Breaststroke Technique for Age Groupers by Dale Porter, Bolles School Sharks (2012)



[introduction, by Steve Morsilli]

Once again, my name is Steve Morsilli; I’m on your ASCA Board of Directors.  Thank you for coming in to the afternoon session; we just finished-up a very, very good talk with Coach Bill Thompson.  I had never met Coach Porter before today, but I did sit-in on yesterday’s talk, and I was very, very impressed with his toolbox—he has just lists and lists and lists of things that he knows he wants to work on.  And if you missed that talk yesterday, I urge you to talk to him.  Those items are downloadable; they’re available on the Bolles Swimming website (  I’m certainly going to do that when I get to a place where I can print—which is not here—a lot of great ideas.  Today, the discussion is on breaststroke.  Bolles School has a long history; Coach Dale has been part of it for two years now.  And I’ll let him fill in the rest.  So I’m looking forward to an interesting talk, as I’m sure you are.  Welcome, Coach Porter.

[Porter begins]

Thank you so much.  Bit easier being here for the second talk.  My name is Dale Porter; I am the Head Age Group Coach of the Bolles School.  The primary age that I teach is middle school; very similar to Bill [Thompson], and Bill thank you very much for that talk.  That’s my second time I was able to hear Bill: very humorous and keeps it lively and entertaining, and I bet his swimmers have a blast throughout the entire practice—you can imagine that.  I’m looking forward to his next talk on his backstroke starts.


I’m also responsible in coordinating, essentially, our pre-competitive group all the way up through our 14 year-olds; and I’ll touch briefly on those levels.  But essentially what we’re going to talk about today, today’s agenda, we’re going to quickly review Sergio’s….  At the Bolles Sharks, we have Age Group, we have… in the middle school we have a School group, we have a Non-School group: in Senior, we have a School group and our Non-School group.  Within our School group, we have two different coaches; so I’m fortunate enough that I get to teach the middle school School and Non-School groups.  And my responsibility is to feed three coaches off of that program into the Senior program.  So essentially we have two staff meetings a week.  One is simply administrative, make sure we’re all together and on the same page with our calendars and space and what needs to be completed as an organization; and on Thursdays, Sergio has a set-up where we take a turn presenting a talk, a one-hour talk—just like we’re doing today.  So this is a… we’re going to share some slides that he put together for us, for the type of breaststroke that he would like us to be teaching.  So today’s presentation is more-specific to that higher-end Age Groups swimmer, but I will at the end touch a little bit on thoughts on teaching breaststroke to the beginning swimmer.


The Breaststroke is a unique stroke.  In terms of its history, it’s our oldest stroke.  It requires great flexibility in our hips, knees and ankles.  And even in that statement in our last staff meeting, Sergio challenged us, through the Age Group program: we need to start this flexibility down with our 8&Unders, and we need to have a progression of stretches.  Personally it’s not there; it will be one of our goals in our Thursday workshops to get this all in-place within this calendar year.


It’s very important, through the research, that we’re warming-up our legs before we get into intense breaststroke kicking in practice; simply for the fact of the amount of stress that’s being placed on the joints in the body for this particular kick.  For me, this is my personal opinion: I want no pain from my Age Group swimmers.  They’re growing, and they’re feeling pain and discomfort here and there throughout.  But I tell them: if you’re uncomfortable, you need to make the adjustment.  I really put that on them.  There are so many ways we can continue to work Breaststroke, and allowing them to make an adjustment be it with a pull buoy, be it with a dolphin kick, be it with a flutter kick, putting the fins on and letting them kick with fins.  I let them choose what adjustment they want to a make, based on how they’re feeling.  And that’s my personal opinion.


Once we go through Sergio’s presentation, we’ll talk a little bit about beginner and the novice swimmers.  We’ll hit some drills that I’ve got listed here, and answer any questions for the type of notes.  As earlier stated, at I’ve got my resource page; and I encouraged everyone yesterday to start your research page.  If you have not started your resource page, make sure you’re doing that now.  And you’re welcome to grab mine, take out what you don’t like/don’t understand, and create and start a base for yourself in terms of how it makes sense to you.  And then, if we have any time left, we’ll take a peek at some videos that we shot recently.


