Watching swimming is a simple fundamental of the coaching process, and I normally do not bother with it much because I am a swimmer. In other words I enjoy swimming, and while I do enjoy coaching it is usually during my off time. However, recently I used vidoe footage to instruct a friend on technique.
It’s worth saying that the video footage was beyond helpful.
For the fiirsttime he could see where his stroke was off from the norm. The TI or total immersion swimming has been championed and berated by well meaning folks, and I suppose that it is not bad for people first getting in the water. However, there are too many problems with stroke technique and power that TI does not address. My friend, a TI defender and practitioner, is finally starting to come around and see that swimming is a broad world with many subtlle variations based on the swimmer and coach.
It has been remarkably helpful in his stroke to branch out into a different way of doing things.
Under my instruction, I agree with quite a few other coaches in believing in building up the fundamentals of each and every stroke as complimentary with Freestyle. I also think that Dolphin kick is a fifth stroke that needs equal face time with the rest.
The videos help because we can look through and analyze them together. I can easily see what I think is wrong sometimes, but I usually do not start there. I want to know what the swimmer sees in the stroke as a problem. Why? Because they may see something I did not, but perhaps more importantly, I get to know how they analyze thier own stroke.
When you know that, you can see why they correct somethings but not others, and you can remove possibly unhelpful emphasis on one thing or another. You can also prescribe and direct drills to conquer particular habits of thought and habits of the body.
In other words, if someone looks at their freestyle and sees problems with their entry while the real problem is with their rotation – you can change their focus to where the problem is while doing drills or while swimming the stroke. On the other side, if they notice a problem with their finish while you where looking at their kick – you can give instruction on rotation designed to help both.
The importance here is that you can help the swimmer and respect the swimmer at the same time using video. It’s an unbelievable tool, and it is accessible now in ways it never was before. You can pop in with someone on deck just using their phone. A little water logged periscope can help you video or observe your swimmer’s stroke to see all the little foibles under water that can be made smoother.
Now, all this is nothing without having a good model swimmer. I spend sometime every time I want to investiage part of a stroke by surfing youtube and bookmarking good technique videos or examples of technique that I want to try.
But that maybe cumbersome on the pool deck. Swim Coach apps have stock videos that are usefull even if they aren’t always the best examples of technique. So you may have to modify your instruction a little while showing them the videos of proper technique.
That being said, be careful. Elite technique is not the same as everyday swimming technique. As you get stronger and faster, technique changes. When first teaching a beginner to breath to the side they turn their heads to bring their mouths above the surface line of the water. After getting to a certain point, that is too far. The water will create a pocket to breath in below that surface line if you can get enough displacement from speed.
There are various other differences. When taking a water safety instructor course years ago, the teacher had nearly flawless breaststroke for paddling around in the pool, but it was not flawlless competition breaststroke. While she had no technical problems with her stroke, it could ony broadly be considered in the same category as competition breaststroke.
I may have gotten in a little trouble for arguing with her on that as she tried to correct my breaststroke.