I really consider dry-land training kind of a secret weapon. I think more and more people are using it and if you can use this to help work on your weak points or to allow your kids to swim more and not get injured, you could have some really phenomenal benefits. What is your team lacking? When we first started our kids couldn’t get off the walls or their shoulders were bad. Maybe you find that they cannot enter the catch phase very well or that they don’t have the flexibility. All of these things can be addressed in dry-land. You really have to think of dry-land as a process in helping create better, stronger swimmers working specifically towards a goal. So some of the areas that you could really be looking at such as jump training and shoulder stabilization we will be going through so you don’t have to write them down right now.
So in terms of jumping improvement, plyometrics, calisthenics and burpies these are kind of a laundry list of things that you can do and it is definitely not everything. It is some things that have really helped us. Also weight training (which we haven’t done a lot of), jump rope, diving simulations and running up stairs are also good. This activity is the hurdle hops and you can start off much lower and I would recommend having your kids do some stairs and some running in the weeks leading to this, maybe jumping over like pizza boxes or if you take a couple of kick boards and put them together. Have the kids jump on there or doing up downs on something that is maybe six inches high because their legs and their ankles might not be used to this. So, this is me doing hurdle hops and you notice there the arms driving through. If the arms are late you are going to get kids doing double hops because they don’t have their arms timed correctly. Also being able to time them so that you are explosive with your arms can help you get further off your starts and your touch-offs. It is very important that you can use all of this because if you asked a high jumper to go up and high jump without using their arms, obviously they are not going to be anywhere near what they would be if they could use their arms. The kids always say this activity, hurts their shoulders the most or their trapezius the most the next day. It is not that they are hurt, but they are not used to driving their arms so forcefully and using those trapezius muscles. In this activity landing with both feet and landing on the front of your foot is important. You do not want to stomp the ground. Every once in a while you hear kids are trained to punish the ground, hoping that it is like a spring board and it is going to return the favor. You want to land soft as kittens and explode up. Let your knees and your ankles all absorb it. If you land with your heels on the ground then you are taking one little lever that can absorb all that blow when you are striking the ground away and your legs are taking everything instead of your ankles with your calves helping out. So, landing on the front of your feet and being able to judge the distance between the hurdles is kind of important, but you will figure that out as you get going.
So looking next at box hops. Now, a lot of kids want to jump from this position on the box all the way back down to the ground on the other side of the box. I want them to explode on the box, thinking of the ground as hot and then just walk to the end of the box and step down. Don’t jump down, especially in the beginning because they are already a foot and a half off the ground and then they start jumping up another foot and a half and they are much higher than they thought they would be so just have them step down. I would grab bigger boxes as they get better so you can be in control of this stuff. So I step to the end, step down and jump up and notice that the arms led the body. If they are late you miss out. Then you can extend this with box hurdle hops. Just make sure that they are able to jump over a certain height. When you do box to box, unless you are going to have the kids step down and walk around, a kid may be able to jump pretty high, but when you give them a depth jump this is important when you are working with depth jumps. When you are coming from a high area landing on the ground and then jumping back, if you are coming from such a high area that they cannot jump as high as they would be without the box then it is too high. Their central nervous system is doing a lot of funky things to make sure that they do not hurt themselves and you are actually teaching them not to be good jumpers. So if a person can jump really high but can’t do depth jumps really well, I put the hurdle in there because they have to jump high and learn to raise their knees, but their center of gravity isn’t higher than they would be off the box. Don’t give them too high of an area to jump to before they are ready for it.
Now, on to quick box hops. You are just jumping up and down with the same box. They are very explosive. Of course, if they can’t do more than two of them you might have chosen too high of a box for them at that point so it is really important that you are prescriptive in this or that you are not trying to force a kid into a situation that you want them to be in. You have got to nurture them along and you will be very shocked at the improvement the kids can get in just like eight weeks.
