Starts and Turns (Our Grades 4,5,6,7) Amateur Swimming Association National Plan for Teaching Swimming Grades 7-10

From Swimming

Fig.1. The importance of streamlining

Grades 5,4 and 7 in that order. The first two kind of go together, but the grades 7 are well ahead with several of them turning into potential mini-squad swimmers.

A warm up 50s FC and BC with emphasis on smooth swimming. I run through in a multitude of adjectives:

  • Slinky
  • Smooth
  • Silent
I draw on drills from Ruben Guzman’s ‘The Swim Drill Book’
  • Smooth
  • Sneaky

What works wonders with the younger swimmers is to tell them that they are ‘secret agents’ on a ‘secret mission’ and have to swim in the dark without being seen or heard. The result can be highly controlled, smooth swimming – just the kind of thing you’d hope for from a squad rather than a teaching group.

I centre everything on streamlining in starts and turns so start off where I usually end with a streamlined bounce, a handstand with emphasis on long legs and pointy toes, then a cannon ball and somersault.

The sequence into the turns starts with pushing off and:

  • glide out to the flags (or beyond)
  • glide and add a few dolphin kicks
  • then glide, dolphin kick a single stroke of FC and tumble (flip)
  • then glide, dolphin kick and two strokes.
  • The something similar on the back.

Streamline bounce along the black line all the way to the deep end.

Push and glide on BC using the block

Then with a dolphin kick.

From a dive:

  • Glide
  • Glide and add the BR underwater stroke
  • the full BR transition
  • And from 10 m out all the turns.

An IM with correct turns and transition

With assessments coming up the Grade 7s did an 800m set too.

And with time spare some fun activities and efforts to fault correct.

Breaststoke (our grades 4,5 and 7)

Two weeks in a row makes since for breaststroke, giving some swimmer four shots at it over this period. It is encouraging to see that I am building in their pervious efforts, that I don’t have to repate all the drills.

I concentrate on the glide which most swimmers rush yet is so vital to competitive breaststroke. this is achieved. by getting them into the streamline position: from ‘dead swimmer’ to streamlined, also the streamlined bounce up the pool, as well as push and glide ( or slide) then adding the underwater ‘keyhole’ stroke. This and drills such as : two kicks, one pull and two second glide on evwry kick couting out the seconds as: one missippi, two mississippi.

With one swimmer unable to dive or somersault I do a set in the lane agsinst the side of the pool aimed at helping. This takes from ‘Flip and Fun’ the forward and backward s canonball roll. I get close with K but fer it is going to take a while before she can somersault or dive. Swmmers get stuck in a rut with this one, raising the head, jumping in not diving, unable to get their head tucked in.

Breaststroke (Our grades 4,5 and 7)

These are ASA NPTS equivalents of  grades 6,7 and 9. you teach the swimmer even if they are in a group, so adjust or add activities.

See The Swim Drill Book, Ruben Guzman

(We purchased 8 copies for the club and like every teacher to have one)

Grade 7 are technically superior and have more stamina and may be a little older. The ones I watch out for are the 7 year olds in with 10 and 11 year olds as they need a different approach, TLC and  play.

WARM UP

3 x 50m warm up of front crawl and backstroke, always giving a tip before starting them off (and accommodating the odd swimmer who is invariably late), say ‘smooth swimming’ or ‘long legs’. i.e. reducing splashing and creating a more efficient swimmer.

Constantly adjust lane order, trying to keep them in speed order or to give others a go leading off.

Make sure too that there is 5m between each swimmer too.

(I know all their names within 10 minutes having used their name repeatedly and been corrected if I get it wrong, the name or the pronunciation).

25m of Breaststroke to see what I’ve got and potentially adjust accordingly.

LEGS

Kick on front with a kicker float.
Taking tips from ‘The Swim Drill Book’ I remember to put as much emphasis on keeping the chin in. 

Streamlined bounce just to help make the next instruction clear, which is to do breaststroke kick on the back.

The  glide is key; this is where to put the emphasis.

May start the ‘Kick, Pull, Glide’ or better ‘Kick, Pull, Slide’ mantra to get it into their heads.

ARMS

Standing demo of the arm stroke, from Guzman, forming an equilateral triangle and keeping the fingers pointing away. Will ‘describe’ the triangle poolside then ask what it is and what kind of triangle. Anything to get them to think about it a little.

I show this as a single action. Other things I might say include ‘heart shaped’ *(upside down). And making a sound effect ‘Bu-doth’ as I push my arms out.

Repeat the need for a pronounced glide, even asking fo a 2 second count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi) which I support by showing images on an iPhone or the Kindle

(I’m yet to drop either in the pool. I doubt I will ever risk taking the iPad with me, either in a bag or poolside. What we need is a kicker float sized tablet. One that is waterproof too!).

Leading into the turn we do in sequence (from the shallow end):

    • Push and glide for count of 5 seconds
    • Same, then add the underwater stroke and See how far you can go.

  • The whole BR transition counting 3,2,1.

(May only add later in the season, or with higher groups as the last thing we want them to do or to keep doing is dropping their hands to their ‘pockets’ on every breast stroke).

Up to the deep end as ‘sea otter’

This is a fun one but has a lot going for it:

  • Sculling
  • Duck dive
  • Swimming together
  • A giggle

BR transition with the dive. Getting the depth is often a problem.

For the stronger, more ‘advanced’ swimmers, our Grade 6 or 7 (ASA NPTS Grades 9 or 10) then Breaststroke kick on the back holding the streamlined position. Aim to keep the knees below the surface bringing the ankle into the bum

Dive practise running through:

Jump
Topple and jump
Topple and dive

May do back, breast, FC. With the Fly as a length on its own.

