Stroke Effiiency & USRPT

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  ryanupper 1 month ago.

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  • #3372

    pault1607
    Participant

    Stroke efficiency has been bothering me a little. My son started USRPT a few months ago now (see Target time for 100 free LCM topic). We don’t have access to many sessions and pool time so have to concentrate on USRPT sets as much as possible. I’ve been concerned about neglecting efficiency and technique. Son has a tendency to get a bit short in his stroke when he gets tired and ups his stroke rate to maintain pace.

    This morning we tried a set that was a variation of a USRPT front end speed/50s training set using an idea I picked up from a Chris Ritter podcast. Set is 25s with rest (about 2 mins). Three sets of 3 25s.
    First 3 -Set the baseline
    #1 25m at about 80% effort. Count strokes.
    #2 No more strokes but go faster
    #3 No more strokes but go faster.
    This gives us our first baseline. He went 13.3, 10 strokes (25m)

    Second 3 -Reduce strokes
    #1 Same target time (no slower)-fewer strokes
    #3 Same target time – fewer strokes
    #3 Same target time fewer strokes
    He ended up at 12.8, 7 strokes

    Final 3 – Reduce time
    Same # strokes – try to go faster

    He didn’t get faster but was maintaining 12.8 @ 7 strokes.

    This has now given us a baseline to work from in the future. I had another swimmer in the lane but I reckon I could have done this with 4 swimmers.

    This got me thinking. In his old training programme he used to do some stroke efficiency sets. I’m not sure how effective they were because it was either based on hitting a stroke count at much less than race pace, or minimum strokes per length in which case they just swam very slowly.

    Question – can I do race pace and stroke efficiency at the same time. Here’s what I think we might try:

    Do a usual 25m at 100 pace with 20s rest set.
    Use the first 5 reps to set a stroke count baseline.
    Then re-define “fail” as not hitting target time OR not hitting stroke count. Miss your time or take too many strokes and sit one out then try again.
    It might just encourage him to use his underwater more (which isn’t a bad thing – but not as effective for LCM swimming) and what I really want is to get his above water swimming as efficient as possible. But we’ll see.

    Any thoughts?

    #3373

    inkadog
    Participant

    Hi Paul,

    I have a coach friend that makes his swimmers fail based on time and stroke count just as you defined above. I think it’s an idea for you to try out. Remember the priorities of USRPT are:

    1. Technique
    2. Mental Preparation
    3. Race Pace

    I think coaches tend to focus on pace over technique and mental preparation. Use video from your phone to show your son his technique is failing and have him focus on that as the improvement focus. He will most likely begin to fail when his stroke shortens. When he fails, use the opportunity to show him the technique failure.

    #3374
    Gary P
    Gary P
    Participant

    I struggled in the past with the downward spiral of stroking faster to make up for diminishing stroke efficiency which, in turn, leads to further stroke inefficiency. Got that under control by using stroke count as an additional failure trigger for a while. I no longer have a hard stroke count # as a failure trigger because I have gotten so much better at maintaining a steady stroke rate that I know that I’m going to fail to meet the target time if the stroke count is too high.

    #3375

    pault1607
    Participant

    Hi Paul,

    I have a coach friend that makes his swimmers fail based on time and stroke count just as you defined above. I think it’s an idea for you to try out. Remember the priorities of USRPT are:

    1. Technique
    2. Mental Preparation
    3. Race Pace

    I think coaches tend to focus on pace over technique and mental preparation. Use video from your phone to show your son his technique is failing and have him focus on that as the improvement focus. He will most likely begin to fail when his stroke shortens. When he fails, use the opportunity to show him the technique failure.

    Thanks for your reply. We will give it a go this week.

    #3376

    pault1607
    Participant

    I struggled in the past with the downward spiral of stroking faster to make up for diminishing stroke efficiency which, in turn, leads to further stroke inefficiency. Got that under control by using stroke count as an additional failure trigger for a while. I no longer have a hard stroke count # as a failure trigger because I have gotten so much better at maintaining a steady stroke rate that I know that I’m going to fail to meet the target time if the stroke count is too high.

