Friday, May 21, 2010

Eggbeater, what is it all about?

I have been doing lots of thinking about the eggbeater kick this season, both reflection and inquiry. It is based partly on the sport science research we are doing and the dialogue with Dr, Marion Alexander at the UofM and Satoru Nakagawa the strength coach from Bushido.

This week I was reviewing joint angles, leg paddles and foot circles as we looked at video of players from various levels of development. There was considerable variety in kick dynamics, no standard biomechanical pattern that had knees, hips, ankles, feet and toes doing the same thing. The basics are the same but the specific technique is not uniform.

When I was asked questions about the ideal, what we are looking for as coaches, when we tried to determine the efficiency of the kick I had to qualify things for the University researchers working with us. The truth is that I have never coached an ideal standard in eggbeater as I never see the legs on a daily basis and don't compare athlete A to athlete B to athlete C. Up to this point I was not concerned with the minutiae of the kick since I could see too many variables that went into success before small parts needed to be corrected.

There are 4 components that influence an athletes eggbeater success; 1) Technique, 2) Flexibility, 3) Strength, 4) Buoyancy. Flexibility influences technique so that's a good place to start. If I know an athlete is not flexible enough to get their knees high and out then I don't tell them to quit water polo. I just deal with strength development while they minimally and safely improve flexibility over time. Buoyancy is something that Satoru pointed out as a possible major influence to me this season as I had really overlooked it's role to this point. It may be tiny, but I am acknowledging it now as a contributor to success.

Now, I am trying to help establish what the ideal technique is - patterns for eggbeater so that athletes can be taught where to point toes, how to turn feet, where to raise heels etc and to get feedback from video on a weekly basis as they learn. That video help will then be shift toward how the legs and the kick are used in the shooting mechanics as they develop and get stronger and more skilled.

All this dialogue and inquiry began with a simple question "how does the eggbeater kick change when a load is added with an external weight applied to the athlete"?

I'll post data once we get something concrete to report, fall 2011 probably as I am about to shift gears and do some recovery and then National team work in the summer.