Technique in Triathlon is Key!
Fitness is important, but proper technique is key to maximize the fitness you have. It also helps to reduce the risk of injury.
As professional triathlon coaches, we regularly work with athletes 1 on 1 with the goal of improving technique.
Below you will find a few of the most common technique mistakes we see and how you can correct them.
It is very important to note, in in order to permanently correct any of the elements below, it will take many reps of focusing on the one thing you are looking to improve.
If you try to do more then one thing at a time, you will not accomplish anything.
Stay patient and remain focused. Before you know it, it will become second nature.
As your arm re-enters the water following the recovery phase and you extend it forward, pay special attention to your hand and specifically your fingertips. Often as triathletes extend their arm under water, their fingertips scoop up. The result looks as if they are making a stop sign with their hand as pictured below.
If you find yourself doing this, it can be easily corrected. Make sure when you extend your arm under water, your wrist is just higher then your fingertips. In other words, your fingertips should be pointing slightly down.
Making this simple correction has boosted the swim times of a countless number of athletes I have worked with. Not long ago, the athlete pictured below, took 25 seconds off of her 100 yard pace over a 1,000 yard TT in only 1 month.
Generally speaking, when riding your bike, the more power you generate, the faster you will go. To help accomplish this, it is important to use your bigger, more powerful muscles when pedaling (i.e. glutes, quads, hamstrings).
The common mistake athletes make is pedaling with their toes versus driving their pedal stroke with their heal. In other words, your foot should be mostly parallel to the ground with your toe pointing forward (not down). This is especially true when driving from 11 o’clock down to 6 o’clock.
By doing this, you will help engage your big muscles and in turn pedal with more power.
I generally like to see athletes land on the forefront of their foot because this is the most efficient way to absorb the impact of each stride. However, more important then what part of the foot you land on is how your leg looks when the ground is impacted.
If you have a straight leg (as pictured below) when your foot hits the ground, it is more difficult for your body to absorb the impact in a gentle manner. When you land this way, the shock of the impact is sent up your leg. After 100’s and 1,000’s of steps, there’s a good chance you will fall victim to an overuse injury (ITB syndrome, runner’s knee, shin splits, ect).
Instead, try shortening your stride. The goal is for your foot to land underneath your body with a flexion knee as much as possible. When your leg is slightly bent upon impact your body can absorb the ground in a much more forgiving manner.
Try this: Jump straight up in the air as high as you can. What part of your feet do you land on and what do your legs naturally do when landing?