Here’s something for you to integrate into your mental training / technical preparation during training and competitions. For lack of a better word, we’ll call it transitioning. Similar to T1 and T2 transitions in triathlon, it defines anytime you have to change from one technique or skill to another.
Ideally, we want to make transitioning as smooth and as effective as possible. To do this you need to know when to begin preparing for your transition. If you wait too long you risk technical mistakes that can cost you time (i.e. turns in the pool), put you at risk (i.e. corner in cycling) or result in missed opportunities (i.e. surfing waves in a surfski, an acceleration to pick up a good draft on the bike or swim). If you begin transitioning too early, the second skill may be inappropriate for your current needs.
What we will work on is taking two separate skills and learning how to prepare for transitioning at the right time and the right place. Each skill will be unique in this way and influenced by your local environment (i.e. weather, terrain, other athletes, fatigue, etc.).
Early on in skill acquisition, every skill is considered as a unique process. Eventually we want to merge skills into a ‘complex’ of multiple overlapping skills. For example, think about pushing off the wall at the start of a fast 100. Run it through in your head then read on…
In this example, swimmers with less experience processes the push off the wall into a streamline kick then into free swimming in discrete steps;
- stand at wall
- time to go
- get feet on wall
- push off wall
- stop pushing off wall
- get in streamline position
- begin kick
- stop kick
- stop streamline
- begin swimming
As a swimmer acquires more experience, transitioning between steps 1-7 becomes a smoother, more efficient push off into a skill ‘complex‘ which is more like this;
- anticipate time to go by lifting feet up into place and dropping head, shoulders and hips ready to leave wall at correct time, with hips, shoulder, head and arms already in streamline position
- push off wall into streamline position while stabilizing core / torso ready to engage kick
- engage kick to full effectiveness through first breakout strokes
- from breakout strokes initiate breathing and correct technique for distance and effort required
- all while focusing on technical cues from coach!
While this is a simple example familiar to many, it can also be applied in turns, coming back along a line of riders in a paceline to take your turn at the back.
Some key areas in triathlon this can make a huge difference are open water starts, sighting, turns, T1 and T2, changing gears on the bike, preparing for hill climbs, fast downhill descending, and so many more.
So, to take your skills to the next level by working on transitioning!