Rock & Roll Swimming – What Is Rotation
Rotation is one of the really important parts of swimming – and also quite misunderstood! Rotating the body (rather than swimming flat on your front) has 4 useful benefits:
1) Increased reach (forward and backwards)
2) Reduced frontal profile (so less resistance)
3) Better ability to get the bigger muscles of your back involved (so more power)
4) Most importantly for many – easier to breath!
There are two ways of controlling body rotation – either from your hips or from your shoulders. The problem if you only use your shoulders is that because they are relatively small muscles, and they are controlling what your arms are doing too, it’s very easy for them to tire very quickly. By off loading some of that stress – the control and balance of your stroke – to our core muscles, you can maintain a smoother and stronger stroke for longer
Two of my favourite drills to develop balance and stability are kick based (every triathletes’ favourite) and a really good way of dialling in good posture and body position as well.
The first is side kick – focusing on maintaining good core tension (ie belly button toward your spine, good head position and a straight line from your hip to shoulder to the hand out in front).
The second is rotator kick – aiming to drive all the rotation from your hips, and keeping hips and shoulders in line at all times.
Both of these drills (like most drills) over exaggerate the motion that is needed when you actually swim. The ideal position in the drills is to get to 90 degrees to the water surface, when actually you only want to rotate somewhere around 30-45 degrees. By over exaggerating the motion in your drills, only going part of the way in full stroke should feel easy.
As a result, when I coach, I prefer to use the term ROCK rather than rotate when you swim. When you swim your hips should move the same as when you might skate, kayak or play a golf shot. If you can maintain good body/core tension and just gently rock from the hips, it should allow you the extra reach and easier breathing without causing the body to snake around from side to side.
Have a go and let us know what you think. Try it with a snorkel or doing half a length without breathing. Feel for a rhythm coming from your hips. Aim for that single axis running down the middle of your body.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.
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