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View Full Version : Freestyle body rotation/getting power from the hips



Herb
February 25th, 2010, 09:17 PM
First of all, I don't know if these concepts are directly related. But I finally got some coaching tips and realize that I am plowing through the water like I am swimming like I am stroking with my belly on a surfboard. I have learned to get the high elbow recovery and now I feel the rotation of my body, or at least the potential for it to rotate.

So my question is, do I force my body to rotate more, or is this a natural consequence of doing other things correctly? I can especially feel it on my left/non-breathing side where I can force myself to over rotate beyond which I am doing.

The power from the hips part, I was told I need to do that, but I have no idea how to execute it.

orca1946
February 25th, 2010, 10:09 PM
I think that means when you rotate your hands/arms are in a stronger position to propel you forward.

Betsy
February 26th, 2010, 04:43 AM
Rotation of the hips is the key for me. I get a longer, more powerful stroke.
I have been swimming distance well, but fall apart when sprinting. A substitute coach (age group experience) really helped me. He said to sprint, move your hips faster. That will increase the arm speed without "flailing." A video helped me with backstroke rotation - hips should rotate before the hand enters the water.

rtodd
February 26th, 2010, 11:40 AM
Power from the hips comes from perfectly timed rythm between your kick and your arm pull. Betsy is right, the rythm center is at the hips and it is this core connectivity that develops maximum efficiency and speed. Does this make sense?

Lump
February 26th, 2010, 12:32 PM
When swimming free I like to think that I'm reaching for something under the couch that is just out of reach while rotating your hips. That is kind of how I visualize it at least.

Cross Country skiing (certain techniques) on the Olympics reminds me a lot of swimming as well...although they don't really over extend on the reach.

BigNoodler
February 26th, 2010, 12:43 PM
Maybe an expert can chime in here but aren't there two major kinds of freestyle swimming - shoulder driven vs. hip driven - assuming you are rotating at all? (I'm a plower, so I'm not a free expert by any means - in fact, I have yet to figure out this stroke).

So when I don't kick (2 beat or drag feet), my stroke is shoulder driven. When I kick hard (6 beat), it's more hip driven.

But back to the poster's initial question, doesn't one need to learn to balance and *ride your rails* (swim on your side) in order to rotate in free? I personally like 6 kick switch or side glide drills for learning to swim more to one's side.

Then, in order to switch efficiently from side to side, one must determine if they are a stronger puller (shoulder driven) or a stronger kicker (hip driven) and use it to their advantage. So that means that you will either use your shoulders or your kick to rotate from side to side.

Anyway, this can get confusing. . . sorry to not be much help here. I'm sure others will join in the discussion.

tomtopo
February 26th, 2010, 01:21 PM
Power comes from two forces. The primary force is a drag force or pushing the water straight back. You can't keep a straight line backward because a vortex behind the hand reduces drag force, so the hand must move to and away from the midline of the body. Hip rotation is indeed important but it helps lift forces but it is a secondary force. Front quadrant, upper body, hip stroke, surfboard swimming, TI, EVF, and whatever, a coach who knows something about swimming will tell you that the fastest swimmers in the world share common denominators. Every world record holder doesn't drop their elbow, they have in one way or another, an early vertical forearm position (straighter or more bent but it's early none the less). Every world record holder gets in a streamlined position and uses their hips to release or finish their stroke (again to greater and lesser degrees). If you want to go fast you must follow certain rules. Get a good coach that knows something about stroke mechanics and try to improve upon those mechanics. Good Luck, Coach T.

Leonard Jansen
February 26th, 2010, 02:29 PM
When swimming free I like to think that I'm reaching for something under the couch that is just out of reach while rotating your hips. That is kind of how I visualize it at least.


I like that image. Consider it stolen.

-LBJ

LindsayNB
February 26th, 2010, 02:59 PM
You can't keep a straight line backward because a vortex behind the hand reduces drag force, so the hand must move to and away from the midline of the body.

I suspect that simple geometry has more to do with this than vortexes. Consider the geometry of your shoulder, upper arm and elbow: simplify your shoulder to a universal joint fixed in space so that your upper arm can point off in any direction, the possible positions of your elbow are basically a sphere, or those parts of a sphere which aren't blocked by your body and range of motion limitations. You can't move your elbow in a straight line from over your head to by your side, the path will always be an arc. For your elbow to follow a straight line you would have to move your shoulder and body in unrealistic and clearly inefficient ways.

If you consider your hand and forearm as one big paddle attached to your elbow there is no reason to believe that it would follow a straight line, it's just not mechanically feasible let alone efficient.

tomtopo
February 26th, 2010, 10:51 PM
I suspect that simple geometry has more to do with this than vortexes. Consider the geometry of your shoulder, upper arm and elbow: simplify your shoulder to a universal joint fixed in space so that your upper arm can point off in any direction, the possible positions of your elbow are basically a sphere, or those parts of a sphere which aren't blocked by your body and range of motion limitations. You can't move your elbow in a straight line from over your head to by your side, the path will always be an arc. For your elbow to follow a straight line you would have to move your shoulder and body in unrealistic and clearly inefficient ways.

If you consider your hand and forearm as one big paddle attached to your elbow there is no reason to believe that it would follow a straight line, it's just not mechanically feasible let alone efficient.

If it were simple geometry swimmers wouldn't have to consider the multiple relationships important to swimming speed. If you didn't have an elbow, forearm and hand the basic sphere analogy is correct but the hand can move in a straight line and some swimmers use that technique. The pulling pattern of the hand is critical for peak swimming performance. It is the pulling pattern and the force it generates that creates a key component to swimming speed. I think when swimmers are told that the hips generate power, they're being misled. I'm not saying that the movement of the hips isn't important, it is, but they work in concert with a number of factors. Here they are:
The hand, the setting up of the hand into the water clearing the air behind it, a full extention that begins with the "setting-up" of the hand / forearm into an early vertical position, using effective drag forces at the end of the first quadrant and through the second quadrant of the stroke, during the second quadrant the hips help the hand produce lift forces as the hand move toward the midline and away from the midline (as the hand exits). Peak momentum in maintained as one hand releases (as it exits) while the other sets-up to establish optimum drag force as the cycle repeats itself.

Tarzan had a freestyle stroke that looks different than today's fastest swimmer but even Johnny Weissmuller had the basic components mentioned above. Every front quadrant, EVF, hip generated, TI, distance, sprint, triathlete, master, world record holder who wants to get faster, needs to improve things from the list above (didn't include things like kick, aerobic, anareobic, strength and flexibility). George is fuming by now
I lost my focus like a lot of swimmers when we reply to some of the threads (sorry Lindsay). Like the following unknown author said.

"We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet."

Strokemaster
February 27th, 2010, 10:55 AM
First of all, I don't know if these concepts are directly related. But I finally got some coaching tips and realize that I am plowing through the water like I am swimming like I am stroking with my belly on a surfboard. I have learned to get the high elbow recovery and now I feel the rotation of my body, or at least the potential for it to rotate.

So my question is, do I force my body to rotate more, or is this a natural consequence of doing other things correctly? I can especially feel it on my left/non-breathing side where I can force myself to over rotate beyond which I am doing.

The power from the hips part, I was told I need to do that, but I have no idea how to execute it.

One simple way to improve hip rotation is to point your belly button toward one wall, and then toward the other wall in training. This will give you 90 degrees of hip rotation to each side. Then when you race, it will drop down to 45-60 degrees, which will help your swimming.

It's also a good idea to turn your hips fast. Tests conducted on our swimmers at Colorado Springs showed they doubled their peak hand force output in just five days after they increased the speed and range and advanced the timing of their hip rotation. One of the swimmers went on to win four Gold Medals at Atlanta; another won two.

SolarEnergy
February 27th, 2010, 12:01 PM
Power from the hips comes from perfectly timed rythm between your kick and your arm pull. Betsy is right, the rythm center is at the hips and it is this core connectivity that develops maximum efficiency and speed. Does this make sense? Yes it does make perfect sense.

I'd certainly push it to the extend that body rotation alone, just by itself, also generates a lot of power. That point of view goes against Maglischo`s take on the matter, but I think that he's completely wrong on this topic.

The body, by itself, can rotate without the assistance of any anchor points. Research on this topic is seriously lacking in the swimming world (hence Maglischo's faulty take), but I feel (even though I haven't made any research yet) that scientific data exists in the world of figure skating.

In other words, I do believe in inside-out swimming very very strongly, and I think I could probably, with little research, prove its existence.

Did a very little non prepared test the other day. Jumped in a pool, with a pull buoy, arms tightly held up my chest. With no previous practicing whatsoever here's the body rotation I could achieve. Far from a figure skater but with minimal practicing, I should be able to self rotate, no anchor, very very quickly, without disturbing the body frontal axis that much.

YouTube- Demonstrating Body Rotation

Note: Between second #15 and 18, I think I achieved a couple of rotations that were fairly clearn (although frontal axis wasn't kept perfectly straight).

LindsayNB
February 27th, 2010, 11:14 PM
When I swim freestyle I have the very clear perception that rotation contributes to stroking power, but can anyone offer an explanation of how rotation gets translated into forward propulsion? Or is perception being fooled by synchronization? Is it possible that rotation merely positions the limbs into a good position for effectively applying force with the limbs? Perhaps the perception of generating power is useful enough in itself as a feedback mechanism?

Solar, I'm only guessing but I suspect that it would only take a minimal amount of force to stop your rotation, which would indicate it isn't very powerful. It looks to me like you are performing the rotational equivalent of starting a swing into motion without touching the ground.

Until I can come up with a plausible explanation of how rotation translates into propulsion I will be skeptical of the theory that power is generated by rather than transmitted through the core when rotating. I find these questions fascinating, it would be great to get a better grip on this stuff!

makesense
February 28th, 2010, 07:39 AM
LindsayNB...

at least one way that rotation leads to propulsion...

stand in the pool, stretch both arms forward laying hands on surface, now rotate body, notice one hand comes back without 'pulling' whatsoever (imagine a catch was involved here) and the other hand goes forward (for more reach for the catch)...thus, propulsion merely from rotation without even 'pulling' the arm back....the arm/hand can 'passively' produce propulsion with the energy of body rotation...rotation itself induces pull

as we know from starting a pull-cord lawnmower, there is more force through body rotation than simply pulling straight back with the arm...of course, this is the back muscle vs shoulder muscle strength thing

SolarEnergy
February 28th, 2010, 09:25 AM
Solar, I'm only guessing but I suspect that it would only take a minimal amount of force to stop your rotation, which would indicate it isn't very powerful. It looks to me like you are performing the rotational equivalent of starting a swing into motion without touching the ground. Hi Lindsay, I was rotating at < 10% of the potential.

I can rotate at around 100rpm like this. Without the help of arms and legs. It would just take some practice to do so without disrupting the frontal axis.


Until I can come up with a plausible explanation of how rotation translates into propulsion I will be skeptical of the theory that power is generated by rather than transmitted through the core when rotating. I find these questions fascinating, it would be great to get a better grip on this stuff! Same principle than what is occurring when you start your gas fueled lawn mower. One that is reluctant to start. That's for the pulling aspect.

For those who swim a free style technique that allows them for this, same principle than what is occurring when you sink the head of an opponent whilst playing water polo. That's on the hand entry. Creates a little bit of lift forces surrounding catch phase. But not everyone swim like this. Most prefer to not benefit from this lift force in favor of extending little more in the front (thus missing the timing that could allow for some body rotation **weight** to be used for lift).

But the lawn mower analogy applies to most free stylers, no matter the technique.

- - -
Here mate, Popov is demonstrating the two very clearly. On catch, he sinks the head of an opponent whilst being in a rough water polo game, and of course with the other hand, he's starting a reluctant lawn mower.
YouTube- Alexander Popov swimming technique

Note that the **weight** that can be put on catch can be handled in a much more subtle way by good free style specialists. For instance, I believe that better and safer EVF could be achieved by locking the shoulder articulation little more (as opposed to letting it all loose). With the shoulder locked this way, some of the downward body rotation weight can be used instead of the force that the limb could produce alone. Lots of triathletes swim this way. They are not overly bothered by the fact of being limited in their movement due to wet suit. They just lock the shoulder articulations and apply body weight on downward body rotation whilst (of course) using upward body rotation to start this lawn mower whilst pulling.

And of course, they put even more weight to lift their head to look in the front, just like demonstrated early in Popov's clip.

__steve__
February 28th, 2010, 12:21 PM
I think Popov is a terrible example for mortals to follow. First of all he is 6'6" and 200lbs, secondly he had extreem shoulder flexibility, and most importanly he had the time to practice 10,000 yds for a workout.


Solar,

Do I need to strighten out from waist to leg?

Here's a clip:
YouTube- 2010_02250003.WMV

Georgio
February 28th, 2010, 12:41 PM
[QUOTE=stand in the pool, stretch both arms forward laying hands on surface, now rotate body, notice one hand comes back without 'pulling' whatsoever (imagine a catch was involved here) and the other hand goes forward (for more reach for the catch)...thus, propulsion merely from rotation without even 'pulling' the arm back....the arm/hand can 'passively' produce propulsion with the energy of body rotation...rotation itself induces pull[/QUOTE]

I like this explaination. I am using a pull bouy to work on body rotation. I think I am achieving added "leverage" when as my body is finishing it's rotation to the right, my catch is starting to the left, and the two opposing forces accentuate propulsion.

Is this similar to anyone else's experience?

