Teaching Breaststroke and Butterfly by Coley Stickels (2010)


Thanks everyone for coming, I realize it’s a little crowded, a little hot; I’ll try to fly through this and then do a Q&A at the end. We’re going to talk about an analysis of the short access strokes. In compiling data and information for this presentation there’s a whole line of information, there’s a lot of inconsistencies as many of you well know in breaststroke and fly and they all work, there’s different styles. So what I tried to do was come up with some commonalities in some different drills, this one gets a little bit more specific than the talk I gave yesterday on dry land in terms of what we are doing in the water and I gave some specific sets, some examples. So it’s a little bit more content and in talking with some of the greatest breaststroke coaches of all time Nagy and Salo, depending on who you ask they have completely different theories on fly and breast and so I tried to take the information again, compile it and make some sense of it, so I’ll see what you guys think.


I’m Coley Stickles a coach for Lake Oswego Swim Club a quick bio a team broke seven records in 2008, 2009 in four different age groups. We’ve had over 30 number one nationally rank relays and individuals. We’ve thrilling patrol qualifiers in 2008 one was a 12 year old, she was the youngest ever. I was an American at Arizona and member of the US national team in 99. As I mentioned yesterday I’ve had a lot of great experiences, with a lot of great coaches and I’ve stolen a lot of information from these people, so and that’s kind of what we do in coaching right? We all kind of share ideas and steal each other’s ideas and then try to create new ones. So I’ve been very fortunate to be around some of the best people.


We are going to talk about breaststroke first, nothing new here but research indicates that total energy expenditure is greatest in breast than at fly at any given velocity really due to the acceleration and deceleration peaks within the stroke cycle. Simply put you’re starting and stopping in breaststroke basically and so you basically having to start over acceleration. In fly it’s a little bit different we’ve got one big kick that initiates kind of the propulsion and then you’ve got a smaller one that hopefully you can get into the stroke cycle. And so a lot of lactic gas build up in these strokes and again a start and stop motion that creates that. I tried to look at the evolution of breaststroke over the past 20 years, it started with Barrowman with the wave action breaststroke and this was an interesting thing because breaststroke I don’t think has really evolved. We keep kind of going back to one style of breaststroke and then it’s modified and then it’s re-modified but the principals of the stroke are actually the same. And so it kind of started with Barrowman with the wave action breaststroke and we’ll get into that a little bit more in depth as we go through. The next for the Italian [Domenico] Fioravanti, some of the Olympians from ‘96 and 2000 where there was a vertical motion and the head lift. And there is a drill that I saw a while ago where somebody took a rope across the pool and the goal was to tap the back of your head against the rope, looked like the Italians were doing that, they still are to some extend and it was a very up and down motion and it was not really kick propulsive, it was not arm propulsion, it was more balanced up and down stroke, very interesting to watch. Towards the end of the 90’s, early 2000’s we got into Jeremy Linn, Ed Moses type breaststroke. This is kind of the most common I think breaststroke I call it linear breast.


The back is at 45º in relation to the water and then they are gone 180º straight line once they are underneath the water. They had very similar pullouts, they had very similar shoulder role shrugging the shoulders to the earlobes, staying very compact and very low on the water but very straight lines underneath. And there is Amanda Beard and Tara Kirk who did the over the top recovery with some undulation. So basically what they did was take this kind of over the top style more kick driven similar to Barrowman and it was also kind of a wave action breaststroke kind of going back to what Mike Barrowman was doing. And then you’ve got the current breaststrokers Soni, Kitajima and Jones, they got fairly narrow kicks; it’s certainly kicked driven, all of their strokes are definitely kicked driven. Fairly shallow head underneath the surface and very interesting to watch with regard to hand speed as well. In the Barrowman wave-action breaststroke, this is actually Roque Santos to your left during a drill where he’s trying to build that undulation; it’s similar to riding a wave in the ocean. Basically the shoulders actually stay low you’re creating, as my old club coach used to call it, you’re creating a wave through the clavicle and up and then you’re pressing down as your kick goes forward and you’re actually raising the legs a little bit to get into that 180 degrees.


Enarji had a great chance to talk with him at Pan Pacs and I asked him point blank and so I’m doing a presentation and ask her “what was the most important of Barrowman breaststroke, what made him great?” and he told me exactly that it was his ability to kick forward simply put, kick forward. Rather than wasting motion going up with the kick or kicking down, he tried to get Mike and Roque who he also coached to go forward on their kick not wasting any energy doing an up and down type motion. We’ve got some of the Italians and I just put this in just to take a look at this picture over here, on the right you can see how her back is almost straight as she comes up lifting her head. She’s coming down on the picture on the left under the vertical head motion that I was talking about. Fioravanti also did this in the 2000 Olympics; pretty much up and down action of the breaststroke. Jeremy Linn who I trained with at Arizona who in my opinion had the greatest pullout I’ve ever seen. Stayed fairly low, similar to Megan Jendrick breaststroke you can see how low he stays on the water, fairly compact. The eyes are always looking at the glass of the surface similar to Moses, he gets down, he is in 45º in relation to the surface of the water and then he gets down into 180º totally straight underwater. I actually when I was cheating on sets at Arizona I will just swim underwater on my back and watch Jeremy.