Q/A: Well, generally when you are doing something explosive like that, I put it first. I would not put this at the end when you have just crushed their legs because you are again teaching them that not to be explosive. Some would say that you are teaching them to be explosive when they are tired, but I am going for maximum explosive force. You are not going to get your best out of someone when you have just over-fatigued their muscles, so when you are doing sets and reps when they are tired you are actually teaching them to be less explosive so when they tire out, that is it. Generally my rule of thumb is I start off with no more than six barriers, the hurdle hops and the box hops and with these I will give them a time, twelve seconds you know, to try and stay in a certain energy system because they should be able to maintain it and then give them some rest and I am big on rest on that because you are trying to get them explosive.
So let’s say with the hurdle hops like five sets of eight if you are trying to get them explosive. Depending on how well they recover I actually can usually only do it once a week and I can get really good results, but we also strengthen the legs in other times of the week. The more explosive something is like that the longer it takes. Some people can take a week to heal from something or more because it is so explosive and their body is not used to it, so it is kind of like swimming when anything really, really, really difficult is going to take longer to recover, especially when there is impact involved.
Q.A: Rest – I usually try and give them two minutes rest, but I have long lines and they just go to the end of the line and I tell them it is really important also that the kids do not go one after each other on these because someone will have a problem and they will land on each other. They do not necessarily get injured, although that is possible when they land on a hurdle, they could slip and fall down, etc., but I usually say wait until the other person is done or they are like on the sixth hurdle. Two, I don’t want anybody standing between hurdles. I want the ground hot. There is benefit to doing hurdle hops when you stop in between. If you have a lot of time like I hear some of these coaches have like over an hour and fifteen minutes a day in three different sessions, you could do a lot of neat things like that, but I would stick to just keeping the ground hot so that they can shorten their contact time. One of the reasons why Michael Jordan could jump so high and so far is because he had this really short contact time. The longer the contact time the more speed that they lose when they are trying to drive it into their jump. So whether you are running horizontally trying to go up or if you are bouncing or you come to the wall, you won’t be able to get that snap reaction if you stay there too long, especially if you are doing step-up starts you want to teach them the ground is hot. If they go really slow you lose that inertia and you are not as explosive.
Q/A – It is rubber on top. If you make your own you want to make sure that it is rubber on top and that you do not have a lot of hard edges because on the boxes kids will catch their shins on them, maybe they’re not focusing enough and it keeps them mindful because you have got to get on top of that box, but the major issue is you can’t start too low. I always start the kids real low in the beginning. The highest a hurdle can be for a college high hurdle is thirty-nine inches and I sometimes will raise it past the little buttons that hold it up for some kids because they are jumping so well. Even with those kids, I will start at the beginning because I have no idea what they have been doing beforehand and to say that a kid is going to be at their max ability, to be able to take that impact is kind of a risk and it is not really worth it.
So calisthenics for jumping. There will be other calisthenics later for overall strength, but for jumping you do squats. Make sure, you know, when you do your squats that your weight is on your heels (don’t have them on their toes) and try and allow them to go deep. If they are not going real deep the way I have been trained to do squats when I was kind of into body building, then you are actually creating a situation where the person can get hurt because their strength isn’t in a full range of motion.
Lunges – there are a lot of neat lunges and a lot of videos out there. You go to the side, you go to the front, you do twists with a med ball or weights, etc.; those are all wonderful and great functional things which are great for strengthening. As I said before, when the girls chose to do that and I asked them how many they wanted to do, they totally created that warm-up. You know, they can really make you sore the next day so you want to watch that there isn’t a large kick set the next day or something. Also, I think it is important that you do exercises together so if there is an explosive workout in swimming you do explosive things on land, but I wouldn’t necessarily do it after a lactate set because you have just dragged so much out of those kids if you go and send them onto something explosive you might get them pulling something so it is really not worth it. You want to judge whether they are able to do that. If they are too tired, don’t have them do something explosive. You can have them do something hard, but not explosive. To be explosive you have to be somewhat rested.
