A few weeks ago I posted an article on front end power and how that swimmers need to focus on the front end (i.e. the catch and pull) rather than the finish of the stroke. We received a couple questions on the best way to improve this, so I wanted to go into this further and give you two drills to focus and hone this skill.
The first drill is a modified catch up drill. Like the standard catch up drill, you are going swim with both hands extended out in front of you and stroke with one hand at a time with a good focus on a high elbow and wide hand placement. The twist though is that each time you stroke, you are going to purposefully accelerate your hand during the catch (hand placement out front at the 1-2 o’clock position) and pull as you pull straight back with a high elbow.
After your hand has passed under you, you slow down your hand and slow down as you finish your stroke and exit the water all the way around to the start. This drills allow you to feel where your propulsion should come from in your stroke as well as perfect form where it counts.
The second drill is a single arm drill, which also helps isolate each arm so that you can focus on form and feel for the water. The added benefit with the single arm drill though is that you can incorporate proper balance and rotation.
Many coaches recommend having an arm extended out front while doing this drill but I think having your non focus arm at your side allows for better rotation and balance in the water. With one arm planted at your side, you feel whether your body is out of line and your legs sinking. I break these up by 25 so swim down with one arm then back with the other. Each stroke you want to engage your back core so that as you accelerate through the pull you are doing so with your back and not solely your arms.
I like to do both of these drills during the warmup as to wake up my body and alert it to proper form, a feeling that I try to carry into my main sets.