Steele Wisdom: 7 Visualization Drills for Fast Swimming

by SwimSwam 0

September 15th, 2014 International, Masters, Opinion, Training

Courtesy of 4-time NCAA DII Coach of the Year Bob Steele


Immediately after the last relaxation and establishing the environment go right into seeing yourself step up to the block, take your mark, beep… Now see yourself swim a lifetime best with the strokes, strategy, pace, and feelings you experienced in that race.

PURPOSE: Develop skill based upon vivid past success!


Review a one minute relaxation, mentioning they must see championship starts, entry, glide, pull-out, head pop, strong kick, long powerful strokes, seeing turning targets, turning fast, bouncing off the wall, streamline glide, pull-out, head pop, strong kick, long powerful strokes, breath control, passing pennants, reaching for the touchpad with fingertips, touching the pad, standing up, seeking a lifetime best, turn to teammates and coaches cheering and yourself jumping off the bottom, both arms raised in celebration.

PURPOSE: Guidance through race with trigger words for skills to be visualized.


After one minute of relaxation and establish the environment.

Perform FIVE flawless 50’s on your own. If you make a mistake in any way, see or feel something wrong you must back up and start over again. Repeat this drill until you’ve done FIVE flawless fifties.

PURPOSE: To perfect visualization skill and eliminate negatives.


Relax again for ONE minute. Perform a flawless 50 on PACE or on GOAL.

a.   Sit with back to pace clock or second hand.

b.   Start all swimmers with a BEEP on “0”.

  1. Visualize a 50 and look at the clock upon touching to see your time.

PURPOSE: Reinforce goal time in mind and exact, positive skills needed for achievement.


Practice prior to time trials or hard practice swims and eventually use at starting blocks just prior to a race. Use in lesser meets prior to big races.

a.   Relax for five seconds with centered breathing.

b.   Visualize the important and sometimes faulty parts of your races being done FLAWLESSLY. Select items such as: streamline entry, bounce off the wall on turns, head still/no breath on fingertip touch.

  1. Complete in 10 seconds. Have swimmers rehearse with one foot on blocks.

PURPOSE: A quick review of proper techniques required for success.


Since effective visualization must be done immediately prior to a race, have swimmers perform PRE-RACE VISUALIZATION (#6) with the team cheering and yelling for the motivational situation swimmers would experience at the meet.

a. Have eight swimmers on the blocks as they would prior to starting, perform #6 with the same noises.

PURPOSE: A “quick” review of proper techniques in a pressure situation. Things they’ve been working on with the coach in practice; skills and strategy.


In an effort to get swimmers through the different part of their race when  legs and arms are heavy, the stroke shortens, breathing is difficult, the competition makes a move and “the piano is ready to fall: on them, try to;

a. Develop a meaningful KEY WORD that cues; light legs and arms, long strokes, second wind,     keeping a lead and all those things that mean success.

b. This word should focus on and be equated to a “winning goal” like: All-Star, Speeder, Hero, Green, Blaze Orange, gold Medal or First Place or Time Standard. This word is only known to the swimmer.

c. Use the word daily whenever failing adaptation begins and the swimmer needs to dig deep for fortitude and a RACE attitude.

d. Use word before a race and at the pressure point. Don’t thing about the symptoms of the race; think about the key word and make it fit your race strategy with the help of your coach.

PURPOSE: Maintain skills and race strategy under pressure.

Bob Steele, book adAbout Coach Bob Steele

Four-time NCAA Division II Coach of the Year, Bob Steele, has developed 19 world-ranked swimmers in 41 events, from which two American Records and six NCAA Division II National Records were achieved.   Steele lead Cal State University- Bakersfield to five NCAA Division II National Championships team titles.  His Southern Illinois University swim teams won six National Independent Championships. 

Steele’s coaching wisdom can be summed up simply:  “It’s not what you do, but how you do it,” and “if it’s fun to watch, it’s fun to do”.

Former swimmer, Roger VonJouanne termed “Steele training” as “distracted pain”.


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