The freestyle catch is the most important part of the arm pull, if not the entire stroke. It's the part of the stroke that separates the good swimmers from the great. Having the ideal high elbow catch can set you apart from the crowd and unlock incredible power in your freestyle. In this video I break down the what, why, and how of achieving the ideal high elbow catch.
In This Video:
The 5 Parts of the Freestyle Arm Pull:
1. Entry - hand drives forward into the water.
2. Catch - elbow bends, forearm becomes vertical.
3. Power Phase - arm presses through the water.
4. Finish - Hand exits.
5. Recovery - Arm travels out of the water back overhead.
The 3 Objectives of the Freestyle Arm Pull:
1. Direct water back and your energy forward.
2. Maximize the surface area of your pull.
3. Utilize bigger and stronger muscles.
1. Alternating Hinge - Isolate the hinge motion that happens in the elbow during the catch by starting in superman position and simply bending your elbow to achieve a vertical forearm.
2. Stabilized One Arm Freestyle - With one hand on a kick board to help stabilize the body, pull with the other arm pausing in the catch position. Feel the hinge motion and then feel your paddle press back into the water.
3. Catchup - Both hands start in superman, then one arm completes one full stroke, with a pause in the catch position, before returning to superman. Then the other arm begins to pull. This allows you to focus on one arm at a time and feel supported while working on finding the high elbow catch.
4. Holding Paddles Against Forearms - Instead of using a strap to keep your paddle on, try grabbing the bottom of the paddle so that you can focus on pressing into the water with your forearm and not just your hand. Swim regular freestyle or try any of the drills listed above with this bottom paddle grip to emphasize the importance of a vertical forearm in the high elbow catch.
Good luck! I hope this video helps you swim faster! Remember to keep your elbows high, but your dreams even higher!
Check out my other blogs on Open Water Sighting, Kicking, Rotation, and Breathing.
Chloe Sutton - Sharing my experience of 20 years of competitive swimming including 8 years on the National Team and 2 Olympic Games.