Butterfly Jeopardy

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

We did this set as a fun twist on our tradition of doing a fly Set today. The secondary goal was to expand their knowledge of times (and encourage them to memorize theirs).

One swimmer picked a category and distance. I then asked them for the correct question (this is Jeopardy, remember) to go with my answer.

For instance, if a swimmer picked “Your best times (SCY)” for 200, I gave the answer “this is your best time in the SCY 200 IM. Swimmer would say “What is 2:01.26.” If he was within the range mentioned in the picture above, the group performed the 200 as 50 kick/100 drill/50 swim all fly. If he was incorrect, we did the 200 fly fast for time and a 100 ez free.

This picture below shows which swims we ended up doing fast (red X) and which we did as 1/4 kick, 1/2 drill, 1/4 swim. The swimmer who was the contestant selected the member of the group who went next.

There are of course tons of variations you could do on this theme. I printed up our best times, team records, and world records ahead of time, but I imagine this could also be fun to do with swimming trivia.

Medley Madness

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

Recently, it was announced that for 2018 the TYR Pro Series would include a 200 IM where the stroke order would be announced right before the race.  That got me thinking about a name for all 24 possible stroke orders.  Here is what I came up with:

So I thought it would be fun to do a set with this concept.  Each round, I told the swimmers what the stroke order would be for the 200 IM about 10 seconds before they started.  It made for an interesting workout that many of them enjoyed.

FunSprint Set to Finish Practice

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This is a little set that we finished a long Saturday practice with.  In the outline for the workout I gave them before we started, it was called a “fun sprint set.” I think they agreed.

Swimmers teamed up with a partner to do all 18 x 25

Explanation of “partner slingshot” can be found here.

Have you checked out “One of the best ideas I ever had (or maybe stole)?”

Dryland Pictionary

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

In order to keep dryland fun, competitive, and highly interactive, one thing we have done recently is have “Pictionary Dryland.”  We divide the group up into 3 teams of 6-8 people, each group with a whiteboard and dry erase marker.  I used this Pictionary word generator website for the clues,and show it to one artist from each team.  All 3 teams try to solve for the same word simultaneously.  The winning team gets the satisfaction of watching the other two teams do a dryland exercise (30 squats, 20 push-ups, etc.) immediately after that round.  Continue doing rounds of Pictionary and dryland exercises as long as you want.

An extra-awesome thing has started to happen… Sometimes, a few members of the winning team will do the dryland exercise with the losing team. Coach is mighty proud when that happens!

The Deck of Cards Practice

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

Try this one for a little variety. Instead of writing specific sets, have swimmers draw playing cards from a deck to determine what stroke, distance (with instructions), and number of repeats to do. One swimmers draws the three cards, then the group does the set.  Repeat as long as you wish.

The first picture below is the layout for the conditions of the card picking.  The second picture explains the sets that we ended up doing in about an 80 minute practice.

The likelihood of getting 3 aces is about .018%, or 1 in 5,555.  But there is still a chance.

Bottle Flippin’ Relays

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

My swimmers have recently been obsessed with flipping water bottles.  They toss them up in the air, trying to get them to land on the base.  We have spent countless hours at meets and even time at practice in between sets trying to successfully flip bottles.  Maybe you have seen the video sensation on youtube. 

So we decided to make it part of a workout.  We did a relay.  Before each swimmer dove in, someone on his or her team had to successfully execute the water bottle flip.  It made for a fun event.

A video posted by Lynchburg Y Swimming (@lynchburg_y_swimming) on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:35am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Distance With Drills and the Freeway Set from Coach Edie Rogers

Edie Rogers
Charlottetown Bluephins
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

1. Distance with drills

4 x 500 free on 7:30 SCM
#1 All open turns with no breathing for first 2 cycles
#2 Every 4th length long arm dog paddle
#3 Easy down, fast back
#4 Flip mid-length and no breathing for first 2 cycles after the flip

2. Freeway set:
Start 3 swimmers in a lane at 2 second intervals. Swim continuously for approx 400 metres or any length you like. The third swimmer must pass the 2 ahead before getting to the wall. The lead 2 swimmers must slow their pace to let this happen, the last swimmer is then the leader for the next length, and so on……

6 Motivational Tips for Swim Coaches

Mystery I.M. Transitions

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA
 
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Swimmers do fly continuously at first (for an unknown distance). When coach blows whistle, swimmers accelerate to the next wall (still butterfly) and then perform a 50 back at 200 IM race pace. Upon completing that 50, swimmers swim smooth breast until completing the 300. Concept could be used for any IM transition.  I like working this fly-back transition because it is the one that is physically hardest to make. The coach can decide whether swimmers will do anywhere from 25 to 225 yards of fly.

