8 responses to “Over-Thinking?

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  3. I have to say I think this is quite brilliant.
    I am always aware when I swim of the tension between the think and the feel, the focus on one of the many specifics (stroke extension, even breathing, kick, trunk rotation, etc.), the desire to relax coupled with the ‘brain-on’ attention to economy of movement.
    Achieving the perfect balance in the water is indeed a beautiful goal.

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  6. . If you cannot easily feel what your body is doing, then your training needs to include tasks that help you learn how to deliberately access more areas of your brain and deepen your sensitivity to body-information.
    The above is a quote from you–could you give some examples of tasks that would help one learn??

    Good article

    Sherry

    • One of the simplest examples of developing this sensitivity can be experienced in the Superman Glide drill, or even before by just standing in the water, crouching down so the shoulders are submerged then falling forward until the head becomes weightless in the water. Then we can examine the various sensations associated with a ‘weightless head’:

      Take your own hand, reach up and gentle bounce your own head as if pushing on a floating watermelon. If the neck is relaxed and completely letting go of the head, the head will bouncing in the water. Notice what the tissues from neck and shoulders attached to the head feel like. They have let go and are allowing the water to do all the work of supporting the head.

      You can put the same hand on the crown of the head and shake it, as if giving a rough but kind pet to the head of a dog. If the head wiggles freely in response to the hand then it is weightless.

      A third sensation is to imagine you are so exhausted and you are dropping your head, face down, onto a soft pillow to go to sleep. When your head reaches the neutral position (its weightless position) you will feel water pressure pushing up against the face. You will feel that your head is suspended perfectly between gravity pushing down on the mass, and water pressure pushing up on the surface of your face.

      Many swimmers have never noticed what their head is doing while swimming – it just reacts to a need for looking around or reaching up to get some air. But by tuning into the water pressure, and noticing how the head should be free to move when ‘weightless’ then the swimmer can actually detect and protect the head position while swimming at normal intensity levels.

      We do the same in each aspect of constructing the stroke. First we learn what ‘snap-shot’ positions feel like (like in Skate Position, SpearSkate, SwingSkate), both in terms of how the muscles and joints feel and in terms of how the water or air feels on part of the skin. Next we learn what the transition between those stationary positions feel like.

      We receive input from the nervous system – both feedback from inside our body and feedback from forces acting on the outside of our body, then we give input to the motor and pre-motor cortex in the brain. Our body executes the action and we receive more input from the nervous system to see if our action matched what we intended it to be.

      More advanced forms of this kind of brain training involve the mental activities of stroke counting to compare how far we have traveled in each stroke to how far we intended to travel. With a Tempo Trainer beeping then we can see how we can synchronize various points of the stroke cycle with that beep, further calibrating the sensitivity and control of the brain. These engage more and more parts of the brain, and cause the brain to recruit more neuro-stem cells and turn them into new circuits. This literally becomes a form of brain rejuvenation, based on the principle of neuro-plasticity.

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