Synchro 101: What is Land Drilling?

Has your daughter been swinging her arms around the house and counting in eights?

If your your daughter been running around your house swinging her arms up and down and side to side, and counting to eight incessantly since the fall – then your daughter has been practicing her “land-drilling”. Aside from this being a sign that your daughter is really enjoying synchro, she is actually practicing her routine – out of water!!

Land-drilling is a form of mental practice and reinforcement of the synchro routine, but done on land. All synchro swimmers are taught this important basic skill, and use it to learn a routine. Each arm and hand movement represents a certain synchro “figure” or movement in the water, and is really a form of “synchro sign language”. Your daughter may be raising her arms, but she may actually be thinking of raising her legs.

Hand and arm signs are carried out to repetitive counts of eight, and each movement is executed or held on a particular count. The counts of eight always match to a certain point to the music, and this is how the complex task of learning a routine is mastered. It teaches every swimmer what they are doing and when, to every single count of the music. Even if the music stops, the swimmers will still be able to count, and carry out the routine as though there was music. And this is a good thing- because occasionally there are music “glitches” in competition, and the athletes are expected to continue their routine – no matter what!!

In practice, teams will land-drill many times before they get into the water and work on their routine and synchronization in a way that they would not have the physical energy to do if they were repeating this task (of doing the actual routine) in the water. Once the coach feels that they know a particular section of the routine well, or that they are nicely synchronized on land, she will move them into the water to practice. However, because synchronized routines can be difficult to master, many hours will be spent land-drilling, even at the end of the synchro season. Land-drilling is a technique that is used throughout the season.