Check out the Wizard’s Store for books and tools to help make you a better coach

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The M & M Set

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

This is a fun concept for practice you can do any time, but I like to save it for a special occasion.  In this case, we did it on New Year’s Eve.  I buy a bag of M & Ms, and write a set on the board that corresponds with each color in the bag.  I pick a swimmer to pull an M&M out of the bag (without looking) and then we do that set.  Then, I replace the set with another one in case the same color gets pulled by the next swimmer.  The sets can be anything you want, but I like them to be creative, different, or at least something that we don’t do very frequently.  Use it as an opportunity to be creative.

The Blind Goal Workout

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

Do you want to get a group of kids motivated and swimming fast 100s at practice? Try this workout for a psychological test.

? x 3 x 100 for time

Before practice, the coach writes down a goal time for each swimmer for 100y of one of their prime strokes. The goal time should be extremely challenging (i.e. their lifetime best practice time or maybe even a true lifetime best in some cases). The coach does not reveal the goal times but instead folds it up and pins it to the bulletin board. The group performs fast 100s in groups of three on 4-5 minutes of rest, with ez 200y swims between rounds. For each goal time met, the group receives a point, and the set continues until a group point goal is met. Coach reads the swimmers’ times after each 100 and states whether or not they have reached the goal time, but does not reveal the goal.
You will find out how psychologically strong your team is if you set the goals high enough. If they experience some early success scoring points, they will be more motivated. Should they hit a drought, some group members may give less than their best and no longer strive to swim really fast. If this happens, you may reveal the goal times and then give the group a final opportunity to achieve them. Seeing the goal times will help some athletes and others may be discouraged.

Regardless of how it shakes out, you are bound to get some fast swimming and some great fodder for discussion about goals (and how hard it is to not have them), expectations, and motivation.

If you give the Blind Goal Workout a try, please let me know how it goes.

Stopwatch Roulette

Ryan Woodruff, Lynchburg YMCA

This is a fun idea to try at practice someday just for variety. Write a set that can be done in any quantities like the one below.  Start a stopwatch and hand it to a swimmer.  The swimmer stops the watch randomly and whatever digit is in the hundredths place is the quantity for the first part.  Repeat for as many times as you need.

 

Accepted or Rejected

Phil Kraus

Head Coach

Greater Pensacola Aquatic Club


I call it Accepted or Rejected and we typically do it on a recovery day.  I purchased a decision coin on a swim trip several years ago.  They have all kinds but this one has “Accepted” written on one side and “Rejected” on the other.  It is just as easy to do a regular coin with the words printed on a sticker or just call “heads” accepted and “tails rejected.

You need several (say 20) 3 X 5 note cards.  You have 2 options either write a set on it yourself or hand it out to the swimmers and they write a set on it.  Once a set is written on the cards you shuffle them like a deck of cards (review cards for knucklehead submissions).

You then turn over a card and read the set.

The coin is flipped.  Again 2 options, the coach flips or the swimmers can flip.

If the coin lands as “Accepted” the group does the set as written.  If the coin lands as “Rejected” the set not done and a new card is turned.  Another option we have done is that and “Rejected” set leads to a 100 EZ swim.

I try to keep the sets small and no more than 10 minutes but some are very short. Here are a few…

*2 x 300 on 4:30 Every 3rd Length FAST NO Free
*8 x 50 on 1:00  – Odd 25 Underwater/25 Overwater,  Even Back
*500 Swim Choice on 7:00
*12 x 25 Nasal Set on :30   Nasal Set is one breath for each number in the set so 1st 25 is one breath etc 
*500 Social Kick with Fins
*8 x 25 on the :20  Get Outs – Get Outs are Muscle up (hands to feet out of water, no knees no butts on ladders) and dive in on Interval
*Pull 300 BP 7 on 4:30, 200 BP 9 on 2:50, 100 BP 11 on 1:20 – BP = Breathing Pattern
*1 Round Sharks and Minnows
*9 x 50 Breast on 1:00  3 sets of 3 #1 BR with Free Kick work Tempo, #2 BR with Fly Kick work Undulation, #3 Normal BR
*50 Underwater Goal NO BREATH
*8 x 75 K/D/S on 1:20
*400 IM for time

The possibilities are endless.  The kids really get into it especially when a easy one gets “Rejected”

"The Guessing Game"

Ryan Woodruff
 
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This set is useful for helping distance freestylers refine a sense of pace.

? x 100 freestyle @ coach’s send off

Continue until you achieve 3 points.

Earn 1 point by guessing your time correctly within .5 seconds
Earn 2 points by guessing your time exactly to the tenth of a second
Earn 3 points by guessing your time exactly to the hundredth of a second

Swimmers may swim whatever speed they wish.

