New Combat Side Stroke Guide

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CSS Critique Needed

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  • CSS Critique Needed

    I'm attempting to improve my CSS. I've attached a link with some footage of me in the pool. I'm still in the rough stages but any specific critiques or recommendations are greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    How long have you been at it? I suggest spending a good 4-5 hours watching Stew Smith and fargo's videos on youtube, trying to replicate the great form exemplified in their videos.

    First off, you need to hold the streamline much longer, as opposed to going right into your first arm pull. Keep your head down. Stop looking forward. That goes for the entire stroke. Maintain a neutral spine - stay as aerodynamic as possible. Rotate to catch a breath of air and breathe out right before you have to catch another breathe. You NEED to utilize the double arm-pull. Fargo has a great video explaining underwater technique that aids me in my CSS:

    Secondly, you need to hold the glide much, much longer. I believe I heard someone say it should only take you 4-6 arm pulls to go one length of the pool. Keep your head down, and stop fighting the water. Glide longer, and I would suggest staying under and just rotating for a breath, just barely getting your face out of the water.

    My CSS is not too great, probably around 9:30 right now, and I'm sure others could give better advice than me. My suggestion would be to watch all the videos on youtube there is on it.


    • #3
      Thanks for the pointers, I was at it for a while last year, but am finally getting back into the routine after getting back ashore for a bit. Before though, honestly all I was using was the NSW's Combat Side-Stroke Guide pdf and never even thought to post a video for critique. I'm going through the recommended Stew Smith and fargo007 videos and they definitely go into more fine-tuning pointers to work on, so thanks!

      As far as the glide goes do you know how much the suggested stroke count will adjust based on how negatively buoyant I am? I'm not a power-lifter but I've always had relatively dense legs (I'm 5'7", roughly 170 lbs). I understand that I will glide better as I improve my length in the water by improving my reach as well as keeping my head and neck in-line and facing down-wards as you pointed out. The concern though is should I still be aiming for 4-6 arm pulls or should I be increasing the number of pulls in order to maintain the momentum and speed to fight my natural tendency to sink?


      • #4
        I think your main focus should be to be pull, breathe, kick and glide. Definitely decrease the number of pulls to get from one length to the other but do not take a certain number of strokes for scripture. More pulls/kicks = more energy expenditure though. You want to limit the number of pulls/kicks while staying fast, to maximize efficiency. I think if you stay streamlined more, your tendency to sink will decrease. Your streamline and your lungs (control of your body's buoyancy) should be the factors contributing to you sinking. You should have control of this. Watch this: It has some drills that I am practicing now. It helped me get aaallll the timing down.
        Also, Jeff Nichols has stated that having dense, strong legs is very helpful in BUD/S training and will help propel you in fin swimming (just dolphin kick the lengths) and good power in the water overall.


        • #5
          The high stroke rate is being caused here by not extending out into a streamline, way out front.

          Your first arm is pulling no higher than your face. The stroke rate will come down, and the distance per stroke will rise if you stretch out into a strict streamline at the top of every stroke cycle.

          Your left arm lead looks terrible. Head out of the water and very bad balance. Start swimming 2:1 left hand lead in practice until you can't tell the difference between sides and the clock can't either.