In these next several slides, they are essentially Sergio’s presentation to us—so I give him credit for that.  He listed these components, that we’ll break down here in the presentation.  Most important to him is that straight line body: getting the body horizontal, tight and straight.  Bill Sweetenham mentioned it the other day (I think it was Bill, someone)… Dave Salo talked about a [Kosuke] Kitajima being one of the best athletes at getting streamline.  We’ll talk about a couple of different variations of what we can do with the catch with the hands, discuss the pull, the breathing, shoulders, that importance of lunging forward, the kick, and then finally the timing.


With the straight line, Sergio believes it’s the most important position in breaststroke; getting to here and taking advantage of that with the kick.  And, most important with this line, is keeping your center of gravity at the surface of the water, essentially our hips.  And we’ll be able to hopefully get to some videos to take a look at some body position with hips in the water.


Some different types of catches you might see in your swimming: turning the hands out on the catch or pressing down with the hands on the catch.  [Ernie] Maglischo talks about these two basic types in his writings.  We’ll just present them here, talk about the difference between the two, and we’ll share with you where we’re headed at the Bolles Sharks.  Turning the hands out and starting with those thumbs down, perpendicular to the bottom of the pool.  As we’re pressing out, we’re sliding those hands out.  Coach Gustavo Calado gave a great reference: if you’ve ever been someplace where they’ve got a beaded curtain, you’re just opening up those curtains—opening them up.  Sliding those hips forward: we believe that this generates more speed, but less power—and I’ll explain why here in a moment.  And with this particular catch, you’re using more muscles within the forearms; those muscles in the forearms are coming first and then transferring that power into the biceps.


You might see a high-elbow catch from some of your athletes, where those hands are pressing down sooner.  Maglischo saw studies where the power peaked much higher there, but then it faded off.  In his particular opinion, that fade-off translated into that delay of when the kick was coming up; and he also tended to support turning the hands out on the catch and that’s where we are at the Bolles School.  One of the other negatives of pressing down on that catch early: while it is powerful and the athlete feels strong in that moment, it is going to lower your center of gravity because it’s pulling the shoulders up sooner.  And it’s mostly a biceps-dominant stroke, which over time could lead to fatigue sooner.


In these two photos here, you’ll see in the upper-left a nice wide catch; we’ll talk about that body line and position here in a moment.  What I also like about that picture is a reference we can give to our athletes: when you’re using your arms, you’re pulling a thin needle or a cord behind you, your legs are streamlined.  And then when it’s time to kick—we’ll get to that later—kind of pushing a torpedo forward, powering forward.  Your upper body is already towards streamline and you’re kicking the body forward as if it were a needle or a torpedo.  In that bottom picture, you see those thumbs pointed down at the bottom of the pool, pinkies high, pressing out and really working those forearms.  In that upper left, you can see the muscles active on that forearm catch.  We’ll talk about streamline here and the importance of keeping the head in-line with the spine a little bit stronger.  I know with my Age Groupers, as soon as they start the catch, that head starts to come up, and we’ll see some video of that in a moment.  For teaching a breaststroke catch where we’re pressing out a bit wider, we also want teach keeping that head in streamline a bit longer.


After that catch, it’s time to start engaging the biceps; and the importance of keeping those fingers pointed down at the bottom of the pool.  I know me, we have some reference points about jumping forward.  And I know some of my athletes get excited about that, and they fail to really come through and complete.  They start bringing those hands forward sooner, and we’ll see a lot of power dropping off at that point.  But keeping those fingers pointed down at the bottom of the pool versus forward—if we’ve got those fingers forward through the whole stroke—we’ve lost a great opportunity to develop some power.


Within the Sharks, we’re teaching a later breath.  It takes a while to get used to.  I use a snorkel to help [them] just get comfortable with the bodyline, in the beginning; and then working some exercises into how to hold their breath.  Holding the breath to the last moment allows for buoyancy from the lungs and kind of helps the body shoot-up and forward into that wave.  By keeping that head in streamline longer, we’re also able to keep our hips high.


