PDA

View Full Version : Balls, flat, or clueless? [feet off the walls]



Couroboros
January 12th, 2011, 11:50 PM
So earlier at practice I experimented with flat feet coming off every wall. There was a very noticeable difference. I could surface with ease past the flags, without any DKs. In my first two years of swimming, I have used just the balls (and toes) of my feet in coming off the walls.

Flat feet (that is, both ball and heel) feels a little awkward right now, like any technique change, but I think I'm going to start adjusting to it for permanent use.

Thanks to Jim Thornton who suggested I make this a poll!

Rykno
January 13th, 2011, 02:55 AM
I voted balls, but I would guess that my heal gets within an inch of the wall.

I have strong calf muscles. I just tested a vertical jump to see how I would stand and it was the same way I picture that my feet come into the wall on a turn. heals lift slightly

I have no kick, not even off the walls when swimming free and I always manage to take my first stroke at the flags (5m).

swimshark
January 13th, 2011, 12:22 PM
I go with the flat feet as much as I can. For me I have ankle pain due to an old sprain, in the right ankle, which is also my stronger leg. The more of the foot I get on the wall, the harder a push I get and the less pain I have. It's an adjustment I've made since the sprain happened almost 3 years ago. If I get too far away and just push off with my toes, the pain can be bad.

That Guy
January 13th, 2011, 02:26 PM
My response to this poll was incorrect. I paid closer attention this morning and it turns out that I pretty much always push off with the balls of the feet. Who knew? :dunno:

couldbebetterfly
January 13th, 2011, 03:41 PM
Well I voted clueless, but in practice I tend to push of lightly with my heels and mainly with the balls against the tiled/concrete wall.

In competition off the slightly springy pads I slam those feet completely against them as hard as I can (at least I think I do)

Chris Stevenson
January 13th, 2011, 04:46 PM
Well, I push off with the balls of my feet. But I can also be pretty clueless at times.:)

I hate multiple choice...

orca1946
January 13th, 2011, 05:30 PM
This is why my feet are sore from 22 yrs of Masters swimming !

jim thornton
January 13th, 2011, 05:52 PM
I voted clueless because I am not sure how my feet push off. I will try to figure it out the next time I swim.

Mr. Couroboros, with whom I was chatting on Facebook last night, was curious about my borderline antipathy towards Michael Phelps--not as a swimmer, but as an interview subject.

Ironically, this very poll has caused me to re-evaluate this antipathy!

A quick backgrounding here:

A couple years ago, a magazine asked me to interview Michael Phelps for tips on swimming freestyle. They actually wanted me to swim with him at Michigan and ask him my questions while we were practicing together. That way, he could show me rather than just tell me the answers.

I called up various channels, got nowhere, then asked the magazine's celebrity wrangler to find out who his publicist and/or handler-agent was, and I tried going though this person to set up an interview.

The back and forth, and forth and back, went on forever.

Rommel, organizing his tank campaign in Northern Africa, most certainly had an easier time with logistics than I did trying to get through to Michael Phelps's people's people.

Nightmarish!

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking.

Arrangements were finally made to do a phone interview--actual swimming proved to be out of the question. A date and time were set up. The date and time were changed, and then the changed time was ignored.

And again, the whole change-and-ignore scenario, many more times.

Finally, after endless shilly-shallying and waiting around for nothing, I got a call. It was Mr. MP. He told me his practice was starting in 20 minutes, that he had to get his suit on and thus had to make the interview quick.

I asked my questions, hoping to extract something usable.

Nothing!

At one point, I asked him this:

"In the course of your freestyle stroke, do you exhale slowly throughout the arm cycles, or do you wait till shortly before taking the next breath and blow out all your air in a burst?"

His answer was that he didn't have any idea how he breathed. "Ask my coach," he said.

The interview was so frustrating, I can't begin to tell you!

As a writer, you develop a sense of when you get the goods from an interview, and when you don't. After months of exasperating arrangements to line up this hurried interview, where the subject made it clear he had no interest in participating, I got precisely bupkis in the way of usable material!

And the crowning touch of it all was that he didn't even know how he breathed in the water!

Some 10,000-15,000 meters a day for years, and he referred me to his coach to find out when and how he exhaled!

It occurred to me then that Michael Phelps is a Swimming Savant.

I know, I know: he's a busy fellow, too, all kinds of pressures and demands on his time, etc.

But I have interviewed other swimmers over the years, including Lenny Krayzelburg, who was one of the nicest and most generous interview subjects I have ever had in any field! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenny_Krayzelburg


So anyhow, here I have been feeling slightly self-righteous and smug for years!