Usually add in somersaults and a handstand at some stage.

TURNS

Swimming in from the flags in the shallow end, may get them out to walk through ‘elbow your brother, phone your mother’ as a way to get them into a pivot turn.

Usual problem is that they are too shallow for the BR transition.

At some point I will do a couple of 25m race pace swims starting them off with the whistle.

Backstroke (Teaching Grades 4-7) ASA NPTS 9-10

I used Swim Drills as a prompt.

Poolside I don’t have time to read the tips (I know the book inside out anyway). What I can do is glance at the images as a reminder. Each chapter runs in a logical chronology in terms of ability and the drills that are likely to be appropriate.

We start poolside for a few moments before entering the water.

From the brilliant ‘The Swimming Drills Book’ Ruben Guzman. (2007) p.44

I want the swimmers’ shoulders against the tiled walls. Usefully there are protruding columns too, so that I can demonstrate and have them all in vision. I have to have them in reverse hight order so that the smaller ones can see.

We run through the drill three times with each arm, raising the hand like a dagger, turning the palm to face the tiled wall when it is perpendicular, then brining it above the head, as if entering the water, little finger first.
I repeat this for the other arm.

WARM UP

2 x 50m FC
1 x 50m BC

MAIN SET

From the brilliant ‘The Swimming Drills Book’ Ruben Guzman. (2007)


Repeat from the deep end.

Streamline stretch in the water.
Bounce up an down.
Get this right then have them do a length of kicking on their backs.
None of the groups required a float (perhaps the 7 year old in the Grade 4 group)

Using the lane rope they swim 50m in one direction, then 50m in the opposite direction.

From the brilliant ‘The Swimming Drills Book’ Ruben Guzman. (2007 )

This is the’pull lane rope’ drill in which the outside arm touches and takes the lane rope, this helping (as the drill by the wall) to get the swimmers to rotate into the stroke.

More kicking, one arm stretched out, the other by the side doing a ‘sail boat’ drill.

FUN ONE

Roly-polly straight down the black line down.
Jump in off the block into a pencil jump.
Bounce all the way down to the shallow end.

Double-arm pull

From the deep end to use the blocks.

Racing start on backstroke, with a streamline glide ‘Like a harpoon’, a few dolphin kicks into the stroke at race pace.
Get them to count (or recount and verify) the number of strokes it takes them to get from the 5m flags in the shallow end to the wall.

From 2m beyond the flags in the shallow end
Swim in demonstrating a Backstroke tumble turn.
Repeat

FUN ONE

‘Sea Otter’ to the deep end
(Duck dives to the bottom of the pool collecting imaginary oysters that they bring to the surface and crack open on imaginary stones on their chests)

Drill

Raise arm to the perpendicular,
Pointed up at the ceiling.
Pause to rotate the hand then lower into the catch

(The grade 4 & 5 swimmers got this, while it took several goes and a variety of tactics before the grade 7 swimmers go it. More to do with the group than their age).

Used an image from the Swim Drills Book (have it on a Kindle)
Demoed upright from the poolside
(This worked for most)

Identified the swimmer who could do it and had them demonstrate.
Had them count ‘One mississippi’ with the hand paused and pointed at the ceiling, then another ‘Mississippi’ once they had rotated the palm.

THIS WORKED!
Finally had them swim in pairs, over one length, checking on each other to synchronise the drill.

Synchronised Backstroke Drill (one to repeat)
(I do something similar with single-arm fly drill. They enjoy working like this and concentrate enough on the synchronicity to get it right)

Another RACE PACE swim
Start using the block
Correct position of feet,
Tucked in, head back
On my command using the whistle

A 3 lengths IM of BC, BR, FC,

Depending on timing a FUN FINISH

Handstand
(Straight legs, legs together, pointed toes)

Somersault
Mushroom or canon ball float

‘Dead swimmer’

Sitting on the bottom of the pool

On this occasion flyers were handed out for the next Gala. What is the best solution for this? They take them wet, into the showers, some then forget them, most hand over a dripped on or soaked flyer to their parents?

ON REFLECTION

The swimmer who can’t dive can’t do a somersault either. Indeed, when doing a mushroom float they are likely to lift their head even here.
There is rarely any group cohesion, so working in teams of two or three for a drill or for something fun like ‘sea otter’ make it more like party games.
To get them into race mode I use a whistle; I should have a stop watch too.

Fly

Robert Guzman’s ‘Swim Drills’ is my guide. Poolside I just need the image for the drill. Perhaps a single training tip at a time could be offered. I hadn’t time to load images into GoMo so used screen grabs on the iPhone which were very adequate, just need to have them in chronological order.

The age range 7-11, boys and girls. I am familiar with Long Term Athlete Development and know children well enough to understand that constant praise, an element of play and competitiveness is required.

POOLSIDE

Hips back and forwards to kick like a dolphin or merman.
Arms action: enter wide, hour-glass sweeping back (have they seen one of these? What alternarive metaphor could I use?)

IN THE WATER

Warm up
2x50m FC ‘smooth, slinking, sliding slowly through the water’

MAIN
FLY KICK
Standing in water
Dolphin
Fly kick resting arms on the lane ropes
Fly kick on the back
More dolphin
Fly kick with Noodle (arms out wide)

FUN
Otter
Streamlined bounce
sea-horse race on the noodle
Cat and mouse

MAIN
Single arm fly
Race pace Fly with transition
Race pace FC with transition

SWIM DOWN
Handstands
somersaults
Mushroom float
Sitting on the bottom of the pool
Lying on the bottom of the pool