May 24, 2018
Great Movements Lead to Great Performance
Carl Lewis was a dominant sprinter in track. When he’d run the 100 meter it would look like in the first half of the race that he wasn’t going to win but then in the second half of the race it would appear that he would pick up the pace and then win the event. The question is what was it that he was doing to finish so fast? The answer is he wasn’t going faster at the finish but slowing down the least in the field due to his amazing efficiency with his mechanics. Fast forward to Usian Bolt being the dominant sprinter. If you watch his race then you’ll notice a similar pattern to what Carl Lewis was doing. First half he’d be with the field but then in the second half of the race it would look like he was shot out of a cannon.
In swimming, there are similar patterns to this as well. When you watch the events that look completely even but then one person separates from the field at the end of the race to win it the athlete that won will typically get praise for their finishing speed and for being tougher than everyone else. What’s important to know about their training is how focused they are in training and at meets when things get difficult. It’s a habit in training to focus on being efficient when things get uncomfortable. Most go into survival mode when feeling the pain at the end of a race and end up just trying to get through it. What a lot of great athletes do is focus on what they need to do such as kicking or head position for example to finish the race as fast as possible.
In no way shape or form am I saying that you don’t have to work hard to get better at finishing a race. Most of the athletes that do great things in their sport are legendary trainers and are extremely dedicated. What I’m saying is that focusing on technical improvements and making better habits when things get difficult is a necessity to get to an elite level.
Take the vertical jump for example. A vertical jump is a test that a lot of coaches use to see if an athlete has more fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers. If we’re looking at what the best jumpers are doing then you’ll find similar movement patterns that are allowing them to be able to jump as high as they're jumping. If the average athlete were to learn the movement pattern then their body would start to recruit more muscles (that they don't normally use) to be able to do that movement. I’m not saying that as soon as you learn it you’ll be able to have a 44 inch vertical. Most of those athletes that can jump that high learned the movement pattern a lot earlier on so the pathway became faster and faster so over time it made it so they were able to fire everything so much quicker. Think about how many times you jump in the sport of basketball and football. If you have the proper mechanics and then you do the amount of repetitions that you have to do in a sport like basketball or football then you’re going to be able to jump really high.
Transferring this into swimming if you look at what the world class swimmers are doing then you’ll notice similar movement patterns among them. If you’re able to learn these movements such as a high elbow catch or knowing how snap your ankle at the end of a dolphin kick then you’ll be able to start your progression towards being a world class athlete. Again, just because you learn these skills doesn’t mean that tomorrow you're going to be able to beat Katie Ledecky. It takes an abundance of quality receptions with the right movements to be able to get to that level. Averaging 1:01.3 for a mile is pretty amazing. Not to say with a lot of practice it isn’t possible for one of you to beat that.
Learning these proper movements will be the focus of our skills clinics. Hope you can attend!