With the shoulders, it’s very important that as we begin that recovery that we’re scrunching forward in bringing those shoulders forward, getting ready to shoot and jump.  Sergio says, “Think about bringing the shoulders over the ears.”  With this launch forward (you can see in that photo there), the head’s already headed back to where the hands were.  The head has weight to it; it’s very important that we’re using that [weight] to throw the body forward.  Maglischo saw some early jumps in power, and he really didn’t understand… he kind of wrote… he had four theories going on as to why are we getting this peak in power right here.  It’s because the hands are coming forward and I’m still in that recovery phase of the kick; I really haven’t grabbed the water yet with the kick.  And we believe that it has everything to do with throwing that head forward and the leverage from the hips because the hips were already so high.  With the recovery of the hands being forward and underwater.


With the feet, we included this picture here.  Simply as we are coaches, we’re watching that those feet are recovering inside the hips.  Too often we’ll have an athlete that will want to come up and recover right away to the outside of the hips; we want them inside.  Very important that we’re talking about speed in that recovery as well: fast recovery.


We’ll talk about body position.  With trying to keep those knees back, we’re lifting the heels as opposed to dropping the knees.  For dropping the knees, drag and resistance; and we’ll see some photographs on that.  When we bring our heels up to the hips, we want to see that straight line from shoulder down to knees, keeping the knees back.  If we’re pulling our knees up under our body, no more straight line, shoulder to knees.  When we talk to our swimmers about kicks, we’re talking about kicking straight back.  While it’s impossible, we’re still going to try and get that image into their head.  The feet are going to head out.  But if we talk to them about getting kicking straight back, it’s going to be a very powerful kick.  After the kick and those feet finish down, we want to slowly take advantage of that snap and just keep curling them up, and curling them up, and getting them in streamline behind the body.  So very important that after that final propulsive point of that kick, we’re getting streamline.


As that swimmer is stroking, sliding those hips forward.  And accelerating forward through that lunge.  Here we’re going to see that lunge forward, through a quick couple of screens here.  The athletes have their breath, hands are headed forward, they’re grabbing the water, and throwing that head forward.  That’s the basic information that Sergio’s presented to us, and asked us to apply to our swimmers.


In terms of starts—these are my opinion—I believe that the start can be a little bit steeper and a little bit deeper.  It’s the one stroke when we’re not kicking first; we can have a little bit of momentum going in our favor—just a little bit.  It is an underwater action that we need to take; it needs to be trained.  It is just going to be a little bit different in terms of how we address it.  We’ve been talking: underwaters, underwaters, underwaters.  We’ll still got to be training our underwater breaststroke, and we can be drilling for that as well.


In our Thursday coaches clinic, one of Sergio’s assistants, Coach Mike, went through a pullout progression.  We were taking advantage of the early kick.  Within our program, we don’t teach it to our beginners or our novice swimmers; it’s just not part of the progression.  If it happens naturally, we let it go; we make sure that it’s legal.  But even all the way up through 14 years-old, when that undulation happens, that’s going to be up to them.  It’s not going to be an expectation on my part as to when they’re going to take that dolphin kick.  We’ll teach an early dolphin kick; we’ll let them decide when to put it into place.  They’ve got to get comfortable with it; they’ve got to trust it.  They’ve got to get over the nerves of oh, we’re going to get disqualified in it or not.  But the pullout, we’ve been teaching: pushing off the wall going deeper, separating the hands and dolphin kicking level.  And then taking that arm pull up towards the surface, and brining that momentum and that full set of lungs into that first breakout.


With the turns, I teach them to set it up underneath the flags.  They’ve got to be aware of where their head position is at when they’re around near the flags.  They need to know how many arm pulls from this point to the wall.  I want [them] to be finishing in streamline.  I want to be able to kick-touch; that’s the type of finish that we want to finish with.  You saw that… well, I’ll go back to those slides.  You’re coming through… sorry, kick and touch.  And that set-up is going to happen long before that.


So we’re going into the turn.  I want them to be in streamline when their hands get to the wall.  I want them to elbow-their-brother, phone-their-mother and be tight.  I ask my group, once they make that straight arm touch, to drop back down; I just want their head above water.  I’m watching for that athlete that’s grabbing the top of the wall and then trying to grab and get lift out of it.  I’m going to teach that different: we’re going to take the top of the wall away from them for a little bit.  If you’ve got old touch pads that aren’t working anymore, they can be… just depends on what type of pull you’ve got, I guess.  We’ve got a high deck: we have got a coping with big gutters.  So we can hang a touch pad on our gutters, and it creates a flat surface that they can’t grab anything to.  Yes?


