Swimming is a complex sequence of actions. Like driving, playing guitar, or typing, multiple crucial actions are performed at once, or in tight succession. Correct technique is necessary or the result is unsatisfactory. Certain types of drills are very successful for developing skills that are complex in nature, like swimming. These include:


Swimming drills based in progression allow the swimmer to build a stroke, one piece at a time. Beginning with a basic skill, the swimmer can concentrate on developing the stroke in steps, from simple to complex. Once the first action is mastered, the swimmer can add on another part. Eventually, all the parts of the stroke are connected, and the swimmer can then feel and understand them in the context of the coordinated stroke.


When a stroke flaw is identified, new stroke habits can be established with part practice drills. Part practice encourages positive change by isolating a particular action of the stroke, and providing repetitive practice of just that part of the stroke. By narrowing the focus, the swimmer is able to relearn a weak part of their stroke, and implement the new correct technique upon resuming the full stroke.


To underscore the correct way of doing a skill, contrast drills start by having the swimmer perform the skill incorrectly. The skill is then immediately repeated, with specific changes, which correct the technique. By contrasting the right and the wrong way of performing a skill, the swimmer is guided to choose the better technique by noticing better results from using the correct technique. Using negative examples is a controversial practice, however, when followed up with correct practice, can be an effective learning tool.


In order to emphasize a particular point of technique, X drills use eXaggeration to demonstrate the effect of a particular stroke action. By taking a skill to the eXtreme, a swimmer can more clearly feel the desired technique. When the swimmer is able to eXperience the full effect of a particular technique, its purpose is more obvious. X drills allow the swimmer to eXplore the full range of a stroke action and to discover how to best balance various stroke actions with each other.


Developing Swimmers  Mastering Swimming Jim Montgomery recovery for performance in sport   Science of Swimming Faster Scott Riewald  Swimming Steps to Success Scott Bay  swimming drill technique performance