Teaching FC and FC Turns to 7-12 year old

Saturday 11th April, WC 13/4/15 MSM SC Teaching FC and FC Turns

Our Grades 3-6. This is my cheat sheet with added notes.

Streamlining – from ‘The Swim Drills Book.’

Against the wall
Ensure ankles are against the walls, shoulders are against the wall, then stretch into the streamlined position – arms above the head. Check that one hand is over the other and they can lock this.

Also, in another session, to help with diving and turns, they jump on the spot in this position – away from the wall.

Correct Flutter Kick – from ‘The Swim Drills Book.’
Feet dipped in the pool – if feasible. Buttocks on the edge of the pool, legs long and straight, toes pointed and ‘make the water boil’ … slowly speed up and try to limit any cycling of the legs.

Then enter the water

Warm Up
FC kick – with a kicker float held in front
BC kick with float over knees – if it jiggles about they are cycling their legs.
FC kick with long arm doggie paddle – correct hand shape, head steady.

Push and glide – from ‘The Swim Drills Book.’
Bounce – standing jump in the streamlined position.
Handstand – with long legs and pointed toes
Push off the wall – one hand in the gutter, the other in front. Push and glide.
Tumble against the wall – somersault more than an arm’s length from the wall. Place feet on wall. Push off the wall into a streamlined position.

For the next session add:
Add dolphin kick
Add FC kick
Add three kicks and flip
Swim to the end. End ‘feet on wall.’

Sea Otter – all important ‘fun one’
Six duck dives over 25m by another name. A game. They pretend to be a sea otter pulling up mussels from the seabed. They swim doggie paddle, duck dive, retrieve their mussels, comes to the surface, turn on their back to smash open the shells and eat the contents, then roll back onto their fronts, swim along and repeat 🙂

FC full stoke
Smooth, silent, slinky …
Swim along the black line – keeping it symmetrical, as if down a pipe.
Bilateral breathing
FC zip it up drill – envisaging a zip on their hip that they zip up to the ear.

Dead Swimmer into FC – from ‘The Swim Drills Book.’
On the ‘T’ at the end of the lane go into ‘dead swimmer’.
From this floating position slowly raise the arms, then the legs until streamlined.
Then add a dolphin kick and turn it into 25m of FC.

Dive and glide into FC
Jumps – ‘Hamster thing’ – jumping in and not getting your head wet! Pencil jump. Star jump. – from ‘The Swim Drills Book.’
Tumbles – somersaults
Dives and glides – push and glide, dive and glide into a kick.

 

Introduction to Butterfly. Our Grades 4-6 (NPTS 6-10)

“Pull, Breathe, Arms-over, Dive (Shoulders), Kick, Long”

On the Side of the Pool

Fig. 1 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Take swimmers through the dolphin kick: from the hips.

Fig. 2 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Demonstrate the kick action from the hips, then have them do the same.

  • Hips back and forwards to kick like a dolphin or merman.

Beth Ross’s Fly Arms sequence

Lie on the side of the pool head over the edge.

Hands at side.

1. Flick wrist

2. Raise arm

3. Bring arm over.

4. Repeat

Dolphin resting on lane rope. Legs pointing straight down … as they have done poolside.

Part I: Kicking

  • Kick with Woggle: with arms out.
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Back (KOB
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Side (KOS)

Drills

  • Single arm fly.
  • 1+1+1 one right, one left, fullstroke.

G4 did a dive into fly with four kicks to the pull, counting out 4 kicks with 5th the arms in, and 6th the arm pull.

Dead swimmer (From ‘The Swim Drill Book’)  into streamlined position then dolphin kick into FC shallow end and deep, on the ‘T’ or under the flags.

Part: Arms

  • Single Arm 6 kicks to one pull

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

“Kick the hand in, Kick the hand out”

Focus points : Timing of breathing/Rhythm

Whole: Full Stroke

From a dive.

Focus points : Hand entry position/Body movement and undulation

Turns : Transition into stroke.

Focus point : No breathing first stroke

Fun Activities

Bounce from a pencil jump

‘Sea Otter’

Handstands

Somersaults

Mushroom float

Sitting/Lying on the bottom of the pool

Teaching Breastroke: Teaching and ‘Training’ Groups

Breaststroke

I’ve just completed my week of poolside teaching and coaching breaststroke.

Over the week, in 45 minute and 1 hour sessions I’ve worked with 41 kids age 7-12 learning breaststroke across the grade range of our club’s grade 3 to 7 (NPTS 5-10) and 32 young teenagers 13-15.

By Saturday morning there’s a pattern.

 

Warm up

FC/BC 40/100m smooth

BR 50/100m Observe their Breaststroke

 

Main Set

Pick through a choices of my six favourite drills

Apply the drills

Adjust according to how they respond

For teaching groups include some ‘fun’ after 15 mins, at 30 mins and to end.

For training groups (non-competitive squads) the ‘fun’ comes in the form of the variety of drills, STFs (Starts, Turns and Finishes) and sprints against the clock.

 

GROUP DRILL PURPOSE TIPS
G3/G4 Breaststroke arms standing(Poolside, or shoulder high in the water) Establishes the correct arm action. Begins to address swimmers who pull down to their thighs. Clear demonstration. I may lean over a bar, or woggle or just the edge of the pool
G3/G4 Breaststroke arms with a woggle (noodle). An excellent way to give swimmers a physical barrier to their arms which otherwise may drop to the waist. Doesn’t always work! Push of gently so you don’t lose your noodle. Hand out only one colour to avoid hassle who gets what colour!
G3/G4G6 Kick with a float. Hands over the top. Use as pull-buoy as a variation on this and before kicking without a float at all. Steady kick. Always kick into a streamlined glide. Explosive inhale, blow out slowly.
G6/7T2 Backstroke arms with a FC flutter kick Keeps the body horizontal and moving forward making it easier to develop what may at first be a weak arm stroke in front of the shoulders. Keep the flutter kick steady.
G6/7T2 Backstroke arms with a dolphin kick Creates a fluid, rolling action. Useful to get the swimmers to feel they control what their body can do. Keep the dolphin keep from the hips and continuous.
All groupsTeaching and Training Two Kicks OneArmpull2KP To develop the kick and put emphasis on the gliding action. Make them work. Do it a few times, as 25m, 50m or 100m until they do the drill perfectly.
Extended glide. Glide for one, or two seconds counting ‘One Mississippi’ Many cheat and so making it a two second glide is more likely to achieve the desired effect. Be emphatic about streamlining the glide.
STFs Starts, turns and finishes on BR Mark the middle of the pool. Dive and transition to the mid point. Turn from the mid-point and back. Finish from the mid-point. At a competitive pace. Keep doing until they have the dive and transitional right, typically going for a three second count on the first glide and a two second glide on the second.

 

 

Backstroke for 9-12 year olds, MSM Grades 4 and 5 (ASA equivalent NPTS 9 to 10) (+G8 additions)

Backstroke for 9-12 year olds, MSM Grades 4 and 5 (ASA equivalent NPTS 9 to 10) (+G8 additions)

G4/G5 G8
Streamlined position against the wall
Post registration Pre-Pool By the wall, left shoulder, palm facing thigh, rotate arm as if bringing it out of the water, rotate so that the palm faces the tiles, twist shoulder, drop and ‘pull’ down to the thigh. Repeat. x3. Then turn and face the other way. Use Ruben Guzman. X
Sitting down. Leg position. Long pointed toes. Flutter kick.
Streamlined push off in the water

Push and glide off the wall for start and turns.

X
WARM UP 2 x 50m FC

Emphasis on ‘long legs’ and ‘silent, smooth swimming’.

100s
1 x 50m BC

Emphasis on body position, head back as if resting on a pillow.

MAIN SET 2 x 50m BC kick 50s
1 x 50m Float over knees. Knees should not touch, float should not bounce. Keep the legs long.
1 x 50m Ideally, kicker float above the head, held at sides.

Stretch. Body position flat on the water.