And then Mr. Couroboros asked me which part of my feet I push off the wall with, a motion I must have repeated thousands of times over the years, if not tens of thousands of times.

I had to answer:

"I have no idea. You will have to ask my coach!"

Mr. Phelps, please forgive me for slandering you in my mind!

swimmerb212
January 13th, 2011, 07:28 PM
While I have not put in as much pool time as Michael Phelps or Jim Thornton, I could have sworn that I pushed off with my flat feet, based on how my heel hurts sometimes.

Then I tried it at practice today, and I'm not even flexible to make contact with anything but the balls of my feet, with the exception of when I do a really, really slow backstroke turn.

Should I be worried about the mystery cause of my occasional heel pain now?

ande
January 13th, 2011, 09:15 PM
BALLS

Couroboros
January 13th, 2011, 10:39 PM
Wow, this forum's got a lotta balls.

Did I give you the goods in our interview, Jim? I hope so!

I did more experimenting today in practice, mostly with flat feet. Tomorrow, I will do a mix of both balls and flat, and compare. I think flat is better.

analazy
January 14th, 2011, 03:00 AM
I voted clueless because I am not sure how my feet push off. I will try to figure it out the next time I swim.
......

I had to answer:

"I have no idea. You will have to ask my coach!"

Mr. Phelps, please forgive me for slandering you in my mind!


:D:bow:

analazy
January 14th, 2011, 03:10 AM
Nice , have learnt more words:)
Had to verify the dictionary …The metatarsus or metatarsal bones


no doubt : balls!
will try flat....

stillwater
January 14th, 2011, 09:32 AM
Balls to the wall.

isobel
January 14th, 2011, 09:49 AM
You didn't give this as an option, but I am chagrined to admit that sometimes I miss the wall entirely.... And in meets I have been known to graze the wall with my big toe. My coach noticed for one particular swim race that my turns "were kinda weak."

What happened was (yadadadadada) my goggles filled up with water off the blocks, and I was pretty much blind for the whole swim, PLUS I had tucked those tight suckers up under my cap and in my panic felt there was no way to stop and dump out the inner pool. Thus I could not see the wall, nor my lane, nor even the water. (I am very nearsighted anyway; excuses excuses excuses).

When I practice turns from the flags in and feel very powerful, I would say my best turns are when my feet are almost flat on the wall and I allow my knees to be quite bent (in other words, I actually get rather close to the wall).

Ah, so much to be worked on.

jim thornton
January 14th, 2011, 05:27 PM
Another wrinkle to consider.

If you look at Phelps's push off with fly, it does look like he has the whole foot surface on the wall.

With freestyle, it's harder to see, but it looks like it's a little less whole foot and a little more balls o' feet.

Hypothesis 1. The short axis strokes, which require you to touch the wall with both hands (and for many of us, grab the wall!), swimmers are more likely to place the entire sole surface on the wall before pushing off.

In the long axis strokes, which allow flip turns and no hand touches required, we don't have to get quite as close to the wall and can thus bounce off with more of a balls o' feet push-and-go.

As far as power from the actual push goes, it would be interesting to see if high jumpers plant their whole feet before the leap, or if they jump from the toe-not-heel position. I am pretty sure track sprinters run the latter way, and they don't seem to be losing much "push" because of it.

Jimbosback
January 14th, 2011, 06:01 PM
I paid attention to this today, and my heels actually never touch. They get the closest when I flip too late and need to absorb the extra shock. I really thought I flattened my foot more before the push, but I do not.

(I don't think I'll ever go fast enough to actually touch the wall with my ...)

philoswimmer
January 14th, 2011, 09:40 PM
I voted "flat" but I realized today that I actually push off the balls of my feet (so, I guess I should have voted "clueless"). I tried pushing flat footed but found it very awkward.

celticbass1
January 14th, 2011, 10:05 PM
Balls of the feet it is and barring injury, always will be. I think if you talked to some exercise physiologists they would tell you that jumping, or in our case pushing off with the balls of your feet is much more efficient than "whole foot". I honestly have no idea if I was ever coached on this.

tomtopo
January 16th, 2011, 02:06 PM
It's very difficult to get your feet flat on the wall but that shouldn't stop swimmers from trying. The soleus (located behind the calf muscle or gastroc) is the primary mover when a swimmer pushes off the wall from the balls of their feet. Getting off the wall the furthest and the fastest is derived from a flat foot and in underwater slow motion video many world class swimmers will collapse from the balls of the feet during the initial contact and onto a flat foot. When you watch closely, you'll notice swimmers using the balls of their feet and those who collapse. It's very difficult to get your feet on the wall but that shouldn't stop any swimmer from doing it the best way. The transition from the collapsing makes swimmers feel like they're jumping off a trampoline (at least it's been described in various videos by world class swimming coach's that way). Good luck, Coach T.

couldbebetterfly
January 16th, 2011, 04:18 PM
Well I voted clueless, but in practice I tend to push of lightly with my heels and mainly with the balls against the tiled/concrete wall.

In competition off the slightly springy pads I slam those feet completely against them as hard as I can (at least I think I do)

Yep - Clueless was right - today even in competition I went off the balls of my feet. Guess I'm not so clueless now.

jim clemmons
January 17th, 2011, 04:13 PM
Balls

GGS5T
January 17th, 2011, 06:04 PM
I paid attention to this today, and my heels actually never touch.

Quite right too. If you try to push off with feet flat on the wall, you won't get much of a push-off. Ridiculous idea!

jethro
January 17th, 2011, 06:23 PM
I paid attention to this today, and my heels actually never touch. They get the closest when I flip too late and need to absorb the extra shock. I really thought I flattened my foot more before the push, but I do not.

Ditto. I tried it out today during my workout and just could not get my heels to touch with any consistency at all. I guess I'm all balls.

tomtopo
January 17th, 2011, 10:46 PM
You finish from a flat foot to the balls of your feet. Why would being in the water and pushing off a flat surface dictate the way a person jumps (which is a turn off a wall). Starts from a block for track, a jump ball in basketball, jumping rope, high jump, long jump, gymnastics, cheerleading, yike! Because some swimmers can't do it and even some great swimmers can't do it, doesn't make doing it wrong - Right, right?

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Vince Lombardi

When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win" Ed Macauley

"It's not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it's what you put into the practice." Eric Lindros

"Practice is the best of all instructors" Publilius Syrus

If the many things that are hard to do were easy, we'd have a lot more people succeeding at doing difficult things. Coach T.

Try to move off the wall from a flat foot and extend off the wall from the balls of your feet. Nuff said!

GGS5T
January 18th, 2011, 04:25 AM
Try to move off the wall from a flat foot...

I disagree with this. No serious, competitive swimmer in the world will have his feet flat on the wall at any time during the turn, with his heels touching.

tomtopo
January 18th, 2011, 02:28 PM
I disagree with this. No serious, competitive swimmer in the world will have his feet flat on the wall at any time during the turn, with his heels touching.

Michael Phelps is kinda serious

YouTube - Michael Phelps turn

At :48 seconds, you'll clearly see Natalie Coughlin push-off the wall with flat feet. She's what I'd call a serious competitve swimmer.

YouTube - Natalie Coughlin Swim Tip #5: Flip Turn

Aaron Peirsol's collapses to a flat foot on his second backstroke turn (a little hard to see) but it happens. He's really a serious swimmer (really serious).
YouTube - Aaron Peirsol 200m Backstroke

Breaststrokers like all swimmers collapse from the balls of their feet to a flat foot. Brendan Hansen is a serious swimmmer (seriously).
YouTube - Brendan Hansen Men's 200m Breastroke

Here's some slow motion video that shows flat feet on the wall. So, let me make it perfectly clear, if you can tell me, seriously, that power off the wall is more effectively achieved from only the balls of the feet rather that from a flat foot and then to the balls of the feet or from the balls of the feet that collapse to a flat foot and then extend to the balls of the feet, I don't agree with your premise.

“Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce haemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”
Colin Powell

stillwater
January 18th, 2011, 02:33 PM
Proof that I am not serious.

tomtopo
January 18th, 2011, 03:36 PM
I'm glad we're not all so serious.

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
Robert McClosky

GGS5T
January 18th, 2011, 04:52 PM
Are you guys here actually swimmers?

It's impossible to push off from the wall effectively with heels and feet on the wall. Try it out!

thewookiee
January 18th, 2011, 05:00 PM
Are you guys here actually swimmers?



Are you?

GGS5T
January 18th, 2011, 05:14 PM
Are you?

Not only a swimmer, but a masters coach too.

As I said, Try it!

tomtopo
January 18th, 2011, 08:58 PM
When you want to improve your turns you’ll need to strenghten you hip and thigh flexor muscles or your Pectineus, Sartrorius muscles, Gastrocnemius and the Soleus (they’re crucial in jumping). There are a lot of plyometric exercises along with squats, lunges, and bounding exercises that will also help you. Here’s a list of other exercises that can help you get you or your swimmers off the wall faster and farther.

Don't do things that hurt. Pain and potential injury usually occurs when you do the exercises incorrectly. You don't have to do things that hurt you to get off the walls better. Find and exercise that you like and slowly increase stress to improve.

Bounding
Lunges
Deep Knee Bends
Deep Knee Bend Jumps
Toe Raises
Toe-Raise with Weights
Jumping Rope

Get your foot on the wall and use all the muscles listed above. I hope some of you are with me and teach good turns. Good luck, Coach T.

notsofast
January 19th, 2011, 11:37 AM
I looked at several high jumpers videos, and it looks like they are flat footed with every step on the approach, including their launch. This one has the clearest video:
YouTube - Men's High Jump (Slow Motion) - Greg Shroka clears 7 feet
(Slo-mo begins at the 1:00 mark)
Interesting, since I always thought they ran on their toes.
Also interesting is tomtopo's Michael Phelps video. Near the end, they show his backstroke start. There, he is on his toes. I'm no racer - why would this be different?

GGS5T
January 19th, 2011, 12:19 PM
Jeeeeeez!!!

You guys will be touching the walls with your elbows next!!

tomtopo
January 20th, 2011, 10:41 PM
I looked at several high jumpers videos, and it looks like they are flat footed with every step on the approach, including their launch. This one has the clearest video:
YouTube - Men's High Jump (Slow Motion) - Greg Shroka clears 7 feet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0rcqDE9DLM)
(Slo-mo begins at the 1:00 mark)
Interesting, since I always thought they ran on their toes.
Also interesting is tomtopo's Michael Phelps video. Near the end, they show his backstroke start. There, he is on his toes. I'm no racer - why would this be different?

The angle of the body isn't conducive for a flat foot start. If their was an angled starting block (like track) the foot could have full contact on a surface.

__steve__
January 21st, 2011, 01:02 AM
When you want to improve your turns you’ll need to strenghten you hip and thigh flexor muscles or your Pectineus, Sartrorius muscles, Gastrocnemius and the Soleus (they’re crucial in jumping). There are a lot of plyometric exercises along with squats, lunges, and bounding exercises that will also help you. Here’s a list of other exercises that can help you get you or your swimmers off the wall faster and farther.


Bounding
Lunges
Deep Knee Bends
Deep Knee Bend Jumps
Toe Raises
Toe-Raise with Weights
Jumping Rope

Get your foot on the wall and use all the muscles listed above. I hope some of you are with me and teach good turns. Good luck, Coach T.I have good power in the mentioned areas, I just suck at turning probably because I taught myself and never been coached (as well as coordination challenges at times perhaps). I think a good turn just requires timing, position, streamline, and executing all this stuff together. I will try flat foot again, but the last time I tried it sent me launching towards the bottom, but at good speed.

philoswimmer
January 21st, 2011, 01:40 AM
I don't seem to have the calf flexibility necessary to get my feet flat on the wall (at least not easily). Perhaps my legs are in the wrong position?

I am surprised that no one has said anything about whether the average swimmer (not your top swimmer) will be faster this way. It seems to me that one possibility is that your average swimmer will spend more time on the wall with a flat-footed push, even if (as some have argued here) you are able to push off farther.

chaos
January 21st, 2011, 08:05 AM
the balls have it

tomtopo
January 21st, 2011, 10:22 AM
Pushing off the wall with a flat foot for a turn is the best way and should be taught and every swimmer who wants a faster time should work at it. I have always had a hard time pushing off the wall from a flat foot. Some of the things we need to improve to drop times may seem insignificant but sometimes even a little improvement can be very important to a swimmer. Good luck, Coach T.

GGS5T
January 21st, 2011, 10:44 AM
Pushing off the wall with a flat foot for a turn is the best way and should be taught and every swimmer who wants a faster time should work at it. I have always had a hard time pushing off the wall from a flat foot. Some of the things we need to improve to drop times may seem insignificant but sometimes even a little improvement can be very important to a swimmer. Good luck, Coach T.

This must be the biggest wind-up of all time!! Pushing off the wall with a flat foot?

If you are proposing using this technique, I'd like to know how good the swimmers are, that you coach.

tomtopo
January 21st, 2011, 11:57 AM
Michael Phelps does it. Natalie Coughlin does it. Brendan Hansen does it. I've listened to some of the best coaches in the world describe the collapse of the foot onto the wall. Yike, don't get personal, just look at the videos. You'll find world class athletes, push-off the wall from a flat foot. Michael Phelp's coach works to improve his stroke, it must mean he doesn't do things perfectly. If we coach from what we believe is correct doesn't make it correct. Sorry this discussion has gotten you briefs in a gather. Take a deep breath. I concede that some swimmers don't push-off from a flat foot and my contention is that if the learned how to push-off from a flat foot they'd go farther and faster. Your contention is that I'm wrong. I can live with that but the insults aren't necessary.

Lump
January 21st, 2011, 04:09 PM
Michael Phelps does it. Natalie Coughlin does it. Brendan Hansen does it. I've listened to some of the best coaches in the world describe the collapse of the foot onto the wall. Yike, don't get personal, just look at the videos. You'll find world class athletes, push-off the wall from a flat foot. Michael Phelp's coach works to improve his stroke, it must mean he doesn't do things perfectly. If we coach from what we believe is correct doesn't make it correct. Sorry this discussion has gotten you briefs in a gather. Take a deep breath. I concede that some swimmers don't push-off from a flat foot and my contention is that if the learned how to push-off from a flat foot they'd go farther and faster. Your contention is that I'm wrong. I can live with that but the insults aren't necessary.

Link the videos. I thought about this post during workout today and I NEVER EVER pushed off with a flat foot. Not even when starting a set from a push. The only flat foot I use is on the start on the blocks. I even tried it (a flat foot flip turn) and talk about screwed up.....we aren't doing squats underwater on the push. I'm with the previous poster....this is BAD advice IMHO. In 30 plus years of swimming I've never heard it.

Using it as a "drill" to build power in the legs is one thing, but I'd never coach this to someone to use in competition....EVER.

tomtopo
January 21st, 2011, 09:16 PM
Lump,
The post number 27 has the videos. Why would pushing off a wall from in the water be different from pushing off from any other surface? I know this is a joke but their are swimmers on this site who really want to get better and anecdotal evidence is not helping them. Good luck, Coach T.

philoswimmer
January 21st, 2011, 09:23 PM
It's not just a push. It's flipping into the right position quickly and getting off the wall quickly, too.

GGS5T
January 21st, 2011, 11:28 PM
... I NEVER EVER pushed off with a flat foot. Not even when starting a set from a push. The only flat foot I use is on the start on the blocks. I even tried it (a flat foot flip turn) and talk about screwed up.....this is BAD advice IMHO. In 30 plus years of swimming I've never heard it... I'd never coach this to someone to use in competition....EVER.

Sanity prevails at last!!

Can I ask members here to try pushing off the walls with flat feet, then report back? It is clear to me that many posters in this thread haven't even tried it.

I coach two sessions a day, masters in the morning and age-groupers at night. All swimmers (57 turned up for training) gave this a try yesterday. Every one of them agreed it was a ridiculous thing to do.

JPSWMCCH
January 22nd, 2011, 11:04 AM
I agree with Jim Thornton that short axis strokers get a flatter, though still rolling, foot push-off, just because of the kind of turn that is done. While the long axis strokers tend to have more rolling off, emphasis, on the ball of the foot. On the HS boys' team that I help coach, we have a swimmer who has had 17 operations to set his former "club" feet straight. Because his ankles are very inflexible, he does a mostly flat feet pushoff; because he cannot 'roll' off the balls of his feet, he gets a little stuck before his breakout, but when he uses one dolphin kick, then flutters, he can almost make up for his lack of flexibility (he's mostly a distance s and that swimmer, so has many turns, but he can do a decent IM; also his calves/'gastrocs' are very underdeveloped), and has worked all year to improve his freestyle kick, which he has, so his shorter races have improved a fair amount.

Think that ankle flexibility is extremely important, in all kicks, as well as for turns/pushoffs...and leg strength. Simple exercise:streamline position standing, go up on toes 10-20x/day will improve strength of leg/pushoffs), of course, many other exercises more difficult: examples: squat jumps to streamline position and variations, mid-pool 50s-streamline to past flags/red, kick to 12 1/2 or pullout on breast to mid-pool. See kids...and Masters...give up 1-3 feet on pushoff/streamline/kicks,pull-out/breakout can add up, because of lack of attention to it by swimmers and/or coaches. Like the ideas of the "5th stoke"/ red zone, that to improve, attention must be paid to this aspect of swimming...inluding the start!

tomtopo
January 22nd, 2011, 03:28 PM
This will be my last post for this thread and as the votes tell, I’m not winning any converts so the balls of the feet are winning. I offer the following videos (again and more) of great swimmers telling and showing you that planting your feet on the wall is an advantage. I suspect most coaches don’t spend a great deal of time training feet planting because when a swimmer has a great turn it’s looked at as a God given gift. I’d like to think that that turning technique is more than a gift. If you can get away from the wall nicely, by pushing off the balls of your feet, it shouldn’t negate coaches from helping their swimmers to develop a more effective habit (may take 6 to 8 weeks) of planting their feet more firmly on the wall and less on their toes. It’s not easy and as you can tell by the voting, not very well accepted. Look at the videos and the testimonies and think about it. I’ve heard Reese, Marsh, Kenny/Quick and other great coaches talk about planting feet firmly and feeling as if they’re (swimmers) bouncing off the walls like a trampoline. So thanks for your time and some nice and not so nice debate. Good luck, Coach T.

Natalie Coughlin “Flip turns are much like jumping on land.”
YouTube - Natalie Coughlin Swim Tip #5: Flip Turn

Michael Phelps plants entire foot on wall
YouTube - Michael Phelps turn

Ian Thorpe “He places both feet (not balls of the feet) on the wall and literally bounces off the surface.” The last frames of the video show both feet clearly on the wall.
YouTube - Ian Thorpe - Beneath the suit - the turn

Brendan Hansen
YouTube - Brendan Hansen Men's 200m Breastroke

Testimonials
“Land - Extend your legs, landing your feet squarely on the wall, toes pointing up. As you get better, you will want to be close enough to the wall to have your feet land with your knees and hips are bent appropriately, knees near a 90 degree angle, hips near 110 degrees.” The Basics of the Swimming Flip Turn Source: EnduranceCoach.com
“With your feet firmly planted on the wall shoulder-width apart and your hands together, push off by extending your body until your arms are fully extended over your head in streamline position, and your legs are straight.” Perfecting Your Flip Turn Article from CTS Article By Natalie Bojko, Carmichael Training Systems Posted Apr. 11, 2008
“Extend your legs, landing your feet squarely on the wall, toes pointing up. As you get better, you will want to be close enough to the wall to have your feet land with your knees and hips are bent appropriately, knees near a 90 degree angle, hips near 110 degrees. “ The Freestyle Flip Turn for Swimmers - Basics of the Freestyle Swimming Flip The Basics of the Swimming Flip Turn By Mat Luebbers, About.com Guide
“As you do the flip, have your legs rotate over from the hips and minimize bending at the knees. Have your feet land about 20 to 25 inches deep in the water and about 1 to 2 inches (ideally) from the wall (for an adult). After your feet come over, extend your legs and make gentle but quick contact with the wall with the bottoms of your feet” www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Flip-Turn-(Freestyle

stillwater
January 22nd, 2011, 04:05 PM
I am a balls guy, but I look at the vids provided and I see where Coach T is comming from. I also know that I should be swimming closer to the wall before starting my turn. Alas, I am a lazy, lazy guy.

It makes sense to me that the foot should be flexed as much as possible before starting the push. That would mean that the heels are pretty darn close to touching the wall.

If I took the extra half stroke, my heels would be in contact (or very close to it) and I would reap the rewards of a stronger push off, staying longer underwater, and dying the last ten yards of the race.

I agree with Coach T.

Jimbosback
January 22nd, 2011, 04:11 PM
Can I ask members here to try pushing off the walls with flat feet, then report back? It is clear to me that many posters in this thread haven't even tried it...

I tried in my workout yesterday. I found that collapsing my foot just enough to let the heels touch really engages a lot more leg muscles, like Coach T is saying. It was not faster for me, but I can see how it could be if I work on it.

The feeling was the same as doing squats. If you start on your toes a little, for balance, and slowly rock back toward your heels, there is a sweet spot where your leg muscles feel like they're all perfectly aligned.

ourswimmer
January 22nd, 2011, 04:27 PM
I do not think tomtopo is advocating that the whole sole of the foot should contact the wall at once, or that one should wait to push off until the whole sole is against the wall. If he is, I disagree with him.

What I think tomtopo is advocating, and what the videos he presented show, is that the swimmer should articulate through the foot during the push. The first contact between feet and wall is at the balls of the feet, but as the swimmer pushes the foot collapses toward the wall so that the heels touch or nearly touch. There's a nice image toward the end of the Ian Thorpe video, taken as he flipped against a glass wall, in which you can see this foot articulation.

Especially for shorter races, I think this way is the best way to do it and it is the way I try to do it. When I race a good 50 back, which these days is my best race after the 1500/1650 (?!?), my heels contact the wall so that I can get a solid, powerful pushoff for the second 25. In distance races, especially short course, I tend not to push off quite as hard, not because the turns are less important (they are if anything more important) but because I can't repeat a jump at maximum power 59+ times within 20 minutes.

GGS5T
January 22nd, 2011, 04:40 PM
I’m not winning any converts so the balls of the feet are winning.
You won't get any converts because it's totally wrong to do what you are suggesting. It's like arguing the case for a 'sitting' start and wondering why swimmers will still insist on diving off the blocks!


If you can get away from the wall nicely, by pushing off the balls of your feet, it shouldn’t negate coaches from helping their swimmers to develop a more effective habit
Please take my word for it, there is no more effective technique. I still suspect you haven't tried pushing off the wall with flat feet and heels touching.

There's nothing wrong with the idea of looking for ways of improving swimming technique, and consequently speed, and I applaud you for attempting to find the holy grail. For the last four years I have been working on developing a new pull for front crawlers. I'm fortunate in having contact with many of the world's top masters swimmers who have introduced this into their training programme. In May, I'll be running Europe's premier masters training camp where 100 masters will be giving it a try. I'll report back.

stillwater
January 22nd, 2011, 05:10 PM
I agree with Coach GG!

Lump
January 22nd, 2011, 08:53 PM
This will be my last post for this thread and as the votes tell, I’m not winning any converts so the balls of the feet are winning. I offer the following videos (again and more) of great swimmers telling and showing you that planting your feet on the wall is an advantage. I suspect most coaches don’t spend a great deal of time training feet planting because when a swimmer has a great turn it’s looked at as a God given gift. I’d like to think that that turning technique is more than a gift. If you can get away from the wall nicely, by pushing off the balls of your feet, it shouldn’t negate coaches from helping their swimmers to develop a more effective habit (may take 6 to 8 weeks) of planting their feet more firmly on the wall and less on their toes. It’s not easy and as you can tell by the voting, not very well accepted. Look at the videos and the testimonies and think about it. I’ve heard Reese, Marsh, Kenny/Quick and other great coaches talk about planting feet firmly and feeling as if they’re (swimmers) bouncing off the walls like a trampoline. So thanks for your time and some nice and not so nice debate. Good luck, Coach T.

Natalie Coughlin “Flip turns are much like jumping on land.”
YouTube - Natalie Coughlin Swim Tip #5: Flip Turn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyw4ftnyZ18)

Michael Phelps plants entire foot on wall
YouTube - Michael Phelps turn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9eDAQxL5cA&feature=related)

Ian Thorpe “He places both feet (not balls of the feet) on the wall and literally bounces off the surface.” The last frames of the video show both feet clearly on the wall.
YouTube - Ian Thorpe - Beneath the suit - the turn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-q7i-5HsjM&feature=related)

Brendan Hansen
YouTube - Brendan Hansen Men's 200m Breastroke (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_PRpPGiAt8)

Testimonials
“Land - Extend your legs, landing your feet squarely on the wall, toes pointing up. As you get better, you will want to be close enough to the wall to have your feet land with your knees and hips are bent appropriately, knees near a 90 degree angle, hips near 110 degrees.” The Basics of the Swimming Flip Turn Source: EnduranceCoach.com
“With your feet firmly planted on the wall shoulder-width apart and your hands together, push off by extending your body until your arms are fully extended over your head in streamline position, and your legs are straight.” Perfecting Your Flip Turn Article from CTS Article By Natalie Bojko, Carmichael Training Systems Posted Apr. 11, 2008
“Extend your legs, landing your feet squarely on the wall, toes pointing up. As you get better, you will want to be close enough to the wall to have your feet land with your knees and hips are bent appropriately, knees near a 90 degree angle, hips near 110 degrees. “ The Freestyle Flip Turn for Swimmers - Basics of the Freestyle Swimming Flip The Basics of the Swimming Flip Turn By Mat Luebbers, About.com Guide
“As you do the flip, have your legs rotate over from the hips and minimize bending at the knees. Have your feet land about 20 to 25 inches deep in the water and about 1 to 2 inches (ideally) from the wall (for an adult). After your feet come over, extend your legs and make gentle but quick contact with the wall with the bottoms of your feet” www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Flip-Turn-(Freestyle (http://www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Flip-Turn-(Freestyle)

Well, I watched the first three videos, nothing conclusive. The only one that could maybe "flat" was Natalie, but these videos are also not at race pace or even close. You can even pause the video in places and see that they aren't flatfoot.

BTW, I was coached by David Marsh (along with some other Olympic coaches and Masters WR holders) in my teens....he certainly never told me to push off flat foot.

I'm with GG.....this is bunk.

notsofast
January 23rd, 2011, 09:56 AM
I'm a convert to the flat-foot push. I guess I thought you'd push off a wall the same way you'd execute a high jump or a slam dunk. Turns out those jumps are off a flat foot, too.
I already posted a high jumper. Here's a guy slam-dunking:
YouTube - Brent Docter Slow Motion Dunk Contest
His heels either touch the ground every time, or they get really close to the ground. Every dunking video I found had players jumping off a flat foot. This one is the easiest to see.
The evidence for flat feet so far:
- All elite swimmers presented push off flat-footed.
- Similar dryland jumps - high jumping and dunking a basketball - involve flat-footed starts.
The evidence for the balls of the foot so far:
- Most swimmers do it.
- Some, maybe most, coaches teach it.
Advocates of the 'balls' approach would help their cause if they showed videos of elite or high achievers in swimming or other athletic endeavors pushing off/jumping that way.
I really don't have a stake in this discussion, as I have a lot of other things to work on to get my times down. But if I were fast and competitive and wanting to shave a half-second off my 100, I'd sure look here.

Chris Stevenson
January 23rd, 2011, 11:35 AM
While I have been following this discussion, I haven't weighed in b/c I think the stakes are so low.

I think comparing to long jump, high jump or dunks is misleading because you are running up to the jump. And I think it is hard to tell from the swimming videos posted (tho I admit I haven't looked at all of them; again, not really a big issue IMO).

I paid closer attention to my own turns. Weight on the balls of the feet, no question, but my heels brush the wall on many turns, and probably come pretty close on the others. Coming close to a flat foot -- while keeping the weight on the balls of your feet -- probably engages the calves some and increases propulsion.

Why do I think this isn't that big a deal?
-- most people have a decent sense of how to jump
-- quads provide most of the propulsion in a pushoff
-- SPEED of the turn is probably much more important than any of the stuff mentioned in this thread. If you are slow getting your legs over on a flipturn, take your time planting your feet, etc, then I don't care how strong your pushoff is, it is going to be a slow turn (similar considerations for an open turn).

I've been swimming for awhile, I've heard coaches say many things about turns. The vast majority of these things relate to getting into the proper position quickly, having a good streamline off the turn, and breathing into/out of the turn.

I guess that being flatfooted (or not) would be part of the "proper position" but, again, my experience is that MUCH more attention is paid to the proper angle for the legs and hips. AND GETTING TO THAT POINT QUICKLY!

If you are spending any significant time at all getting into the exact optimum angle of your foot to the wall, it will slow you down, period. Your approach and turn should be such that the instant your feet hit the wall, you should be in a position to push off (or very close to it: open turns are a little different). Think of it as a hot plate: get your feet off the darn wall!

I should also point out that some of the most painful injuries I've ever suffered while swimming have to do with slamming my heels on the gutter on flipturns. I sure would hate to advocate being "flat-footed" if it leads to more incidents like that. I cringe even remembering some of those.

YMMV, of course. To a certain degree I think tomtopo and the other guy are talking past each other. I think that tomtopo is mostly arguing for greater engagement of the calves -- hard to disagree -- and the other guy is arguing that one shouldn't have the weight on the back of the foot. Again, hard to argue with that.

philoswimmer
January 23rd, 2011, 12:30 PM
I should also point out that some of the most painful injuries I've ever suffered while swimming have to do with slamming my heels on the gutter on flipturns. I sure would hate to advocate being "flat-footed" if it leads to more incidents like that. I cringe even remembering some of those.


And those heel bruises take a loooong time to heal. Ouch.

tjburk
January 25th, 2011, 10:35 AM
I too have stayed out of this one until now...it is almost impossible to get a good push off with your feet flat, however, it is a better position to start the push from then just having the balls of your feet on the wall. Like Chris said above...you engage the calves more the closer your heels are to the wall. I think everyone is pretty much saying the same thing...it's how it's being said.

1. You want to start the push with your heels on or as close to the wall as possible.
2. You have to push off with the balls of your feet or you'll go nowhere.

The more you engage your calves and other leg muscles, the further you'll go. I think tomtopo is confusing people by saying you push off flat footed. You might start that way...but at some point you have to flex the calves and push from the balls...or bad turn.