No, you’re not hitting it or pushing off of it. You’re using it to teach your tactile and kinesthetic learners what a really good freestyle pull feels like.
Have your athlete stand on the deck as close to a wall as possible, with her toes touching or close to a wall. Have her raise both arms above her head and extend to maximum length. Then have her drop one arm to her side, leaving one extended above her head.
Next, ask permission to touch the swimmer’s hand and elbow. Once you have permission, gently touch the athlete’s raised hand and elbow while instructing her to make the appropriate catch position, keeping her fingertips on the wall. At the same time, rotate the elbow out away from the wall. It’s OK for the swimmer to step away from the wall a bit, as you want her to concentrate on the feel of the elbow rotation instead of how close she is to the wall.
Keeping the elbow away from the wall, guide the athlete’s hand down the wall with the fingertips still touching the wall, the elbow out, and the hand and forearm perpendicular to the wall as much as possible.
Repeat the same motion with the other arm. Repeat as many times is as necessary, then have the athlete do the same motion without assistance or manipulation.
You’ll find that many swimmers look at their hands when doing this, but encourage your swimmer to look at the wall or close her eyes so she can “feel” the correct position for a good catch and pull.
Technique and Training
About the Author Scott Bay
Scott Bay is a USMS-certified Masters coach and an ASCA Level 5 coach and has been actively coaching and teaching swimming since 1986 to swimmers of all ages. The Masters swimmers he currently coaches include national champions, All Americans, and world record holders, who have swum to more than 300 Top 10 swims and 30 world records in just the past 5 years. Throughout his career Bay has taught thousands how to swim or how to swim better. He’s also written numerous articles on technique and coaching and contributed to USMS’s coach certification curriculum. Bay presents at clinics across the country and has written an instructional book, “Swimming Steps to Success.” (Human Kinetics, 2015). Bay is the past chair of the USMS Coaches Committee, and the Head Coach of YCF Masters.
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