Donkey kicks – that is when you are on all fours and you are kicking your leg back. It is really good for working the glutes and if you haven’t done those before they do not seem like you are doing much, but the next day the kids are always crying and they say things like “I don’t understand, it really didn’t hurt that much when we did it,” and people can add things to that. I will have them do donkey kicks where they are on all fours and they raise their right hand off the ground and they will donkey kick with their left leg so now you are getting some Pilates moves in there and it is actually similar to a pose called (I can’t really say it in my yoga classes because it is high school kids), Viagrasina. It is also similar to a kind of a tiger pose. Make sure you have a straight back (not arched) because then you are going to have the kids working the spinal abductors, maybe a little more than you want them to. In that case, maybe you could have them do the upper kicks with one leg up and it is more functional so you can have them touch things like that, so you have to make it a little more interesting because after a couple times it is really not as much fun so you add a couple of things to it and it is really not that much more difficult.
Jumping jacks – I don’t have video for that. You can have your legs go forward, to the side and they are somewhat underrated in preparing kids for plyo’s. Mountain climbers – I won’t demonstrate that because it will just look too silly, but you have two hands on the ground and you bring your knees up and back. Burpies – I do have and I have a couple of different types of burpies so you have seen that probably before. You go down and you touch the ground and it is very important that you are not letting your hips sag. My knees are bent there, but I am not letting my hips sag there because you are just releasing all your abdominals and then the weight goes onto your bones which in yoga is a no-no. You always want to support your bones. You don’t just let your bones carry your weight. Now burpies with a twist. Don’t ask me why it starts in the middle, but I do it twice so you have probably seen these before and then you notice that I am on my side there. Believe it or not, the kids have a real problem with doing this the first time. They do not understand how to bring one leg through and be kind of on their side so it is kind of neat that they get to figure out. However, notice that you are going to have to take more time than you thought explaining how to do an exercise which actually looks pretty simple; it is just the kids haven’t worked in those planes before which makes it actually more important and it really helps them pushing off the walls.
Weight training for jumping – you have your squats, your lunges, and this is mostly with weights and you could do that. We don’t have time for that and there is no way I could cycle thirty kids through free weight exercises and be able to have the accountability that I want so that they are doing it correctly and not hurting themselves. I think it could be advantageous – especially out of season. Jumping rope is wonderful. It shortens the contact time which as I told you before helps you transfer that speed into your jump and it is great for rhythm. The kids find it really fun and there are different things that you can do with the jump rope such as jumping on one foot, running while you are jumping rope and again it also prepares the kids for plyometrics. It keeps them light on their feet, especially when you are doing those step-up touch-offs.
Diving simulation – that is a pole vault porta-pit so that is what the pole vaulters land in and that little spot that is cut out like a jigsaw puzzle, that is where the boxes go when they go up so it does look kind of odd, but it is the softest mat that we have and you just dive into the sucker. The kids feel safe and they will explode onto a nice soft mat where a lot of times they are a little nervous. Maybe you have your blocks in the shallow end and even if it is 4 ½ – 5 feet deep, they might be a little nervous about slapping, etc., but you can get them to be really explosive and then that will transfer over into their starts so they can be explosive going in the water and carry it off in obviously the fastest they could be in the water. Then we have simulation with touch-offs where you actually practice the motion by staying low and driving forward and you can see you get a lot further, but it gives them more practice. I would do this after warm-up, but more towards the front. You could do it after plyo’s, but I wouldn’t make it the very last thing you do because then they are tired, their form is crummy and again, it is never a good time to practice a bad habit especially if they are going to be doing something similar to that at the state meet. You want them to have the right thing in the right neuron pads at the state meet or things that are very important. Running can definitely help. Their jumping ability builds strength and prepares legs for later stages and plyometrics obviously.
Using stairs really builds explosive legs. All through track they use it for the athletes who need to use their legs even javelin throwers. It is inside so during the winter you can do it. You do not have to necessarily get them all bundled up, which is going to waste a ton of time; take them outside and run if you want them to do something cardio. It builds character and prepares legs for plyometrics and also adds in running. When you are doing stairs you jump up and you only jump a little bit higher than the next stair. The kids are not bounding up the stairs they are trying to make it to the next stair so there isn’t actually as much impact. You can have them walk on the way down and I always tell the kids that I want you to go down safely and be careful. There is always a rule, if you trip twice then I send you home because maybe the third time their face goes into the ground. We have never had that happen because I have had that rule so I am a firm believer in stairs. There are so many things that you can do with it beyond just running up the stairs. Hopping up the stairs, wheelbarrows up the stairs and things like that.