2 x 25m Pull along the lane rope

Instruct them to swap arms / Help them get the drill right

100m
Applied FUN Double arm down the lane 1 x 25m

Emphasis on a steady flutter kick

Off the block with a pencil jump then streamlined bounce to the shallow end

+G8 Single arm BC – stretched out and under the water

Swap arm after 25m

50
Single arm BC – arm raised for entire length.

Swap arm after 25m

Push and glide on the back in the shallow end

Add a dolphin kick

Start the stroke with ONE arm while stretched out

DRILLS 2 x 25m Submarine periscope

During stroke HOLD the arm in the vertical, laser the ceiling, then continue the stroke

Emphasis on a steady flutter kick

50m
Repeat 2 x 25m Typically have the best one demonstrate

Emphasis on counting three seconds when the arm is raised

2 x 25m Have them go down in pairs, side by side, synchronising the raised arm
RACE PACE 1 x 25m race pace BC

From the shallow end

Streamlined glide

Dolphin kick into stroke

Steady breathing

1 x 25m race pace BC

Using the grip on the block

Dive backwards into glide and dolphin kick

Sea Otter

1 x 25m

On front, duck dive to the bottom, up to the top, swim along on your back, roll over.

Swim Down As 4 x 25m
BC – BR – FC – FLY

BR – FC – FLY-BC

FC – FLY-BC-BR

FUN END Somersaults (towards BC turn)

Butterfly for 8-11 year olds G4, G5 (with some G8 adjustments)

From Swimming

Fig.1. Make like a dolphin

My old mentor and senior coach, Beth, had some magic ways of teaching swimming. With butterfly it is all in the legs – get those right first before adding anything else. We’d then have, where space permitted, part of the lesson on mats around the side of the pool in order to demonstrate, run through and correct the arm stroke which swimmers new to butterfly invariably get wrong. For this session, for me, the emphasis is on the legs and the kick coming from the hips while introducing arms through skills, particularly single arm.

At this level, in fact through all teaching grades, we have two goals: develop skills so that technique is perfected, try to improve stamina and strength, although this can only really be achieved by swimmers attending two or even three lessons a week. Tough clubs will have kids spending a good deal of time kicking up and down the pool on the basis that getting leg strength first delivers body position later; this is a recipe surely for putting kids off? It’s all I remember from the first couple of years when I went to a swim school, kicking back and forth across widths: whilst it did the trick with me when I was five or six, it put many off swimming.

Today I started with streamlining against the side of the pool – before they got wet.

I ran through streamlined position, and then the way in which the fly kick starts by pushing the hips back and forth. Some feel awkward, some have a laugh. Repeat this once in the water where they should feel less self-conscious. It is such an easy thing for the kids to get right: pushing off and gliding in a streamlined position even at Grade 4; it is also a pleasure to see several of them getting into this habit early and still doing it years later. It pays dividends for all strokes with body position, with dives and turns.  It also ties directly into drills and exercises moving a competitive dive and at higher grades improving the dive and all important transition.

After this rough programme for our Grades 4 and 5 swimmers (ages 9-11, one or two years swimming) I make suggestions for a group of G8 swimmers, typically our more advances 12-13 year olds.

(I’d love to be able to show the swimmers a six second clip of a dolphin ‘in flight’. The above is my photo; I shot some video too. The trick and worry is bringing an iPad to the pool. I recently dropped my iPhone into a puddle of water in the bottom of a RIB while out on safety duties with the sailing club … and scrambled it. A very expensive morning volunteering … )

(Sense says a laminated print out. I am happy to show black and white images on a Kindle, especially my old Kindle. Not waterproof, but not too great a loss if it ended up in the pool.

One day will we have smart screens by the side of the pool?)

PRE-POOL
Steamlined positionStanding dolphin: bum back, bum forwardArm action for Butterfly (separate session)

I am guided, as always, by Rubin Guzman’s brilliant ‘Swim Drills Book’.

WARM UP

With emphasis on the dolphin kick pushing off the wall in both strokes

FC x 50m or 100m depending on the grade.

BC (as above)

The less they splash, the smoother they swim; the smoother they swim, the more control they have. I use words like ‘smooth, slinky, silent swimming.

MAIN SET

Dolphin kick up and down the pool

Dolphin resting on lane rope.

