I am talking about when to use drilling both in your swimming session and in your training program.

Over the past weeks, we have discussed the multi-dimensional nature of swim drilling, what it is, why it should be done and how best to do it.

Let's start off by looking at when in your periodized training plan, the most optimal time would be to be doing drill based workouts.

The answer to this is during the Off Season and the Pre Season, as they are the best time to attempt to improve or overhaul your technique.


Because it is during these 2 training phases that the focus of the program is not on Speed, Power, Acceleration or some other highly specific components of fitness, not conducive to the improvement of biomechanics or movement pattern improvement.

This sought after technical improvement can best be obtained when training at lower velocities, which better allow the uptake of new or improved movement patterns by the Nervous System.

Furthermore, as you move through the training progression and start to head toward the Competitive Season, the decreased training volume and increased training intensity,requires the Global movers of the body (Prime movers) to act powerfully over the joint.

If these muscles do not have a strong and stable joint to work over, a failure in technique is inevitable, and the potential for injury increased.

That is not to say that once you enter the Early and the competitive Seasons, you should not do any drilling at all. Use drilling and drill based workouts as recovery sessions and in Unload weeks.

Not only will they allow your Global movers to recover optimally, but the reduced intensity will facilitate a degree of both Physical and Mental recovery.
The next component we need to look at is when in the training session itself is it most desirable to implement technique and swimming drills.

The answer: After a thorough warm up, both Cardio-Vascular and Dynamic, we should implement the drills specific to what we are wanting to improve in our swim stroke.

The reason: The Neuro-Muscular system is still fresh and in n unfatigued state - ideal for the "uptake and storage" of new skills and improved movement patterns.

Furthermore: The Intensity at the commencement of a workout is not at a high level yet, which too is advantageous and desirable to the "uptake and storage" of new skills and improved movement patterns.

It is also recommended early on, because by developing good form early in the workout, a level of mental awareness of body position and body movement (Proprioception) has been created that can be carried forward into the main body of the workout.

The moral of this story is:

To teach the body a new skill, or to try and improve an existing skill, it is best done when the body is an unfatigued, and thus highly recpetive state.

Happy Drilling

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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