Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Value of Observing

Some say that if you look at the human body there are more organs designed for sensing what goes on around us than for sharing that information. Said more simply, we have 2 ears, 2 eyes and 1 mouth. We also know it to be true that when your lips are moving your ears and eyes don’t work quite as well as intended.
We had the California State High School Championships this past week in Clovis. Thanks to Meet Mobile it is no longer necessary to take splits the old fashioned way. So we spent our time simply watching and listening. Sometimes we were looking for specific things like stroke count and tempo and at other times we were just watching to see what we could observe.
We believe that coaches learn more about faster swimming by watching the faster swimmers than by making a lot of noise about one thing or another. The faster swimmers intuitively demonstrate subtleties. They may have learned initially from a coach but then they further refine it by figuring out what works and what doesn’t through the time honored and tested process of trial and error.
And so we watched to see what we could. There were obvious things like the speed underwater and breath holding. Some less obvious ones were relay takeoffs…at the high school level (even with club kids) they were mostly very conservative – slow. We wonder exactly how much time is spent in training sessions on this skill, one that earns double points no less.
What about starts? Many events are decided by razor thin margins, tenths or even hundredths of a second. The fastest part of the race is the start…we think but are not scientifically certain…not sure if any study has been done to measure this velocity quotient. If this is true then how come so many swimmers do not know how to enter the water cleanly? How much training time is spent on this critical element?
Let’s say you have 2 hours to train each day. First you need the conditioning; no wait first you need the skill set; oops, you actually need both. If this is true (a big if) then how do you allocate your time? How much of the 2 hours is spent doing what…and is it possible to accomplish more than one task simultaneously?
These and other thoughts kept us awake for the 3+ hour drive home…that and satellite radio!

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