Outside the Box Training: Buddy Bands
By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
In swimming these days, it’s possible to spend thousands of dollars on dryland equipment. I’ve heard of some parents sending their swimmers to personal trainers. Or purchasing personal workout equipment and weight machines to store in their basements. This can be expensive, as well as take up a lot of space on deck or in your home.
But dryland equipment doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. Recently, I reached out to Rachel Stratton-Mills, head coach of Asphalt Green in New York. Stratton-Mills helped put Lia Neal on the 2012 Olympic team. She knows a thing or two about training elite younger athletes. When I asked if there were any dryland routines AGUA did that could be beneficial for other clubs, coaches, and/or swimmers, this is what Stratton-Mills emailed to me.
“Buddy Band Drills: Not Your Regular Band Work.”
Training with bands is a great way to add some variance to a typical dryland program. Bands are a great tool because they take up minimal space and are easy to transport. They are also a cost efficient tool because a single band can be used by swimmers of different abilities by simply increasing or decreasing the resistance through the length of the band. A stronger swimmer will naturally use the band at greater tensions where as a novice will use the same band at a lower tension.
The Carry Over
While bands are great for athletes of any sport, they are particularly beneficial to swimmers. The reason for this has to do with the physics of moving a body through water: the faster you go, the greater the resistance of the water. Lifting weights makes us stronger, but because the resistance is constant and remains the same, it doesn’t force us to accelerate. Since the resistance of a band increases the farther it is stretched, we’re forced to teach ourselves to accelerate through and overcome an ever increasing force, just like being in the water.
Additionally, buddy training with bands is a great way to get your athletes working together and encouraging one another.
The Bands and the Set-Up:
First off, the resistance bands we are referring to look like large rubber bands, not the stretch cords with handles that many swimmers are used to training with. For the following exercises we will be using 3 bands and looping them together to create 1 long band. Each partner will step into the band at opposite ends so that the band is around their waist the same place as a belt would be worn. For these drills, one partner acts as the “Anchor” while the other is the “Worker.”
- Band Resisted Sprints: Begin with both partners facing the same direction standing far enough apart that there is no slack. (Anchor looking at the Workers back). The Worker then sprints as hard as they can, focusing on quick steps and good arm drive. The Anchor, maintaining a good athletic position (bent at hips/knees) walks behind them providing a slowed pace but still allows the Worker to move forward.
- Band Resisted Lateral shuffles: Begin with Anchor facing one direction and the Worker turned 90 degrees from that, standing far enough apart that there is no slack. The Worker will shuffle sideways without crossing their feet. When they finish one side, they can switch directions and repeat on the other side.
- Band Resisted Broad Jumps: Begin with both partners facing the same direction standing far enough apart that there is no slack. (Anchor looking at the Workers back). The Worker then leaps as far out as they can, landing and then leaping again. The Anchor, maintaining a good athletic position (bent at hips/knees) walks behind them providing a slowed pace but still allows the Worker to move forward.
-Any of the same exercises can be done as an individual by anchoring the bands to a stationary object
-Bands should be checked regularly for signs of wear/damage.
-Properly storing a band will extend their life.
-Bands should never be looped together using a metal/plastic clip or carabiner since that runs the risk of turning into flying projectiles
-Training should be done in sneakers with good traction on a good non-slip surface
-If anchoring against a stationary point and working individually, be sure that the anchor is strong and not going to move