The need for swimming drills in learning to swim correctly and efficiently has been adopted by swimmers and coaches across the world for decades.
A drill can be used by swimmers of all levels and is simply a specific exercise that focuses on a particular aspect of a swimming stroke. By isolating one aspect of the swimming stroke, drills have proven to correct stroke technique and speed up the learning process of new skills.
Swimming drills are designed to be progressive, teaching you one skill at a time. This progressive (stage by stage) process allows you to learn any of the four strokes at your own pace, with the knowledge that you are swimming in a controlled, emphasised manner.
There are various aims and goals when using drills including developing balance in the water, correcting body roll, increasing hold on the water amongst many others. Drills are important if you want to master an effective swimming technique.
Swimmers should learn to build up a drill progressively (with logical sequences) and increase the level of difficulty of the drill as you feel stronger and more controlled. When reverting to your regular swimming stroke, you should feel stronger, faster and swimming with less effort.
Competitive swimmers train endlessly with the use of drills as they have proven to improve swimming technique and efficiency significantly.
Why do swimmers practice swimming drills?
When we perform drills during our training or lessons, our movements are usually completely differently or exaggerated than we would normally perform during our regular swimming stroke. Old problems or bad habits in the stroke can be identified and eliminated by the sheer nature of emphasizing a stroke point during a drill.
Isolating a stroke problem is vital in relearning any part of the stroke. The biggest issue in stroke correction is getting the body to forget old patterns that actually feel natural (even if they are incorrect). With practice, drills can reprogram a swimmer’s action and muscle memory. Breaking down every single element into components, plus repeated practice of these components, creates this muscle memory and overcomes old habits.
Training the body to replicate these actions over and over again is the ultimate goal of swimming drills. This ‘re-training’ of the body is needed on every single progression (stage) of the drill.
The best way to practice swimming drills
It is very easy to perform a drill without a specific focus. Equally, one of the common problem of a training on swim drills, is to focus on too many technique points. Select one technique component and focus completely on this component during a given swimming set. Once this is mastered, refocus on a new component.
During your lessons, always practice your drills by swimming steadily and controlled and never rush your stroke. Be aware that a new drill can take a couple of lessons to master.