need to use the example of the skaters that start out with their hands out and then bringing their hands in. And it looks like they have won. They’ve got millions of heads or whatever. I don’t know what’s going with that.

Oh, connection arm. Okay, connection arm. So you want to keep this long arm right here. And where are you going to get that power? And I love that internal power and external power have to be equal. So if you’re going to have external and internal power to be equal, the best way to do that is don’t use your muscles to pull here. Use your muscles to stabilize. And use your opposite hand and the pendulum action. We have guys actually holding a weight. We either put a wrist weight on them or they hold the weight to feel this big paddle on this side. And they’ve got to do it slow. You don’t want them ripping their shoulders out. You set them up. And then you have them swing that weight. And at first, it’s really difficult for them to hold that hand and to hold the connection through the shoulders. But after a while, they start to get it. It’s stabilizing the shoulders so that it’s a bar of muscle. We call it about a bar of muscle through the back shoulders. And Gary was doing that in the first slide. The bar of muscles through the back shoulders grab, hold the weight. Put the big paddle on. And then try to move through the water. And that’ll teach them to use stabilization as opposed to muscular contraction for their power. Now, you still have to contract obviously. You still have to use the lats. That’s why sprinters need to have huge lats, connections. But it teaches them to do that. All right, thanks.

Here’s a couple of drills that we do. First of all, understanding the direction of the hand when it enters the water is key to getting on the water right away. We talked about using the power to shoulder roll as a propulsive force. Well, in order for this to be propulsive, your hand has to be on the water right away. And you’ll notice, when people first start doing or kids start doing this drill, the hand will slide out. And then they’ll start in to the typical S-pattern. The key is to keep that going forward. Keep the hand going forward and over. In the presentation before us, they talked about lift versus drag forces. Well, in my limited understanding, the lift forces allow you to anchor your hand. Then you apply the drag forces once your hand is anchored. So sprinters, in order to anchor their hand can’t do it like in the hip driven. The hip driven is kind of an outward slide a little bit that helps to anchor the hand. With sprinters or shoulder-driven stroke, the anchoring of the hand happens with this forward motion which is a natural motion with the rotation of the shoulders. Your hand comes forward. And the same kind of wing that you have this way in the out slide happens also this way. You could see the wing. You could see the lift forces will be created by the speed of the water moving across the hand at varying speeds. The water was across up here, slower and faster. So there’s a lift that’s being created so you can press on that.

Where are we here? This is a drill. We’re on the drill. Scapula together, we talked a little bit of that one hand always on the water, drive hand downward and forward, flat hips, 2B versus 6B kick… You’ll see when he first starts out here, it’s a 2B kick. And it’s important to learn the 2B kick because a 2B kick helps them understand that the opposite kick helps that arm come forward. Remember, we’re talking about stabilization of the hips. And if you’re putting power on here and you could try it when you stand up. If you try to punch something here, you’re going to have to press forward on the opposite side. Think about if you box. It’s the same kind of thing. You come around here. You’re pushing that forward here. That’s a lot harder. Truthfully, it’s harder to feel out of the water. In the water, it’s easy to feel but especially if you put a fin on that opposite side. You can do that as well. So one hand always on the water, flat hips, 2B and 6B kick. You can see Bobby drops his head towards; this is Bobby Savulich whose one of those guys who used to be a former swimmer. Now, he’s a hundred swimmer. I’ve ruined him. But he did make the US team this year. Okay, I want to go to the next rule.

Kick and dip. This is not an advertisement for a substitute for smoking. You could see what he’s doing. You set up the correct motion. Kick on entry arm. You do it three times. Then you go into a drive in to the hand of the water. The idea is focusing on both hands again. You could see what he’s doing on the opposite side. We focus on that as well as the front side. So you start out with one hand again. You start out with one hand. And then you say, ‘All right, now, let’s see if you can create more power using that opposite hand.’ And they quickly get it before you will get it, before I got it, they got it. Because they get in, they could feel this. For me, it’s counter-intuitive that this press out of the hand would help this entry here would actually add power to this. My thought was I’m going to get more speed out of this press here. Well, when Gary was talking and goes, ‘No, that’s not true. You’re really not getting a whole lot here.’ But what you’re doing is you’re getting more power in your entry. Working on timing is key. Gary used to walk around; he used to actually walk around the pool. And one day, I came in. And he was doing this. He was walking around the pool. He was doing this. And he would do that thing with the mouth too. And he was not on the pool deck, absolutely. He was still in the water. He was in the water. He was thinking in the water. I don’t ever care what you’re doing. I’m working on my connection. Great. Can you show me that so I can show somebody else? Which is an advantage that I have counted as a blessing over and over and over and over again because I don’t have the 25,000 dollar camera that I bolt on the deck. But what I do have is I have some great athletes. I just kind of cock my head and say, ‘How did you do that? What are you doing right?’

