Try this ‘shape maker’ drill to improve your freestyle catch

Here’s an easy 3-step drill progression to help you discover the proper shape of your arm in the freestyle catch.This drill works best with fins. That’s because the fins will give you the propulsion to amplify how resistance feels on your forearm.

1. First, kick one length of the pool in the ’11’ position. That means your arms are extended as if to make the two ‘1s’ in the number 11. The focus of this first step is to really feel water rushing over and under your forearm.

So, be hyper-aware of the sensation of water rushing over the back of your hand and over your arm. Also be mindful of how the water feels passing under your hand, across your palm and on the underside of your forearm.

2. The next step is to push off the wall with your hands in the ’11’ position.

Then, slowly drop your fingertips toward the pool bottom until you feel resistance pushing against the top of your forearm.

Now hold that position as you kick the rest of the length.

3. The final step is to repeat the last drill – that is, to push off the wall in the ’11’ position and drop your fingertips until you feel resistance against your forearm.

But now, drop your fingertips even farther until your forearm and fingertips are vertical. You should feel an even higher level of resistance than in the last step. That means you’ll be moving more slowly through the water.

Be careful not to drop your elbows below the surface of the water.

Now, swim a length of regular freestyle. Be aware of how your arm passes through the shapes that you just made in the drill.

Fine points:

– During the drill, we focused on water pressure against the top of your forearm. But in full-stroke freestyle, the focus is on the underside. What’s up with that? Think about it this way: As much as your frozen, dropped arm slows you down in this drill, that’s how much resistance you can harness in the opposite direction. In other words, your pull is turning reverse drag into propulsion.

– In the drill, your body position is flat. When you swim regular freestyle, though, your body rolls from side to side on the imaginary long axis through your spine. That rotation will change the shape of your arm in relation to your body. It’s a good thing, too. You’ll be able to keep your fingertips facing down and beneath your armpit when your body rolls.

– A common error is to allow your elbows to drop back and in toward your body – especially in step 3. To prevent that, be sure to keep your elbows near the surface and at, or in front of, your ears.

Try it out!

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