How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

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dcoughman
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby dcoughman » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:23 am

Yes sharkbait, someone already commented that I am over reaching.

actually there is one point that I left out. this I think Is the reason behind my fish tail. it is very suddle. my coach called it balance but it is really timing. I was initiating the hip rotation when my hand was finished with recovery about to enter the water and that looked like my entire body was falling into the water with my hand. so I am initiating the rotation a moment later when I have already entered the water with my hand and this has made a world of difference! I never would have figured this out without a great coach!

dcoughman
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby dcoughman » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:47 am

Hi everyone,

It's been over a year since I first started this thread and I think that I have figured out my problem a week ago! I have tried many different things and nothing really worked. It was not a timing OR a balance issue as I had been told.
The main coach who runs our masters program noticed that on every push off my streamline was not straight. That I was arching my back. She thought that I was over reaching on my streamline. So I tried fixing it and I could not. She said that it is my natural posture. Interesting...That day I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that she was right. When I stand normally there is an arch in my lower back. So I made an effort to suck in my belly button and straighten out my lower back. Then I tried doing that in streamline. A few weeks later a different coach asked me to try this posture while swimming freestyle and guess what! This has been the cause of my fish tail. It is evident in the video of me. Every time I rotate, you can see my hips and buttocks go side to side. Instead of rotating hips up and down it looks like I am rotating my hips to the side. This was causing immense drag! I have been able to eliminate that arch in my streamline and in my freestyle. (Now I have to make sure that it is not there in backstroke.)

Now that I am on the right track I have moved over to a faster lane! On Friday I was having trouble staying with them in the faster lane, so my coach gave me an additional pointer to keep a constant but small kick. When I tried that I was able to keep up. I am so happy to finally solve this problem that has been holding me back for many years!

smootharnie
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby smootharnie » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:15 am

You should have listened to Sharkbait. ;)
Intersting story.
If you look at Phelps or Lochte you see these guys have an abnormal posterior pelvic tilt. Probably grown this way after years of optimising the stroke.
On dryland the effect is obvious when doing standup straight windmilling arm movements. Its easier to rotate the body as one with the right pelvic tilt.
GO to the new swimforum, called ....... THE SWIM FORUM......swim.palstani.com

dcoughman
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby dcoughman » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:20 pm

I think one mistake I made is that I thought of it as a pelvic tilt. It is really higher than the pelvis. It is my lower to mid back. I concentrate on pushing my back out and that straightens it.

dcoughman
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby dcoughman » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:02 pm

It's been a long time but I finally think I know the problem. I have tried many things and nothing really got fixed. A friend suggested exaggerating my rotation but then one of my coaches noticed that my kick was going side to side. I have been doing a scissors kick with NO CROSSOVER in my arm stroke. Nobody has ever told me that the kick should primarily go up down. I figured (as it says in the swim smooth book) that when you rotate (or over rotate) that your feet go along and that there was nothing wrong with kicking side to side! If you check the Mr. Smooth app you can see that the feet kick primarily up down but if you check Ms. Swinger she ONLY kicks up down!
Now that I am working on this it makes perfect sense and I feel so much more powerful in the water. Your hips should rotate while (or whilst) your kick should rotate less.
Anyway, it is too soon to tell how much of a difference this will make but I feel that I am on the right track.

Also I think that when the swim smooth book is revised this issue is addressed.

Sprinter
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby Sprinter » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:42 pm

dcoughman wrote:It's been a long time but I finally think I know the problem. I have tried many things and nothing really got fixed. A friend suggested exaggerating my rotation but then one of my coaches noticed that my kick was going side to side.

In other words, you ARE over-rotating.

dcoughman wrote:I I have been doing a scissors kick with NO CROSSOVER in my arm stroke.


That seems completely normal to me: one pattern of scissor kick is that you overrotate, losing balance, your extended arm goes quickly down (without a pull), straight, to counteract this, and the scissor kick is a reaction as well.

dcoughman wrote: Nobody has ever told me that the kick should primarily go up down.

That's not correct: your hips rotate, and thus your kick most of the time is NOT going up-down.
The most important point here is to CONTROL this.
Your legs must always stay close together, ankles and knees.

dcoughman wrote: I figured (as it says in the swim smooth book) that when you rotate (or over rotate) that your feet go along and that there was nothing wrong with kicking side to side!

Kicking from side to side precisely means that you overrotate, namely your body is parallel to the walls --- which should never happen (for performance-oriented swimming).

dcoughman wrote: If you check the Mr. Smooth app you can see that the feet kick primarily up down but if you check Ms. Swinger she ONLY kicks up down!

Swingers have less rotation.

dcoughman wrote:Now that I am working on this it makes perfect sense and I feel so much more powerful in the water. Your hips should rotate while (or whilst) your kick should rotate less.

This is not possible: your hips and feet necessarily make precisely the same rotation.

dcoughman wrote:Anyway, it is too soon to tell how much of a difference this will make but I feel that I am on the right track.

Also I think that when the swim smooth book is revised this issue is addressed.