Shoulder stabilization – Here are body rows. So, the knees are bent and the higher you have the bar the easier it is because you will be on an angle and you don’t have to lift your body as much. I have the knees bent so these are the easy version and you come up and touch the bar each time. Obviously, the wider your hands are – the more it is your shoulders and back, the closer your hands are the more your elbows have to bend so you are using your arms more, so depending on what you want to do with your kids, that would be something you want to change. I wouldn’t have them go so wide as this so that they are hardly moving, but changing it like three inches could have a really profound effect on what you are working and it is also very good for their forearm strength which is good for sculling and catching in the water so we will show the ones with your feet on a bench. You could do also the easy ones with just one foot on the ground and you have the other one up. This one you could have one foot on the ground. You could do these with gymnastics rings. This probably by far is one the most important things we do for stabilizing our shoulders. When we have incorporated this we have had a lot fewer shoulder issues. It strengthens the back so much there and helps balance it out. If you think of swimming, you work your chest, you work your lats, you work your triceps; well your chest and your lats both attach kind of to the front and they are both kind of inward rotators, so if you work the back it helps balance that out. A lot of times when you have impingements (at least what our physical therapists and doctors told us) that is actually because you have what they say “Cadillacs up front and Volkswagens in the back,” so you are very powerful up front, but you got nothing in the back so you are pulling that humerus up into the joint, it is jamming the muscle and then when the muscle is irritated it gets bigger and so the problem just keeps going and going and going. Body rows are probably one of the most important things we do to stabilize shoulders. Bent over bench flies, now with my track guys I would have them do it without the bench, but for some reason with all our swimmers, they keep bending their back. They can’t keep their back straight when they are doing the exercises so I put them on the bench. It is not necessarily functional, but it has helped us stay in the water and keep our shoulders in line and strong and stabilized.
Q/A: Incline. Yeah incline it a little bit so that my hands do not make or my swimmers’ hands do not make contact with the ground. You don’t necessarily have to do that and it does change the exercise a little bit and where it is focusing, but it does engage the trapezius and rear delts and that is what are what we are working for. These are the bent over flies with my back straight. You have got to bend your knees a lot. I try and keep my thighs right up against my chest. Again, a lot of swimmers have problems with this. They are tight in certain areas because they are in the water and if you want to strengthen their shoulders you don’t have time to go and loosen everything else up so that they can do these correctly, but you want their shoulders stabilized then I would put them on the bench.
Upright rows – for the upper trapezius they are a safe exercise. You can do it with all your kids. You have them go in and you grab a plate and tell them not to drop it on their feet, but usually the plates down there in the weight room will have a ridge on it or they might have a hole that you can grab and you just pull it up, all the way to your chin. You can do it with one leg. Make sure that your legs are bent. Don’t have your swimmers lock their legs out because then their back will tighten and then all the weight is on their back. As soon as they bend the knees and you tell them to tighten their core, then the muscles are supporting the back because then if you do this when they get tired they will develop back injuries when you are really trying to protect their shoulders and we all know we don’t want them to get any more hurt than what they are. We have also had the kids walk with weights depending on their abilities. Sometimes we will have different exercises and what not because you can have everybody doing the weights and you can watch everyone of them and make sure that they are doing it right, while if you have thirty stations, God knows what is going on if I am not watching. Okay, I have to make sure that the sound is off here because I am using an actual barbell there and the sound is like nails on a chalk board so these are abdominal rollers. You know back in the 1960’s and 1970’s you could buy these things for your abs which go all the way out and come back. Again I want your back stabilized. You don’t want some crazy arch in your back. You want to maybe curl that tail bone under as they say in Pilates or support the chi. Now, you can also do that going off in different angles which is a little harder with the barbell, and sometimes you have got to go with what you have readily available. You could also do it as they get better with one leg. This is a more advanced exercise. I do not know if I would do it with younger kids because they just won’t be able to make it and you can get a lot more out of doing some other building up exercises that we will be doing. I have also noticed that with our very, very best sprinters that they are good at this before they even try it. They don’t even know what it is, but some of our best sprinters are excellent at this. They are so strong in through that area with their hip flexors, their core, all the way out from knees to finger tips. If you could do it from your toes I would be impressed, but they are already good at it so there is some sort of linkage there and I think more so for sprinters than distance swimmers.
