Learning To Stand Up Is Holding Me Back

Learning to stand up is holding me back. I have had 12 months of one2one lessons with a fantastic teacher - teaching me to float, glide (inc torpedo glide)breast-stroke arms and kicks on my back...going great, but I need to (lightly) touch her with my fingertips to stand back up. I have an irritating switch in my head that tells me I can’t do it alone, yet we both know I can.

How do I get past this, as I've even been turning from front glide onto my back - I can stand up from my back, but i have to have her next to me (even with no support) - it is all psychological, hypnotherapy hasn’t helped, can you????

This is an interesting one. Stopping and standing up mid-swim is a vital part of learning to swim and is a cause of stress for many adults I have taught over the years.

From what you have told me, as a beginner, you have conquered several major hurdles that cause many psychological barriers, the main ones being floating and gliding. I presume you can perform these with your face submerged? If not, then this is the source of your problem. Holding your breath and submerging unaided (even in water of standing depth) conquers many psychological barriers.

Much of what you need is explained in The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming. Relaxing, floating and standing up - it is all in there. Click here for more information.

For now, I shall assume you are fine with holding your breath and floating and gliding face down.

The technique of standing up is a simultaneous combination of pulling down through the water with both arms whilst bending the knees forward into an almost sitting position before placing the feet on the pool floor. I’m guessing you have got this movement well practised – just not completely on your own yet!

The most common mistake when attempting to stand is to lift the head first, resulting in an arching of the back, causing the legs to remain at or near the water's surface. Followed usually by some form of panic.

Click this link for a simple diagram of how to stand up.

The first movement should be both arms pulling deep down in the water, followed instantly by drawing the knees up underneath. Only then do you think about lifting the head?

Try floating or gliding towards the poolside, lightly touch the poolside and then stand up, but without bearing your weight or using the poolside in any way. The light touch should be for your psychological security. Once this becomes easy, try it without touching the poolside. Psychologically the poolside is there for you should you need it but hopefully, you won’t.

This exercise will also help you stand without your teacher being present in the pool (which could be hindering you without you realising it).

Standing up should be slow, gradual and relaxed, not sudden or fast. Keep your face in the water for a little longer whilst you move your arms and legs and take your time over the whole movement.

If you end up pulling down with one arm and standing on one leg whilst falling slightly sideways, then so what – you stood up. You get no extra points for technical merit here!

Look at it from another point of view. Most adults can hold their breath for at least 10 seconds, and it takes 2 or 3 seconds to stand from a prone position slowly. So what’s the worst that’s going to happen? You have your face in the water for a couple more seconds than you first intended, and your teacher gives you a little helping hand.

As an experiment, see how long you can hold your breath. Let's say you can do it for 15 seconds. Then make a deal with your swimming teacher that you will float for a maximum of 15 seconds (or whatever time you are comfortable holding your breath for). In that time, you will attempt to stand up without assistance and only after 15 seconds will your teacher offer their hands as support. At least they are trying to stand unaided.

The key points to remember are to relax, move slowly, and place your feet on the pool floor before lifting your head up.

My ebook The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains all the help and support you need, from relaxing, floating and breathing to all the technique tips for learning to swim the four basic strokes. Click the link below for more information.

The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming


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