Turns can give you an incredible advantage if performed properly. A well-executed turn will allow you to accelerate after pushing off the wall so that you reach the right speed without using up any extra energy. On the other hand a poorly performed turn will force you to spend extra energy to make up the lost ground.
In this article we would like to give you some handy tips that will allow you to gain valuable seconds in your training sessions and, more importantly, in your races.
We are working on the assumption that an efficient turn requires good speed as you approach the wall, so that you can accelerate away using up as little energy as possible.
Here are three tips that will help you do this:
1. The “cat/dog” stretch. As you make a turn your body goes from a fully extended position into a spiral before swiftly returning to an extended position. You need lithe, flexible muscles in your back and upper body to perform this transition properly
The “cat/dog” stretch is an excellent exercise for making your back and stomach extremely flexible. Begin on all fours with your knees in line with your hips, making sure your back and stomach are neutral in relation to your shoulders. Now raise your back keeping your knees and the palms of your hands firmly on the floor. After a short pause, arch your back downwards to extend your chest and stomach just like a dog or cat. Repeat several times making sure you perform the movement slowly.
2. Hip flexibility. The turn requires great flexibility of the hips due to the bending and extending movement they perform. Good flexibility in this area will allow you to push off firmly with your legs and extend them more quickly.
Begin lying on the floor with your head and back resting firmly on the ground. Bring your right knee up to your chest and grasp it with your right hand while holding your ankle with your left hand. Keep your left leg stretched out and bring the ankle you are holding towards your left hip. Now press your right knee downwards attempting to keep your opposite (left) hip resting firmly on the ground. Repeat for the other side.
This exercise will help you relax your hips, reducing the stress on your knees and improving your rotation when making turns.
3. “Core” flexibility. The “core” muscles work extremely hard during the butterfly and/or breaststroke turn. That is why these muscles need to be trained in a very specific way.
Include these core-strengthening exercises in your training:
– Abs on the bar. Hanging from a bar with your back well extended, lift your knees up towards your chest. Repeat for 20”/30” with a 45” rest. Gradually increase the length of the exercise reducing the amount of rest between sets.
– Jackknife sit-ups. Lie on the floor with your arms and legs stretched out. Using your abs and resting on your glutes, bring your arms and legs up in a jackkife movement and then return to your starting position stretched out on the floor. Repeat the exercise as indicated for the exercise above.
Try to make the most of these exercises. The aim is to increase the speed and power of your turns.