Reply To: SMPC Step 1

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Coach Mat


I could see in your video that you have two corrections to make in your core and leg alignment.

1) As shown in this picture, in this moment you do straighten your legs, but they are not aligned with your spine. Your perception of straight body while standing on land is not the same as when you are laying down in the water (this is not unusual).

So, when you are trying to be aligned and straight from head to ankle in the prone position,  you will need to recalibrate your sense of where your legs are at.

You may stand at attention in the shallow water, like at military stance, then hold that position and just fall forward into the water and see then, in floating prone position, how the leg position feels in relation to your torso.

You may also push off in Superman and in those first 3 seconds (while you have a little propulsion and the hips are at the surface) feel the air on a) back of swim cap, b) back of shoulders, c) back of swim suit, d) back of your heels – those are helpful indicators that your body is parallel to the surface and legs aligned with torso. But it only works in the first few seconds while you are gliding and near the surface.

2) when your left arm is about to enter the water, your right knee bends to allow for a small kick. This is close to what you want to be doing. But when your right arm is about to enter the water, both your knees bend together simultaneously, and they your core collapses.

See, your upper thighs are connected to the core too. If you drop the thighs to enable a knee-kick, then you must disengage the core to allow them to drop. But when the core remains engaged (in the context of our ideal freestyle stroke) it restricts the thighs, and does not permit them to move out of alignment. Instead, the kick is formed by rotating the leg inside the ball-and-socket hip joint, rather than by a knee-bend. But this kick skill is complicated and dependent on the fundamental pieces being established first. Let’s set that aside for a while and come back to it later.

What you can do for now is practice with drills (like superman and skate) followed by 4 to 6 strokes to get a feel for keeping your core/hips/legs all connected and in a long straight line. You might even put on some short zoomer fins  (I use these so that your legs can drift behind without sinking (you won’t need but the lightest kick to keep them up) and still require you to use your core to keep the body aligned. The fins can help you get into position and stay there a little longer while you feel out the muscles and learn to use them.

Here is the KEY PRINCIPLE behind why and what we are doing – we must build from the spine-outward. So, put the head in place, then put the spine in place, then connect the shoulders/hips, then connect the torso/legs and get all that lined up – even if the body sinks, let the body remain lined up because this is the essential frame upon which the arms and legs will learn their part.

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~ Coach Mat