With fins is best, but still works to have three at a time rest arms on the lane rope in the deep end, feet pointing down then doing a dolphin kick. (Only three at a time resting their arms on the lane rope or you risk annoying the lifeguard especially if swimmers decide to climb onto the rope)

Kick with Woggle: with arms out, this is OK on the back.

With G8 fly kick on your side, change arm every 25m. This worked very well at identifying how most still kick from the knees rather than through the entire body. I only did this with Grade 8 today, but on reflection would have done it with the other grades too as it is the clearest way to see that swimmers are still kicking from the knee, or not. I may even get a swimmer or two out of the water to walk the length of the pool checking out those who are getting it right and swimming like an eel, or a crocodile compared to those kicking only from the knee.

Sea Otter

A fun one ‘collecting mussels from the bottom of the pool’ – with a fly kick.

Single arm fly:

Still oo tricky at this level, but getting a straight arm recovery is so important.

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

Kick that hand in, Kick the hand out

IDEALLY you find a swimmer from a top group who can demonstrate this, occasionally a swimmer does it beautifully so you can show the others.

DIVING

Dive and glide

Add a dolphin kick

END

Depending on the time left I will use the last minute or 30 seconds with a handstand, aiming at the streamlined position – again. So long legs and pointy toes.

 G8

These swimmers are reaching the stage when they will move to a training group (a non-competitive teenage squad) with the younger stars at this level going into a competitive squad. They’ve typically been with the club for three years or so and should have all the skills in place. Despite this none can swim butterfly which suggests we’re still struggling to teach this. I don’t think how we teach it has everything to do with it, it’s more that case that the serious junior swimmer will be in the pool for lessons at least twice, sometimes three times a week.

The changes to the above set were on the distances swam and the kinds of drills given.

The warm up was 100m swims, the kick sets 2 x 50m.

The drills had an element of endurance:

And longer working on single arm drills which then became

8 kicks 1 pull: count 8 kicks with 9 the arms go in and 10 the arms recover.

4 kicks 1 pull: count 4 kicks with 5 the arms go in and 6 they arms recover

As well as combinations of the single arm drill:

1+1+2 = single arm, other single arm, both together

2+2+2 = two single arm on one side, two single arm on the other side, then both arms together

Fly Kick on the side swapping arm after 25m worked very well.

In the space of six 25m lengths of this, walking along the side of the pool, I could spot immediately the problem and fix across the board. Pushing the bum forward and the bum back is just the start of this, then its a case of getting them to instigate the kick from the head or even the arms.

Finally, putting the whole stroke together at the end I was delighted that one of them just about cracked butterfly, while all showed improvement. All they need is a second lesson this week on butterfly before they move onto a different stroke next week.

In the flow poolside with ‘Bond’ – that’s James and Jane Bond and assorted baddies …

Fig.1. James Bond contemplates a 1,600m set but he’s forgotten his goggles.

‘Flow’ is a technical term coined by a Hungarian MBA business guru with the challenging name of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (Pronounced cheek-sent-mə-hy-ee)

Flow looks like this:

Fig.2. Csikszentmihalyi (1975) Experiencing Flow in Work and Play

  • To be ‘in the flow’ means  that things are going well. I’m playing to my strengths, not unduly challenged, not bored.
  • I could never be bored with the simple tasks of developing swimmers.

This isn’t learn to swim, these are 6-12 year olds who are well on the way to having all the strokes and skills necessary to enjoy swimming and if they like to compete at school, or perhaps one day at county or regional levels. Some might, so will I suspect, go further.

This morning we could in some respects relax – assessments went in last week.

All those boxes are ticked, or not. Come January some, most, will go to the next grade. Some, as they are struggling with their technique or just haven’t cracked all parts of a stroke at their level will stay on for another term. Trying to make this sound good is always tricky. I like to say that children ‘level out’ for a period or need a specific skill fixed that they will get in time (especially if they put in a second swim). Sometimes, say being unable to dive or a persistent screw kick may benefit from some additional tuition.

How did this become the Bond Session?

Front Crawl is a stroke they can all do, so are rather good at it. Its the fastest stroke and of course the stroke of choice if you are swimming across a crocodile  infested lake a night.