He was one of the few guys that I’ve ever seen that could do a pullout and get all the way across the water; no strokes, absolutely amazing pullout. And he was built like a frog I mean he had frog feet, he had the frog tattoo to symbolize that he was built like a frog and he had frog feet and the guy was meant to be breaststroke. Ed Moses similar; didn’t have the strength or the size of Jeremy but… and started swimming later in his career which was an interesting story, but got better as he progressed through the sport with Bernardino at Virginia. Very similar to Jeremy Linn, very compact again his head, eyes looking at the surface, had an alignment with the spine similar to Jeremy.


And then you have Amanda who I also trained quite a bit at Arizona. She has the over-the-top recovery. I know that Salo and Coach Brian [Pajer], now at Aquazot, were instrumental in developing this technique. But to be honest I’m not sure that the over the water recovery had anything to do with her speed. She is definitely a kicker driven swimmer and her propulsion is definitely from the legs if you watch some of her film underwater. Terry was also not as over the top as Amanda but had the same type of over the top recovery with some undulation. I thought that picture was particularly interesting coming up out of the breaststroke and the legs were just kind of dangling there and that’s that start and stop effect. You can see right there she is moving forward but there’s no propulsion, everything is kind of lost there and she’s going to have to start it up again.


So I thought that picture was quite interesting. And then you’ve got Soni who is doing it with her legs with a very… what I consider awkward out sweep and here’s her clip. It’s a very short clip. But you can see the speed of her kick, her ankles coming together and that’s Leisel [Jones] next to her. And notice the comparison between the speed of the kick.  Look how fast Soni’s is in relation to Jones.  What I find particularly interesting about Soni and I watched her quite a bit at Pan Pacs, was her arm movement.  Not digging real deep, yesterday on Sean’s presentation I watched Cuocos going very deep with the in-sweep on the catch and then coming forward.  Soni is doing most of her recovery up top.  It looks like she’s out-sweeping just passed her shoulders and then coming in and then throwing it out.  So again I think most of the proportion is done by her kick and not really what she is doing with the arms however she’s got perfect timing and a very fast kick. And you can see the shoved head right there, states fairly compact similar to Jeremy Linn and Ed Moses.  Then you’ve got Kitajima who’s constantly refining his stroke.  I noticed on videos with Kitajima that he’s playing with a stroke all the time.  His stroke now is different than what it was even in 2008 at the Olympics.  He is playing with the out sweep of his kick.  It’s gotten more narrow like Soni; he’s fairly shallow with the head when he comes down out of the recovery. But what I love about this clip right here that I’m about to show you is the hand speed of Kitajima.  His hands never stop, so his hands are engaged in that propulsive force forward and this is interesting.


There is no pause, he is constantly moving.  He’s on the far right again I apologize for the short clips but he is constantly moving forward with the arms, fully extended, head is down speed of the kick again, I notice the speed of the kick, his ankles coming faster together than anyone else in that heat.  I think Brenden Hansen is next to him.  And notice how much faster Kitajima feet come together than Brenden’s.  He’s undulating; he’s doing almost an up kick there.  The speed of the hands is what I thought was very interesting just hands in constant motion.  He’s really attacking each stroke.  Head stay’s fairly low similar to Megan Jendrick, similar to Jeremy Linn, similar to Rebecca Soni.  Leisel is another interesting case and from the perspective, looking at her above water, her head barely comes out.  She’s got a fairly narrow kick although I wouldn’t say it is as narrow as Rebecca’s.  But her head position is intriguing to say the least and there it is.  You can see she stays much lower to the water and really allows the kick for the propulsive force there and her kick interestingly enough when we watched this video is slow in comparison to Soni. That the speed of the kick ankles to ankles is very slow.  In talking with Salo a little bit about breaststroke kick, he recommends that the heel speed, once the kick is complete that the heels need to come to the glutes fast but if you watch some of the fastest breaststrokers in the world, I actually disagree with that.


The heels don’t come to the butt very quickly and you will notice with Leisel that the kick is pretty damn slow and she’s not really even getting her heels all the way up to her glutes.  Notice how her knees don’t move much.  I know that one and I didn’t put this in the presentation but I wanted to, one of the drills that the Australians do at a young age is that they flip over on their backs. They put a kick board on their knees and they kick breaststroke on their back making sure that the knees don’t pop the board up just to make sure that you are not bringing your knees to your chest when you are doing breaststroke.  It’s kind of an older drill that they do but you can see the extension, the frog feet.  That’s so important to make sure that you are getting a greater, people talk about wide frog feet, you’re getting a greater surface area. It’s similar to kicking a soccer ball with… rather than with your toes.  You are opening it up to the sides of your feet.  You’ve got a greater surface area there that’s what the frog feet analogy is all about, but a fairly slow kick compared to the rest of the field but very kick driven low head position.  What I try to do here was just talk about some commonalities among elite breaststrokers.  The speed of the kick obviously, the finish of the kick ankles to ankles with toes pointed.


