We have all read it or said it over the years: swimming is all about technique, technique, technique.
Researchers have discovered that the old excellence by excess system – that is – repeat a simple skill in training ad finitum until it is mastered is not the best way to improve skills performance in competition.
The idea is that learning skills is a continuum. On one end of the continuum is what is called Stability and at the other end Instability or Chaos.
Where the training environment is reasonably Stable (i.e. constant, unchanging, consistent, the same), the racing environment is Chaotic with swimmers having to execute skills and make tactical decisions in a very Unstable (i.e. rapidly changing, inconsistent, variable) setting.
The research suggests that doing more skills work in an Unstable environment in training, i.e. one that is changing, different and variable, stimulates a swimmer’s brain to learn how to execute those skills more effectively in racing.
With the Internet and the way we know kids are using it and seeking information, the presentation of skills and drills work the same way over and over and over again is counter productive to the learning process.
In practice this means getting rid of the old 40 x 25 one arm freestyle drills etc and instead focusing on achieving a higher standard of quality in each repeat and continuously changing the learning environment to stimulate the swimmer’s thinking.
Chaos drill theory means varying how drills are presented to swimmers to teach them to think and learn more effectively.
Old Way of doing Drill A, then Drill B, the Drill C:
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA followed by BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB then CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC
Chaos Drill Concept:
Try it – use your imagination to vary the presentation of drills.
You need to follow a 5x5x5 philosophy – can you teach the same lesson using five different drills, presented five different ways in five minutes?