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A Didactic Approach In Full Stroke

For me, technical exercises are not the panacea for improving an athlete. They take up too much time; in some cases the athlete has to learn to do the exercise first, and in some cases one has to do exercises to counterbalance other exercises.

Nevertheless, I strive for a very high proportion of technology in my training. I use the following procedure for this:

Before each season I look at the athletes in my training group and look for the four biggest common mistakes that most of my athletes have in common for each situation. These four mistakes are deepened and worked on at the beginning of the season through video demonstrations, a lot of time and technical exercises until every athlete knows exactly what is meant for each of the mistakes, what it means for him and what he has to pay attention to in order to keep the movement moving is performed correctly. I call this state balance - balanced. For the rest of the season, I can now let my swimmers swim in a whole position and use the four different focuses in whole position at different distances and speeds to fine-tune their technique. If I now say 200m back balance, swim the four lanes and concentrate on a quarter of the distance in the backstroke example on focus 1 - fast catch, focus 2 - elbow position, focus 3 - shoulder rotation and focus 4 - 6 leg kick. The advantage is that volumes and intensities with a high technical level are now possible. In crawl swimming, these four focuses in my training group in the 2021/22 season are e.g. 1) elbows, 2) breathing with one eye, 3) fingertips dragging and 4) 6 leg kicks.

I don't recommend introducing all four layers for the first time in a season. Experience shows that this overwhelms many athletes. I started with the crawl and back and added Dolphin in the second season. The latter is quickly difficult for young athletes in the whole position, which is why I let a lot of these balance meters swim with one arm (passive arm on, breathing forward). Here the rhythm is very similar to that of the whole position and at the same time it does not become a sloppy way to swim crawl like the well-known 3 moves right / left / whole position.

The table shows my current priorities in the three locations. These are adapted to the group after each season. A copy & paste makes no sense here, as your athletes will probably not make the same mistakes as mine.

In the chest I have not yet applied balance, because the technical individual variance is so great in my very good breaststroke swimmers that I cannot currently find 4 focuses that certainly apply to every technique. If you have any suggestions here, just bring them on! I'm thankful!

In practice, "balance" gives you many opportunities to challenge your athletes. With my athletes, for example, 10x50 "Lagen-Lotto" is very popular for swimming:

Before each lane, I work out the next layer and the next focus (an app does that for me) so my athletes don't know which position to swim in the next lane and what to look out for.

A physically more demanding series with "Balance" can look like this:


Increase 4x50 Fly Balance with one arm 1-4

2x50 Fly all out but technically perfect

3x200 Free Balance [i.e. 50m per focus]: 1st + 5th breathing, 2nd + strong turns, 3rd + increase over the entire 3 rounds.



Sebastian Sieburger, born in 1987 in Germany, is head coach of the Swiss junior team SC Schaffhausen. Before that he was a junior coach at a junior performance center in Germany for 6 years. While his swimming career (of no note) was slowly winding down in his early twenties due to shoulder problems, he moved out of the water to the poolside and found he could do it much better. His first full-time job in Frankfurt quickly followed, and a few years later he moved abroad. Sebastian is head coach, yet continues to train the junior groups out of conviction. His main interests are the technical training of his swimmers and the dryland training. He holds the highest German coaching qualification and is one of 5 swim coaches from Germany who have successfully completed the training to become a "trainer in junior competitive sports". SC Schaffhausen is a Swiss junior center with medal winners at national championships.

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