One of the drills we started doing recently at our club is I have the kids swim with their toes pointed in towards their chins and if you’ve ever tried this, you literally can almost go nowhere.  If your feet are pointed down towards the bottom of the pool or their in toward your chins, that puts a complete halt towards on your breaststroke kick all proportion is stopped at that point and so we just play around with it.  We use it as a form of resistance sometimes we’ll put a booey on, point the toes towards the chins and it’s just drag, you literally go nowhere.  So I re-emphasize that pointing the toes at the end of the kick is vital for forward movement. The hand extend before the finish of the kick that’s just the timing issue you’ll notice with the elite breaststrokers hands all the way extended then finish of the kick.  USA Swimming has done an outstanding job of analyzing breaststroke video; the hands time and time again are out in front before the kick.  Most of these breaststrokers and not all but this is again commonalities with some. They have a natural forward shoulders shrug and forward roll. Basically what they are doing is that they are bringing their shoulders to their ear lobes, they are rolling their shoulders forward and then they are getting their hands out in front staying fairly compact.  I think Jeremy Linn and Megan Jendrick do that very well.


One thing we talk about on our club is getting our shoulders connected with our elbows we don’t even talk about the out sweep very much. We just talk about following your shoulders and then rolling them forward, connecting them to your elbow.  So just… again visual imagery, just thinking about how the stroke mechanics are broken down and getting it so that the kid can understand what you are talking about.  Quick hands forward obviously a lot of drills can be done for that you want to keep the arms in motion like Kitajima.  This one is pretty interesting, ability to move forward while hands recover on the in-sweep; it’s amazing what goes on during the in-sweep.  It’s the slowest phase of the stroke but if you watch the best breaststrokers in the world, they are still moving forward during the in-sweep. So they’ve got the kick, the out sweep and then they are still moving forward with their fore arms, they are engaging their fore arms and their lat as they are moving forward. The best breaststrokers in the world that I’ve watched at Pan Pacs, all now have fairly shallow depths on the launch forward.  I would say I was just ball parking this watching them and I had a great view.  Their head depth is probably one inch below the surface, so nobody is diving down way deep.  The fairly shallow head position and I would say that’s probably 95 percent of the breaststrokers I saw at Pan Pacs.


And this is, my favorite point is a visible upper and lower back after the kick and so what I’m talking about there and this is kind of a difficult concept to explain. When I’m looking at elite breaststrokers or great breaststrokers, I’m looking at their lower back basically their pelvis all the way up to their middle back and I want to see that come all up to the surface as they launch forward.  That’s what I’m saying makes a great breaststroker.  They are getting their lower back up to the surface and they are keeping their legs in line with their pelvis.  I think that is a key point. And again head in line with spine, eyes fixated on the surface except for the Italians that I showed you earlier, they are looking straight ahead.  The eyes are typically low looking at the surface.  Kitajima looks up a little bit and Jones with her low head position looks forward. But the majority of breaststrokers and the way we teach it is just keep head in line with the spine and keep your eyes fixated on the glassy surface.  Some of the breaststroke drills we do, I will show an example of this one in a minute, it’s called the Amanda Beard drill that’s a timing drill.  Flatter breaststroke; obviously when you do flatter breast with fists working on catch when you flatter breast with circle fists meaning we are trying to create a vortex with trying to get our fore arms engaged and we are lifting a little bit, we try to maximize holding water on the in-sweep with fore arms.


We do this with or without fins.  The head is usually up on these drills and the flatter kick has to be going pretty good where your body position will drop. And so we play with a lot of different types of, depending where we at, sometimes we’ll circle a fist right in front of our shoulders, sometimes we’ll be out real wide depending on how far you’re at on the out-sweep and where your in-sweep starts.  We do wide to narrow score; I haven’t seen anyone do this yet.  I’m sure somebody has tried it. Basically we can do that in a fist position.  We start out real narrow, where the out sweep begins and then we score out.  We come out where the in-sweep starts and then we come back in, and we do this at different depths.  Again we’re just trying to create a feel for the water I don’t, we don’t do these for heavy yardage, they’re all done very slowly, 25s and we just want the kids feeling comfortable in the water, at ease with the water.  We also want them feeling comfortable when they open up their hands; it just feels like they’re pulling gulps of water. So we do windshield wiper score.  It’s called different things, head-up, head-down, with a snorkel. It’s free oriented again, we learn to move forward in compromised or weak positions, that’s kind of one of the things we did at Arizona.  We’d be put into weird scoring positions, on freestyle or whatever stroke we were training for, we’d be put in a weird position and we’d have to kind of score our way out of it.  We do over-grip with paddles.  I know Cal Berkeley does this.  We emphasize the high elbow on the out sweep.


