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Contrary to what many people believe, up to half of the training synchronised swimmers undertake happens out of water. Besides all the aerobic and anaerobic training, an important part of this out-of- water training is land drilling. This activity is the best way for synchronised swimmers to work on their routines outside the pool, especially if there is limited pool time.
Arm strokes and eggbeater sequences are perhaps the easiest moves to translate to land drills. Since you only need to shuffle your legs and feet when doing land drills to simulate what your legs do in water, this leaves you room to really concentrate on making your body and arm movements perfect.
This activity is truly beneficial for duets, trios and teams. If you are able to find a space with mirrors, like a dance studio, you will be able to match your movements in accordance to the reflection. If such a space in unavailable, then you can set up a video camera to film your drill and review it together when practice is over.
The main goal of land drills is to improve your performance and really familiarise yourself with the routine. When you get back into the water, you can concentrate on other aspects of the routine, like finding time in the routine to breathe or tweaking movements.
Another important activity that synchronised swimmers practise is visualisation. This process can take on many forms. Some athletes visualise the perfect routine, some visualise themselves overcoming any obstacles and some may visualise with images.
How to begin? First, you will need to find a quiet spot, or learn to tune out ambient noises. Close your eyes and start to focus on one thing, maybe a movement or position you may be having problems with. Find the problem and solutions, then visualise yourself overcoming the problem with your solution. Keep to your visualisation till you have executed the perfect movement in your mind.
The purpose of visualisation is to prepare yourself mentally for the challenges ahead. The better you get at visualising, the more details you can add. Can you hear the music in your head? Can you smell the chlorine from the pool even if you are not there? How cold is the water when you first get in the pool? The more complete your mental preparation, the less stress you will have when it comes to actual pool time. Training the body is important, but training the mind is equally, if not more critical to being a successful athlete.
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