Ring exercises – Basically, most of the things that you could do you could do with rings. You could do your rows with rings. You could change it. You could have them do push-ups you have push-ups with rings and as you raise them higher then they have less weight on their arms. Obviously if they are almost parallel to the ground and you had your feet up doing push-ups or dips or rows are much more difficult, but as you raise them higher the weight is less so you can do those with kids who maybe are a little younger, etc., and then there are a lot of abdominal exercises you can do. You put your feet in the rings and you walk out and you walk back. I would try and switch as many things over to rings as soon as they learned the exercise because they have to stabilize everything. Sometimes I just have the kids hold themselves there and as soon as they bring their arms out they fall. Now you don’t want to have them like ten feet in the air obviously. I have it basically where they have to bend their knees to walk out. They are not climbing up like they are in gymnastics and someone has to help, their feet are already there. Too, if something goes flying they aren’t going to pull something because again they are falling like two inches. Then there are much more difficult exercises like muscle ups where you are doing a pull-up and then you go into a dip. I have yet to have any of my swimmers do that. My pole- vaulters can rack those things off, but that would be the highest end that you could do and it is something neat. I am sure if one of my swimmers does it they are going to be very proud and then the other kids will want to do it.
Q/A on ring exercises – Yeah, you can do it with the chin-up bar too, however, I demonstrated that for the guys last year and I had some kids who could do dips and they could do pull-ups, but one of our kids went and he got up and he kind of shimmed his way up and then he just released and he landed on his ribs and hurt himself. I guess I should have done a better job but he recovered from that and he ended up doing a fantastic job for us at the state meet going 21.2 anchoring our relay. He just did a phenomenal job, but obviously with the rings they are less likely to run into that metal object and they have to do a little more stabilization, but when I first learned muscle-ups I did it with a bar. I think you can get the rings from Jump USA. I will hang them from like a very, very high pull-up bar and depending what we are doing, most of the time I want them kind of low so if they make a mistake they aren’t falling anywhere. And if you were to do like a muscle up I would start them from their knees and pull-up and then go so you probably have to raise them a little bit, but I have always erred on the side of safety with that stuff.
Hand stands – now I think this is really, really beneficial for their shoulders and our kids just love this and if you get a little practice, it is actually pretty easy to spot a kid and after a while they can do a handstand to walk on their hands. You just stay as they are walking towards you so their back is towards you and you just have one hand on one of their feet and they start walking and when they want to come down, they control the other foot so they bring the other foot down and then you release. So this is me walking on my hands here and like I said a lot of the kids once they learn how to do it they love it and they want to do it all the time and I would rather have them doing things that they want to do than force feeding stairs down their throat every day.
Q/A – The walking on hands I would do once. I would probably combine that with core every day, then I put my shoulder stabilization and I would do a little bit every day, but this is kind of intense and it takes a while so I wouldn’t be able to get in the plyometrics and the stairs and what not and some of the other core exercises I want so I would only do that seven minutes at most during a practice or a dry-land period and they will end up going home and practicing that stuff on their own which is kind of neat. I try and make sure that they have a good foundation of understanding it. Another thing that is very, very important. I am glad you brought that up again. When they are doing handstands you want to make sure that their back is stabilized. I think little kids can do handstands. In the beginning they should look at the ground because you see what I am doing with my back, my back doesn’t like me doing this. You can tell them to look through their feet and to find their feet obviously they are going to have to bring themselves back in line and always have them against the wall for at least three or four practices. I don’t care if the kids walk on their hands at all, it is just something neat if they want to do it and graduate to it and it makes them excited about an exercise, but you want their back stabilized, have them look at their toes and if they are not doing it right they don’t get to do it and it might not be a punishment. You say, you know what, I am sorry, but you are not doing it right and it is not worth it so pull them off that if their back is arched. Their back should be straight and I always tell them to look out in the middle of the room, don’t look at the ground. Some people can look at the ground while I am walking because I have done it so much and I have that feel and they will get that feel, but in the beginning they won’t. They will just be freaking out that they are going to fall and hit their head on the ground and they won’t be thinking about their core so remind them of that and don’t be afraid to say no – sorry – why don’t you just go grab a couple of fifteen pound plates or something and do a couple of exercises or watch for a while because it is just not worth it to have someone hurting their back so that they could do a handstand.
