My chosen activity is swimming. I am going to analyse four core skills of swimming performed by a top performer in my sport which in this case is Michael Phelps, the stroke I have chosen is freestyle, also my four core skills are starts, turns, breathing and finishes. I am then going to compare these core skills to myself performing in my chosen activity. I will then carry out the analysis between Michael Phelps and myself, I will identify strengths, weaknesses and things which I could improve on.
Core Skill 1 – Starts
As the top performer takes his position on the block his head is down focusing on the water in the lane in front of him and he is standing upright in a track start position, with one foot at the font of the block with his toes just going over the front edge of the block, the other foot is to the rear of the block with the heal just skimming the back of the block or just position the rear foot until it becomes comfortable for the swimmer.
As the starter says ‘take your marks’ he then takes a sort of crouching position and leans forward, his head is now tucked into his chest. His hands and grabbing the front edge of the block to keep stability and balance
As the starter then blows the whistle or presses the start button, he then begins to lift his head forward. He drives off the block using the front foot which in theory should be his strongest, the arms drive back into a v position for maximum propulsion. The arms then begin to extend above the head into a streamlined position. When entering the water the head is now facing downwards and the arms are extended over and above the head. The streamlined position is then held under the water because the less surface area which is shown the faster the athlete will go. Finally the athlete starts to kick and ends the start phase.
As I take my position on the block it is very similar to the top performer, if there are any differences they are very marginal.
There are a few differences when it comes to coming off the block, when the start button is pressed, my arms are not in a v position, and they go straight into a streamlined position over my head. This is a technical error that always occurs when I come off the block, as this technique is very hard to perfect and I feel comfortable going into a streamlined position straight away, but this is definitely an area that I need to improve on if I want to become elite level.
Another difference is that the top performer lifts his head and looks forward then puts it back down again, but when I start I keep my head lowered facing the pool all the time. The advantage of doing this is that the streamline position is held all the way through the phase so I believe I am going faster through both the air and water, but may not get maximum distance when doing so.
Core Skill 2 – Turns
As the top performer approaches the wall he does not slow down at all, in fact he may go slightly faster so when he hits the way he can get the best rotation possible. Head is down facing the bottom of the pool and the athlete is not breathing from the flags to the wall to get some speed up.
When the athlete reaches the wall he is as close as possible so when he pushes off the wall he can get as much force off the wall as possible. The arm which is extended from the stroke then pulls back through the water and as this happens the body begins to rotate, head lowers and the back curls up this helps the body to rotate faster. The legs then flip over and hit the wall the feet are positioned side ways on.
After the athlete has rotated over he then pushes off the wall as hard as he possible can to get the best distance possible, his body then begins to twist from the sideways position to the frontal position. The arms the start to extend above the head with the head facing the bottom of the pool, he goes back into the streamlined position and then starts to perform a series to powerful butterfly kicks
As I go into the turn there is a big error in my approach, the top performer does not breathe at all from the flags to the wall, but when I do it I sometimes take a breath before I reach the wall. This can be very costful under race conditions because I may not be able to reach my full potential speed when approaching the wall and could cost some valuable seconds, also my rotations might not be as fast as if I didn’t take a breath.
Another error in my turn is when I flip over and my feet hit the wall, sometimes they are not in the best sideways position, they may be a bit higher or a bit lower than normal. So then when I start to rotate my body round it may take longer to get onto my front and this could also waste some time. An advantage to my turn is my butterfly kick under the water, because I am a sprinter my kick is very powerful and I am able to get a lot of distance under the water and can make up a lot of distance on opponents with this if I am behind in a race.