[audience member]:  I’m wondering, are you teaching the breath… are you teaching them to come in and take that breath first, or are you teaching to stay low and them take the breathe as they going into the water?


[Porter]:  That is an excellent question.  I am going to want them to just inhale in this position right here.  I’ve not asked an athlete to come low and then come up high on the wall.  I’ve asked that athlete to come at that wall, and then change directions again quick.  Was that your question in terms of what angle I’m asking them to come to that wall at?


[audience]:  Yeah. In terms of the timing, you want the head low obviously, but do you want them to take a breath first thing right as they touch the wall, or is it more of a as they are transitioning and their legs come beneath them and they are kind of coming backwards?


[Porter]:  When do I want them to inhale?  It’s going to be a natural spot.  They’ve got to be yanking at the knees to come through.  I think it’s probably going to be a little bit later, as they’re heading underwater.


Pulling the knees to the chest, very important.  I know I’ve got a lot of hip turners: they like to come around and bring that hip in.  I want those hips back, knees in, and then turning and sliding the hips.  Very important that we’re teaching to streamline the feet behind them.  As those knees are coming in, keeping those feet together and hidden.  And I teach with my group that the breaststroke-to-breaststroke turn is different from the breaststroke-to-freestyle turn.  Breaststroke-to-breaststrokers are going to have to… when their feet leave the wall be, towards their chest; breaststroke-to-freestyle, they can be towards their back.  So I’ll encourage a little bit higher foot placement, breaststroke to freestyle, push off and deeper; and then I like a slow dolphin kick around into that stroke.  The last part of the IM and they really don’t want to be underwater that long, but that’s what I’m teaching them.


With the finish, again just like the turn, I want to set that up near the flags.  If there are any short strokes that have to take place, they need to take place before the T.  In that finish, I want the head in-between the arms, hands in front of the shoulder.  We’ve all seen too many races, recently, where that athlete was diving down and had to come up to the wall; and you saw the consequence of that.


With race strategy, things that I do within my sets.  I’ll do an 8×100 challenge with them, on the 8:00.  I’m going to have them count their strokes, I’m also going to get a time, and I’m going to average them.  I want them to see that progression as well; they’ll see the whole data.  So with race strategy, we can be talking about stroke count.  Stroke rate: I don’t do much with it within my program.  But it is something that I know some of you are very familiar with and can approach with your athletes.


I work a lot with splits, in terms of what the front-end speed should look like, what the back-half speed should look like.  We train it quite a bit, within the season.  It’s on their goal sheet:  If they tell me the time they want, I’ll write the splits back to them as to what I want from them.


You and I can be timing how long it takes to get them from the block out to the 15-meter mark.  I was reading Dave Salo article on the way to the clinic, after 2008; where he gave me the idea that I’m going to start timing the breaststroke swim into the wall.  And once they make that hand touch, timing how long it takes to get from that point out to the 15-meter mark.  I have a time of how long it takes them to get from the flags to the wall and back to the flags again.  And I tracked that, and I post it for them; and it gives them a challenge to improve and to work their way up on the list.  And it’s an all-time list, I keep it for… this is an all-time group list.


And then finish time, that’s one of my goals—I shared this the other day.  My team is getting beat by other teams inside the flags, and it’s happening too often.  That’s a strategy that I need to put in place.  And I will probably put it in place through fun and games and nice rewards at the end of it.  We’ll just start finishing practices either win-the-heat, get-out; win-the-heat, get-something; win-the-heat, doesn’t-have-to-do-something.  There’s a variety of different motivators that we can use to get our athletes racing to the wall.


In terms of our beginners, kinesthetic approach is still very important: be willing to manipulate their hands and their feet where you want them to go.  Too often if I’m working with an 8 year-old… and there are quite a few videos I couldn’t put, I didn’t have the heart to put up, with 8 year-olds where I was trying to talk-through what I wanted with them.  And they just kept doing the same thing [swaying head motion], pointing their toes; there’s just no connection to the audible.  But if I get down there and I get my hands on their feet and say no, this is where I want your feet, the kinesthetic approach works well.


