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How To Win With Feedback Part VIII- Sensation

With every stroke you take, your body is giving you a lot of information about how it’s moving.

There is information about tension in the muscles, position of the joints, the fatigue you’re experiencing, the effort you’re expending, the pressure of the water on your limbs, how fast your limbs are moving, and much more.

If you’re tuning into what your body is telling you, you can quickly learn a lot about how well you are swimming.

However, there is a lot of noise, and it's easy to get distracted by irrelevant information, or you may not know what to do with the information you have.

The biggest challenge is learning how to interpret what your body is telling you, and then using that information to produce faster swimming.

Simply paying attention, regardless of outcome, is the first step toward improving the usefulness of the sensory feedback you’re receiving.

Once you’ve learned to pay attention, learning to calibrate those sensations is the next step.

We’ll explore that below.

Paying Attention

To get started with learning to tune into your sensory feedback, all you have to do is just pay attention.

It’s helpful to begin by using any or all of the suggestions below to begin a sense of what you’re feeling.

You can start anywhere.

Start with what seems interesting and go from there. Paying attention is a skill and it requires practice.

You may find that you can’t really notice much of anything at first. Be patient, persist, and give it time.

Pay attention to the pressure you feel on your hand and forearm from the start of the underwater phase until the end of the underwater arm stroke.

Ask yourself the following questions-

  • What part of the arm do you feel the pressure most?

  • At what point of the underwater phase do you feel the most pressure? How about the least?

  • Are there any parts of the underwater where you feel that you lose pressure?

  • Do you feel the arms are symmetrical? Does one side feel different than the other? How so?

  • How do the answers to all of the questions above change as you get tired?

Pay attention to your arm actions over the surface and under the surface.

Ask yourself the following questions-

  • Are your arm actions symmetrical?

  • If not, how are they different?

  • Which arm is ‘better’?

  • Can you make them feel symmetrical by changing what you’re doing?

Pay attention to what muscles get fatigued when you swim.

Ask yourself the following questions-

  • Where does the fatigue occur?

  • How would you describe the fatigue?

  • Does the type or location of fatigue change depending on what you are doing?

  • What impact does the fatigue have on how you swim?

  • Is there any way to reduce the fatigue?

  • Can you change where you feel fatigue based upon how you swim?

Pay attention to what happens when you breathe in freestyle, butterfly, and breaststroke.

Ask yourself the following questions-

  • How does breathing change your rhythm? Does it help your rhythm or interrupt it?

  • How does breathing change your body position? Do you lose your body position when you breathe? Does your position change vertically or horizontally? Does your body position feel the same during strokes that you breathe as when you don’t breathe?

  • How does you breathing affect what your arms are doing? Does it change the recovery? Does it become easier or more difficult? Does it affect how fast you’re able to move your arms over the surface? Does it change your underwater stroke? Do you feel more or less pressure when you pull?

  • How does you breathing affect what your legs are doing? Do you stop kicking? Do you pause, even slightly? Do your legs move over a smaller or larger range of motion?

Pay attention to what happens when you get fatigued during hard sets.

Ask yourself the following questions-

  • When you fatigue, what changes with your arms? Do they slow down? Does the range of motion change? Do you feel like you have less control? Do your actions begin to feel ‘jerkier’? Can you change any of that?

  • Is there a change in your kicking? Does it slow down? Does it become less consistent? Does it stop and go? It is less propulsive? Does it require more focus to continue to kick?

  • Does the timing, frequency, or duration of your breathing change? Which is most noticeable? Does it disrupt your stroke? Which aspect is most detrimental? How you do feel you could change it?

Pay attention to your body position. Ask yourself the following questions-

  • Is your body moving side to side when you swim?

  • Is your body bouncing up and down? Is It related to your breathing?

  • Where do you feel the most drag on your body? It is on your chest? Your head? Your hips? Can you find a way to reduce the drag you feel?

  • How does all of the above change from the beginning to the end of practice? How about towards the end of a difficult set?

These are some simple ideas to start with.

There is no right or wrong way to pay attention, as long as you’re paying attention.

The more you pay attention, the more you’re able to pay attention.

By paying attention you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn about how you’re moving through the water, and this process will provide insight about how you could move through the water more effectively in the future.

Paying attention is the first step.

What you feel is powerful feedback.

The water is telling you the answers.

You just have to listen

When you do, faster swimming is right around the corner.

Faster. Easier. Better.


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