ARTSWIM 101: What is Land Drilling?

Has your swimmer been swinging their arms around the house and counting in eights?

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

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

Hand and arm movements 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, they will move them into the water to practice. However, because artistic swimming routines can be difficult to master, many hours will be spent land-drilling, even at the end of the season. Land-drilling is a technique that is used throughout the season.