Swimmers usually do not practice their starts much as they get older. Regular practice takes priority, and requires a lot more time and focus. However, the start is still an important element of any race, and should be practiced from time to time. Here are 4 unusual tips to improving your start:
1. The Hula Hoop
This technique requires some extra effort from both you and a friend (or coach). Use an end lane, and have one person stand on the side of the pool with the hoop extended out in front of them, parallel to the flags. Have the other person on the block ready to go. Once in position, the swimmer on the block must dive through the hoop without touching it. Imagine that you’re a dolphin jumping through a ring at SeaWorld. This technique requires the swimmer to consciously think about their body movement on the start.
2. The Leapfrog
This is the game many of us played when were kids, but did you know that while you were ribbiting around the playground, you were actually strengthening your core? The Leapfrog is an explosive movement similar to a race start. A compound movement that utilizes your legs, core and arms, a game of Leapfrog after practice can be an interesting addition to your dryland routine.
3. The Noodle
A more common approach, the Noodle is helpful tool to improve how much distance you get off each start. Have one swimmer in the water holding a noodle in front of the block, and have another dive over it. While simple, the Noodle can be made progressively harder by gradually moving the noodle farther away from the block.
4. Jump the River
Another childhood favorite, Jump the River requires two jump ropes. Here, players take turns jumping across the “river” formed by the two ropes, which gradually becomes larger by round. By the end of it, the “river” has become massive, and requires players to get a running start. This game helps to develop leg strength, and like Leapfrog, can be a great addition to dryland workouts.