Training Plan Terminology and Drill Guide


We have created this guide to our training plans as when we started out and got hold of training plans, we would always struggle to find out what terms were used and ultimately what they meant.  Therefore, to make life easier we have created this list.  We are constantly updating this page so if you don't see a drill or phrase that is referred to in your plan please get in touch.  Take some time to look through all the wordings and links to videos to check that you fully understand the drills and skills that you will need to be able to complete to get the most out of our sessions.  If you have any questions or need some further explanation of the drill/skills please feel free to get in touch with us at and we can arrange for a quick 1.2.1 Skype call to talk you through.  All links to YouTube are not videos produced by us and are links to videos that we feel show accurately what we would expect when working on the drills.


Drills have a real value for swimming as they allow you to break the stroke down and enable you to focus on particular areas of the stroke.  The main thing to remember when completing any drills is accuracy, trying to advance a drill for distance when it has not been fully practised and is correct will have the same effect as not doing the drills at all.  Focus on technical accuracy over shorter distances when you start out and work up to the longer distances when you are technically proficient.  We are always available to take a quick look at your drills if needed just send them to and we will let you know how you are doing.


WU = Warm-up

Main = Main section of the session

WD = Warm down

FC = Front Crawl

BK = Back Stroke

BR = Breaststroke

Fly = Butterfly

CH = Choice stroke

Kick = Front Crawl Kick with a kickboard/float held in the hands out in front

KOS (LEFT or RIGHT) = Kick on your side, maintain a good body position whilst kicking your side with or without fins

Pull = Pull only using a pull buoy between the legs

Single-arm pull = Pull with one arm with non-working arm extended out in front (can be completed with fins to improve body position whilst learning the drill)

Fists = swimming front crawl stroke with fists closed loosely to encourage the use of the forearm to propel the swimmer forward.

Build/Descending = build pace throughout the distance, e.g. 200 build = 50 - easy, 50 - medium, 50 - medium hard, 50 - hard

Negs/Negative Split = Complete the first second half of the distance faster than the first, e.g. 100 m Negative split (swim the second 50 m at a faster pace than the first)

EZ = easy pace

Doggy Paddle = Click here

Front scull/scull 1 = Click here

Torpedo Kick = Click here

Shoulder Touch = Click here

Zipper = Click here

Popov =  Click here

6.1.6, 6.3.6 etc = Click here

Corpse Kick = kicking on front with arms by the side (wearing fins).  Take six kicks on the front, then six rotated on the left side, back to your front for six, then six rotated to your right side.

FTD = Fingertip Drag - When the arm starts to recover over the water, leave your fingers in contact with the surface and lightly drag them through the water.

Turn on T = Turn at the T shape at the end of the black line on the bottom of the pool (don’t touch the walls)

PFQ = Pretty Flipping Quick

Sighting = Click here

+10, 15, 20, etc = Amount of rest between repeats e.g. 4x50 +10 complete 4 x 50-metre reps taking 10 seconds rest between each rep

One beep recovery = If you are using a tempo trainer, this is equal to your 25m time; for example, if you have a CSS of 2 mins, you would take 30 seconds rest (120 seconds divided by 4); this can be set through mode A on your tempo trainer giving you the ability to set it more accurately down to 0.1 of a second, take a look here how to set up your tempo trainer.  If you don't have access to one, use increments of 20-30 seconds for each beep referenced.



FTP = Functional Threshold Power - Click here to see how to test this

Single-Leg Drill = Unclip one foot from the pedal (if out on the road or not using clipless pedals, do not remove the foot from the pedal, instead focus on one leg over the other) and complete the required amount of reps trying to be as smooth as possible.



Drills are an integral part of your running capabilities and should be completed to encourage the proper running form. This can only be completed if the drills are completed accurately with a clear focus on good form over speed. With this in mind, when completing the drills, ensure you practice them statically initially until you feel comfortable and confident your technique is accurate. Then look at practising the drill over short distances building up to longer distances. Once this is completed, and again you can confidently hold the required form over the longer distances, move on running the drill out into your normal running. The aim here should be to carry over the form alterations or reinforcements to your normal running form over prolonged distances. If your form breaks down at this point, stop and repeat the drill and carry on into your normal running.

This process can be quite long and can also be frustrating but perseverance will pay off in the long term. You will only see the benefit of these drills if you practice them regularly.

