THE ROLE OF FLEXIBILITY
From a conversation with Dr. Larry Holt (Dalhousie University, Canada) in San Diego, 22 November, 1996.
The important thing for swimmers to do on dry-land should be flexibility. That seems to be the factor which, now that it is being measured, is most related to swimming performance. If athletes do PNF ("Peripheral neuromuscular facilitation") not only do they get to stretch fully but they also increase the range of moderate strength in the potential movement. This leads to longer actions which use strength to build/accelerate force at race-specific speed (i.e., race-specific power). This is the one "auxiliary activity" that carries over from the land to the water. Why does that occur? Because when an athlete tries harder they either recruit more muscles or do a BIGGER action. Increased flexibility will facilitate a bigger action.
There is a second reason that flexibility training with PNF is beneficial. The way it is done causes athletes to become sensitive, that is, more kinesthetically aware, to moving at extreme ranges. That increased sensitivity makes it easier to teach movements that employ these ranges of movements. Thus, acquisition rates and achievement levels are enhanced.
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