The rotation in freestyle and backstroke is a crucial phase in swimming, and many swimmers naturally struggle with it, especially at young age. Often times coaches get frustrated about this issue, and it can get difficult with time to keep feeding new cues of how to improve this important segment in swimming.
Therefore, I want to teach you about mobility and give you a mobilizing exercise that will help athletes in need improve their natural rotation.
Mobility and flexibility can sometimes be mixed up with each other or hard to differentiate. Flexibility refers to how far we can move a joint until tissues and ligaments’ surrounding it doesn’t let it go any further. In example, the hamstrings are one of the most common areas to be “tight,” because of the restrictions of the muscular length. To improve flexibility, we stretch. Mobility on the other hand, refers to how well we can move a joint within the range of motion. And to improve mobility, we have to do exercises that move the joints in the wanted patterns.
So, if a swimmer is limited in his or her rotation (most often upper back mobility), stretching is necessarily not the answer. The swimmer needs to teach the body how to properly move in the desired movement in order to see results in the water. This means that simply telling the swimmer to rotate more might be a very difficult task because of the anatomical limitations that may be present.
This rotational upper back mobility exercise is excellent for the athletes who are struggling in the water with their rotation. Steps to follow:
- Simply lay on your side and place a weight under the bottom arm.
- Keep lower body and bottom arm stationary as you rotate the other arm as far back as you go and come back the same way.
This should not be a challenging exercise, rather a mobilizing exercise that is good for both warm-ups and super-sets as active recovery.
Swimmer Strength provides high-quality and reliable information about strength & conditioning for swimmers. They educate and motivate the world of swimming that designing dry-land programs are difficult, but if approached strategically can be extremely beneficial for outcomes in the pool. Swimmer Strength gives new ideas and adds variation to your programs that are swimmer appropriate.
Deniz Hekmati is the founder of Swimmer Strength. He helped coach César Cielo to his two World Championship gold medals in Barcelona 2013 and is currently working with youth swimmers to improve functional movements and create body awareness in early ages. After 4-years of college swimming and a degree in Exercise Sciences, he wants to help educate the swimming world in designing safe and effects strength programs.