Freestyle – Fingertip Drag

Fingertip Drag is one of the oldest swimming drills in the books. It’s survived the test of time because it’s not only simple to explain but also incredibly effective. It’s amazing how such a basic drill can impact so many things in your stroke.

In fact, it would be very interesting to find out who came up with Fingertip Dray in the first place, and if it was on purpose, or simply by accident while watching a very tired swimmer try to get his arms out of the water at the end of a very long practice. While the roots of this drill go too far back to trace, its importance to swimming is still intact.

Why Do It:

Fingertip Drag can help you practice a high-elbow recovery, and can help you achieve a relaxed hand during the recovery. The drill requires that your body be balanced, and that you use full body rotation in order to complete the drill correctly. PHEW… see, that’s a LOT in one simple drill.

How to Do It:

1. Swim freestyle. This is so simple that you can pretty much do it any time you want, at any point in practice. All you have to do is drag your fingers right along the surface of the water… scraping them and making sure they never lose contact with the surface. That’s it.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

Fingertip Drag is easy to explain, and fairly easy to do. The trick is to execute it with precision and control — and THAT takes focus and attention to detail.

1. By keeping your fingertips in contact with the water, and keeping the hands close to the body, you can’t help but achieve a high-elbow recovery.

2. In order to SKIM the surface and not simply JAM your hand forward with a sloppy splash, you need to keep your fingers relaxed and under control. If your hand is too STIFF, you could get caught in the middle of your recovery, and sink your hand into the water too early. You want to keep the fingers relaxed but under control, so that they create a nice clean line as they slice through the water.

3. After your hand passes the shoulder, extend it forward and focus on staying long while the other hand is recovering. This will be easier to do if you keep your head down, and your body balanced.

4. To keep your hands close to your body and NOT swing them OUT to the side. To do this, it’s best to rotate far enough to allow your elbow to remain high, and your fingers be in contact with the water. Rotate far enough to allow for this to happen.

If you’re having a hard time keeping your fingertips in contact with the water, don’t forget how LONG your fingers are. If you’re missing the water, try thinking of this as WRIST DRAG rather than FINGERTIP DRAG. Try to push the water with the back of your hand and not just your fingertips. This will give you a good feeling of release when your hands start to extend forward.