    Thanks Gary. We are going to give it a go. I don’t necessarily want to use it all the time – or necessarily to use it as a “hard fail” but just to give him a focus on his stroke as he gets tired.

    #3377
    Gary P
    Gary P
    Participant

    It’s been a while, but I seem to recall that if I made the time but stroke count was too high, I’d go again but concentrate on technique and keeping the stroke count in line. Two in a row with stroke count too high was a fail, even if I was on time.

    #3378

    ryanupper
    Participant

    It’s a cascading breakdown that USRPT indirectly has identified and has controlled for.

    The target time is the control for complete stroke breakdown. For many experienced swimmers, you won’t see a change of more than 2 strokes (SCY) or 3-4 strokes (SCM) within the set if they are holding the time. If a swimmer adds 4-5 strokes they either missed the time or will definitely miss the next one. The energy requirement of additional arm cycles outweighs any speed gain. That’s the energy deficit cascade.

    Your long-term tracking should be looking at efficiency. For instance, 50’s at 200 pace every Monday: count his strokes on the 6th and 12th 50 (somewhere near the beginning and end of the set) and note the repetition time. Do this every Monday. You’re looking for improvements early and late in the set that tie into the target time. This is probably more valuable than having him attempt to count strokes over multiple repetitions.

    I’m assuming you’re using the “technique Macrocycle” manual. If not, grab it. If he is focusing on a technical element NEVER have him stroke count. From personal experience, it’s almost impossible to focus on a piece of the puzzle and stroke count at the same time.

    Ryan

    #3379

    ryanupper
    Participant

    Here’s an example for fly. Notice on the second post I realized I wasn’t focused on technique because I was counting strokes:

    http://forum.usrpt.com/forums/topic/shorter-rep-distances-to-increase-volume-early-in-season/

    #3380
    Gary P
    Gary P
    Participant

    From personal experience, it’s almost impossible to focus on a piece of the puzzle and stroke count at the same time.

    At first, counting strokes took a fair amount of concentration. It didn’t take long, though, for it to become an automatic, “in the background” kind of thing for me. I don’t even think about it anymore until a turn or touch. But I can tell you the stroke count now on just about every single lap I swim; warm up, main set, recovery, cooldown, or race; back, breast, fly, or free. It takes zero conscious effort.

    As someone who does distance events, I find counting strokes extremely helpful. Counting is half of a live-time feedback loop that tells me when I need to concentrate more on stroke mechanics, and whether that concentration is working.

    I would agree that for sprint event training, the target time is, more or less, the control for stroke breakdown. But you can “fake it” a little on longer reps. When training for the 400/500 free a few years ago, I would jack up the stroke rate of the 3rd 25 of a 75 to compensate for degrading quality, and the 20 seconds rest was enough recovery to repeat the cycle of one good 25, one OK 25, being just enough ahead of target pace to survive a poor quality 3rd 25. I didn’t fully recognize that’s what I was doing until later. When it came time to swim the 400M (LC) at my “A” meet, I “raced it like I trained it,” going from 42 strokes on my second fifty to 54 on the last. When I saw the video of that, I intuitively recognized that wasn’t a very good way to swim a distance event. I was more or less cruising the front half. I was trying much harder on the back half, but going slower.

    After a 1/2 season of using stroke count as a failure criteria, and a season of optimizing the stroke count/stroke correction feedback loop, I was able to swim 1000y at roughly the same pace as that 400, with my stroke count holding very steady (+/-1) for every length from 100y to the finish.

    #3381

    ryanupper
    Participant

    Gary,

    I haven’t worked anything longer than 200s. I “stroke count” by knowing if I’m pulling into a turn with a different hand or finishing with a different hand so I guess that’s also the unconscious understanding for me.

    I was mostly referring to an age grouper or inexperienced RP swimmer like his son not being able to concentrate on 2 things. However, if you “train” to move stroke count awareness to the subconscious while you work on a technical element I think that would work just like any other mental awareness training. I’ll back off that mutually exclusive statement.

    This is a great representation of stroke inefficiency when rate is increased:

    Swimming efficiency

    Ryan

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