There’s a guy named Salim Isles who was the first Algerian that ever makes a final in the Olympics. And he made the 50 free and 100 free final. He came to train with us. I use to watch him. His stroke rates were up to 70 and 100, 70 cycles a minute. And he would swim this crazy stroke. And my first thought was, I got to change this guy. I got to make a change in him. Then I thought, no. The guy’s already swimming a 49 low in the 100 free; you got to make a change on him? No. You’re not that smart. So what I did was I watched him and just observed what he was doing. And what he was doing, he was doing better than anybody in the world. He was doing shoulder-driven stroke and he was driving this catch. He had an incredible catch. He had a terrible kick and his hips would rotate every time he got in. So there was no stabilization here. But his rates were real high. So after understanding what he’s doing, I first taught the other guys about that catch. And that’s how we came, a lot of the shoulder-driven stroke was developed as a result of understanding of Salim and putting it with Gary and putting it with Anthony and putting it with Duje Draganja and putting it with all these guys.

And then the next thing we do is improve his kick. And once we improved his kick, he started stabilizing his hips getting more power in each one of those strokes. And he got faster. So, again, the thought of trying to change him was just, I’m not that good. I’m not that smart. And Eddie said, ‘They make me look like a good coach. And all I do is I try to understand what they’re doing right’ And then, when you have a group of them, you can pass what this guy’s doing right to this guy and pretty soon, you got everybody doing a lot of things better.

Here’s a shoulder-driven training set, 25 head up, 25 shoulders driven, no breath. So once they’re breathing with their head up, then they drop their head into the shoulder driven. And then they go easy 50 back, 25 set up and drive, [Inaudible] [0:48:06] right and left, 25 shoulder driven, 50 back, 25 shoulder driven, 25 back. Set up and drive is actually kick and dip. That’s my mistake. Good, how am I doing on time?

Body driven, now, Nathan does this better than anybody. At least, he does it on the stage better than anybody. And you could see him change from shoulder driven or we call long shoulder driven to body driven. And once a muscle is fatigued with acidosis, it’s not moving. It’s not going. You’re not going to get much out of it. So the idea is to switch to a new muscle group. Since we understand that neurons innervate certain muscles, muscle fibers, there’s another neuron that’s right next to it that might not be activated. So you want to activate it. And you activate it by changing up the stroke. And so what we did was just we got a standard change up stroke. This came from a guy named Scott Greenwood.

Scott Greenwood was a guy who was so tight in the shoulders that this is the only way he could swim. When you try to get him to kind of flow and he’ll flow. But when he went to this kind of stroke, he was great. And he could swim for a whole hundred yards and that’s all we needed him for. And he was on one of the American Record Breaking Relays as a result of his ability to swim like this. So we learned that from him. And we just kind of adapted that into other people’s strokes at the end of the stroke. So, you’re using the whole body. So, we talked about hip driven. We talked about shoulder driven. This is a body driven. You’re basically tightening the core which is basically that’s what you got left. You got your core. Most sprinters don’t lose their core. You’re going to lose your arms, your legs, your shoulders. You’re not going to lose your core, so tighten the core. And when you move now, this is where you’re going to get your power from right to left. So, you’re going to have to figure out how to move this power. You have to figure out how to transition it.