So basically you take the paddle, usually the circular ones and you just grab the tops and you really can’t drop the elbow down on the out sweep if you’re doing that.  We do head up the breast pole, which is done for hand speed, I really like this one, sometimes I’ll let the kids cheat and do a breaststroke kick with it.  So  their head is up, we don’t want the head position to drop at all, we just want the hands to come in front of the body as quickly as possible.  These are usually done at very high speeds with a booey.  Sometimes I allow tem to kick because their body drops too low, but typically we’re just trying to keep their heads above water.  They have a tendency to undulate and want to go back down and the goal was to keep the head up and keep the hands spinning almost.  This is one I’m not sure if anyone does this, I call a six to one score pole with fly kicks.  So basically we take six top scores that are fairly narrow, with a dolphin kick.  So we just slightly undulate and then after six we take one full stroke.  And again it’s just timing issue and it makes that one stroke feel very smooth, and again we are just trying to get timing down.  And we do one pullout, one stroke.  We do a lot of this drill.  Basically we just take a pullout and then we come straight up into a stroke.  Just re-emphasizing pull outs and timing issues into the pullout.


This is a drill we do called the spider drill.  It’s for coiling and uncoiling.  I pick the worst kid on our team to do it.  But this is kind of what it looks like.  So he coils, the hands should be coming out in front before the kick finishes.  Again it’s just teaching timing.  And these are usually done in the form of 25s slowly.  Next is the Amanda Beard drill.  Take a look at this.  Breaststroke pull, dolphin kick, breaststroke kick, breaststroke pull dolphin kick, breaststroke kick, timing drill, and sometimes we’ll do that drill a little bit longer than twenty fives, because we’ll use it as a kick set.  So we’re doing some pretty high velocity kicking and rather than just getting a board or a snorkel and doing kick sets, we’ll incorporate it in the form of a drill.  And the kids think they’re getting away with drills.  They’re easy interval, but really they’ve done like six or seven hundred yards of breaststroke kicking which is hard.  Incorporating breaststroke into work outs, what we do is we typically go once or twice per week.  We focus on breasts.  Typically we’ll have one day a week that’s breaststroke oriented and the other day will be in the form mixed in with I.M. work.  So we don’t do it very often, twice a week is pretty much the most.  Again, we do a lot of drills that you’ve just seen and then we pick it up and do pace and speed work.  I think especially with older male athletes, it’s easy to over train and become injured.  If you over train it, the strokes get sloppy real fast with fly end breaststroke.


So we try to keep it to a minimum and kicking is done with a snorkel, arms are placed in various positions.  So if we have a snorkel on, sometimes I’ll have the kids cross their arms in an X position or sometimes I’ll have them put their hands behind their back.  Sometimes I’ll have them go on a streamline.  Sometimes I’ll have them put their fists up like this and put their head down.  It’s just basically the same effect as having resistance.  So that when they go to a streamline and put their hands straight down, the kick feels really fluid.  We do a lot of breaststroke under water, we incorporated this hypoxic work.  We do a lot of underwater swimming.  One of my favorite drills is we’ll do a pullout and then we’ll do three kicks right into a stroke.  From a hypoxic stand point it’s hard and it really forces you to overload the kick into the first stroke.  With age group swimmers there’s not a doubt in my mind that the weakest point in age group breaststrokers, and even I have to say, I don’t know if Silo’s is around here, but even with Soni, even the pullouts are dismal.  The timing of the pullout in relation to the first stroke in breaststroke is butchered all the time.  And my kids do it better than anyone, butcher it that is.  It’s really difficult to get segment awareness and awareness in relation to the surface after you do your pullout, and I constantly see people mistiming the pullout, the kick in relation to the first pull.  We do some breaststroke with resistance, one of my favorite sets is going breaststroke. Sometimes we do this, a booey, sometimes its full stroke.  We go at 25 with a chute, a parachute; you can do it with the cord.


And you can take the chute off and go two 25s without.  It’s just, when they take off that parachute, they can really get good distance per stroke.  They feel very fluid in the water.  And again we want the kids to feel at ease in the water, this is a tough stroke to learn.  We increase resistance on the pullout for multiple reps off the wall.  So what we do for that is we basically tie surgical tubing around them or a stretch cord.  We’ll wrap it around the block a few times and then we will have them push out against the wall, do a pullout and maybe get into the first stroke and then we’ll tug them straight back.  And they keep doing that.  And again that’s like, that’s a plyometric effect, we incorporate those on plyo days but a lot of resistance, so pushing off the wall pullout, maybe get into one stroke.  That’s one of our favorite things to do.  We do a lot of DPS plus DPK or DPK, it’s distance per kick.  Where the efficiency is key, we do 25s with five strokes with a booey.  We’ll do 25s with five kicks under water in a streamline position.  We’ll do full stroke 25s with four strokes.  We’ll never go beyond over a hundred straight at full breasts, pretty much ever.  We’ll go 350s or 650s or two 100s, but we try to… I think we keep breaststroke fresh and we don’t over train it by doing it in pulls, I call it pulses throughout the practice.  So if we do say three 100s pull then 350s breast or full stroke.  We never try to go over a hundred straight to keep the stroke feeling fluid.