You’re working these skills from the deck, from in the water; having them stand on the deck, stand in the water.  Sitting, having their chest against the wall, working the kick; helps keeps their knees back and helps keeps them from pulling their knees up under their body.  Willingness to get in the water (that’s a point later), it’s so very important.  If you’re willing to get in the water at this level, your results are going to happen quicker—exponentially quicker.  But holding their feet in the position of the catch, and just letting them push and go and shoot and try to streamline as far as they can—either with the board or without.


ASCA’s suggestions for the progression: is to teach timing first.  Head up, kick and dive.  To teach kicking all the time, and then end the arms later-on in the progression.  We need to explain what we want from them, we need to demonstrate, and we need to practice it, over and over and over.  Because even at my level, I’ve got illegal breaststroke kicks coming-in to my group.  We need to keep after them.


Develop your keywords.  What works for you?  Whether it’s up, out, kick and glide; up, out around and down; slooooow quick.  Using colors to identify what’s slow, what’s fast and what’s stop.  Out, squeeze and jump.  And using your voice to bring about speed.


Noodles work great at the beginner level.  Setting them underneath their elbows or shoulder/armpits, and letting them work from that position.  It is a great way that you can still be in communication with them and they can be feeling the skill.  Bob Steele’s book, Games, Gimmicks & Challenges, is great for reference, I suggest it to you, use it, have it in your library.  And on page 172-174—I can’t do it any better than that—there’s a wonderful progression in teaching the skills of breaststroke.


In the Novice level, we’re going to add the pull-out.  Our coaches, what works for you, whatever you’re comfortable with.  I’ve seen one coach that goes through desserts: apples, peaches, pumpkin pie.  And then goes through the pull, strawberry shortcake.  And then works on the kick.  ASCA suggests using large elephants, in terms of counting: one elephant, two elephant, three elephant, and so forth.  So whatever works for you; you can change things up and try different things.



Alright, this is off my resource page.  These are drills that I’ve written down or read from authors.  (If you love to write: thank you for doing that for me.  It is the way that I learn best.  So I appreciate it… when somebody asks you if they can do an interview with you, please say yes.  Because I’m going to learn from it; and if I’m learning from it, many of you are as well.)


But I’ll do:

