Monday, July 28, 2014

Exploring the hip-leg connection for the 2-beat kick

This video has 3 exercises:
(1) holding a stick with both hands, the student focuses on her "legs and hips" connection;
(2) holding a stick, adding hand switches, thinking "reach left hand to the pocket while right hand pushes the stick" (and reverse);
(3) same as above, without the stick.

When the student is holding the stick, she has these ideas reinforced:
wide tracks, a deep target below her head level, a delayed hand pull.

Here's a possible problem with using the stick: The student may tend to look at the stick which results in a lifted chin and a tense neck.

This student's goal is to move very slowly with the stick, allowing more time to inspect her own relaxed neck, good head alignment, and weight shifts from right-edge to left-edge. If the stick is getting in the way of these details, it's time to get rid of the stick!

Friday, July 25, 2014

What "bilateral movement" looks like - with a stick!

When we walk, we instinctively swing our right shoulder forward as the left leg/hip steps forward; and reversing this, the left shoulder advances as the right leg/hip steps forward. This is called "opposition" and we walk with a natural, organic oppositional motion of the shoulders and hips.

This oppositional, rotating "core body action" of the torso is the way we moved as infants crawling on the floor. To experience this clearly, anyone should just try crawling on all fours for a bit. 

When we stand and walk a few steps, "core power" feels like a "twist at the waist" initiated from the body's core torso muscles - not created peripherally by just swinging the arms and legs. 

Even though we swim in an elongated (and flattened) body shape, we achieve "power from the core" by rotating the trunk of the body as if we were walking. 

In today's class and video, you'll see the student excellently demonstrating this bilateral movement.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today's class: Finding left and right edges, finding air, adding momentum and mindful timing

The big picture: breathing in through mouth and out through nose, relaxing, floating, and moving with organic/core motion of the torso/hips/shoulders.

Class begins with some face-down flotation and the organic movement of "crawling" in the water; then "skate" position on left and right edges; then one skate immediately into a roll-onto-back. Student shows excellent relaxation in the water, keeping head - and hair - dipping deeply into the water. She's so excited, she says "wow!" from her relaxed float. Relaxation in water is an essential element of mastering flotation.

Student also practices extending the length of her glide during skate by adding a gentle flutter kick. This gives her time to check her relaxed neck and head alignment. We do only a little bit of flutter kicking during exercises and try to let it go quickly. The final goal is simply to have a 2-beat "organic" kick: legs which react to the rotation of hips/core body movement with only a flick of ankle to aid in rotation during switches.

Then student combined 1 skate and 1 skate-to-back; slowly lifting the free hand above the body to re-enter the water, rolling and reaching into face-down position again. This is a challenge! It's a useful skill to have but it will not be an element of her final uninterrupted stroke.

Finally, a few elegant, slow and mindful underwater switches. Student shows mindful control of the timing of the "switch."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Breathing on the left side

My mom has a favorite side to breathe on. Today, turning her head to catch breath on the left resulted in a pain in her neck. She could feel that she was using her neck to lift her top-of-head out of the water - too high and too tense. It hurt.

In preparation for a more balanced stroke, breathing left and right, she demonstrates two useful exercises that train the nervous system for relaxation in the neck and shoulder.

(1) Mom is gliding on her side edge and simply rotating her face to the "face down position" and up to the "breathing position." I see a nice horizontal alignment and her head and neck very relaxed in the water.

(2) Mom is performing "underwater switches." By avoiding her usual tense arm stroke recovery (out of the water) perhaps she can train her shoulder to relax.

My goal for her eventually would be to incorporate a very relaxed shoulder with the above-water stroke recovery. Perhaps "a little pain" can be a healthy motivator to find a better, more relaxed arm stroke and head rotation.