Here is a follow-up to 2-Beat Kick Steps…
Have you been struggling to get in sync with the 2-Beat Kick?
You are not alone, for sure. But don’t give up.
Many people give up on it because they stumble at the beginning and quickly feel frustrated and discouraged. If you don’t have that cross-body connection as a natural or trained talent (from other movement arts), or it has been buried by years of 6-Beat Kicking (or your own funky arrhythmia) it can be tricky for the un-tuned brain to pick up on this at first.
But why do some, like you perhaps, struggle with it so much?
It’s not the skill that is at fault – as if the 2-Beat Kick was not meant for you.
And it is not the swimmer that is at fault – as if you were not meant for it.
It’s the learning method (or lack of one) you are using that needs adjustment.
If you are already familiar with some TI drills for learning the kick, or have had some TI Coach guide you in the learning process you may add this tip to your efforts:
Lay in Superman Glide position and just focus on making the connection from Left Foot to Right Shoulder. Gently press the left foot downward to help rotate the right shoulder downward. Let the shoulder rock downward naturally with the water, not abruptly, as if in collision with it. When the body completes its rock downward on the right, let the body just rock back into the position you started in by letting off the pressure with the left foot.
Note 1: the rocking motion will have a very slight angle – like 30 degrees. If you are going past 45 degrees then you are missing the point of this exercise, and missing the point of this skill, by applying too much force.
You will be set up to repeat the exact same motion. So do it again.
Note 2: you do not needed to press with the right foot at all to get back to starting position. Your can just let your body rock back without any effort but letting go. You don’t need to concentrate on rocking the left shoulder downward. Just let them be. Let the body come back to your starting position when the water is ready to take you there. Don’t resist. Yield to it.
To make it even easier to make the connection, cross your arms and hug yourself while you do this. Take the arms out of the equation. You will more easily be able to tune into the foot/shoulder connection.
To clean it up even more, just flick the foot lightly, as flicking just from the ankles (you will be using the whole lower leg, in fact, but it will feel like you’re just kicking from the ankles). Try to press in the smallest range of movement possible.
Note 3: I am presuming that your study in the TI drills or with a coach has already acquainted you with the need to keep your torso (hips/shoulder) as one rotating unit – if not, you’ll notice that this doesn’t work when your hips are dislocated from your torso and turn independently. Hold your hips and shoulders as one firm (but flexible) unit and your set to go.
Let me point out what is happening behind the scenes of this drill I have just described: you are breaking down a more complex drill where you are experiencing repetitive failure into a series of simpler ones where you can experience repetitive success, making it easier for your brain to grasp the motor-control required and master it. Instead of making bigger leaps into higher complexity challenge that your brain is not ready for, you look for ways to take smaller ones that allow you to steadily progress.
For this 2BK drill, instead of focusing on making left-foot/right-shoulder happen, then immediately making right-foot/left-shoulder happen, back and forth, you are tackling just one connection at a time. Give that one connection some time to practice with un-interrupted repetition.
- Left-foot/Right-Shoulder. Press gentle and steady. 10 times, then stop, stand and breathe. Do another 10x. Examine each moment of the movement.
- Switch now to the opposite, and do 2x 10 on that side.
Note 4: You’re not looking to complete it successfully just a few times then move on. You want to repeat it successfully hundreds of times to really cause the connection to stick. Enjoy the feeling of doing even simple motions really well. Do it enough and it will literally become an automatic action. That is exactly what you want. So that when you start swimming and thinking about other things this skill will carry on without your conscious mind controlling it.
So, in this drill we’re just de-contructing the skill you’re struggling with down into smaller steps that your brain can handle. If you are struggling excessively, don’t work on both connections at the same time, just work on one of them. Later on – a few minutes, a few hours, a few days? It’s up to you – when the single -connection drill feels easier, you can challenge yourself on the next level by doing both connections back and forth a few times.
Maybe you see now how this same problem-solving approach can be applied to other areas of struggle in your stroke.
The greater point is this: virtually ALL those points of struggle you have right now in swimming are because you are attempting to take bigger leaps of skill than your brain can handle at the moment. It is NOT because you are unfit or un-talented for swimming. You just need to learn how to learn. The rest will come so much easier as a result.
So, I hope you will comprehend and consider adopting this approach: when you run into some skill you can’t quite master, don’t discredit the skill. That’s a cop out. Look for a way to break it down into smaller pieces, separating micro-skills from one another, until you’ve got pieces you can work with successfully. You may immediately realize that this is not just an approach to swimming, but an approach to life.
The brain’s job is to manage energy and information for the entire body. The brain must first be set up for success before the body can be successful at learning ANY movement skill. That’s why in TI we train the brain in order to train the stroke and to train for performance.
This is the difference between those who acquire the skill easily and those who struggle. For those who struggle, the steps are either not complete, not in proper order or the steps are too big. When you acquire a little understanding of how the brain processes information and manages energy and then work with this in the context of swimming and you may start to understand why the TI Method approaches everything it does in a very particular way. We might say that TI Coaches are trained to teach a Learning Method in the context of swimming. We teach you how to learn, or rather, we ultimately want to teach you how to teach yourself. This is, in essence, what TI’s ‘Self-Coaching Swimmer’ concept is aimed at. We just use the water, and (most commonly) the freestyle stroke to do it.
[Come work with me in open-water and we’ll take it to a new level!]
When a swimmer ends up with a mistakes in their stroke they can’t overcome it’s not that the stroke technique is flawed or not fit for them, but that the student has not mastered the learning process yet. Don’t worry. That’s what our coaches are here for. We invite you to stick with it, get some help from one of our trained professionals, and really learn what this approach is about, and really see what you are capable of – in swimming and beyond.
Back to the kick…
Stick with the 2-Beat Kick practice, because the moment it connects for you the brain will recognize that this is a superior way to transfer force through the body – physics and physiology confirm it. You’ll get a thrill of pleasure through the nervous system as positive feedback that you are heading in the right direction.
A persistent student, with a neurologically-sensitive learning method like TI, will unlock the connection eventually and tap into the magic of the full-body synchronized propulsion.
In this series: