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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > August 2018 > FINE TUNE YOUR CATCH


Fiona Ford explains how to use paddles to perfect your catch

As a coach, one of the most common issues I see when analysing swim videos is a tendency for swimmers to press down or introduce lateral movement with the hand, instead of catching the water efficiently. This flaw seriously harms the pull phase and forward propulsion. Pressing down instead of back causes lift at the front of the stroke and often compounds existing drag issues from the hips and legs while lateral hand movements can induce ‘snaking’ and increase drag.

The judicious use of paddles can help both the swimmer and coach identify and correct these technique flaws. Note that we are not talking about using paddle work for building strength and power. Instead, the use of paddles should be specific and targeted to the swimmer’s stroke technique requirements. If the catch and pull mechanics are optimal then functional training of the back and lats will be achieved alongside refining technique. However, if the hand is too high in the catch or the stroke is too long due to pausing and gliding or overreaching then there is a risk of shoulder injury using paddles. Paddles may also encourage ‘pressing’ if the catch mechanics are misunderstood and this will feel like a ‘good catch’ to a swimmer with poor feel for the water.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In our August issue we look at accessible wild swimming and ask how we can help more people get in the water. In our Training section we bust a few swimming myths, show you how to tune up your catch using paddles and explain how to think your way out of a performance slump. And we explore swimming spots in Wale, Albania, the Lake District, South Africa and Mallorca. Plus the usual heady mix of inspiring stories, stunning photography, interviews, news and gear reviews.