It’s an odd stroke because you see swimmers all the time who are great breaststrokers at 12 and then at 15 they forgot how to swim breaststroke.  It happens all the time and I never want the swimmer to feel like they’re being forced to swim breaststroke.  I always want them to feel at ease with breaststroke in particular.  Cognitive disassociation, this is a term, I made it up, but I’ve heard Cameron Veneva talk about this who’s training is quite interesting.  And basically what we do on these; they’re 25s and its segment awareness and all we do is we do a 25 breaststroke on any interval.  We don’t even put it on intervals and I’ll say focus on your fore arms only.  Just let the rest of your body go completely numb and focus on the fore arms only and then we’ll do some 25s.   And then the next 25; focus on your core only.  Just keep good tone.  And then we’ll focus on just the feed.   And so what we’re trying to do is give them a sense of where they’re weak and where they’re strong in their pulls and breaking it down so that it becomes again segment awareness.  And when they race it’s the same thing.  So I’ve often heard Cameron talk about at the beginning of a hundred breasts he wants to focus more on his biceps and his chest.  And then on the second 50, he’ll talk about driving the legs a little bit more.  And I don’t think this is discussed often enough in swimming circles at all.  I never hear it talked about, but I know that great swimmers in any event have that cognitive disassociation.  They’re programming their body to fire at different times.


I mean, I’ll use my self as an example; I can barely finish a hundred meters free.  But there are certain things that I’d think about when I‘d start to die at the end of a race.  Overloading the kick; my upper body would go numb and so all I would have left really were my legs and feet and I’d try to fire my feet as fast as I could.  So I’d try to segment different body parts at different times in preparation for an entire race.  And this is still something I’m learning; it probably would be better to have a psychologist come in and talk about segment awareness but I think this is a very important concept in the future of swimming.  Racing breaststroke; we always tell our kids to ease into the stroke.  A lot of my kids are sprinters so they want to just pile drive it right off the beginning; they want to just go nuts and spin out.  They get real amped up for it and then they lose feel for the water and the stroke becomes forced and rushed.  So I tell my kids just to hold back for the first… maybe go at about 95 percent effort for the first two or three strokes and build in to the stroke and get your rhythm ad timing down. Second thing is maximize velocity from the kick on pullout into the first stroke with a smooth transition.  As I said before, most age group races were won in last year, I can’t emphasis that point enough.


Again understanding where they’re at in relation to the surface on pullouts or on stroke.  We have kids on our team, who will get in the middle of the 200 high arm when they are fatigued and their breaststroke completely collapses, and they’ll start diving down under water.  Their head position will drop.  But normally a good breaststroker; when we’re doing it fresh and when they become fatigued, they’ll drop their head four inches under water.  So they’ve got to understand where they’re at in relation to the surface.   And knowing how to keep distance per stroke under stress; again cognitive disassociation.  Again, at the end of any race, when people are feeling the effects of lactic acid going in to the last ten meters and a hundred breast, there’s a tendency to panic, especially if you’re behind and overload tempo and breaststroke; bad choice.  We try to get our swimmers to maintain efficiency, maintain distance per stroke and not panic and overload the tempo in the last 15s.  Some times that’s all you can do, especially if you’ve hit peak lactate levels.  You just have to thrash, but I try… especially in breaststroke and the short access strokes, to maintain distance per stroke and efficiency towards the end of it. Notable inconsistencies in breast and I could have gone on for like, hours on this.  Narrow verses wide kick; we’ve already seen that there’s a difference in the knee position, the degree of knee bend.  The knee position when we’re doing the whip kick.  Some knees are together.  Some coaches I’ve seen have their kids kick with booey on to keep the breaststroke kick very short and compact.  But I’ve seen other kids; very fast breaststrokers at a junior and senior national level, open their knees up, fairly wide past their hips and get a lot of propulsion from that.


And I don’t think there’s any consensus on this.  I know that if you’re going out too wide, shoulder width then you’re not going to get any propulsion from the kick.  But whether or not you’re within knees touching or hip width apart…I don’t know; again it’s an inconsistency.  Circular motion verses straight out sweep; you’ll notice.  I should have added yesterday.  I noticed Kukors is more of a pull in, so it’s neither a circular motion or a straight out sweep.  Kukors is in a couple of other breaststroke; even Soni has a tendency to go almost hand over the barrel entry.   And it’s different; every breaststroker you see is different.  Circular motion is kind of putting an emphasis on the fore arm, like the Italians going vertical up and down.  The straight out sweep is what you’re seeing; most of the breaststrokers do.  And yesterday and a couple of other videos, I’ve seen kind of the hand over the barrel pulling into your body.  The degree of knee drop in relation to the chest; again some swimmers are bringing their knees in closer to their chest.  Some are keeping their knees completely flat.


