Thursday, May 19, 2011

Manikins for swimming demonstration

I have recently been working hard to convey a specific skill to my swimmers.  I have used video, demonstrators, multiple ways of describing the skill, but was still not quite reaching them.  Then I remembered my assistant Woody.

Woody is a 12" wooden manikin that I originally purchased about 6 years ago.  I was inspired while at a USA Swimming Select Camp in Colorado Springs.  Former Resident Team Coach, Jonty Skinner was using one to demonstrate various body positions and techniques.  It worked great for me.

Since then I have found that I can usually count on Woody to lend yet another visual tool for the swimmers to see the skill in 3D.  When standing on deck it is not always possible to adequately describe or even demonstrate the skill you are trying to convey.  The simplest example I can think of is turns.  It is simply not possible to demonstrate a complete turn while standing on deck.  However, pull out your wooden manikin, and you can do it with ease.

Try showing your swimmers proper body roll in freestyle and backstroke while standing vertically on deck.  With the manikin, you can demonstrate the roll in the proper orientation for the swimmers to better see what it is you are describing.

Manikins of various sizes are available for about $10 on and are light enough to keep in your coaching bag...right next to your stop watch.  It's like having an extra coach in your bag.

I have even recently ordered a manikin head to keep at the pool.  I plan to put a team cap and goggles on it and use it for my learn to swim and novice swimmers.  I think it will be a great way to help kids learn the proper head positions in each stroke.  A coach or instructor can hold the manikin head in the proper position and still be able to talk to the swimmers.  These are also available on, but are not really the right size for your coaching will probably want to keep it at the pool.

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