Freestyle Technique Fixing the Out Sweep


Freestyle technique: Fixing the Out Sweep

Initiating the freestyle pulling motion with an out-sweeping motion is a common technique problem that we find with our swimmers at The Race Club. It is particularly seen more often among young female swimmers, but an out-sweeping pull can occur with swimmers of any age. In this Aquanote we will discuss freestyle technique fixing the out sweep.

From our Velocity Meter technology, we have determined that compared to initiating the pull with the hand just inside the elbow with the hand pressing down instead of out, the out-sweeping pulling motion results in a loss of propulsion and an increase in frontal drag. Both of these undesirable outcomes of the out-sweep will lead to a slower swim.

We use three important techniques and drills to correct the out sweep: the Deck drill, the One-Arm drill, and the Snap-paddle drill. You can find all three of these important drills explained in more detail on our recently released video featuring Masters swimmer Marc Clayton, who is new to the sport of swimming.

First, we begin with the Deck drill. Here we teach the swimmer how to initiate the pull correctly on deck before getting into the water. Just the simple replication of the correct motion using pressure applied to the instructor’s hand, requiring an internal rotation in the swimmer’s shoulder, will make the correct pull easier for the swimmer to learn in the water.

Second, once the swimmer is in the water, we love to use the One-Arm drill with the non-pulling arm at the swimmer’s side. When we isolate one arm at a time, it is much easier for the swimmer to recognize the mistakes they are making with the pulling motion. We begin this drill using ISO paddles from Finis with the gray paddle placed on the right hand and the yellow paddle on the left hand. The small, curved flange on the edge of these paddles makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to use an out sweep. Once the swimmer improves the pulling motion with the ISO paddles, we repeat the same drill without the paddles on.

Third, we use the Snap-Paddle drill. In this drill, using sculling paddles, the swimmer initiates the pull with the hand just inside the elbow but does not complete the pulling motion. Instead, like in a dog-paddle, the hand stops its motion backward just past the shoulder and recovers underwater to the front. This drill reinforces the need to initiate the pull by pressing down rather than outward.

With these three drills and lots of practice pulling correctly in the freestyle swim, we feel confident that we can rid swimmers of the out-sweep and get them on their way toward faster swims.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.


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