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Hand Paddle Drill

Try them without the wrist straps!

Ken Brisbin | April 2, 2013

Improve Your Feel For the Water

Paddles come in many shapes and sizes. Some paddles come with silicone or rubber straps that hold your fingers and your wrists to the paddles. We ask all our swimmers on our Grunion team to remove the wrist straps before using their paddles. Why? Because if you have poor stroke technique like low or dropped elbows, the wrist straps allow you to perpetuate that form.

Removing the wrist straps forces you to keep steady water pressure on the paddle using high elbows. If you tire or get lazy and drop your elbow, the paddle will separate from the palm of your hand and create lots of resistance or fall off.

To avoid losing your paddles, you must finesse your way through the water, rather than force your way. Your turnover should be slower with paddles, which allows you to focus on your stroke. Pay attention to how your hand enters the water, and focus on the catch and how your hands leave the water.

Try this set using paddles:

  • A 200 pull with nice long strokes. Don’t worry about your time—feel the water from the start to the end of the stroke. Adding the paddles increases your hands’ surface area, which places more stress on the shoulder. For this reason, I never use paddles during a warm up.
  • Follow the above with 2 x 100, without paddles. Now feel the catch and the water against your hand and forearm. 

USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Ken Brisbin

Kenny Brisbin has been coaching the Long Beach Grunions since 2004 and has been head coach for the past two years. In 2010 he was honored with the Southern Pacific Masters Association Coach of the Year award.

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