  • Right-arm-only from streamline from the hips.
  • One-arm progression: I can do it in all strokes. That’s essentially being able to hold that balance and control two arm-pulls on the next cycle, three arm-pulls each side on the next round.
  • Three kicks and a pull: tremendous for holding that body line when you’re working independent sides of the body. Three-kicks-and-a-pull or three-pulls-and-a-kick, and fighting for that streamline, holding streamline, coaching streamline through that.
  • Three right, three left, three together, is your arm pull sequence.
  • Three up, three down: again another great drill for bodyline. It keeps that head in-line with the spine when you’re underwater.  It’s just normal strokes without pull-outs.  Three strokes underwater holding your breath.
  • Four strokes and a pull-out.
  • Eight strokes or less: you decide what is a proper number of strokes for your level. Do it through experiment; find out what that number is for you.  But it’s a counting… teaching them how to count strokes and work on increasing distance-per-stroke.
  • A-okay: is simply taking surface away from the hand and forcing you to grab more water with that forearm. It also gives me an identification: I want those fingers point it down.  Let’s them feel the water surging through that circle as it’s coming through.
  • Alternating a breaststroke kick with a dolphin kick: can help with the lunging and powering forward.
  • Catch-up stroke: again, one arm at a time.
  • Crossover: coming through, keeping those elbows up, and then crossing those hands, bring the elbows in. So working on accelerating and working on keeping those fingers down.  Kind of like a mid-scull; so you can even do some mid-scull work and then three crossovers.
  • Using just a dolphin kick to get through.
  • Eggbeater kick: great for warming up the legs. Just one leg at a time.  Some kids don’t like it; if they don’t have the flexibility, they certainly don’t like it; but great coordination tool.
  • Fist drill: again, taking away surface area from the hands and speeds things up.
  • Flutter kick: I’ll use a flutter kick to develop hand speed. They want to use a flutter kick and just relax and glide out here; I want to use a flutter kick just soon as they push forward and find that streamline, they’re into their next stroke.  So I work that with tempo.
  • Head-up breaststroke: it forces a good strong kick.
  • Body position. If your focus is on body position, just leave that drill in your pocket, you don’t need it right now.
  • Breaststroke on your back: for the younger ones especially in learning the kick, it can also be a good warm-up for them. It keeps the knees on the surface; if they’re knee dominant in terms of recovering, you’ll see it right away.  They’ll be up and out of the water.  So it teaches bringing the heels to the bottom.  Whether you want to use the hands or not, it’s up to you.  This is more about the legs and the recovery of the feet, streamline kicking: from the very, very early beginning.
  • Thumb-up breaststroke: teaches my swimmer to keep the hand underwater. They can pitch-in.  And I want to see the thumbs-up like a periscope of a submarine pushing forward, and then getting that head back where those hands were.  Keeping the hands at the surface versus putting those hands down.
  • Sculling: front scull with breaststroke, mid-scull with breaststroke—there’s a big one there.
  • Three pulls, three strokes, three kicks, three strokes.
  • Elbows up: I’m looking for it right in here as they’re coming through and then around.  It’s more of something that I just say and I’m looking for; it might be a note for me to look for it when we’re doing elbows-up drill.
  • Three fast strokes off your pull-out and then finish long. There’s also a thought that you want to take those first couple of strokes to get into it, so there’s another drill: two settle and four fast is in the third column.  Just depends on what your preference is in terms of getting down the pool.
  • Head up, pull fast: is good for getting on those forearms.
  • One arm, one leg: great for finding streamline, as they’ll end-up way-out over here when they’re done. I mean just naturally you’re here, and you just got to keep working on getting tight.  And one arm, one leg, it’s taking one arm, crossing it over the back, and holding the opposite leg.  They don’t like that drill;  they don’t go anywhere, they want a drill that gets them some place.
  • Hang loose: is just another way of reducing surface area on the hand. Some people don’t have the flexibility of finding that [hang-loose hand position].  I don’t know if that’s a video game thing, but a lot of kids don’t like holding their hands that way anymore.
  • Peace drill: surface area.
  • Chopping block: I don’t use it that much, but it’s a drill I’ve got. You’re going to need a stronger athlete, stronger kick.  But essentially there’s no arm pull.  You’re going to come up for your breath of air and then kick forward again.  Up for your breath of air and kick forward again: finding that streamline.  My athletes don’t like it because they’re used to that to get a breath of air; they don’t want to use any other muscles to support their breath of air.  But I’m going to ask them to get their breath of air forward, and then kick and find that streamline.
  • Scoop and shoot: any way you want to talk about jumping forward; it’s about accelerating, coming forward. Body position awesome to tip their head forward to help get that lean; getting the head coming through.
  • Using a pull buoy helps get those hips up.
  • Sliding the hips forward: is something we want to see. We’ll tell them it’s something we want to see; not something they can necessarily feel.  But that’s more for you: to look, to make sure those hips are up high.
  • Underwater pull-outs: in terms of how many of them we can add. We can go two pull-outs in a row underwater.
  • One right arm butterfly stroke, one left arm butterfly stroke, two breaststroke strokes. And on those two breaststroke strokes, I’m going to have them hold their breath, working on body position, working on streamline.
  • Pinkies touching: to your preference. We don’t want to see the palms up, but it’s just, again, to get the pinkies to touch.  I want them to touch early, not necessarily touch way-up in streamline.  If they’re touching in streamline, their hands are up and we’re not teaching that; we’re teaching those palms to be down at the bottom of the pool at streamline.
  • Cobra‘s just a body position, another head throw. I want to see that athlete be willing to throw that head forward off of that breath, like a snake striking.
  • We talked about two settle, four fast.
  • Timing drill, Coach Christian loves this. I’m fortunate enough: I’m surrounded by wonderful breaststrokers.  Sergio’s a bronze medalist at the Olympics; Christian, Olympic Trials breaststroker level; Coach Mike, 400 IMer, he assists Sergio.  I’ve got a wealth of information around me, and it’s a fantastic tool to be able to walk and ask them questions about this stroke at all times.  But Christian likes 3-2-1 timing.  And with 3-2-1 timing, 4×25: first 25, 3-second hold between strokes; second 25, 2 seconds; third 25, 1 second; last 25, it’s just a half… really it’s feet touch, let’s go, feet touch come on, let’s go.  And he likes that in a pre-meet warm-up as well, just to work on that timing.
  • Out slow, in fast: you’re just working-on the face in the water, out slow and then jumping and accelerating. Out slow, in fast; out slow, in fast.  And very important that as they’re coming out slow, that they’re holding that head in streamline.
  • Vertical kicking: just depends on if you’ve got access to deep water. But vertical kicking, you can be looking as to how they’re recovering?  Are they bringing their heels up to their bottom or are they pulling their knees forward as their heads up-and-out of the water.
  • Sit and pull: Dave Salo talked about… he didn’t care what end of the pool he ended up on—and I had read that statement from a long time ago and said, We’ll figure out a way to get you back. And so oftentimes if we’re down at the other end, they’ll be, “We’re down at the other end, what are we going to do?”  Sit-and-pull your way back, it’ll be fine.  We’ll do sculling drill, we’ll do something.  We’ll add something fun in there, and it’s also little bit of recovery at the same time before we get into another set.  But sitting down, pulling those knees up, and then working on bringing those forearms in right in front of those knees as they come forward.
  • Double pull-out: we talked about underwater pull-out.
  • Underwater pull-outs: you can do 25s underwater with the pull-out all the way down.
  • and then kicking with hands behind your hips, something that I added most recently.