Wheelbarrows – this is one of the things that actually a lot of people shook their heads at me when I first started, but the physical therapist thought it was great because it helped the swimmers strengthen all the way from their forearms and fingertips to their toes. Now, it is good for shoulder stability, but it is huge for the core, especially if you are going upstairs. Now, if you are going upstairs you got to kind of okay it with your athletic director because they get a little nervous. I always try it out on myself with these things and I would never think, no matter how tired I was, that I would release my hands and run my face into a stair. You just wouldn’t do it but people get nervous going up four flights of stairs with someone holding your feet in a wheelbarrow. I felt it kind of in my shoulders, but down from my abs all the way to a little bit of my shins was so tired. That was the limiting factor and you start (almost like a swimmer), you start pushing with those legs to try and get up there and recruiting those muscles and it is very “swimmer-like,” but you do get a lot of benefits out of it just walking on level ground too. Again, you want to support that back. If they start arching the back – sorry – you don’t get to do it anymore. All the kids want to walk one lap around the track because it is kind of like a badge of honor and if they break form – sorry – you are done and I don’t let them go back to it either because I want it to be that crucial that they do things correctly and don’t risk something to get something else. Here is me doing wheelbarrows. I do not let my hips drag. If anything I will tell them to put their hips higher than that line between the shoulders and the feet, just to make sure because I just don’t want their hips to drop. I try and tell the kids to keep them forward. I have seen kids with their hands out. The physical therapist said they would rather have their finger tips forward.
Core strength – they are hanging maybe on the rings or on a bar and they are bringing their knees all the way up to their elbows. I think I actually have me demonstrating it. I bring it up and it is not to the armpits it is to the elbows. I would like to tell you that I am just holding that there, but I really paused it and then you come back down. I touch the ground each time because once you start swinging then some crazy stuff happens. They start cheating, etc. or someone could get hurt so I touch every time and then bring it back up. Come down – touch – always under control and I don’t have them jump into it. There is no point in cheating. A lot of kids can’t do that so you do just raising the knees up and holding it so they are not throwing their knees up a thousand times which would be their hip flexors pulling on their spine. Have them bring it up slow and lower it slow. We didn’t have the rings out, but you can definitely do this with rings also which helps you stabilize a little bit –and be a little more mindful.
