Technique Before Training

Imagine the impact on a child who never learned how to read or write; the negative repercussions would haunt them for a lifetime. The same holds true for a swimmer who never learned the proper start, stroke and turn technique; the negative repercussions would haunt them for a swimming lifetime.

A practice common amongst many swim teams is to provide swimmers with a window of opportunity to learn proper start, stroke, and turn technique before transitioning to more intense training. The technical window can vary in length depending on the team’s overall philosophy. I know of some swim teams that transition swimmers by the age of 11 or 12 while others by 13 or 14. Regardless of the time frame given, the window of opportunity to learn proper start, stroke and turn technique eventually closes whether swimmers are technically ready or not. And those who are not suffer the consequences.

In my experience, the vast majority of swimmers lack essential technical skills and compensate by working physically harder. While hard work can mask a lack of technical expertise over the short term, in the end swimmers suffer failing to maximize their full potential. But what can parents do to address this pervasive problem? I recommend sending their swimmers to a top rated swim camp like Peak Performance that specializes in developing proper start, stroke and turn technique. Other options include moving to a team that places a greater emphasis on technique or arranging private lessons with a qualified professional.

On a side note, it is not uncommon for coaches to tell parents that technical errors will self­-correct in time. I contend that this view is absolute nonsense. Swimmers must be taught the correct technique first and then given the opportunity to rehearse it in practice until it becomes a habit.