Turns are an incredible advantage to the athlete who can nail them. A great turn will increase your acceleration coming off the wall, giving you “easy speed” that requires no additional effort, whereas a bad turn will make you fight hard to make up for lost ground. With no additional training, having fantastic turns can help you drop seconds off your time. The best turns efficiently carry speed in and out of the wall with as little energy consumption as possible. Let’s examine 3 ways you can improve your turns right now.
1. Cat/Dog Stretch. During a turn, your body transitions from full extension, to a curled position, back to full extension in a short time. To do this successfully, your body must be able to quickly get into each position, meaning you need flexibility and mobility in your spine and trunk. The cat/dog exercise gives your spine and abdomen a good stretch. Start on all fours with knees under the hips, wrists under the shoulders, and a neutral spine and head position. Round the back upward like the body is being lifted upward from the midsection and pause. Then roll into an arched back position to stretch the chest and abdomen, like a dog stretching.
2. Hip Capsule Stretch (Pigeon). Turns require a great deal of mobility in the hip capsule because of the high degree of hip flexion and extension involved. Athletes who can curl into a tighter ball while turning will rotate quicker. Good flexibility in this area will help the athlete pull the legs in and extend them out quickly. Starting on all fours again, bring the right knee toward the right hand and angle it at two o’ clock. Slide the left leg straight back behind you. Keeping your hips square, position your right foot as close to your left hand as is comfortable for a stretch and hold. With more flexibility, you can lean your upper body forward and rest your head on your forearms. This will release tension in the hips, putting less stress on your knees and promoting better pivoting in your turns.
3. Core Strength. Whether your race demands an open turn or a flipturn, your core muscles are working the whole time. You need quick muscle recruitment to curl into a ball and bring the knees towards the chest. In your strength training, practice core exercises that mimic this motion, such as hanging tuck ups, V-ups, and mountain climbers. Hanging tuck ups involve hanging extended from a pull up bar, and lifting your knees quickly into your chest before lowering. If that is not challenging enough, try performing it with straight legs. V-ups are performed on the ground on your back. Lift your upper and lower body simultaneously toward each other to make a V with only the posterior pelvis and glutes touching the ground, then lower down. Mountain climbers involve quick alternating tucking of the knees into the chest while in a plank position, much like running in place with one’s hands on the ground.
Take advantage of these simple exercises to improve your turn speed and power, and see the difference in your races right away.
BridgeAthletic works with elite professional, collegiate, and club swimming programs to provide a turnkey solution for dryland training. Led by Nick Folker, the top swimming strength and conditioning coach in the world, our team builds stroke-specific, custom-optimized dryland programs for each of our clients. The individualized workouts are delivered directly to athletes via our state of the art technology platform and mobile applications. Check Nick and BridgeAthletic out as recently featured in SwimSwam.
Nick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s roster of athletes includes 35 Olympians winning 22 Olympic Medals, 7 team NCAA Championships and over 170 individual and relay NCAA championships. Megan Fischer-Colbrie works as the Sports Science Editor at BridgeAthletic. Megan was a four-year varsity swimmer at Stanford, where she recently graduated with a degree in Human Biology.
The Championship Series by BridgeAthletic is designed to empower athletes with tips from the pros that will help them reach peak performance come race day. We will be covering competition-focused topics such as nutrition, recovery, stretching, and mental preparation.