FTHR = Functional Threshold Heart rate -  Click here to see how to test this

1.  Strides

This is the most basic of all drills (it’s not really a drill but a practice) that will help encourage you to feel good form over short distances at a higher than race pace too.  Try to select an area that is slightly downhill and increase your speed to run at just above your 5K pace or 8/10 effort for 20 seconds (try to make sure your cadence is no more than 96 strides per minute*)


2. Strides per minute


A relatively simple drill.  Try to count each time either the left or right leg contacts the ground for 1 min to determine the result.  This can then be used as a baseline for you to track any improvements or to challenge you to turn over your legs faster etc.


3.  Functional Balance

This drill aims to build basic balance and engage the correct muscles to control your pelvis. Much like cycling, maintaining balance when moving faster is easier. Therefore, doing this drill will highlight any balance and postural issues.

Key points:

  • Tall posture one leg raised, knee at hip height, squeeze supporting legs glutes slightly to maintain balance
  • Turn the head from side to side and speak to ensure you are not using the abdomen to aid bracing.
  • Keep toes relaxed and extended to balance.
  • The heel remains dorsiflexed and in line with a supporting leg
  • Maintain a vertical shin on the lifted leg

Common issues observed:

  • Difference from one side to the other in terms of balance.
  • Pelvis drops on the non-supported side may differ between sides.
  • Toes drop, so the foot is no longer dorsiflexed. The dorsiflex is a cue for the foot to prepare for
  • landing under the knee.
  • If your pelvis tilts with your leg at 90° lower your leg until the correct posture is gained


4.  High Knee Walking

This drill develops stability by activating a wide range of muscles and ligaments. This progression from functional balance will help develop good posture throughout your full range of running strides. – Video here

Key points:

  • Knee at hip height or above, and ensure your pelvis does not tilt.
  • The knee and hip need to flex at the same time.
  • The standing leg stays straight.
  • Walk through with your foot, landing under your knee and pelvis in contact with the ground.
  • Maintain good posture and relaxed running arms

Common issues observed:

  • Is there a difference from one side to the other?
  • Watch for the pelvis dropping on the non-supported side and the differences between sides.
  • Is there any sagging of the torso upon foot contact?
  • Loss of coordination of arms and legs.


5.  High Knee Walking with calf raise

This drill moves the high knee walking drill closer to true run form, with the calf raised closer to the take-off point of the propulsive phase. It also promotes calf activation and strength.

Key points:

  • Knee at hip height or above, and ensure your pelvis does not tilt.
  • The knee and hip need to flex at the same time.
  • Standing leg stays straight.
  • Raise the heel off the ground by flexing the calf muscle
  • Walk through with the foot landing under your knee and pelvis in contact with the ground.
  • Maintain good posture and relaxed running arms

Common issues observed:

  • Is there a difference from one side to the other?
  • Watch for the pelvis dropping on the non-supported side and the differences between sides.
  • Is there any sagging of the torso upon foot contact?
  • Loss of coordination of arms and legs.


6. Low skips

This drill is pretty much like the skipping we all did as a child but it does encourage good basic mechanics of the propulsive phase and your hip extension, really focusing on getting the movement correct throughout and allowing the leg to drive you forward. = Video here


Key points:

  • Try to aim for the correct execution of the drill rather than the distance
  • Focus on your rhythm, maintaining fast foot contact into the propulsive phase.
  • Look to extend at the hip.
  • Try to keep your ankle at 90°
  • Aim for a mid-foot strike with the ground.



7.  A-Skip

Emphasis on the propulsive phase and hip extension, don't look to cover distance but instead focus on rhythm and fast foot contact into the propulsive hip extension. Good for hamstring activation and correct movement patterns. This drill is essentially a more dynamic progression from High Knee Walking. – Video here

Key points:

  • Focus on driving the knee upwards as the standing leg engages in the propulsive phase.
  • When reaching the highest point, there is a small movement forward off the ground (not a
  • hop); this is a reaction to the forward propulsion
  • Keep good posture throughout.
  • Aim for dorsiflexed ankle, i.e. ankle at 90° when the foot is in the air.
  • Forcefully step down - aim to make a noise.
  • Mid-foot strike with the ground.
  • Look for a good rhythm and relaxed running arms throughout.

Common issues observed:

  • Adding in a hop instead of using an upward knee drive to move forward
  • Not stepping down into the ground enough to create noise
  • Poor rhythm and coordination


Thank you for working with The Triathlon Coaching Company!  We love to hear feedback about our plans. If you have any, please let us know at 


Coach Chris W

Team TCC