Most automotive guys would understand. We just need some gears. And we need to put this gear here what it does in just transition. So what they do is you basically connect your arms to your body but not in a solid way like you would in a shoulder driven. It’s more fluid. And you’re throwing; you’re using your arms which are dead weight at this point anyway. You’re using your arms as dead weight to throw. So you’re going from one side. You’re throwing to the other side. Now, what do you do with your legs? Michael Klim in 2000 did some pretty fun stuff at the end of his races. He would dolphin kick. Everybody would go, ‘Wooh, he’s a good flyer. Of course, he dolphin kicked.’ No, he uses dolphin kick because he was dying. And it’s a great way to move your body from one side. He’s jumping from one side to the other. So you get a dolphin rhythm. And you rotate back and forth. Again, little kids love this stroke. They love it. Six year olds, these are naturals and natural six year old stroke right here. They love it. They jump up and down. They bob and we go, ‘Don’t stop. That’s wrong. You’re wrong.’ Oops, you just ruined that kid. Don’t feel guilty. No, you just say, ‘That was awesome. That’s the best body driven I’ve ever seen. Now, let me teach you some hip driven.’

So there’s a reward system that actually happens here because you’re going to have some of your kids who are going to be natural fluid strokers. If you’ve seen these kids, they could stroke forever. But they go forever. And they go so slow that you’ve got to get them faster. And I hate to stereotype but a lot of those are ladies, young ladies. They should be in ballet maybe. They just have the rhythm. But we can use that too. Dude, you need to learn that. And you need to learn that. And you’ll find that once you start teaching these three styles of freestyle, you have natural shoulder-driven. You have natural hip driven. You have natural body driven. So, they’re going to come up. And you no longer have to say that’s wrong. You say, ‘You know that’s a great piece of the body-driven stroke or the shoulder-driven.’ Okay, keep going here. A cross kick is just to help them to learn. And again, they’ll love this. And you don’t have to do with their hands in front; you do with the hands on the side. It teaches them to throw their hips from side to side. And then they just do it, the hand in the water.

Now, the importance to not breathe during this lessons, so you do it for 12-1/2 to 15 yards, you say, ‘Hold your breath. You can do this.’ Those are mirrors on the bottom of the pool. Again, we try to use whatever we can to help them in training to think about their stroke. True body driven in what it’s meant for is great at the end when you go in so acidosis. So the first step is to beat them up in what we call purple sets. And then they have to finish. So, they’re fun. And in a couple of ways, the hip-driven red that’s, this is the color we use for high aerobic free fast swimming, 27 to 30 heart rate per 10 seconds. And then they dive into a 75 all-out shoulder driven. So they’re swimming to 75 like they’re swimming to 50, all out. And hopefully by that time, they’re going acidosis. And they finish it with 15 body driven. And they roll over. The important thing at this point here, it doesn’t equal a hundred because the idea is that you don’t want them focusing on the end. And what I’ve found has happened is if someone’s always focusing on the wall, in the finish, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it takes away a focus of what they’re doing. So I take away that so that they have to throw in this body driven and focus on this stroke as opposed to the finish. You have five minutes, [Inaudible] [0:55:35] down and do it again. And the hard thing about this is to get them to do this dive 75 and 100 percent. So, they do go in acidosis so that they have to. Then move to a different stroke. That’s your training set. That’s it. What else coach? Tell me.

Next Speaker: Questions.

Mike: All right, questions. There was somebody in the back that have question there.

Next Speaker: [Inaudible] [0:56:15]?

Mike: Yeah, in the 50, you don’t.

Next Speaker: [Inaudible] [0:56:23] when you start a stroke?

Mike: When you win, you take your breath in a stroke. We do a fast breath. We call it fast breath. And Nathan is really good at this where you take a quick breath and get it back. I should have probably put one of those in. That’s a great question. We do what we call a quick breath. And what we found is that the movement of the neck can actually assist in the movement of the shoulders and the rotation of shoulders. And you could do this easy. You turn your head to the right. You’ll feel the pull over here in your left. So why not incorporate that in breathing? Why not use that to bring that shoulder around? So what we do is we try to get them, what we call, quick breath. So if they’re doing shoulder driven, which is at, shoulder driven is a 60 cycle per minute stroke. It’s fast; turn-over is fast so the breath has to be fast. So we get them to breathe before the shoulder comes around. And then drive the head down before the shoulder comes around so that you’re actually pulling that shoulder around with the head. I didn’t put up body position drills which we do a whole lot of but an important part of this whole piece is understanding body position and body balance because if somebody tries to swim shoulder driven with the head up, you could see. You put your head up and try to move your shoulders around. It doesn’t work. You put your head down, so much easier. I’m not talking about chin to the chest, Eddie. But it’s a fixed head. And I think, David Marsh today who’s instrumental in developing a lot of these strokes talked about he puts his hand over the guy’s head and holds his shoulders. And then moves in this way. So you could feel the pressure of the head. You have to push your head forward. And then move your shoulders.

