In the world of artistic swimming, where grace, precision, and synchronization reign supreme, it's easy to overlook the building blocks of a successful training program for synchronized swimmers. Luckily, artistic swimmers and coaches know that behind these awe-inspiring performances lies a secret realm of training that often goes unnoticed - land drills. This type of training is done outside the water and plays a vital role in the development and success of artistic swimmers.
In this blog post, we will explore the remarkable advantages land drills bring to the training of artistic swimmers.
But let's explain what a land drill is first!
Land drills should be considered a workout, where moves performed on land mimic the moves that are executed by the swimmers in their routines in the water. The arms sequences choreographed in the routine are usually pretty easy to translate from the water to the deck practice. The difficulty comes when the swimmers have to perform the hybrids (leg sequences in the water) and translate them into the arms movement on land. When it comes to translating the body parts into the land drill language it is usually considered that:
Shoulders represent hips
Elbows represent knees
Wrists and hands represent ankles and feet
When it comes to correctly done land drills I would suggest starting by working on the pattern switches first. The switches should be executed swiftly and with no hesitation. I usually like to count: 5,6,7,8 go; 5,6,7,8 go. Where the numbers are there for the athletes to prepare and "go" signals the pattern change for all the athletes. Once the pattern changes are clear to everyone I usually start going through all the counts, angles, and execution of the moves without the music first. This is an important step, as it eliminates a lot of mistakes in the water and helps the swimmers gain confidence for the next part - the land drill of the routine with the music. In this last step, the swimmers familiarize themselves with specific accents and count their routine to the rhythm of the music.
It is important to note that if the swimmers have difficulties land drilling their routine in full and make various mistakes throughout, it is best to split the land drill sessions into various days of the week. For example: on Monday perfecting lap 1, on Wednesday repeating lap 1 and adding lap 2; On Thursday perfecting lap 2 and adding lap 3 ... and so on.
After talking about the main components of a land drill, let's explore five benefits that come from that form of workout:
By breaking down specific movements and repeating them on land, swimmers can pay closer attention to details such as body alignment, arms and legs positioning, or pattern changes and timing for acrobatic movements. This is also a great opportunity for coaches to observe and analyze swimmers' arms movement up close. Coaches can provide immediate feedback, make necessary corrections, and guide athletes in refining their arm movements or positioning in relation to other athletes. Working on such details on land translates to better synchronization and enhances execution, resulting in more polished and visually stunning routines.
Artistic swimming routines require the athletes to have awareness of their surroundings and precision in their positioning. Land drills allow swimmers to practice formations, transitions, and lifts without being in the water. This helps them get better at knowing where they should be in relation to their teammates and work on their sense of direction. The swimmers learn to adjust quickly if something goes wrong, which makes their performances look smooth and coordinated.
🔥 Hot Tip: mirror drill
When practicing by yourself make sure you can see your reflection in the mirror. This will allow you to correct your execution of the moves and the manner of presentation. You can also check if you are following the rhythm of the music correctly!
Rhythm and Musicality:
Land drills create a perfect environment for athletes to focus on their rhythm and musicality. By practicing choreography, timing, and fluidity of movements on land, athletes can refine their ability to interpret music, convey emotions, and synchronize their movements with rhythm. It is a perfect time to polish that music interpretation, with swimmers working on their facial expressions and manner of presentation. This attention to musicality adds an extra layer of beauty and depth to their performances and can help elevate the artistic impression score!
If you want to learn more about this specific topic, don't hesitate to book a coaches consultation with me. We can discuss this or any topic you wish in much more detail.
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Body Awareness and Control:
During land drills, the athletes have a chance to focus on their arm movements without being in the water. This helps to train their awareness of which leg should be moving and how far it should be going in every hybrid. The swimmers can also focus on the direction of their turns and understand their positioning and roles in acrobatic moves.
Additionally, land drills provide an opportunity for swimmers to experiment and explore different arm positioning, angles, and transitions. This process of trial and error, along with immediate feedback from coaches, allows swimmers to fine-tune their movements and gain a deeper understanding of how movement precision can impact the overall aesthetic and synchronization of the routine. This translates to the execution of the moves in the water and results in greater synchronization with their teammates.
🔥 Hot Tip: working on sharpness during the land drill
Place an elastic band on your waist and attach it to your hands by creating loops.
This will create more drag when trying to perform all the moves that are placed in the routine.
Please, use this tip only if the athletes are confident in their land drill without any equipment and execute all positions correctly. Athletes working with an elastic band should pay attention to extending their arms fully and showing all the positions correctly. Additionally, the downward movements should be controlled and the shoulders should be away from the swimmer's ears at all times.
Artistic swimming is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Land drills serve as a valuable tool for mental preparation. Performing land drills allows swimmers to visualize and mentally rehearse their routines. This visualization practice helps swimmers memorize the routine, internalize the timing, and enhance their overall performance in the water. It is also a great tool for stress management and it elevates the athlete's focus if it's done right before their swim, which as a result helps in boosting their self-confidence.
I hope that after reading this post you have concluded that land drills are a valuable training technique that unlocks hidden benefits for synchro athletes and should be added to their training regularly. The benefits range from technique refinement, or body awareness improvement to better mental preparation of each swimmer but to make those benefits possible It should be added that coaches and swimmers must prioritize the proper implementation of land drills. Coaches should provide guidance, feedback, and corrections during those training sessions to ensure swimmers are correcting their mistakes effectively. Swimmers, in turn, should approach land drills with focus, dedication, and a commitment to incorporating the learnings into their water routines. As athletes dedicate time to refining their arm movements on land, they will witness an improvement in their overall performance, synchronization, and artistry in the water.
Please note that this post was written from my experience only and has no scientific proof that can back it up!
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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 at all competitions throughout the season in all categories. I have obtained my masters 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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