Importance of a Taper Phase in Dryland Training
Preparing for competition both mentally and physically is essential for the big day. From early morning practices to intense dryland training, swimmers have put in the hard work to get ahead of their competition. During the crucial weeks and days leading up to swim meets, swimmers should properly implement a taper phase in their training to optimize performance on race day.
Taper is a phase of strength training where volume and intensity decrease in an attempt to elicit recovery and reproduce top-end speed as swimmers prepare for the upcoming competition. Nick Folker, former Director of Aquatic Performance at Cal Berkeley and BridgeAthletic’s co-founder, says, “The best way to taper strength training for swimmers is to start with the major competition dates and work backwards. Then, taper programs should be broken down for athletes based on their gender, experience, and training age.” The taper phase should last for 7-10 days prior to competition and workouts should maintain high intensity and decrease in volume. This will cause neural activation and help the brain reinforce muscle patterns that aid in advancing muscle memory while reducing muscle soreness. In addition, tapering allows swimmers to take full advantage of the strength and power built up in earlier phases of their dryland training. Implementing a tapering phase in strength training is essential for optimal swimmer performance in the pool.
Pre-Race Swimming Exercises
A large component of preparation is devoted to improving stability, mobility, and flexibility through the legs and hips, while engaging other key muscle groups. Swimmers should implement lower and upper body movements when preparing for their event. Here are a list of stretches and movements that provide full body activation and synergy from head to toe.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Up and Out Jacks
Properly preparing for meets is an extremely important component of maximizing swimmer performance in the pool. Without spending sufficient time tapering and recovering, athletes are not able to perform at the highest level. To learn about more about swim-specific dryland training check out this blog about designing programs and this blog about the swimmer’s body.