It'll make us better because in learning it (especially via this progression of drills) we'll become better at understanding where our body is in the water and how subtle movements effect our stroke and body position. It's a little like dancing. Learning where you are in space and what your body is ACTUALLY doing when you THINK you're telling it to do something else... well, it's helpful with lots of other skills in triathlon.
Like, is your foot striking the pavement in the most efficient way? Can you make an efficient foot strike automatic or do you still have to think about it?
Do you have a bad habit? Can you relearn whatever it is so it's no longer a bad habit?
Is there a dead spot in your pedal stroke? Can you make your brain tell your body how to fix that or is there a disconnect?
Are you wasting any of your energy because the placement of your hand at the start of your catch isn't where it should be? Can you FEEL how it should be and can you then MAKE it happen? Your brain has to give your body that information. And if you don't practice that mind-body game, you won't be as good as you could be.
I can say first hand, because my coach has used me in these drills to demonstrate what to do and what NOT to do, that practicing things like a flip turn, even if it's not directly used in a triathlon, gives you a huge leg up in understanding your brain-body connections, and practicing those connections ultimately helps to sharpen ALL of your skills. Body awareness, just like balance, is crucial. TRY IT. I'm telling you, it can make a big difference...
You can learn body awareness by doing all kinds of things - yoga, pilates, dance, martial arts... right now I'm really enjoying practicing my brain-body connections by perfecting my flip turns. I'm getting better and better at them and my swim times are improving as I'm starting to be able to shave a second or more off of each turn... so it's making me a faster masters competitor too. And seeing what I'm doing on film is fantastically helpful.
If you've been struggling with your turns or are just starting out, these drills are a great way to start at square one and learn the correct way... but, for no other reason, see if you can do them, just as an exercise in practicing body awareness... can you make your body do the things your brain wants? Being upside down under water is a great time to find out!!!
Check out the fun here:
Drill Progression #1
Drill Progression #2
Drill Progression #3 (I'm the swimmer who drops her hands and ends up too deep in the water for the pushoff... and no, I wasn't TRYING to mess it up... but I was able to fix it later...)
Train hard and get your swim on and click HERE for more stories by Spence.