Recently I led a round table discussion at the U.S. Swim School Conference in Las Vegas on Strokes Drills and Progressions. While we primarily discussed the importance of progressions and the purpose of progressions during that conversation, there is another aspect to this conversation that we didn’t get to discuss: Swim Lesson Drills. When, why, and how much of your lessons should be comprised of stroke drills?
First, allow me to state the purpose of a stroke drill: To isolate a particular aspect of the stroke that you want to focus on improving, strengthen, or even to make a correction. Secondly, and most importantly, I want to emphasize in this swim lesson blog that drills should NEVER be a substitute for practicing the entire stroke! In other words, if your swim lesson plans are geared to teach a child the freestyle side breathing (one of many examples), you want to be sure to allocate time to Freestyle with Side Breathing in every lesson and have your learn-to-swim student(s) attempt to put it all together.
As an instructor, don’t put yourself in a position where you are going to run out of time. Don’t put your student in a position where your students don’t have an opportunity to try the whole stroke and practice it. I would rather skip a drill in the sequence than skip the skill that your student is ultimately trying to learn.
Remember this: Drills will help your swimmers improve certain aspects of the stroke by isolating certain parts, but if your student doesn’t get to practice the stroke in its entirety, it significantly reduces the purpose and effectiveness of the drill. It may even confuse the swimmer or cause the parent to think that you are not teaching them the stroke they signed up to learn.
At Swim Lessons University, we make it easy on our teachers by allocating a designated amount of time in each our swim lesson plans to practice specific drills as well as the whole stroke. And at the same time, we still remind our teachers that if they have to skip something, skip a drill, not the stroke!
October 24, 2010 - 2:33 PM