For years I struggled with an overrotation and the accompanying scissor kick, and my solution is to become much more aware of the kick. Over-kicking is a good exercise here, to become aware of what your feet are doing.

Shenaram
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby Shenaram » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:33 pm

dcoughman wrote:It's been a long time but I finally think I know the problem. I have tried many things and nothing really got fixed. A friend suggested exaggerating my rotation but then one of my coaches noticed that my kick was going side to side. I have been doing a scissors kick with NO CROSSOVER in my arm stroke. Nobody has ever told me that the kick should primarily go up down. I figured (as it says in the swim smooth book) that when you rotate (or over rotate) that your feet go along and that there was nothing wrong with kicking side to side! If you check the Mr. Smooth app you can see that the feet kick primarily up down but if you check Ms. Swinger she ONLY kicks up down!
Now that I am working on this it makes perfect sense and I feel so much more powerful in the water. Your hips should rotate while (or whilst) your kick should rotate less.
Anyway, it is too soon to tell how much of a difference this will make but I feel that I am on the right track.


Non-expert here, please bear in mind that my free opinion is only worth what it cost.

I am honestly and absolutely impressed by your fighting spirit. It has been at least 3 years that you have been swimming and suffering from fishtailing, and still you are continually attempting to correct it. I really admire you for that, as many people would have given up and rationalize by saying that it is part of their swim style. I sincerely hope that you have found the source of the problem, subsequently get rid of the fishtailing. I really mean it.

I have seen your old video today (yes I am 3 years late) and thought you are swimming quite well. Indeed, kicking might eventually be too wide and body balance could be perfected, but many swimmers do the same and do not fishtail.

My observation is the following: you swim "straight" (no obvious fishtailing) until you breathe. It seems to me that your head and neck depart from the center line (line of the swimming direction) when you want to breathe. Instead of rotating the head in the same axis as your spine, I see that you are "bending forward" or "crouching", but on the side. It can be seen at 0:03 - 0:04, 0:40, 0:42, and 0:45.
Some said that you were over-reaching. To me, it seems that you try to create your trough by "barring the front wave" with you neck. There is a slow motion function in Youtube that helps visualise that.

I am wondering if you ever tried a snorkel and swam with the head constantly looking down (straight)?

Thank you for posting and re-posting your discoveries.
Feedbacks are greatly appreciated.
Hope that you keep swimming!

Sprinter
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby Sprinter » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:30 pm

Sure, I forgot to mention, as Shenaram pointed out, over-rotation typically is much stronger when breathing.

You should also tell us what you want to achieve with swimming. If you are interested in speed, then I recommend practising over-kicking a lot. You start feeling your kick, the propulsion it gives, which well help you achieving better control --- and it will help you with speed.

Shenaram
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby Shenaram » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:54 pm

What I meant is not quite over-rotation. If that were the case, the head would rotate around the same axis as the rest of the body (around the spine).

In the OP'case, when breathing, the head is actually leaning sideways as willing to bite the side lane, while it should stay centered on the axis. In the best case, the head should not be turned relative to the body, as the body roll should suffice to bring the mouth in the air.

I tried to make screen shots but it does not show well the departing movement of the head when breathing, a bit like the space shuttle's side boosters when empty: they are released and fly sideways, while the space shuttle is continuing on a straight line.

EDIT: maybe not.
Head and neck leaning sideways (a bit like a turtle, as opposed to an owl) when breathing. Head is rather bowing as the body rolling on the side, I think.
One might suspect that this initiates the fishtailing.
crooked.jpg
crooked
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Straighter posture when not breathing. Head and neck in line with the spine (prouder posture).
straight.jpg
straight(er)
straight.jpg (124.16 KiB) Viewed 2864 times
Last edited by Shenaram on Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

The Dodo
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby The Dodo » Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:19 am

A rather nasty scissor kick a very short time into the start of the clip - left elbow coming out of the water and legs splayed apart ("parachute" drag :roll: ), while spine looks rather twisted.

dcoughman wrote:... one of my coaches noticed that my kick was going side to side. I have been doing a scissors kick...


Have you tried an absolute minimal body roll, only sufficient to clear your mouth above the water line in your bow-wave trough when inhaling, and not drag the non-inhalation-side arm in the water? The faster/more smoothly you swim, the less disturbance there will be to the trough, and it is better defined. just make sure to keep your head as much in line with the rest of your spine as possible - i.e. don't lift your head above your body line! If you do this business really well, think it should feel as if you are almost breathing underwater as your head is turned to the side! Snatch your breath and get your head back to neutral pronto, so you can monitor your arm action, to get the best out of it!

