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Training - Lezak Pullouts

Posted by Glenn Mills on Jul 28, 2009 08:00AM

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Whenever we have a chance to work with a great athlete, we always learn little tidbits that keep the sport fun.  Jason Lezak shared with us a story of his training at Rose Bowl Aquatics in which they did 10 x 200 meters, with "pullouts" (wallouts) at the end of each length.  With this in mind, we took the short side of the pool and created something along those lines.  Thanks Jason and Rose Bowl Aquatics.

Why Do It:
Incorporating strength training and technique focus into the same set challenges not only the body, but also the mind.  Staying engaged physically and mentally is key when trying to reach your potential.

How to Do It:
 We're using the short side, or deep end, of our pool to turn this into a push-off, underwater pull, and strength-building drill.  This means we can do more "pull-outs" in a shorter span of time, and not have to worry about anyone jumping off the bottom.  You need some deeper water for this.
2.  We swam 8 widths of this pool, with a descending number of "pull-outs" at each end.  Each time we did this, we had a different focus.
3.  Set 1 incorporated a breaststroke underwater pull, and then 8 "pull-outs" after the first width, 7 "pull-outs" after the second width, 6 "pull-outs" after the 3rd width... and so on until you do one "pull-out" after the last width.
4.  Set 2 followed the same pattern, but after each "odd" width, the swimmers were required to do their assigned "pull-outs" and then climb out, and perform 5 push-ups, then dive back in and continue the process.
5.  Set 3 followed the same pattern, but after the "pull-outs" the swimmers had to climb out, dive back in, and GLIDE across the pool to get to the other side, no strokes allowed.

We went through the set a few times, and you'll need to make up whatever mix works best for your pool.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
While it's always good to race, remember:  Swimmers with shorter arms may be able to do the "pull-outs" a bit quicker.  Make sure everyone is reaching full extension under water, but also make the "pull-out" strong.

How you get OUT of the water is also important.  If you really want to do it well, don't use your knees.  Explode out of the water to a standing position, rather than just climbing out.

Archived Comments

Responded Jul 28, 2009 03:34PM

After my travels around the world, I find that the large majority of programs in this country (USA) have all the lane space, the training time, and the facilities they could ever hope for. Overseas coaches don't all have it this good. What that forces the overseas coaches to do is to maximize what they do on land and in the water. I think this is good thing because if they don't learn how to do that, their athletes won’t perform at all.
I make that statement because opulence tends to dampen one’s ability to really focus on what works and because we are catering to a short attention span population we look for creative ways to make workout fun… or in this case different… which in turn tends to make it more interesting. So I’m not necessarily knocking this specific program or concept, but I’m using it to point out the fact that we’re doing this kind of stuff because of what it brings to the table. So in essence we’re finding ways to make the tail wag the dog more palatable. Is that right? Should we be catering to the frailties of this generation, or should we be more concerned with the fact that we’re allowing this to take place without truly understanding the underlying issue or how to solve it.
I honestly feel that training is an opportunity to get better. It is best if that training has a specific meaning and focus on achieving specific goals. So in my mind all practices are geared to help the athlete explore their universe and develop skills that strengthen their weaknesses. Depending on the age of the athlete, this can be global or very specific in nature. So in my mind every set has some meaning… maybe even this set if it is approached the right way. The key in all of this is finding ways to engage the athlete so that they and not the coach, drive who they are and what they want to achieve. Sure the coach has to get things started, and they have to help them see the dream, maybe sometimes remind them about the dream, but the key is that once that fire is lit, they should make every practice another step towards achieving those dreams. There should be a sense of purpose to everything and just not another two hours filled with garbage yardage or sets that might entertain so they work hard. Again I’m not knocking this specific set, but have used it as a vehicle to get a point across.
Maybe you should try this as a coach. Instead of running 8-10 water practices a week, run 5-6. Not only 5-6 practices, but maybe cut out 30 minutes of those practices as well. Compliment that pool reduction by doing some extra work on their core stability, body based strength and athleticism on land. Put yourself in a position where you have to make decisions about what you do and why you’re doing it. That goes for the land stuff as well. You’ll find in the long run, that you eliminate your garbage yardage, you’ll get more economical about getting things done in a shorter space of time, and you’ll learn a lot more about being specific since you won’t have sessions or hours to waste on stuff that has no value. In the long run you’ll find that your kids get more focused and I’ll bet dimes to dollars that in most cases they will perform just as well or better than before. I’m not advocating this as a year round deal… I’m just suggesting it as an opportunity to learn about what you do and how you do it. In time you might choose to go back to the original plan. The idea is that when you do, you do it with a greater respect for the time that you have them in the water.
Sorry about something that resembles a Sunday sermon, but as always what I say is really just my opinion.

