Have you ever wondered why your barracuda is far from perfect, even after spending hours working on it?
I have some good news!
I have figured out the most important ingredients to thrust, the most common mistakes, and how to fix them with specially designed drills. I have tested this method on many athletes, that have a great success rate after following my proven method. Make sure you read this article to elevate your barracuda to the next level. If any of those tips would prove to be useful, make sure you share them with others! Here are my 4 ingredients that any swimmer needs for a perfect barracuda.
Ingredient 1: Correct Technique
When it comes to correct technique there are two very important points to mention; body movement and arms technique. A lot of coaches and athletes know that enrolling is a crucial part of body movement, but what does this term mean? The way I explain enrolling to my athletes is that they have to press the belly button in and start lifting their hips in an upward motion. This fluid movement is followed by pressing the chest in with a continuation of hips coming up. The unrolling is finished when the athletes look straight at the end of the movement. The head always needs to finish last, once the athlete arrived in the vertical position.
The arm movement starts under the water in a preparation position. Therefore, the preparation position is extremely important when it comes to working on your thrusts.
Let's examine the preparation position before we move on to talking about arms movement.
The red line signalizes the correct body setup in this position. The gaze of the athletes should be directed to their toes, as this helps in checking the water level when rising. The back should be as straight as possible, with the chest coming to the athlete's legs as close as possible. Additionally, in this example, the hands of both swimmers are placed in front of their legs which is not correct. The hands should be placed behind their legs and grab the water behind them when rising. Hands and palms should be facing the bottom of the pool and not to the sides. That means that the hands should be placed behind the athlete's legs from the beginning to the hips level!
Check the correct positioning of the arms in this example.
Since we started talking about hands placement in the first position, let's explore what happens when the athletes start to enroll. The main principle when it comes to the correct positioning of the arms is that the hand palms need to face the bottom of the pool at all times. The most common mistake made when it comes to arm movement is that the athletes turn their hands, so they face away from the bottom of the pool - for example, the hand palms face the side wall of the pool. This results in a loss of height, speed, and quite often balance. Therefore, checking the hand positioning by analyzing the athlete's movement on an underwater video can elevate the learning process and eliminate mistakes at a much faster pace.
Once the enrolling starts the hand palms should face the bottom of the pool at all times and should finish in line with the swimmer's head. The correct movement should be practiced on land first and transferred to the water, once the athlete is confident with the movement.
If you wish to get an in-depth guide to Barracuda, where I share the best drills, and most common mistakes and dive into my 4 ingredients of a perfect barracuda in more detail, feel free to purchase my recorded webinar.
My proven tips and exercise examples will elevate your skill to the next level.
Ingredient 2: Flexibility
As you have maybe deducted after reading the first section of this post, some degree of flexibility is also needed when working on this skill. Knowing what correct positioning on land is can help when setting up for the thrust in the water. To be able to execute this skill correctly, the athletes will need to practice their flexibility on land first. The most important part when it comes to a correct execution is that the back should be as straight as possible and that the athletes should bend from the hips, pushing their chest in front.
Check the correct execution of this skill in this video.
Ingredient 3: Speed and Sharpness
As thrust is a rapid skill, it requires extreme speed and sharpness from the swimmers. Many of you often say: "Easier said than done"! This is true because athletes need to know how to grab the water efficiently and they need to know which muscles should be engaged in that skill. Working on those aspects can prove to be very tricky, especially if you do not know how to address the problem. When my athletes struggle with their speed and sharpness I tend to work with an elastic band on land a lot. For the exercises in the water, I find floating equipment and hand paddles to be very useful. Additionally, exercises in pairs can also help the athletes to understand how fast they need to enroll when performing a thrust.
Ingredient 4: Strength
Great power in a perfect barracuda comes not from correct technique only but also from strong arms and core! When working on the arms strength on land I like to use elastic bands and add wrist weights for more advanced athletes. I usually work in intervals of 30-45 seconds (depending on the age of athletes and their level of synchro proficiency) for one exercise and keep moving to the next one without a break, until the athletes reach at least two minutes of non-stop work. For the strength work in the water, a perfect exercise for me is holding a position like a vertical or a bent knee for 4 sculls at the maximum level and then lowering down for 4 sculls. I usually repeat this process 3 to 6 times depending on the positions I wish to work on.
Core strength can also be trained on land with various equipment or body weight. I usually like to sprinkle a few cardio exercises to work on athletes' stamina and speed at the same time. Don't forget that the correct technique of the exercises the athletes perform is crucial to building their strength. That's why start with an explanation or demonstration of each exercise and ask the athletes to perform them slowly, so you can check their form. Once you are happy with the exercise execution, the athletes can start working at a faster pace.
After covering all four ingredients to a perfect barracuda I challenge you to try all those tips during your training. Make sure that you always check if all of the mentioned ingredients are present in each thrust. If you spot that one of them is missing, you will know what to correct instantly. I also hope that you started to notice your or your athlete's mistakes more often and you will be able to confidently fix them.
If you are interested in learning about synchro skills and techniques, make sure to check my Online Courses out!
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About the author
My name is Agata and I have been an artistic swimming coach for over eight years. I have coached athletes from various countries from all age categories and levels of proficiency in the sport. Before sharing my knowledge online I have gained experience as a coach and a judge in various countries in Europe. I was a head coach for master swimmers in one of the clubs in London, leading the team to 6th place at the World Championships. I also worked as an assistant coach for the Youth and Junior National Teams in Switzerland and participated in the first Youth World Championship as an Icelandic soloist's coach. In 2021 I have been a head coach for the U10 category and dominated all competitions throughout the season in all categories. I have obtained my master's degree in psychology at the University of Derby in the UK.
Since October 2022 I am an independent coach
working with athletes and coaches all over the world online.
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