Yoga for Swimmers: Building a Yoga Practice into Your Training Plan

When implementing a yoga practice it must fit seamlessly into the overall periodization of your program. One of the great advantages of a swimming-specific yoga practice is that it can be adapted to your needs at any point in the season.

There are many different ways that coaches and athletes approach periodization. To address this topic in a concise manner I will be using Dr. Tudor Bompa’s terminology and system of periodization. These same concepts can be applied to other systems of periodization.

The five phases that Bompa outlines are the General Preparation Phase (GPP), the Specific Preparation Phase (SPP), the Pre-Competition Phase, the Competition Phase (CP) and the Transition Phase (TP).

The General Preparation Phase (GPP)

The focus of this training phase is to develop general fitness which provides a foundation for higher intensity training later in the season. This phase often includes several different types of cross training.

Going over the fundamentals of a yoga practice at this point in the season is important. Refining the technical aspects of poses and postures is extremely important to ensure the effectiveness and safety of your practice.

This is a perfect time to use yoga to develop your overall conditioning. Focusing on a more general practice that improves mobility, strength and body awareness as well as aspects of sports psychology.

The Specific Preparation Phase (SPP)

The focus of this phase is to take the general conditioning apply it to the specific requirements of the sport. This is also the phase where athletes commonly reach their peak volume of training.

During this phase the focus of your swimming-specific yoga program is to build mobility and strength that can be utilized to support the development of power and technical efficiency in the water.

As the training load increases you can also incorporate sessions that are focused on recovery and restoration.

The following short video shows how David Marsh implements swimming-specific yoga into one of his practices at UC San Diego.

Practices will focus on specific muscle groups that are involved within swimming techniques. Some of the poses will mimic swimming movements to increase strength and mobility in a more specific manner.

The Pre-Competitive Phase

The pre-competitive phase is typically when a program reaches its peak intensity. Athletes often begin competing on a more regular basis refining both technical and racing skills.

Since the intensity of the work in the water increases the yoga program in this phase will focus on maintaining strength and mobility as well as enhancing recovery.

This video goes through three poses that are perfect to develop mobility in the hips while allowing the body to recovery.

The Competitive Phase

The taper highlights this phase of training. The purpose of a taper is to allow athletes to recover from the training load of the previous phases to achieve a level of super compensation resulting in a peak performance.

The goal of a swimming-specific yoga program at this time of the season is to allow both the body and mind to recover. This is when a restorative practice can be very useful.

This article goes over some ways that you can use yoga to enhance your taper.

The Transition Phase

This phase of training focuses on complete regeneration so that you are ready to take on a new training cycle in tremendous health and extremely motivated. Training during this phase does not have the same structure as the rest of the year and should include a great deal of variety.

This is the perfect time for you to participate and experiment with many different types of yoga. This will allow athletes to maintain a strong level of fitness, but provides the variety and mental release they need to be ready for another amazing season.



You can also find shorter classes and sequences on our Youtube channel.

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About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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