Six count crunches – You can kind of make it into a Pilates exercise. You want to curl that tailbone under so that there isn’t a space between your lower back and the ground. This is one I would do towards the end. The kids like it. It is not what I would say completely functional, but I have them focus on that lower area of their abs so that they don’t drive the spine into the ground, but you want to try and keep it neutral. I have heard some Pilates instructors and some people say well you know after a while you move on to where you have a space. I always err on the side of safety and I try and keep it where they are always using their abdominals and not trying to force things too much with their hip flexors, and 6 count crunches is kind of neat because you are actually doing three crunches for one so you will see right here – they go up – that is one – down that is two – up three – down four – up five – and then they would say one and we just keep going with that and you do twenty of those and they can really feel it. You can, if they are getting a little better at it, raise the knees up off the ground or you go with straight legs. Again, if they cannot keep their lower core stabilized then I don’t have them lift their legs or I wouldn’t have them do the exercise; that is how you kind of base it. Sergei Bubka, world record holder still on the pole vault, this is an exercise actually a lot of the boys can do and some of the girls are working towards it. You are raising your legs all the way up – holding – I am not touching the bar at that point and then coming back down so you can see how using all the muscles. You feel it in your shoulders all the way through your toes and obviously your forearms and everything are being worked too and that would be something you do beyond knees to elbows. I would start off with the easier ones like raising your knees and holding it for like a three count. Actually you tell them like a five count – you know how kids are. You tell then a three count you don’t even get a 1 count so you tell them like a five count or something insane and then you get what you want because if they start driving the knees up real fast and the hip flexors start pulling on the spine and then the quads start pulling on the hips and you get a lot of issues that hurts their back, so just slow – hold – when in doubt hold longer and then go down. Wheelbarrows as I said earlier are great for core strength and even more so doing them up stairs. I still like sit-ups and that is also another badge of honor for the kids, even though it is not what they would call functional. When I first started out I said in the marines they do 100 sit-ups for a perfect score. Do you guys think you are as good at the best marines? So they try that and I teach them how to do everything correctly so they cannot hurt themselves, but it is one of those things that makes them feel so strong and powerful. It works on their mental attitude because I am like special forces here and I can do like the best marines and you get some freshmen or sophomore girl who does that and they are less intimidated on the blocks. They feel like they can do something special so I have kept that in there even though it isn’t extremely functional and it does work the hip flexors a lot too, and especially if you teach it correctly it is still very good for you. You also want to keep the quads active when you do that to help support the pelvis. Don’t let their quads relax when they are doing the sit-ups.
Partner leg throws – This is like a very advanced exercise. Do not do this with the kids unless you have done a lot of other stuff. Unless they can do the knees to elbows I probably wouldn’t do it so I don’t do it a heck of a lot with my swimmers, but it is something that you know is the higher end there.
Oblique crunches – So we getting to the sides now and it is very important that you have your hand supporting the head there and don’t tug on the head so much and just try and keep the head neutral with your arm right here and then the arms up there so you can feel that you are working the muscle and to get it the heck out of the way – hold – down. You see that my head is not against my bicep and I am not tugging on the head to try and get my body up. I am supporting the head so my neck is not freaking out.
Side plank – That is just on your side with your hand down on the ground. You can do it on your forearm and there are a lot of neat things that you can do with that. You could separate your feet. You can raise one foot up off the ground, you can pick things up and you can go to a push-up and you can put weight on your arms and do raises. I think side plank , especially on your forearm, is something you could do with younger kids. If it is a little difficult for them just have them bend their knees so instead of on their sides of their feet they are on their knees which greatly shortens the lever and makes it much easier.
Q/A – Your elbows are down. I like keeping my body active, however working with gymnasts they do not seem to bat an eye at locking elbows out so I know some people have a problem with that, but they lock their elbows out all the time when they are doing things on rings and what not, but you can go down on the elbow instead of here – so that it doesn’t bother people’s wrists, etc. One foot in the air – moving it back and forth. I generally like to move the leg slower. I was watching a video earlier and the person’s legs were moving rather quickly. I am sure there is a lot of benefit from that but I just don’t do it.
Supermans – This one is rather easy. You raise one and then you raise the other going the opposites. Now I think this is really important. For some reason at New Trier and I don’t know why, I have kids going to Harvard and they do not know their left from their right. So you start telling them, raise your left hand and your right foot and they go like this. So I think just getting them to be functional people and knowing their left from their right is important. When everybody is doing different things, I have to make sure that we are doing it correctly, so it is obviously very valuable for functionality and it is very important that you don’t just work the front of their body. You have got to work the back of the body the whole 360 all the way around and then Superman with double arm and double legs. If you want them to get a lot stronger and the kids were intense I would just give one day per exercise. If you read the “Encyclopedia of Body Building” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, they would be like three days on and one day off splits or two days on legs and then two days on arms, etc. I would just go one day for each one and start off with higher reps like twenty or thirty reps.
I just wanted to address that these are things that you could do. I would do it more out of season than in season, but it seems like our kids are always in season. I definitely wouldn’t do it with younger kids. There are so many other body weight exercises you can do and again you want to make them athletes before you make them body builders, but I have seen a lot of really big kids that we have raced against swim really fast so I am not saying that they are not beneficial at all, it is just that we don’t have time to address it and attack what we need to do.