Can't tell from the clip what's going on UW - but unless you have very flappy feet, would suggest you do not kick so deeply - i.e. reduce the extent between the legs at their widest parting, and keep the big toes brushing close together as the feet pass up/down. If you think that causes you to loose a bit of rear-end propulsion, then maybe "rachet up" the kicking tempo - i.e. fast and shallow!? If you don't want to go down that route, then rather than "cott..."'s ankle-band suggestion, try imagining you have an ankle band around the ankles to limit the leg parting - particularly as you roll to inhale until you have ingrained that style of kicking into "muscle memory" and can think about all those other things to be monitored! ;)

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Mike A
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby Mike A » Sat Oct 08, 2016 4:23 pm

I used to have very similar issues (still do sometimes, when fatigue kicks in). Some things that have helped me:-

1. Try not to over-rotate. Always keep one goggle on the water when breathing.
2. Focus on keeping a flat back/butt - I have a natural lumbar lordosis which increases the likelihood of fishtailing IMO.
3. Work on core strength - lots of plank exercises. A strong core helps prevent fishtailing.
4. Try a crossover kick. If you kick 2-beat, crossing the feet (particularly as you breathe) will prevent scissoring.

I suspect stretching the hip flexors is another thing that might help, but I haven't got round to that one yet! Why do I suspect this? If you look at overhead shots of people scissor-kicking, you'll nearly always see the lower of the two legs bent at the knee and the upper one straight at the knee; the lower leg is scissored because of the knee bend, but the upper one is scissored because the range of movement at the hip is not centred on the body's long axis. In fact you'll often see both thighs in a forward position. Of course improving hip flexibility will improve body position and kick propulsion generally, so there's really nothing to lose.
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dcoughman
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Re: How do I get rid of my fish tailing habit?

Postby dcoughman » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:26 pm

Wow! I'm sorry for not checking back until now. I did receive an email that a response was posted but it went to spam.
I am definitely on the right track! I'm not fish tailing any more and this is so exciting for me!

Now to answer some of your questions.
I have been using a snorkel on and off for years. With a snorkel I was probably rotating less so that my fish tail improved but when you get rid of the toy, the fish tail returns. Btw, I love swim toys and gadgets.

I don't think that there was a problem with my breathing. It was never really a problem for me. My coaches never tell me that I am lifting my head. I breathe comfortably to both sides but of course one side feels more natural. I always try to keep one goggle in the water when I turn to breathe. Sometimes in open water this does not work. I LOVE swimming in open water! I had a great summer here swimming twice a week in open water.

I had a misconception that if a little rotation is good then a lot is better. When you over rotate you start kicking side to side. I am convinced that maintaining a predominantly up down kick keeps the core engaged and once you go sideways it is not engaged. That's it.
My flutter kick with a board is slower than average. When we do kick sets I "cheat" by doing the majority of those laps using breastroke kick. I have tried keeping my kick compact. I have tried tapping my big toes. This does not matter if you are over rotated and kicking on your side. I guess all those years of doing drills (I was definitely an over glider) had me thinking that being on your side is the way to swim freestyle. I've heard it and read it for years! But it is a misconception. Your body might be rotated but it is really twisted. If your right hip is down then your left foot is down. Your body is twisted. Of course this might not be obvious if you are doing a 6 beat kick. Very obvious if you do a 2 beat kick.

I have tried tucking my hips in. It did not help.

"Try not to over rotate!" The reason I attribute my recent development is that I asked a teammate from the fast lane to look at my stroke. The first thing he told me was that I was starting out my pull with a straight arm pushing down instead of getting into a nice EVF catch. He told me that from front entry (which was at too steep an angle) to my catch was a big waste as I was not starting to pull until i got to the catch. He told me to start pulling right at the very top of my stroke. That took a few weeks and still requires lots of concentration.
Then he told me that I am not rotating enough. I should try to over rotate. So I did and he told me that I look better. I had no problem over rotating; this was easy to maintain as opposed to getting into EVF at the very top of my stroke.
Then when one of my coaches saw my over rotated stroke, she advised me that my kick was going side to side. Right there on that Friday morning it clicked. A whole new way of swimming. I thought of it like a martial art (I did karate as a teen). Or as the drum that you spin between your hands. The body swings around but the feet stay rooted. Of course the feet rotate a little, but don't kick side to side.

BTW, it's much longer than 3 years. I would venture to say that this has always been my main problem since I started swimming 15 years ago but I only started working on it a few years ago. A friend pointed it out and my coaches agreed. Then a few coaches gave me various tips to work on it. My head coach said that it was an issue with my balance and that my hand entry was falling into the water instead of placing it into or piercing the water. I thought it was a timing issue. I tried many people's advice. There were many dead ends, but instead of giving up in frustration I got even more determined! I was very frustrated but I did not give up!

I had a coach take video of me and when critiquing told me to keep me lead hand out longer - more of a catch up stroke. No mention of or effect on my fish tail.

I have tried minimal body roll but again this might've helped when trying this but then a coach would tell me to rotate more and my fish tail would be there again.

Cross training: I have been trail running for a couple of years. I figured this could make me faster. It couldn't hurt. Actually it could, but that's another story...

Now I do a dryland routine that works on my core 2-3 times a week (planks, side planks, back bridge, etc) as well as exercises to keep my shoulders healthy. There was a time when I figured that if swimming 3 days a week is good then 5 is better. I started burning out. So now I do 3-4 swims and dryland twice a week. The mornings that I do dryland I get to sleep later :) and I always feel as if I cannot wait to get into the water again!


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