Learning to Ride a Bicycle

PART TWO

WHEN SWIMMERS FALL OFF THEIR BIKE

FAST FORWARD AGAIN AS OUR YOUNG SWIMMERS BEGIN TO USE THEIR ARMS AND LEGS TO ‘SWIM’.
THEY CAN STILL LOSE THEIR BALANCE.
THEY CAN STILL ‘FALL OFF THEIR BIKE’.

Being off balance- wherever, whenever or, ‘whyever’ in the water- means we have to make adjustments and changes – usually using our arms and legs. It can often end up with small changes in direction, loss of momentum or just simply going a little ‘off course’.

When those movements are big or ‘gross’ [1] it means all the difference from being all-cool, easy, relaxed, smooth and ‘fluent’ and being unsteady, unstable, awkward, erratic and out of control in the next.  

It wont look good. It also means that it often doesn’t feel ‘right’. [2]
Swimmers will sense that combination of lots of SMALL, unfelt wobbles and readjustments.

Because they are small adjustments, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter.
Lots of little adjustments can quickly become permanent features of our stroke.
That’s fine if we are moving ‘fluently’ and efficiently through the water. Not so good if not.
As we get older, bigger and stronger old habits can be hard to ‘break’. 

When my ‘improvers’ are ‘snaking’ and ‘wobbling’ and ‘bouncing’ as they swim, I smile  and tell them “If you were on your bike, you would probably be in the hedge by now!!”  “You are losing control”
And being a good teacher (I hope) I know it’s time for more practice rotating or rolling from front to back, back to front, from side to side with more control and a more effective leg kick.

You can’t really blame the swimmer.
The water is a lot more ‘forgiving’ than the hard ground.

A lot of the time the swimmer is concentrating so hard on one thing that they are not aware that it is happening. 
When we lose our balance and wobble or ‘fall off our bike’ in the water, it’s not painful; there is no dramatic crash and no skids, bumps, bruises, or grazes, to speed up the learning process.

Because we learn a lot in life through ‘trial and error, hit and miss’.
It’s big part of the Learn to Swim journey.  
But with great teaching or coaching [3], encouragement, persistence and practice, we can gain greater control and awareness of our body moving through the water and master and perfect our swimming skills and competences.

EFFICENT AND EFFECTIVE SWIMMING COMES AS A ‘PACKAGE’ OF WELL PRACTICED AND MASTERED SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES.
IT IS COMPRISED OF:

  • A STABLE AND BALANCED BODY POSITION SUPPORTED BY AN EFFECTIVE LEG KICK
  • A STREAMLINED AND ALIGNED BODY POSITION
  • POWERFUL PROPULSION USING THE ARMS
  • COORDINATED BREATHING AND MOVEMENTS OF HEAD, ARMS AND LEGS

(SEE BLABT) [4]

When I first started teaching, I didn’t used to think much about ‘Balance’ as I observed my swimmers. NOW I DO IT ALL THE TIME. IF YOU’RE LIKE ME- TRY IT!


NOTES

[1] Check out that developmental stuff about ‘gross’ and ‘fine’ motor movement and coordination….

[2] Our sense of balance is linked closely to our ears (vestibular) and sensory receptors located within muscles and joints. (Our proprioceptive system). It is often linked to our ‘spatial awareness. ‘At any given conscious moment, we ‘know’ where our body is in space and in relation to our surroundings – objects and other people. It helps us to react and respond if any of these change. We start developing this awareness from an early age. It is also sometimes called KINAESTHETIC SENSE.

[3] It means amongst other things that high quality feedback from our teachers and coaches IS essential in preventing us from developing ‘habits’  and movements which are not only not helpful in keeping us efficient but which can actually hinder progress and stall success in the future. Giving high quality appropriately timed feedback is an essential teaching and coaching skill. The best are very good at it.

[4] Body Position/Leg Action/Arm Action/Breathing/Timing See BLABT