Flexibility – You want to address the chest and the lats and the shoulders most of all. Those are the areas that you use so much in swimming. I would not have them do stretches like this because what our physical therapists and doctors said is you are stretching the muscles that are working so hard to keep it in line and if you stretch those out then these get all tighter and this gets more stretched out and then now you are more likely for impingements. They said, just don’t have them do that. Stretch the muscles that you use. Don’t stretch the ones that necessarily hurt, they might just be tired because of the fact that these little guys have to fight this and this and this so maybe give them a massage, but don’t stretch them all out. Hamstrings are important. Swimmers are notoriously tight in the hamstrings. Quads, hip flexors, calves, glutes, hip adductors – these are all very important. I think I might actually have some stretches. One of the most important ones, I don’t know if you will be able to see it, you just grab on (you could do partner lat stretches) and sit back and stretch out those lats. You could just grab on to any stationary object, sit back and stretch out your lats which is one of the muscles that you are using the most and it is actually neglected the most in stretching. I never see kids stretch it unless they are told. Actually, Vern Gambetta spoke to that too, that it is very important that you stretch the lats. If I had learned this pose when I was in high school I wouldn’t have torn my Achilles tendon and I would have finished the Iron man running, but I had to hobble the last thirteen miles kapotasana or pigeon toed. I will demonstrate it up here, we are kind of running out of time, but this stretch is really huge because it stretches out the hip flexors and it can stretch out the quads and it stretches out the front. I will demonstrate it right here. So you have your hands and knees and if you bring your right foot towards your left hand, grab your foot and a lot of times when you start stretching this you pull too hard. You will see that the hips will raise because the hip flexors aren’t ready for them to pull that hard. Alright, that is a huge stretch because it stretches the quads. I would go right down – kapotasana or pigeon pose – it is actually pigeon pose and then you can Google that and a bunch of pictures will come up and if you wanted to research that on the web there will be on Yoga Journal, I am sure, a description of how to do this pose. They may not go into the quad stretching part of pigeon, but if you keep researching it you will find that and like I said, I don’t think I ever would have had the injuries I had because that stretches the quad like no other.
Q/A – Adductor and glute stretch? (Yoga Pose) Pull your heels in, most people call it the butterfly. So my feet are apart, straight toes pointed up – not out – because then they are jamming the sacrum a little bit. You reach down forward, you could do it standing (Another Yoga Pose) – getting all these poses? Try to keep your feet parallel, again don’t point your toes out like a duck. So do you want me to name off those poses – you could look them up. Upavisthakonossona – ossona is up on all of those and then bottakonossona I am sure you have figured out. The neat one about the standing one is that you actually have gravity pulling you down and that will help out so they can improve more. While if someone is really inflexible and they are like leaning back. They can’t grab anything so it will really help them improve because gravity will give them a hand.
Q/A – What do I do to help get them streamline? I think I prefer boathouse because the knees are flexible through here and just making sure that you are strengthening all this in here because then it is going to be stretched out and if these kids are practicing 24/7, they are walking around like this so it is going to be hard for them to do that because their muscles aren’t strong enough to keep it up on a daily basis. The Superman pose, again. Glute stretch – did you say you wanted glute stretches? So you are lying on your back, put your right foot on top of your knee, go through and you can grab your shin. You can also grab your leg and pull and stretch the hamstring, but I found if they grabbed their own shin it makes them reach deeper and if they are not trying to be better then at least enforce them to reach a little deeper and you can get a little more out of them. So, when I took a clinic with this Russian guy – I don’t want to name him because there wasn’t a lot of benefits to the clinic except for what he said was – you are as old as your joints okay? If your joints are old – you are old. If your joints are young – you are young. That is about all I got from the clinic really that was valuable because everything else was kind of garbage, but I totally believe in that so even us, as coaches, you want to work on keeping your joints young. If you have no flexibility in your joints you know it is not going to get any better so you really want to work on that and if your kids have no flexibility in their joints then it is going to be really tough in the future.
Thank you very much.