Using the Drill Compendium
This compendium is intended to illustrate the diversity and flexibility of swim ‘drills’. It is nearly impossible to list the total ‘number’ of drills included in this summary, as most drills have dozens of potential variations. Historically the more common drills had to be given cute names from past swimmers or cute abbreviations. While names can be good for swim teams to quickly call out a drill for group practices, names tend to alienate swimmers and coaches from the flexibility of varying their drills and customizing the drills that serve their purpose. So we provide names where relevant and common in the industry but most of our described by their function.
Each drill you use should solve a problem and/or help improve an aspect of your stroke. To that end, drills should be customizable to the needs of each swimmer’s specific problems (which hopefully improve and change with practice and therefore so should their chosen drills). Because human bodies are not bilaterally symmetrical, each swimmer is likely to have problems associated with a particular side of their body and therefore may need to select drills that are specific to that side. For instance swimmers that have a ‘favorite side’ to breath on freestyle will commonly develop stroke problems on the opposite side of their breathing.
Each drill does not need to be done for a set distance or number of reps. Swimmers should be encouraged to mix up drills when asked to perform ‘choice’ drills in which each swimmer must choose their own drills to address their own problems. If a swimmer knows they have a left side problem, they should use drills that address that and help improve it. But they should be trained to customize that drill to their own needs and the time/distance allowed. If they only have 25 yards to address a particular problem, they may combine a drill for half a lap and then swim normal to help focus on fixing the problem in their actual stroke and not just getting better at the ‘drill’.
Drills should be cumulative in that different drills can be combined to progressively address specific stroke problems by gradually changing drills until the swimmer is swimming ‘normal’ and eventually at ‘full race pace’. This ensures that the problem area can be practiced in slow speed as a drill(s), then slow speed ‘normal’ and then at race pace.
Most certainly the very best drills are not even listed in this compendium but they should be used frequently. The VERY BEST drills are to ‘swim perfect’ for each stroke, turn, breakout, etc… Then ‘swim perfect’ at race pace. Drills should only be used to evolve each swimmer closer and closer to ‘perfection’ and swimmers should frequently be challenged to swim as deliberately ‘perfect’ as possible. This can give the coach the chance to provide the swimmer with a prioritized list of the most important flaws that should be fixed and the drills they should choose during ‘choice drills’ sets.
Lastly, swimming with ‘perfection’ will always be a point of contention within the industry as no 2 people will likely ever agree on what a ‘perfect stroke’ really looks like. Many will also argue that each person should have a customized list of stroke details that are unique to their body type and conditioning. Certainly the age and experience of each swimmer also dictates what is ‘perfect’ considering the level of young swimmers versus Olympians. And of course we all must hope that stroke details will constantly evolve and improve in order for the industry to get faster over time. So the swimming industry must evolve and each swimmer must evolve. This compendium merely attempts to provide a few of the tools needed for that evolution. Be sure to spend more time using our ‘Training for Perfection’ section on this site as our most critical assistance in helping you evolve.