Responded Jul 28, 2009 05:27PM

I'm pretty sure you just summarized Jason's current approach on training. By minimizing the time, but maximizing the focus and approach to each length that's swum, the time spent means more to the end result.

I agree also about the tail wagging the dog, but there are so many levels of the sport, that on some levels, the ability to keep kids interest, and keep them IN the sport is AS important as maximizing their potential.

The next question along this line is this. Which is better (or worse)... and not saying the choice has to be either or, but just saying this choice does have to be made in some cases: To demand so much back and forth drudgery to get young swimmers in shape that they quit the sport. Or, to pull back from the training, do stuff like above, even if you know you're not maximizing the potential of the athlete, to keep them IN the sport? I only ask this, because I'm dealing with a very specific issue right now. Both are extreme, but in the real world of swimming, these are the choices swimmers are being presented with.

I know it's not so clear cut, it never is... either way. I just know that not all fun sets are bad either. :) It is about how it's done, and why it's done, and what can be taught during it.

Responded Jul 28, 2009 06:15PM

Since people have this innate desire to explore.. instilling this as a part of the development process will go a long way to helping young athletes find some meaning to be involved in sport. Giving them the licence to get involved in the development process helps them feel a part of what they are doing while at the same time they're helping guide the brain with regards to what works and what doesn't. Couching this concept as "exploration" makes it potentially exciting to the athlete. IMO, what this does is help the athlete understand that exploration is an integral part of the process especially when they are still developing and their body parts are growing at different speeds etc... everything changes on an almost weekly basis, and they can't rest on their laurels because they've mastered a movement. It should be UP TO THEM to very involved in the process.

So they need to be taught HOW to explore
Know that it is an important step

They have to have complete focus and be willing and or comfortable with playing on the edge with total focus on the task at hand (deep practice)
They have to be able to recognize success and failure
They have to redo failure until it becomes a success
They have to redo success until it become entrenched

They HAVE to recognize success by patting themselves on the back when they achieve it. Let the brain know that that is exactly what they want.

All of that combines to put the athlete in a position where they take OWNERSHIP in who they are and what they want. Not their parents, not their coach... but the athlete themselves. Too me that is a critical step, and one that I preach constantly when I talk to young people.

So Glenn the answer to your issue is help the athlete take ownership in who they are and what they want... when you get them to take that step, they will be far more committed to day to practice.... well as long as it isn't 2 hours of garbage yardage.

Responded Jul 28, 2009 06:31PM

Your last sentence is where the problem lies. By the way... I'm not the coach and don't want to say anything bad about the coach. But some coaches make the athletes fit into their mold rather than adjusting the work load to inspire and engage the athlete. While this may work for some, it certainly won't work for all.

Responded Jul 28, 2009 06:36PM

mmm very interesting workout nice one, Jason

Responded Jul 29, 2009 03:58PM

Our kids enjoyed this workout. As with a lot of the drills on this site, something new, something different. As Glenn says above, "pull back from the training, do stuff like above, even if you know you're not maximizing the potential of the athlete, to keep them IN the sport"

Responded Jul 29, 2009 07:50PM

With Jason sharing his experience about that drill makes it irreplaceable. I can listen to such stories 24/7 all my life. :)

Responded Jul 29, 2009 07:57PM

pretty nice drill

Responded Sep 29, 2009 07:31AM

hi, i'm new here in the forum. would somebody please explain to me what is "pull-outs". thanks in advance.

Responded Sep 29, 2009 08:46AM

Hi Noel and welcome to the site. In this drill, "pull-outs" could also be called "push-outs." It's what the swimmers are doing at the edge of the pull... planting their hands on the pool deck and pushing themselves upward out of the water.

Responded Sep 29, 2009 01:07PM

thanks, barbara. good thing our Philippine Aquatics Swimming Association gave us this website. i can learn many things here, it's really informative here.

Responded Dec 13, 2010 08:07PM

Obviously a fun set but not really suitable for someone over 75 - or maybe in a scaled down form it would be?

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