A lot of coaches preach that we shouldn’t teach the kids to bring the knees into the chest, but I think to some degree all of these swimmers are dropping their knees a little bit; they have to.  To just kick on the bottom; one drill we do is we’ll kick against the wall in the deep end or we’ll kick on the bottom of the pool or we’ll kick even on land to keep the knees flat.  But then when you get in the water, everything changes.  Again fluid dynamics; you’re going to want to drop the knees a little bit to get propulsion from the kick. Propulsion from the in sweeps; some people have it, some people don’t.  Hand pitch; pinky up versus pinky in line with the elbow.  This is something I’ve heard in coaching circles for a long time.  Should the pinky be up like this on the out sweep or should it be in line with the elbow and what degree of hand pitch do you want when you’re swimming breaststroke.  I mean, do you want the arms down? Kukors was almost like I said, hand over the barrel and I teach more of a pinky up even over the elbow like you’re opening an elevator door.  It’s kind of the analogy I use.


To move on to butterfly.  In the evolution of butterfly over the past 20 years, we had Melvin Stewart, [Denis] Pankratov, and Misty Hyman with the underwater fly kick.  [Tom] Malchow, who had a fairly narrow recovery; a lot of breathing.  [Michael] Phelps, [Ian] Crocker and [Natalie] Coughlin had a fairly low amplitude on the surface and they do create an out sweep.  [Milorad/Mike] Cavic, [Rafael] Muñoz, [Christine] Magnuson, what I call the double-meat-hook.  On freestyle I talk often about a meat-hook recovery, similar to what [Frédérick] Bousquet does.  Muñoz has the double-meat-hook.  So he’s got two meat hooks coming over the top, hand over the barrel entry, high elbow, absolutely no out sweep.


They just come in high arms, bent fingertips down towards the bottom of the pool and finishing as deep as they can.  I personally like that style of fly.  Melvin Stewart obviously had the side breathing and unbelievable underwater dolphin kicks.  Although, before he started to do those, I was watching some old videos of Melvin.  He was a great butterflyer before he was doing the dolphin kicks.  He was very fast when he was only doing four or five dolphin kicks off the wall.  He was beyond world class at that point.  Again Malchow had a narrow recovery, kind of a choppy butterflyer, very great conditioned athlete.  And then of course Phelps.  And we’ll go over these right here.  And Phelps is in the middle, Cavic is closest to the top.  And you can see the difference there; completely different recoveries.  Phelps’ head drops way down.  And look at Cavic’s totally different.  And it’s amazing, when you watch Phelps from the surface; he looks like his head stays on the surface the whole time.  He kind of drags his thumbs across the water, stays real high on the water.  But when you look at it under water; analysis of Phelps, his head drops way down.  And I think that head drop; I’m not sure, allows him to open up his hips a little bit more than Cavic.  Cavic stays flat, has a hand over the barrel entry.  Notice the hand pitches different.  He’s trying to angle the fingertips straight down using a lot of lat and not as much hip undulation as Phelps.  And then Phelps here comes out almost in last of the dolphin kicks; actually Cavic beats him on the dolphin kicks off the start.


But you can see at the end of that clip there, how low Phelps chin is in relation to the surface.  All of the flyers and that he on the Olympic final, real shallow.  And it looks like Phelps is going real flat, but under water, you saw obviously that he’s not flat, he’s dropping his head way below his shoulders.  I’ll show this one, one more time.  You can see it right there. His head is really deep and it’s deceptive when you watch him on the surface like I said. You got Ian Crocker; this was a weird picture, he was also very flat, dolphin kicks. Ian Crocker was very underrated for his dolphin kicks; he had exceptional dolphin kicks, very flat stroke. You can see the hand pitch he’s starting to angle on that one to your left, you can see the hand pitch starting to initiate the hand over the barrel entry. Natalie obviously a great butterflyer uses, transfers her energy from her side dolphin kicks or as they are now calling them body dolphin kicks and transfers energy into a fast stroke with a lot of propulsion. And then Michael Cavic underwater. And I think trying to get his hands as deep as possible you do notice a slight out sweep but not much. One thing I like about Cavic’s stroke, it doesn’t undulate with the hips nearly as much as Phelps but one think I love about Cavic’s stroke is the hand speed, the acceleration through the stroke. His hands get faster the closer they get to his hips and again his dolphin kicks are under-rated somewhat like Crocker’s. And not doing a heck of a lot with the kick; typically you’ll see one massive kick with Phelps and then one smaller kick as he recovers up over the surface. Notice with Cavic it’s a constant kick it’s just thump! Thump, thump! There’s no monster kick and then smaller kick to recover, its just two pretty equal kicks so he’s getting a lot of his propulsion with his hand speed and his depth on his catch.


