SPL Development Process

 

1403 SPL Dev Process

First reference these previous two posts:

Let me explain a bit about the SPL (or Stroke Length) Development Process:

Step 1. Reach SPL range.

In the first stage you are developing the ability to reach appropriate stroke length- the first goal is to simply be able to swim in our SPL Sweet Spot range. This is hard work and requires time and concentration to get there. I have outlined the process above.

If the Swimmer is currently at 22 SPL but estimates an appropriate SPL Sweet Spot of 16-18 SPL, then he needs to work his way down into that range.

Example Set:

Choose 3 Focal Points: A, B, and C

  • 4x drill with Focal Point A
  • 4x drill, then 4-5 whole strokes with Focal Point A
  • 4x 25 whole stroke lengths, with Focal Point A

Go through the set again using Focal Point B, and again using Focal Point C.

The goal is to use the drills to carefully form your best stroke, then form a series of these best strokes, and then use that stroke to go an entire length. Keep working your way toward your SPL goal by refining your stroke detail by detail, taking time to imprint each one.

Step 2. Hold SPL consistent.

Then you are developing the ability to hold appropriate stroke length over distance, starting with shorter and varied work/rest intervals and working toward holding it over the total distance without rest. Once you can hold SPL on one length, it is time to work on extending that to longer distances to imprint it in the brain and build muscle memory. This is the process where, over time, it starts to feel easier (more natural) to hold the chosen SPL.

Example Set:

  • 2x 25 active rest drill/swim with Focal Point A
  • 2x 25-50-75 with Focal Point A
  • 30 second rest with careful visualization of your stroke and Focal Point A
  • 100 holding your chosen SPL

Go through the set again using Focal Point B, and again using Focal Point C. Add challenge by combining Focal Points AB, BC, AC, and ABC, and increase distance of the work intervals.

The goal here is to memorize in muscle what every part of that stroke feels like in order to repeat it on each length. And to memorize in mind the exact Focal Point details you need to keep your attention upon in order to achieve it.

Step 3. Shift SPL like gears.

Then you are developing the ability to shift stroke length on command within your SPL Sweet Spot. This is the stage where you start to memorize and automate the feel for each distinct SPL count – it becomes natural. The swimmer can, from lap to lap, switch from 16 to 17 to 18 and back like clicking the gears on her bicycle.

Example Set:

Where N = your lowest SPL in your SPL Sweet Spot

3x (25-50-75-100)

  • Round #1: N
  • Round #2: N+1
  • Round #3: N+2

2x 75

  • Round #1: N, N+1, N+2
  • Round #2: N+2, N+1, N

3x 100

  • Round #1: N, N+1, N+2, N+1
  • Round #2: N+1, N+1, N, N
  • Round #3: N+2, N+1, N, N+1

Those are three ordered steps to take in developing control over stroke length. The path will require the Swimmer to discover and refine skills for balance, stability, streamline to get there because imbalance, instability, and poor shape are the very things restricting him from achieving those stroke counts. Those body control skills will be his foundations for speed later on when he is ready to build up Tempo.

**

So when can you add the Tempo Trainer?

First get yourself able to actually use the SPL in your SPL Sweet Spot range. Then you can increase the challenge on your stroke once you reach a level of ease with them – being impatient in this process will actually slow down your progress not speed it up. Let me explain how this works a bit more…

The path to improving stroke skill is this:

  • Put the skills in proper learning order (TI has done this for you)
  • Develop the skills one-by-one, in order
  • Then gradually combine the skills and work on them together

Then increase challenge on your stroke length abilities by:

  1. Use multiple Focal Points
  2. Increase distance
  3. Add comfortable tempo control with Tempo Trainer
  4. Add challenging tempo control on the slow end (this further challenges balance and streamline skills)
  5. Add challenging tempo control on the fast end (this challenges timing skills)

Recognize yourself moving through these Stages Of Ease of imprinting before considering whether to add more challenge:

  1. It feels Impossible
  2. It feels Difficult
  3. It feels Tiring
  4. It takes Focus
  5. It feels Easy
  6. It feels Unconscious

The discipline here is to impose only one carefully chosen challenge on your brain and body while Stage 1, 2, or 3. I suggest that a swimmer consider using a Tempo Trainer after he has walked through the 3 Steps outlined above, and do it up to Stage 4 Ease, where it starts to feel normal, though she has to focus carefully on it. Then he can consider adding a comfortable Tempo to that to build up his skill further.

Advertisements

7 responses to “SPL Development Process

  1. Pingback: Aim For Stroke Length Ease | Smooth Strokes·

  2. Pingback: Metrics 101: Stroke Length | Smooth Strokes·

  3. Pingback: SPL Development Process | Total ImmersionTotal Immersion·

  4. I have a question about step 3 (shift SPL like gears). How are we supposed to do that without taking SR into account? I mean, I can hold 16 SPL, but if I have to increase SPL I have to increase SR as well, even if I don’t increase or even maintain speed. So the question is, where is SR in this stage? should it be ignored completely?

    • Hey Dan, yes, it is correct that SR will be influenced, but there are skills we can master to resist or guide that influence by a calculated amount. Slowing SR is something to take note of, but not worry about in this stage. The fact that one can’t see how or can’t control SR while shifting SPL is the entire point of building these skills in a certain order. SR (Tempo) must serve SL, not drive it. The common swimmer simply shifts one variable and the other counter-shifts because they don’t know there is any other way to do it, they don’t recognize all the additional variables they can control which will give them control over both variables at the same time. The advanced swimmer can shift one, the other, or both, up or down by calculated intention. There is math and specific stroke control skills involved with this that are not commonly known among swimmers and not commonly taught in swimming programs, and this is precisely what the 6 steps of the advanced training path teach.

  5. Mat I am confused by your answer to Dan. For instance you said:
    The fact that one can’t see how or can’t control SR while shifting SPL is the entire point of building these skills in a certain order. SR (Tempo) must serve SL, not drive it. The common swimmer simply shifts one variable and the other counter-shifts because they don’t know there is any other way to do it, they don’t recognize all the additional variables they can control which will give them control over both variables at the same time.

    What are the additional variables? When you refer to building” these skill”s, what are these skills? Are your referring to the balance, streamline, and propulsion?

    Hope you can clarify.

    • Hi Sherry,

      In the common (traditional) understanding of the stroke there is just one whole stroke cycle – and it all goes at one speed. If one speeds up the tempo every part of the stroke cycle speeds up. But in advanced TI freestyle (level 2) we teach you how to modify the speed in certain parts of the stroke cycle while keeping it steady in others, and we learn to shortening less valuable parts (to save time) and protecting more valuable parts of the stroke cycle (that do the most for keeping longer body, longer stroke).

      The sections are:
      – Recovery
      – Entry and Extension
      – Set the Catch
      – Catch and Hold (called the pull and push in traditional mindset)
      – Exit

      The swimmer can learn how to move the arm at different rates of speed at different parts of the stroke cycle. In this way we can learn how to preserve stroke length and adjust tempo, creating stroke gears. Of course, at some point in speed increase additional power will be needed, but by adjusting parts of the stroke cycle like this in very intentional ways, one can minimize the amount of additional power needed. Needless to say, this is an advanced skill. In the old mindset, there is only one way to speed up = add more power and spin those arms faster. We show you multiple ways that put you in a lot more control of your energy expenditure. This is something we teach in Level 2 and Level 3 live training sessions. It is not easily taught in words. My articles here attempt to introduce the ideas behind it.

Please add a constructive comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s