Can we look at a little video?  (We’re on the early side.)  Here’s a kicking video here.  I apologize: with PowerPoint, I don’t have the control that I like.  So if I want to stop something some place, I have to just try and guess.  Let’s take a look at this shot here.  We’ve still got those feet; we’re trying to keep them inside the hips on the recovery.  She’s very flexible with her ankles.  Knees might be a little bit wide for how flexible she is; I want them in just a little bit tighter.  As she’s finishing—she’s on a kickboard—but I’d like to see that after she finishes here that she’s aware of what she’s doing with her feet.  I’d like to see those feet kind of get a little bit tighter into a streamline.


This is Catherine in a full stroke.  And the only thing I’d be concerned about here in terms of her body position, I feel like she’s throwing that hip some.  There are a couple of strokes I’m worried about how deep she is.  But if we’re looking at those hips, keeping those hips up on that line.  And the one thing I will take this and show with her is I’d like to see those legs a little bit tighter.  If you looked at Catherine from the top, something we’ve been working on for a couple of years now, is she gets into this position right here and she forgets that the arms are very important to be in streamline here.  She’s relaxed: she’s elbows out and little bit too wide.


Here’s a video of an athlete just kicking vertically.  (I’ve got one here in a moment without the wall).  But using the wall here as a reference, simply to let him know he can’t pull those knees forward; he’s got to keep those knees coming back, lifting those heels up to the bottom, snapping through.  Here, you can see the palms out with the catch.  The head… holding that head in streamline, a little bit longer.  With this athlete here, with Jacob, I’d like to see the hips up a little bit higher.  And I do some work with him and drills with him in getting those hips up higher.


I think with many of these videos here, we caught them after a Saturday morning practice.  And I don’t know about your Saturday morning practice, but they weren’t too happy about staying a little bit extra to get videotaped.  And their pop just isn’t quite there today.


But here, this point forward in terms of the pull-out, this is one thing in terms of Age Group swimming that I’m working with.  At this point, when the athlete is starting to kick their hands forward, my athletes are pulling their head up just too soon.  I’ve got to teach them to keep that head in streamline longer.  Jacob’s doing a good job with that there: he got all the way to streamline before he brought his head up.  But even at this point, I still want that head in streamline as he’s coming in through into his breakout stroke.  And I want his hips higher.


This is a sit-scull drill that we were talking about.  Just working on nice high elbows, slicing that hand in across the front of the knees.  This is vertical kicking from the back, working on recovering those feet inside the hips.  We can see the line of the recovery and its vertical kicking.  He’s going to be… it’s going to be tough to point his toes.  If he goes and points his toes here, he’s going to sink, so he’s probably keeping his feet perpendicular just for a little bit more power.  Coming into the wall here, I want the head in-between the arms.  I’m not a big fan of Jacob’s pull-out here: you can see he’s going to pull his elbow out sideways instead of straight back along the body.  If he does pull back, he’s going to come back behind his back.  And he’s just not quite in a great line, as he’s coming off.  He likes to kick early, and get his hand separation, and go through.