Next Speaker: [Inaudible] [0:58:18]?

Mike: Well, you’re right. If you’re catching up, you’re not using the recovery hand in the connection. So, you’re disconnected. So, yes. I think that’s the answer.

Next Speaker: So, it depends?

Mike: Well, it depends on what kind of stroke you’re doing. You know what, there’s a lot of great distant source. And don’t get me wrong here. John Ryan swims shoulder driven, almost body driven 1500. The open water swimmers, the good open water swimmers are going to almost body driven. How does that work? Well, they’re not trying to hold as much water. They don’t have a long lever arm. They have a shorter lever arm. So that’s what I’m saying that this stuff up here is just a way to define the strokes. And it helps me to define the strokes. And then it gives me lots of parameters to go from. But if you don’t understand something from one point of view, you can’t deviate. So that’s just the way I am. I have to have something to focus to get away from. No, that’s not wrong. It’s just different. And you figure, okay, well, what are we trying to do here?

Next Speaker: So, I have a [Inaudible] [1:00:20] shoulder driven, body driven?

Mike: Great 50 guy gal, 50.

Next Speaker: So, [Inaudible] [1:00:29]?

Mike: I’m going to answer that question in another way. As a college recruiter, I get lots of guys that can swim great 50s. And then I look at their 100. And then I look at their 200. And I look at that athlete. And this is way different than I used to look at people. And I go, ‘This guy is got a great shoulder-driven stroke. And he probably is built like a football player because we used to have this football. When I was in high school, football players would come in after practice once in a while. And they would go off the board. And the way they would get from out there to here is they would do this. Great shoulder-driven stroke. You don’t have to have a lot of anchoring on the water. You don’t have to have much aerobic capacity. So I would give them aerobic yardage. Teach them hip driven.

Next Speaker: Right, yeah. This could be his option.

Mike: And that he could train. And that’s the other side of it. All my sprinters learn hip driven. And the only reason they learn hip driven, I tell them over and over again, so you can warm down. You need to warm down, right? Yeah. How much do you think you need to warm down after you’ve swum 100 meters and your lactate is 19 millimoles? Yeah, I don’t know. What’s 19 millimoles? That’s a lot. You’re tired. You’re tied up. What do you need to do? I’ll probably need to swim 200. No. And then you go back to US swimming charts. And you go, okay, for a 200, you got to warm down for half an hour. Half an hour, that’s more than I swim everyday. Right, exactly, right. So you could see, and if you heard me talk 10 years ago, I would never talk like this. But they need to learn hip-driven strokes so they could warm down. I mean I’ve had guys that I’ve completely ruined because they were unable to recover from one bout to the next. I sprinted the poop out of them. And they never got recovered. Even if I gave them mornings off, they never got recovered. Why? Because they didn’t know how to swim hip driven and they didn’t have the aerobic capacity to flush their system and warm down. So that’s the truth. Teach them to warm down, hip-driven stroke.

Next Speaker: [Inaudible] [1:03:02]?

Mike: The intention of the drill is the front part. And then once you get that, and then you add, see what this does. And at first, we don’t even put a paddle on the back end. We just put it in the front end. And then we add the paddle. And then we add the paddle with a weight on it on the back end because then, it’s like they’re pressing up on something. And what does that do?

Next Speaker: Do you have fins on the [Inaudible] [1:03:52]?

Mike: I don’t know if I had any fins on them. But we could do it. You could put it on one hand. Again, that’s the fun about this equipment. You could take it off. You could put it on like I have a 5 year old and a 4 year old. You got all these accessories. You could change these dresses or tops. And you wouldn’t get it unless you have 4 and 5 year old girls. One more.

Next Speaker: Is there a shoulder-driven version of the breaststroke or the butterfly [Inaudible] [1:04:26]?

Mike: Great, great question. And we’re having a lot of fun at Michigan with a lot of video and a lot of analysis. And I’ll give you this. Watch Wu Peng swim the 200 fly at the Olympics. He has three different styles of butterfly. And he’s helping us develop those. I hope they all get to talk to you about it because they do really well and maybe they’ll get invited.


[Audio Ends]

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