9/16/04 Reach Full Extension
by Glenn Mills
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One of the key focus points for breaststroke is to reach full extension. Here’s a drill takes that focus point to the MAX.

Why Do It:

There are many benefits to reaching full extension in breaststroke. If you get into a PERFECT streamline position at the end of each stroke, you’ll get maximum payback from each kick. Reaching full extension helps you think about moving everything FORWARD. This, in turn, helps you focus on the moves that COST you speed – moves like pulling too far back…or recovering your legs too far forward or outside your body.

When you practice reaching full extension as a drill, your entire stroke will slow down and you'll focus ALL your attention on seeing how far you can glide between strokes. This long glide may cause you to scrub off or lose some speed (as little as possible if you've achieved a really tight streamline), so to compensate you’ll need to use a quick pull and hide your legs to set up for the kick (two things you should be doing anyway in your stroke).

How To Do It:

1. While swimming breaststroke, get into a perfect streamline position on EVERY STROKE. You'll probably notice that this reduces the number of kicks and pulls you take on each length, so you need to make each one as perfect as possible.
2. As you begin adding the pull and the kick, try not to allow anything else to move in a fashion that can slow you down. Use a compact pull, keep your eyes down, and hide your legs behind your body until it's time to kick.
3. As you continue to add the pieces to your stroke, think about getting back to streamline as quickly as possible. Keeping this goal in mind will keep your moves small and compact and quick. Focus on MAINTAINING momentum, not MAXIMIZING power. (At least that's the goal of this drill...)
4. As you finish each stroke, get yourself back into that same, perfect, starting position... then do it again, and again, and again.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

This is the type of drill you can incorporate into your everyday swimming. It does, however, require patience and the ability to slow down and CONCENTRATE. You need to tune into and FEEL every part of your body -- how it creates drag, or produces propulsion.

This drill allows you time between strokes to figure out just what you've been doing, and to plan what you're about to do. While you're reflecting and planning, you'll also be teaching yourself a GREAT swimming position.