Swimming: Freestyle - Lane Line Catch Drill

Dixie Iverson for Physical Education Update.com

Coaches can help their young swimmers develop proper freestyle technique by using this simple drill. It will encourage them to make an effective "catch" of the water and keep their elbow high throughout their stoke.

The Concept
In order to be a great freestyle swimmer, athletes must learn to make an early "grab" of the water in front of them. The most efficient stroke is one that catches as much water as possible, as far in front of the swimmer as possible. The swimmer then pulls his body to and past that point.

By training athletes to keep their elbows high as they swim, coaches can help youngsters to pull as much water as possible with each stroke. The Lane Line Catch Drill will assist swimmers in developing the proper arm position in the water, especially a high elbow and a catch as far ahead of the body as possible.

The Drill

Swimming: Freestyle - Lane Line Catch Drill
The swimmer begins the drill by swimming straight towards a lane line with a balanced stroke. As the line is reached, the lead hand slides over it. Be sure that youngsters do not grab or pull on the line, but just allow their hand to slide over it as they swim.

As the swimmer draws closer to the lane line, the hand slides down while the forearm and elbow stay above the line. Swimmers should not pull themselves over the line with the elbow, but should keep the elbow in front of, or even with

 Swimmer Then Slides the Arm Over the Lane Line, Keeping the Elbow High
Swimmer Then Slides the Arm Over the Lane Line, Keeping the Elbow High
the hand, and use a regular stroke for propulsion - the lane line is used for positioning purposes, not to pull against.

The entire arm should slide down the lane line as the swimmer's body crosses it. The goal should be for the athlete to cross the line smoothly, without bobbing up and down.

Coaching Tips
As a coach, you may want to observe this drill from under the water to be sure your swimmers are performing it properly. When the athletes have a feel for the proper technique, have them practice it while swimming slowly and deliberately, concentrating on the grab.

Emphasize that even though a stroke with a lowered elbow may feel more natural, optimum speed can only be developed with the proper technique that is achieved by an early grab and high elbow.

Reference: Glenn Mills, "Freestyle Catch." Swimming World, July 2007.

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