I like to use the Guessing Game during taper, typically at the end of practice. Once a swimmer achieves his three points, he warms down and is done with practice.

Tip: Be sure to turn off your pace clock or have the swimmers turn away from the clock when you send them off. You don’t want them looking at it – there won’t be a pace clock at the meet!

This set was originally published here 12/3/2009.  Visit our archives for more excellent training sets and ideas.
 

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Cone Kicks for Underwater Power

Ryan Woodruff
 
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I stole this idea from somewhere– I just can’t remember where. Cone kicks are performed by placing a medium-sized traffic cone over the front end of the swimmer’s streamline (make sure the cone is not big enough to come down over the swimmer’s face).   This serves two purposes:
1. Keeps the streamline intact
2. Provides extra resistance to the swimmer’s kicking effort.
4 rounds of:
4 x 25 Underwater “Cone Kicks” @ :40
1x 100 easy swim perfect technique, fast turns, and 4+ dolphin kicks @1:20
4 x 25 Underwater kicks without cones @ :30
1 x 100 same as above

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The Pyramid of Pain

Ryan Woodruff
 

This set provides some incentives for fast swimming.  The picture below explains the process of the Pyramid.  All swimmers begin with a 200 for time with the goal of being within 6 seconds of lifetime best (girls) or 8 seconds (boys).  100 easy for all, and then those that failed will do a broken 200 (75-50-50-25 @:10 rest) while those that succeeded in reaching the goal will do a broken 100 (50-50@:10rest).  The goal on the broken 200 is a lifetime best.  The goal on the broken 100 is within 2 seconds of lifetime best.  The second swim is followed by another 100 easy, and based on a swimmer’s success or failure he then completes either a broken 200 (75-50-50-25@:20 rest), a broken   100 (50-50@:10 rest), or an all-out dive 50.  The goals are a lifetime best, a best +3 or faster, and the starting 50 split for a lifetime best 100, respectively.  Success or failure on the 3rd swim leads to 10 push-ups or a “Hooray!”

We performed two rounds and saw many season-best practice swims.
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Pick Your Kick Distance

Ryan Woodruff

Ryan.d.woodruff@gmail.com
30 x (50 or 75 or 100 yards kick)
#1-10 @ 1:30
1:00 rest
#11-20 @1:20
1:00 rest
#21-30 @1:10
The goal of course is to cover the most distance possible. For added motivation, we split up into teams and devised a points system; team with the most total points wins.
Successfully complete 100 yards = +2 points
Successfully complete 75 yards = +1 point
Only completed 50 yards= -1 point

1000 yard Medley Relay Set

Ryan Woodruff

Head Coach
Parkland Aquatic Club
ryan.d.woodruff@gmail.com
This set works well with up to six swimmers (two relay teams) in a lane. Divide your group into groups of two or three- try to make even teams to give everyone a good race. Have them race a 1000 (or whatever distance you choose) medley relay. If your teams have three people each, swimmers swim the strokes in regular medley relay order. If you have only two swimmers, leave out one of the strokes. This ensures that swimmers don’t swim the same strokes repeatedly. Swimmers complete a single 50 at a time…swimmer 1 does a 50 back, swimmer 2 does a 50 breast, etc. Use the starting blocks for some extra work climbing out of the pool every time, or just stay in the water and go from a push.

11-11-11 Set

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Parkland Aquatic Club

Can you have a once-in-a-lifetime set to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime day?

11 x 100 free @ 1:11
Possible instructions:
– Kick out 11m off every wall
– Breathe every 11
– Get 11 seconds of rest each time
– Take 11 strokes or fewer each length
– Use 11 dolphin kicks off every wall
– Take 11 breaths total in each 100
– Descend by 11 seconds from #1 to #11
– Be within 11 seconds of your best time on every swim
– Come up with 11 different technical things to work on and focus on one for each 100
– 11 strokes – 11 kicks – 11 strokes drill
– Start the set at the 11:11 on your pace clock
– Perform the set with 11 people in your lane
– Tell your coach 11 reasons why you liked the set!!!

