Take Home Points for Power and Swimming Start Performance
Last week, Herbie Behm wrote a review piece on resistance training and the dive start. His take home points did not sit well with everyone, especially in light of some recent research by Bishop (2009). This is a review of the Bishop article as well as the contents of the Swimming Science Research Review for January, where every article on starts was analyzed.
Plyometrics are commonly given to swimmers with the hopes of improving start and turn performance. However, their effectiveness is not well known. This study analyzed the effects of plyometrics on start performance.
What was done
Twenty-two trained swimmers (~13.1 years; minimum of 8 hours/week; best 50-m freestyle ~35 s) were split into a plyometric training (PT) or habitual training (HT) group. The PT group was given an additional 2 hours per week of specific plyometric exercises for 8-weeks. Land and water testing was performed after the 8-weeks.
The PT group had significantly greater change in time to 5.5 m, take-off to contact, distance to head contact, and time to head contact. No significant changes were noted in angle out of blocks and angle of entry into water. The swim time to 5.5 was improved on average by 0.59 seconds or 15%.
PT seems to improve starting power, subsequently improving time to 5.5 m.
Plyometric training is superior to no additional training in intermediately skilled adolescent swimmers. However, simply swimming or doing another dry-land activity may provide similar benefit. It seems performing dive starts during each workout with technical feedback and/or video analysis is superior for improving the start.
On a start, maximal hip extension force is not ever achieved (as it takes time to develop maximal force). However, a more rapid extension may help with reaction time and generating a greater force in a shorter amount also will theoretically help the dive.
However, the biomechancis are obviously different, as you note, is the main issue as simply creating more force over a period of time, if not directed in the correct fashion may be wasteful.
- Bishop DC, Smith RJ, Smith MF, Rigby HE. Effect of plyometric training on swimming block start performance in adolescents. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Oct;23(7):2137-43. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b866d0.
- Practicing Starts Improves All Starting Styles
- Initial Stroke Speeds do Not Different Between Starting Styles
- Greater Streamline in International Breaststroke Starts
- Omega Blocks Improve Start Times
- Elite Swimmers with Different Feet Positions in Backstroke Start
- Ideal Time to Start Kicking off the Start
- Greater Leg Extensor Force is correlated with Greater 10 m Starting Performance in Elite Sprint Swimmers
- Hip Movement Indicates Backstroke Start Kinematics
- Plyometrics Improve Swimming Performance
- PAP May Improve Some Swimmer’s Starts
- Resistance Training Doesn’t Improve Starting Kinematics
- Starting Styles for Females
- Starting Profiles in Elite Sprinters
- Grab vs Track Start Efficiency
- Plyometrics Benefit Starts Compared to No Additional Training
- Omega Track Start Profiling
- Motor control during freestyle starts
- How to attack starts and undulations for performance
- Strength and Power Variables Predictors of Start Performance
- Does start aerial phase impact 15 m performance?
- Common features of an effective backstroke start