Learning and Teaching the Basics  


Conditioning Players: Part 2

   Monte Nitzkowski

This is where I begin to pyramid the week, cutting the distance-type of repeats each day. A lot of 100, 75, 50 and 25 repeats should be employed during this time of the season. Short butterfly repeats are continued. Kick conditioning continues, with emphasis on flutter, eggbeater and jump start (breaststroke and sidestroke kicking). Eggbeater kicking is now more in the vertical, with forward, side and back movement eggbeater featured. Changes in arm position can be used to make eggbeater drills more difficult. Examples: Eggbeater with ball clasped behind or on top of head (Illustrations #157, 158.); eggbeater with arms stretched overhead, elbows straight; ball tipped on finger tips while eggbeating with arms held straight overhead.

Illustration 157 - Vertical eggbeater drill, ball clasped behind head.

Illustration 158 - Vertical eggbeater drill, ball clasped on top of head.

Swimming-ball handling drills now can be featured. They break up the monotony of swim repeats while improving ball handling skills. Have the players count off by threes; put the twos at one end of the pool and the ones and threes at the
other end, with each of the ones holding a ball. The coach starts the drill by blowing the whistle for the ones to dribble to the other end. The coach should allow most dribblers to reach the other end before starting the twos on their dribble
lap. Next the threes go, and the drill continues for four to six sequences. (Illustration #159.)

Illustration 159 - Team dribble drill.

Once enough sequences have been completed and the balls are back to the ones, the drill can be changed to a push dribble (ball pushed with finger tips in an extended arm position). Although this skill is seldom used in games, push dribbling is a good hand conditioning drill. It does give players a better feel for the ball and softer fingers and hands.(Illustration 160.)

Illustration 160 - Team push dribble drill.

Once the three groups have completed push dribbles they can (by the numbers) begin walking the ball. This is a useful skill where the player cups the ball between palm and wrist and strokes the ball through in swimming fashion. (Illustrations #161A, 161B.)

Illustration 161A - Walking ball drill.

Illustration 161B - Walking ball drill.

Next, the players can carry the ball, penetrating forward in the vertical position and using the eggbeater kick while carrying the ball in the vertical, passing and shooting position. (Illustration *162.)

Illustration 162 - Carrying ball drill.

Players can exchange the ball from one hand to the other as they progress forward. The hand-to-hand exchange should be done on the coach's whistle. Countless ball handling, conditioning drills can be run with the three group drill. Eggbeater conditioning with the ball also can be included as a part of this drill.
Coaches should improvise and create all kinds ball handling and conditioning exercises for this drill.

During the mid-season I like to add a lot of relay conditioning drills. Players are reaching the "dog days" of the season and it's always good to add a little excitement to a practice. Relays will do that, as well as adding speed to the workout. Relays should be run with and without the ball. It's good to have prize incentives such as winners don't pull the goals, etc.

Quickness now must become a major part of your preparation plan. As you pyramid the week, quickness should be built each day. High turnover stroke drills must become a part of the conditioning schedule.


HIGH ELBOWS: Starting vertical, players do high elbow, quick turnover drill. The coach keeps players in a straight line, facing the near wall and completely in the vertical position. After fifteen to twenty seconds with players turning over their strokes as fast as possible white remaining in the vertical, the coach blows the whistle and players turn and sprint to other end. High Elbows build turnover speed.(Illustrations 163 A, 163 B, 163 C.)

Illustration 163A - Start of high elbow drill.

Illustration 163B - High elbow drill close up.

Illustration 163C - Sprinting away after high
elbow drill.

BURSTS OF FOUR: Another good quickness drill is bursts of four followed by bursts of two. Players in a straight line and starting by the numbers lunge kick and sprint four explosive strokes with the head up. They drop back to the semi-vertical and start another burst of four when ready. The coach whistles only the start of the first burst. After that, players continue down the pool, starting themselves and concentrating on an explosive start and four quick strokes. Bursts of Two are done in the same fashion.

IN AND OUT QUICKNESS DRILL: The coach numbers off players by threes. With all three sets of players at one end, the number ones move to the four-meter line. On the coach's whistle, they sprint out eight meters and back in as fast as they can start, swim, turn and return to the starting position. At this point, the twos are whistled and they follow the same routine, followed by the threes. Next, the ones go and so on until each group has sprinted five to ten sequences.(Illustrations #164 A, 164 B, 164 C, 164 D.)

Illustration 164A - In and out sprint drill
—'heading out'.

illustration 164B - In and out drill
— 'heading in' on stomach.

Illustration 164C - In and out drill, 'heading out'.

Illustration I 64D - In and out drill, returning on back.

No time is allowed between sprints—when one group arrives, the coach whistles the start of the next group. After five to ten sequences, the distance is cut to six meters and the drill is repeated. After five to ten more sequences, the three groups are moved sc they are spaced four or five meters apart and the coach shortens the distance where it's just two strokes out and two strokes back.

One whistle follows the next as players, by the number, lunge out and back. Many variations can be designed for the “In and Out” Drill. Example: Have players sprint
eight meters out, come to the vertical and eggbeater until the coach whistles for their return.

TWENTY-FIVE YARD RAPID TURNOVER DRILL: This is simple. To add turnover quickness, have players lift their heads, shorten their strokes and sprint sets at the twenty-five yard distance.

MAXIMUM EFFORT DRILL (AS FAST AS YOU CAN GO FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN GO): Number players by threes. Number ones start from the wall with heads up, sprinting at 110% effort. They are to hold this effort for as long as possible, then stretch swim on toward the end wall. The idea is to go all out for as long as possible. Players should be able to last from fifteen to thirty-five yards before backing off. After the twos and threes have their turns, start over, working until each group goes all out five different times. Done properly, the maximum effort distance generally will be shorter with each turn.

FOLLOW THE FLAG DRILL: Players spread out throughout the tank and, with each whistle, sprint in direction the coach is pointing the flag. Drill should feature rapid  changes of direction, short distances, lots of whistles and should last approximately ten minutes.(Illustrations #165 A, 165 B.)

Illustration 165A - Follow the flag drill.

Illustration 165B - Follow the flag drill.

Coaches should create their own quickness drills to accomplish the needs of the team. Be creative and make it work.