  • After a warm up of between 100m and 200m Front Crawl (these swimmers are our Grades 4,5 and 7, ages 6 to 13 with a mean of 10) I then had them push off and swim one length of their best FC with an emphasis on rotating left to right while swimming directly above the black line up the lane.
  • This they repeated with a dive from the blocks.
  • I just wanted to get a measure of their stroke skills and judge  how far I think they’ve got after 10 weeks or so. Smooth, stronger, more streamlined. Higher elbows, steady flutter kick.

Not too bad, some lateral deviation, some kicking showing a bit of knee … some elbows not as high as I would like, some a little cross-over as their  hand enters the water.

Most a good long glide and dolphin kick transition into the stroke.

Kicking is part of it, so a 50m kick with board before some ‘fun stuff’.

Then I get out the iPad and show them ‘Dead Swimmer’

I’d done a quick screen grab of a sequence that I call ‘dead swimmer coming to life’ – courtesy of the brilliant ‘The Swimming Drills Book’ by US former Olympic Coach Ruben Guzman.

Fig.3. Dead Swimmer from Ruben Guzman’s ‘The Swimming Drill Book’ (2007) Here on the Kindle I usually have poolside. Having let the battery go flat I risked the iPad this morning.

They haven’t done it for a few weeks, but this time I wanted perfection. The first group got into the spirit of it, indeed it was one of the swimmers who said, ‘have you seen the new James Bond?’ He proceeded to tell in detail the best scene in the film. We got on with the swim and I wondered at the wisdom of his parents. What is it rated as 13+

(I gather from reviews after the session that ‘You could take most kids.  The length of the film will lull many of the younger ones to sleep.  Older school-aged kids and up will appreciate it the most’.)

First they had to show me could do the above well – from floating head down, raising the hands into a streamlined position, then the legs until they were stretched out and streamlined. Next step, standing facing up the pool on the ‘T’ at the end of the lane they drop into ‘dead swimmer’ unfurl, then dolphin kick into FC. We repeated three times until they all had it right. At the deep end I started them off under the 5m flags – the idea here is so they don’t have the wall to kick off against. (And that they are far enough away from each other that someone doesn’t inadvertently get a kick in the face).

We then went for a 50m swim, competitive dive off the blocks, ideally a tumble turn but some are yet to learn this, good transition though.

In the streamlined position they jump and bounced the length of the pool. Then another dive, glide and transition into the stroke. Each time I make a mental note of their strengths and a learning point. Each gets praise and a tip – the classic sandwiching of praise wrapped around constructive feedback – I do this because it works – especially the praise bit.

They are so responsive at this age to hearing their name and told they are doing well.

Then a pull-buoy on the head. In breaststroke this is a drill. In this case they simply had to transport a ‘bomb’ to the deep end without touching it with their hands or getting it wet. If the bomb fell off then they had to take a forfeit and swim to the bottom of the pool and up. They then did some regular arms only front crawl with the pull-buoy between their thighs. The grade 7 swimmers did a bit more of this and added a woggle at one stage which created greater resistance so had the swimming harder.

Then a game of ‘Bond and baddies’

Bond is on the blocks, the baddy is in the water under the flags looking down the pool. On the whistle the chase begins. We had a laugh about ‘James Bond’ and ‘Jane Bond’.

Was there more?

An IM, so depending on their level all four strokes, or backstroke, breaststroke and front crawl as 75m with the butterfly as a separate swim.

Hand Stands to work, again, on the streamlined position getting them to have long straight legs and pointed toes.

Ending on a deep breath, sitting on the bottom of the pool, having a cup of tea with ‘M’.

So much for the first session.

With the next two sessions we did more of the same, the only variation with the Grade 7 swimmers was for greater distances and a race pace swim over 50m. They also did an underwater challenge, thinking of the pool as a river at night that is closely guarded. They have to get to the other side undetected, so they only surface once or twice or more.

This group (Our Grade 7) also did the ‘Shark Fin’ drill.

REFERENCE

Csikszentmihalyi, M (1975) Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level. Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2Related articles