This is Ryan.  We taped Ryan for his arm pull.  He’s got his palm out.  He’s holding his head in streamline.  He’s got a great slice-in through and under his body.  Grabs hold of that water, in that perpendicular arm pull accelerating under.  We too filmed this right after a Saturday morning practice, and it was a long one for them—I was thankful they stayed in.  But you can see he’s doing a good job there keeping his head in streamline; his head is up a little bit before the hand sweep out.  But a nice straight line in that shot right there.


This is Joseph and he’s got one of those fun finishes at the end of his kick.  But he has a very powerful kick.  We teach pushing off down, coming through and up, and into that first pull-out.


This is James, with a turn we didn’t like it all.  But what you need to see about James here, watch his hips, stay right up high.  That was a lazy turn—lazy turn.  And we’re going to work on that with him there; he’s got to stay streamlined through that process.  It’s not all that possible; I mean, there is going to be some movement.  We’re going to show you, we’d put a line on an athlete using a Dartfish, and you can see that it would be very difficult to keep that body in a straight streamline throughout those steps.


Amy is light, she really can keep her hips up high.  And she too, I’d like to keep that head in just a little bit longer on that streamline.


I’m not going to bore you too much with this slide, but I want you to see the wingspan on Ryan here, keeping those elbows up as he slices all the way through and into that stroke.


This is John here.  He has nice, high hip position throughout his stroke and good streamline.  I think I got another shot of Shawn from the side.  Good line, good body line, good hips.  Notice his pull-up was a little bit different than the other athletes; I’ll surely be talking to Sergio about that.


(I want to show you this slide here and then share with you some tidbits of information.)  This is a pull-out where we did the Dartfish.  And you can see that through the steps, Sheryl does a very good job keeping that body in a tight streamline through the steps.  Good shoulder scrunch after her hands are at her hips and coming through.


Before I take questions, I just wanted to share with you something that has helped me tremendously.  I wish I had breaststroke to show with you, but I don’t have breaststroke per se.  but it’s a software used on the iPhone; it’s called Coach’s Eye.  And what I like about Coach’s Eye: instead of using the software that’s already there, where I tap, tap, tap, tap, tap or free software; I don’t have to fast forward.  It’s got a thumb wheel down at the bottom and I can come forward and back with my image.  I’ve taken… I’ve spent $30 on what’s called an Aqua Box.  And if you just search Aqua Box, you’ll be able to find it; it’s around that $30 range.  It’s not available in too many places.  There are two sizes: there’s one for an Android phone, one for an iPhone—make sure you get the right one for your phone.  But I can put this in and I can stick it underwater taping, bring it back out, analyze it right there with the athlete, show them what I want them to work on—a simple skill or what not—and then I can also text it right to them.  And I just wanted to give you a demonstration of one.  The technical terms might not be correct here, but you get the idea with the type of tool that you can be working with.  I can take the whole video and then edit it with sound.


Her shoulders here are almost vertical.  It doesn’t let her hand… it doesn’t let her elbow keep a high elbow set, and forces this hand to kind of come sideways when we’ve got a straight line and dropping her elbow down that much.  We’ve got to work on less body roll here, less body roll.  We want that angle to be more… like that with the shoulder blades.  As opposed to you’ve got a vertical catch going on here.  And you can see what the result is, where this hand is actually higher than the elbow down here.  That’s not a very strong pull.  We want this finger to be pointed down at all times; we want the fingers pointed at the bottom of the pool throughout the entire stroke.  Less shoulder roll, a little bit less from the hips as well, please.  Thank you.

[commentary ends]


It’s called Coach’s Eye, and it has been one of my favorite tools this year.  So I just wanted to share that with you before getting out of there.  Lot of information, we got plenty of time for questions.  Can I answer any questions for you?  Yes.


[audience member]:  At the beginning you kind of mentioned flexibility training. What kind of exercises are you doing?


[Porter]: Dryland flexibility exercises that we’re doing.  I think the direction we’re going to be heading in is asking the question of a therapist first, making sure that we’re sitting and rolling, what we can do in terms of loosening it up, in terms of are we going to sit and down or not.  I’m going to wait and get a professional recommendation before I put that into play.  It’s not there yet.  Right now, our general stretching is standard right now, and I’ve got a list of what our stretching routine is.  I can show it to you here on the screen.


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