Madison again she’s got the side breathing I’m not sure, the one thing I love about her stroke is the hand speed like Cavic, watch how fast her hands move once they get down past her belly button, at her belly button. She drops the elbows quite a bit probably not as strong as Cavic but very fast hand speed very slight out sweep and just not a lot of undulation from the kick like Phelps. Commonalities among elite butterflyers: heel flexibility. Every single race analysis, every single video I’ve watched, I watch heel flexibility I think this is not discussed enough and then people always ask me what do you do for heel flexibility, sit on your heels, twist and turn and they got all kinds of, I know Phoenix had the heel flexibility thing some people were using a while back I think this is under-rated. I think its under-rated because, look at what happens when you’ve use a fin, you’ve got a huge wave of motion and you’ve got a strong degree of bend, if you get your heel flexible you’ve got that same range when you’re dolphin kicking. Obviously the dolphin kicks are essential. Phelps arguably the best in the world. There’s the body dolphin kick which is using your hands and upper body to kick both Coughlin and Hyman were doing that on their side.  I know that [Coach Bob] Gillett trains some of his swimmers now currently on their side. I’m not sure which one is faster but I know that integrating your hands and your upper chest in unison with your hips creates a lot of propulsion and nobody was better at it than Misty.


The inert ability to hyper extend the knees, this is something that I just picked up recently noticing it with Phelps especially. As they do their up-kick it looks like their knees are going to snap, he has amazing ability to hyper extend his knees it looks like they’re going to collapse. I know Mark Spitz had this [indiscernible] [0:44:46] used to talk about Mark Spitz having the same thing and most of the great flyers have this ability to extend their knees. It’s very noticeable on up-kick it looks like their knees are literally going to snap in half. Again the double kick pre-cycle, you’ve got one big kick and then one small kick as the hands enter on top of the water. You want to make sure that the small kick and I read this in a dissertation; it was the most complex reading I’ve ever done if anybody wants that at the end of this all I’ll give you the link but what I got out of it was you want to minimize the deceleration point by maximizing the smaller kick. So you’ve got one big kick that basically initiates the propulsive phase of the full pull and then you’ve got one small kick over the top. You want to minimize the amount of time in between the two and then you want to maximize how big that second kick is that’s kind of the crocs of not decelerating. With Phelps you’ve got especially chin low on breathe, head at mid-line no breath. That means he’s dragging his chin across the surface when he’s breathing and when he’s not breathing which is rare, most of the butterflyers are hitting it mid line on their head coming straight through.


Most of them have relaxed recoveries, rapid acceleration through the stroke with deep ends like Cavic and Madison.  You watch these flyers on the surface up close and their very relaxed recoveries. Most of what’s going on in terms of energy expenditure is going on underneath the surface. Increased stroke length without increasing glide phase while maintaining frequency and this is… great butterflyers are able to do this to maximize total energy expenditure. All that means is when they’re entering their hands they’re pulling right away; they are not spending anytime out here in a glide phase. I call that the swimming for survival phase. At the end of the 200 meter flyer you  see a lot of age group kids that just come in the front, two kicks-pull, two kicks-pull and then they are dragging their arms and then they’re crying for their life. That’s all that means is that their arms are in continuous motion. Smooth hand entry to reduce wave drag, there’s been a lot of studies that has been done on this. I’m not sure what to make of them only because I remember a study done with Bousquet who has just a… he actually is a great flyer as well from France who has a very choppy hard hand entry he creates a lot of wave action right when he initiates the catch and that’s supposed to be bad whereas Phelps and [indiscernible] [0:47:37] and some of other flyers are very smooth on their hand catch.


But again Bousquet is arguably the best 50 freestyler in the world, he’s one of the best flyers in the world and their very aggressive on their hand entries Muñoz and Roland Schoeman and a lot of the 50 flyers, male 50 flyers that are top in the world do not have smooth hand entries at all they are very choppy, aggressive hand over the top. So smooth hand entries I’m not sure is that important but it has been proven to improve and reduce wave drag. Butterfly drills again similar to the breaststroke one. We go six goals one full stroke, we do obviously two left two right. Sometimes we’ll keep our head up sometimes we’ll keep our head down when breathing to the side. We do flatter fly with the specific stroke count so we’ll just do a flatter kick and sometimes I’ll them do three strokes and then just shut it down and  swim in easy to the wall. Wide breaststroke, we don’t over train it, we do it… we’ll get to that in a second but we do it twice a week and typically its, I give them a stroke count and we don’t go beyond that. Bottom scowl with dolphin kick all that is your elbows are locked in to your ribs and you’re dolphin kicking and you’re just out sweeping slightly you can try to keep your hands in close sometimes we’ll do that and  we’ll pop our heads up. Sometimes I’ll have them start kind of up there at the mid line on their belly button and will dolphin kick again just trying to get timing and working on finishing the pool. Thumb drag with snorkel and fins with flatter kick.