A Halloween Set during Adaptation Week (for age groupers)

Clare Labowitch
Head Coach Darwin Swimming Club
Northern Territory, Australia
5k Pre-Halloween Excursion to the Dark Side (10-15 sec RI throughout)
Warm Up
4 x 100 two headed monsters (a variation of top and tail, this has two swimmers stroking with a kicker hanging on to each of their feet)
8 x 50 ghost slider + stealth free (max uw s/l on side, keep upper body very still, lead with one arm other by side,smooth breakout into no splash free with high elbow recovery)
6 x 50 scare tactics (with fins – 25 uw dolphin 25 max sprint)
Pre-Set
600 vampire chase 2 swimmers begin 20m in front of three other swimmers with fins who work as a pursuit team to catch them – once caught roles are rotated. The third swimmer in the line is the catcher which forces the swimmers to work together)
6 x 50 scramble home relay(swimmers s/l under floating mat then swim to and climb over, best they can, a fitness ball to get to the end).
Main
2[6 x 200 medley mashups (change around medley order/distances and even leave out a stroke for each repeat)
    4 x 50 carrying the weight (dolphin kick on back holding up medicine ball)
Cool down
4 x 50 zombie crawl (25 on back swimming feet forwards; 25 swim freestyle backwards)

FOWLI Set

Eric Talsma, Hamilton (MI) Swimming

This is a fun set that we do. Or we use it as part of a larger set. Great for getting the kids to push each other and make each other suffer a bit.

We call it simply FOWLI which stands for First Out When Last In. No time interval, they just leave based on how fast those around them are swimming. We usually do it as 25’s but you can do it for any length repeat.

Generally set up with between 3 and 6 swimmers per lane. The fewer the swimmers the tougher the set.

When the last swimmer touches the wall, the first swimmer leaves. We want them to be leaving at about :02 intervals so they are really pretty close to each other. We encourage them to pass if they can but they must hang on to the feet of the person in
front of them.

Each swimmer leads between 1 and 4 repeats. The fewer repeats before rotating the lead the tougher the set. After the leader is done they go to the back of the lane, giving them between 6 and 12 seconds extra rest, everyone else moves up one spot shorting them on :02 or so of rest.

Some variations that we like: w/ zoomers or fins, pulling, stroke, IM order rotating lead every 4, as a lead in to a set, in the middle of a set, at the end of a set, etc. We like to mix it in to a workout once a week or so. We encourage them to push each other and steal their lane-mates rest.

Hope you like it. Let me know if you have any questions.

I’ll try to get you some others that we like to do. I really appreciate the site. It has spurred some good conversations and some good thinking on workout ideas.

Captain Jack 100s


Ryan Woodruff, North Carolina Aquatic Club
ncacheadcoach@gmail.com

“Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.” -Captain Jack Sparrow

SCY
This set was inspired by the scene from Pirates of the Carribbean when the pirates trek across the bottom of the ocean. Thought it would be a good challenge to run across the bottom of the pool.

This set is best performed in 6 to 8 feet of water. Have swimmers each grab weights or weight belts (10-20 pounds per person should do) and place them 12.5 yards down the pool.

Perform the following in rapid succession (no rest)
1) 12.5 yards sprint from a dive
2) Dive down and pick up your weight from the bottom, holding it and “running” along the bottom of the pool for 12.5 yards to the opposite side, dropping the weight by the wall.
3) Perform 5 press-outs on the pool edge.
4) Swim a 50 fast
5) Pick up your weight from the bottom and “run” it along the bottom back to the middle of the pool. Drop your weight.
6) Push off the bottom and sprint the final 12.5 yards to a perfect finish.

Rest and repeat as you wish.

Savvy?

Chasers

Michael Kraeuter, Blue Wave Swim Team

This works best in a short course pool and if you have an even number of swimmers.

Put half your swimmers at one end and the other half at the other about the same numbers in each lane.  When you say “go” one swimmer in each lane will begin. When that swimmer reaches the other side their teammate gives them 5 seconds from when their feet leave the wall and then they push off chasing them down the pool. Their teammate on the other side will do the same for them, then the chaser becomes the chased and so on and so forth.  

If you get caught as the one being chased or you don’t catch the one you are chasing you have 5 push-ups for each.  This keeps going for as long as you would like and you can use any of the strokes.  I find it works on a few things; it makes the swimmer work both parts of the 50 it also works on their mental state of chasing someone down or being chased by someone in a race and still pushing through while staying focused on the task at hand.  They get more rest between swims depending on how many swimmers you have placed in each lane.  Fun but very hard set!

The Deck of Cards Dryland Set

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA

The concept for this workout was given to me by Ron “Sticks” Ballatore, head coach of the NCAA Champion 1982 UCLA Bruins men’s swimming team.

Using a regular deck of 52 cards, have the swimmers take turns drawing a card for the group. Perform the number of reps according to the card drawn.

Hearts = Pull-ups
Diamonds = Pike-ups on a physio ball
Spades = Push-ups
Clubs = Do all three exercises above

Jack = 11
Queen = 12
King = 13
Ace = repeat the reps of the previous card drawn.

Thus, a 3 of hearts means everyone performs three pull-ups. A 9 of clubs means 9 pull-ups, 9 pike-ups, and 9 push-ups. Keep going through the deck for as long as you can take it.