In last weeks post on swimming, I briefly touched on swim drilling and what swim drilling is.

Today I am going to take it one step further, and look at Why we need to drill.

Drilling has been used for decades by coaches and swimmers of all levels to:
  1. Help the swimmer perfect their swimming stroke by breaking the swimming action down into components, that can be corrected and improved upon, independently of the entire stroke.
  2. Assist the swimming Coach to help the Swimmer perfect 1 or 2 specific (and often very very small) parts of the stroke, without having a negative impact on the positive components of the stroke.
Drilling is so essential, and so under-utilized by many swimmers, because it is completed slowly and precisely, and requires alot of thought and attention to details.

Mastering a skill requires a lot of practice - remember, practice does not make perfect, perfect practice does!

We are looking for positive movement pattern reinforcement as opposed to reinforcing all poor movement patterns we generally develop over time.

Drilling facilitates many physiological adaptations in the body:
  1. Improved Neuro-Muscular efficiency - meaning the speed and precision of movements is improved upon over time, resulting in movements (high elbow, Thoracic spine rotation etc), becoming an almost unconscious action.
  2. Improved body awareness - This is known as Proprioception, and with the help of swimming drills, we become more aware of where our bodies are in the water (elbows, head position etc).
  3. Co-ordination - the muscular and neuro-muscular system has many challenges imposed on it during drilling and swimming, because we are using upper and lower body musculature, Contralateral arm and leg movements, and the body being totally immersed and in the prone position.
The bottom line is we are working on becoming as efficient and economical in the water as possible.

Not only will this help us reduce our swim times, but also reduce the risk of those niggling overuse injuries (Download this FREE Swim Prehab workout: Promo Code: 8EDCB4DE), that can creep in so easily.

We have looked at the WHAT and the WHY, next week we will look at the all important HOW of 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, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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