We put a snorkel on we just have them drag their thumbs across the surface and then we wait, we set the catch and then we kick through that. So with age groupers I highly recommend doing that drill with fins with more advanced swimmers, take the fins off make them flatter kick. We do five under water dolphin kicks with one pool that’s a drill we do, the goal of that and it’s a fairly simple drill. We’re in a streamline position five dolphin kicks and then one full stroke, the goal of that is just to increase the frequency of the dolphin kicks the closer they get to the surface. That’s all we’re trying to accomplish with that. Dolphin dives, where you basically, sometimes we do them and jump and off at the bottom of the pool, we jump up, we pull all the way down and then we recover under water. Similar to a breaststroke pull and then sometimes our heads are up and then lunge forward, sometimes their head is down and will lunge forward. Two and a half slide drill, basically is two full butterfly strokes breathing and then, I guess it’s a half stroke head down and you undulate under water. We’ve got a video of it, oops! This is when I stole from University of Tennessee and again all coaches steal drills from everybody else, that’s the name of the game.


And then we try and add our own creative ways of modifying the drill. So the drill is, you’re going to watch what this guy do, a 12 and a half where he’s basically going to get his elbows high as he can and drop his hand perpendicular and then he’s going to follow through on the second twelve and a half all the way down to his hips. Try and get that hand over the barrel entry. His out sweeping way to fast, the finger tips are supposed to be going straight down and then on the second twelve and a half, he goes all the way through. Tries to accelerate his hands all the way through keeping a hand over the barrel entry, second 12 and a half is much better than the first. Again, hand should be going, finger tips should be going down; hands should be in line with shoulders and then hands accelerating all the way through the pool. The two and a half slide drill; this is an example of it. That’s one, two and then a half diving down. And again, he didn’t breath but you can breathe wherever appropriate. Cooperating fly in to the work outs, typically we do it once per week, that’s it. The best flyers that I trained with at Arizona, Roland and the Pepper brothers [Seth and Martin] and dating myself but, they did… they rarely did fly. I know César Cielo is a great flyer, he’s the fastest 50 flyer in the world, I’m convinced he could be the fastest 100 flyer in the world, but he doesn’t train, he does it maybe once a week. Sometimes we integrated into the I.M sets, some of what breaststrokes, the majority of fly sets incorporated dolphin kick emphasis.


So anytime we are doing a drill, anytime we are doing any of the stuff, I always give them a specific amount of kicks to do off the wall and at this point they know that their distances per kick should be, roughly the equivalent with age group kids, they should be able to do 6 or 7 kicks and get to 12.5m mark. We are typically done with various types of fins, more or less at high speeds; we don’t do any of the fly drills slow. It hurts the same, right, I mean anybody who’s done fly or when you’re doing fly slow, when your doing fast, it all hurts, so just do it fast. Get it over with. We do more assistance than resistance, we don’t ever do much resistance work with fly, with age groupers especially it drops their body position, or as the dissertation said their horizontal centre of mass. And when that happens, the stroke just implodes. So we try to keep the resistance off and we do some assisted work with bands and that type of thing. And again DPS plus DPK similar to breast, all the strokes and the kicks are quality even if we are only doing three to five. So an example would be, doing five dolphin kicks off the wall and the taking three strokes and hopefully you’re all the way across the pool if you’re really efficient. We’ve got various ways do that. Racing butterfly, the best kickers usually win especially in short course. Maintain stroke flank while, while increasing leg drive on the last15, I think that’s the key to a successful 100 fly.


The ability to stay fluid and built no amount of walls which we already talked about and knowing how to utilize easy speed and feel as if the race is a built. So on, especially 100 yard butterflyers, if you watch NCAAs, the girls and the guys go out so fast, but it looks like they are building each 50. So, there is this kind of again a cognitive disassociation, should we be telling our swimmers to build the first 50 or should we just be telling them to go flat out. The answer is, they should feel like they are building it but still be going, pretty much all out ballistic speed from the beginning. And again notable inconsistencies, hand entry, you’ve got Michael Cavic who comes in vey narrow; you’ve got Phelps who comes outside the shoulders, a lot of variations there. You’ve got hand pitch, middle finger entry versus thumb, Phelps drags his thumbs, he actually does it but it looks like he drags his thumbs in a circular motion across the surface and keeps his finger tips down, where you got guys like Muñoz, Roland Schoeman. You’ve got the double look very aggressive kind of flat almost slapping the fore arms and their palms at the same time. You got hand over the barrel versus head below the shoulders out sweep. So, I guess the new phases, do you want do the hand over the barrel entry or is there always a slide out slip that is unavoidable that you’re going to get anyway? Again, over the top entry, The Muñoz’s double-hook style versus out and around circular motion that Phelps does and then side breathing and side kicking versus stomach kicking. And there is a lot of discussion about that, I won’t get in this presentation but whether kicking on your side or kicking, breathing on your side is advantageous to doing it on your stomach is a topic for debate. So thank you very much.


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