Improving performance in swimming: Learning strategies for basic technology
Rod Havriluk, Ph.D.
Swimming World, 2008, 49(7), 36.
Improving performance in swimming by changing technique is a long and difficult process. Although coaches are often limited to basic technology (such as naked eye observation and verbal communication), the effectiveness greatly improves when using strategies for language, demonstration, sensory input, instruction, feedback, practice, drills, exercises, interaction, and systemization:
• precisely wording specific cues to simplify communication;
• accurately demonstrating the orientation of body parts;
• taking full advantage of visual and kinesthetic cues;
• progressing from proximal to distal body parts;
• providing feedback about compliance with cues;
• practicing short swims at a slow speed with limited breathing and constant focus;
• including drills and exercises to isolate focus on select cues;
• increasing the frequency of coach-swimmer interactions; and
• implementing a team-wide system to ensure consistency in technique instruction.
Strategies for improving technique not only expedite learning, but also improve communication between coach and swimmer. If a coach is limited to basic technology, applying a variety of learning strategies make the process far more effective.