Keep your elbow high!!!
A few years back at a conference the world’s top swimming coaches were asked to list what they felt were the key stroke skills that differentiated average and elite swimmers. Almost unanimously they voted the high elbow catch (often referred to as the Early vertical forearm or EVF) as the top skill!!! – Wow!!! – This is obviously important!!!
Many if not most swimmers allow their shoulder and elbow to drop as they press more downwards and less backwards on the water during the catch-phase of the stroke. The list of negative effects this dropped elbow has on efficiency and speed is endless as well as predisposing swimmers to shoulder pain.
Learning to catch the water with a higher elbow is relatively easy but does require patience and discipline if it is to become “hard-wired”. Basically if you swim too long or too hard you will quickly fall back into the old dropped elbow habit. Even elite swimmers fall foul of this tendency during poorly supervised heavy training loads.
Take a good look at the attached picture, or for a larger version of the image go to:
Notice how the swimmer has his shoulder higher than his elbow and his elbow higher than his hand as he “grips” hold of the water.
You want to feel as though your elbow is closer to the waters surface as you get your “grip” and your fingers pointing a little downwards. Aim to get your palm and forearm facing a little more rearwards and you will be moving in the direction of a more effective catch.
There are a number of drills that I utilize to help swimmers achieve a more effective catch. My favourites are “front sculling”, “doggy paddle”, “single-arm freestyle” and “catch-up” – all of these can be found on youtube. Mix short reps of the drills with short reps of Freestyle and as the new skill becomes easier to hold increase the distance you swim.
Swim well, have fun!
PS – Please seek me out at the sea swims if you have any questions re this article or swimming / /training in general.
PPS – If you enjoyed this article and would like to watch swim video clips or read more about swimming please go to: https://www.facebook.com/oneflow.coaching