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How To Turn Crutches Into Weapons

Most triathletes LOVE their training gear.

At the same time, they ‘know’ they probably use it a little too often, and that might not be the best strategy for improving their swimming.

After all, many experts will consistently warn of the dangers of using too many toys.

And there is certainly some truth to that.

I’m not going to reiterate those points.

Instead, I have some good news for you.

You can use training gear AND improve your performance.

However, there are caveats.

You have to use gear with intention.

Now, I always try to show you how to THINK about improving in the water, and then show you how to make it happen.

That way you can make informed decisions about your swimming, so that you can achieve your goals and really enjoy the experience of doing so.

I’m going to show you how to think about training gear, and then what to do about it.

Put as simply as possible, you want to use training gear when it helps you learn effective ways of swimming, and you want to avoid using training gear when it hides your problems for you.

It’s not that gear is bad; it’s how you use it that matters.

Whenever you’re about to use gear, think about the impact it will have on your swimming, and whether you’d be using the gear as a crutch or a weapon.

Once you know the outcome, it’s up to you to decide what to do!

Let’s apply this framework to some of the most common training gear to give you a more practical understanding of what to do.

Pull Buoy

What it does- helps you float.

Crutch- if you’re using a buoy to help you swim faster or maintain your body position, it’s a crutch. Instead, you’re better off learning to improve your body position.

Weapon- if you’re working on a particular skill OTHER than body position (say your arm pull), it can be real benefit. It helps you maintain your body position so you can work on other skills (your arm pull), improving your progress because you can focus on ONE thing.


What it does- help you go fast, and they help you keep your hips up.

Crutch- if you’re struggling with your speed or your position in the water, fins are just a crutch. It’s a short-term solution that avoids a long-term problem.

Weapon- Fins become a weapon when you use them to improve drills OTHER than body position, just like a buoy. Moreso, they’re great at helping you swim REALLY fast, which can allow you to feel new ways of moving through the water. However, you have to go FAST!


What it does- allows you to breathe without moving your head.

Crutch- a snorkel is a crutch if you’re using it to avoid fixing your breathing. If you can swim really well with a snorkel and terrible without a snorkel, it’s a crutch! Instead, fix your breathing.

Weapon- a snorkel is a weapon because it can help you FEEL what it’s like to have a breath that doesn’t disrupt your stroke. You can then take that sensation and try to recreate it when you swim without the snorkel, keeping the breath small and fast.


What it does- allow you to move more water with each stroke.

Crutch- if you use paddles to compensate for poor arm strokes, it’s a crutch. Instead, learn to use your arms more effectively!

Weapon- paddles can be a weapon when you hold them in certain ways that improve your arm stroke. It becomes a BIG weapon. See below.

To provide some more practical examples of how to execute on these ideas, check out the sample sets below.

Do them as is or adjust the distances and volumes to reflect your ability levels.

As you’ll see, gear can be a weapon!

If you want to know all the of the details of how to use different training gear, check out the playlist below. It lays it all out in simple, bite-sized chunks.

If you need help learning how to put this into practice, I can show you how to use gear to improve your skill and improve your fitness.

Click on the link above or e-mail me directly.

Remember the goal, exit the water...


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