Thanks,

Georgio :bolt:

Strokemaster
February 28th, 2010, 12:43 PM
[QUOTE=__steve__;207638]I think Popov is a terrible example for mortals to follow. First of all he is 6'6" and 200lbs, secondly he had extreem shoulder flexibility, and most importanly he had the time to practice 10,000 yds for a workout.

I worked with Alex and his coach Gennadi Touretski for many years and I can assure you there was nothing 'extreem' about his shoulder flexibility. In fact, his shoulders were quite normal. Many other swimmers, especially masters, have extreme stiffness in their shoulders.

But this is easily corrected.


http://www.somaxsports.com/images/levinson3.jpg

SolarEnergy
February 28th, 2010, 01:34 PM
I think Popov is a terrible example for mortals to follow. First of all he is 6'6" and 200lbs, secondly he had extreem shoulder flexibility, and most importanly he had the time to practice 10,000 yds for a workout. I strongly disagree with you here, but I guess it's a matter of interpretation.

In fact, among most top level swimmers, I believe that Popov's technique is probably what suit us, mortals, the most. One key element in his technique is that he limits the dead spot in the front, which allows for a completely unloaded catch to be taken.

Grant Hackett is, in my opinion, an example to avoid. Very few of us can achieve this level of EVF whilst maintaining such a longish glide in the front.



Do I need to strighten out from waist to leg?
Here's a clip:
YouTube- 2010_02250003.WMV (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RF4nHceqQY)
No I don't think so. In fact, from the little bit that I can see from this clip, and if you're confirming me that this technique has no side effect on your shoulders, this form is near (very near) perfection.

Here.... this short clip here shows a very healthy free style technique. Notice how the left shoulder articulation gets locked on left arm entry. He is very clearly putting some of the downward body rotation weight on hand entry catch. Given the locked shoulder, that works perfectly. Very easy to achieve with a wetsuit too. Notice how any dead spot is being eliminated. The EVF level is kept well within what we Master can achieve. In fact, on his left arm (he's a right side breather), there's no trace of EVF at all. And it's fine.

Free style doesn't have to be made symmetrical. EVF level can (and in my humble opinion *should*) vary depending on the role given to each arm. That of course, doesn't apply to pure bilateral breathers (which are kind of rare among males at this level).

Alexander Popov
YouTube- Alexander Popov Freestyle Stroke Technique

smontanaro
February 28th, 2010, 03:00 PM
Grant Hackett is, in my opinion, an example to avoid. Very few of us can achieve this level of EVF whilst maintaining such a longish glide in the front.

I don't know. I find it still pretty difficult to get a good EVF when swimming normally, however, when doing a catch-up drill (isn't that sort of the definition of a "long glide"?) I find it trivial to drop the hand and raise the elbow.

Skip

__steve__
February 28th, 2010, 04:13 PM
I strongly disagree with you here, but I guess it's a matter of interpretation. I was being a little sarcastic. The way I feel about popov's technique though is that it is perfect, but to try to emulate his movements might not work out for everyone. Anyhow I have probably studied popov's technique more thas Touretski.


Grant Hackett is, in my opinion, an example to avoid. Very few of us can achieve this level of EVF whilst maintaining such a longish glide in the front. I am with you on this, even though his technique is cool to watch, it's just something very peculiar to him.

One thing I've been noticing is that it's much easier to initiate solid EVF if I prolong (glide) an unloaded catch. To not have a dead spot (active catch) in addition with EVF, it's more difficult for me. Not sure if it's a physical or technical challenge but it's tough to do both.

SolarEnergy
February 28th, 2010, 09:06 PM
I don't know. I find it still pretty difficult to get a good EVF when swimming normally, however, when doing a catch-up drill (isn't that sort of the definition of a "long glide"?) I find it trivial to drop the hand and raise the elbow.

Skip I have to agree here. That's this timing thing I was referring to earlier. So you may be right.

However, you have to understand my position. The most common flaw I need to fight against day after day, is dead spot in the front. Very very often, people wait then apply hard pressure in a sudden way.

Then the elbow automatically drops due to lack of shoulder strength to support this pressure whilst being in a weak position (arm extended in the front). Then they totally miss the catch so not able to engage the lats. That brings their arm near exit... slip slip all slip. Day in day out.

I think that you're right. Hackett probably spends most of his time swimming in a way that is safe for his shoulders. That said, he can probably stand a much higher level of pressure compared to most of us. Again I agree that by delaying the catch a little bit, thus allowing the body rotation to bring the body in a more flat position (not talking about staying flat here, it's a transition flat position) it's far easier to bend the elbow.

Most mortals may develop undesirable side effects in attempting to swim like this though.