Butterfly – Hand Entry

How do your hands enter on butterfly?  While it’s pretty common that they enter sweeping out, some swimmers are able to get their hands to hook as well as sweep, when they touch the water. 


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Which is better?  That’s up to you.  Much depends on how your shoulders work, how powerful you are, and how quickly you can recover the arms and get your hands back out front.  These are just some of the things you need to consider as you play with different types of hand entry.  While one type of hand entry can give you more power, or the feeling of power, the other may allow you to draw yourself forward quicker, while allowing you more turnover, or even more efficiency by limiting the overall power put into each stroke.

Here are a couple of quick examples of the same swimmer making subtle changes to her hand entry.

  

If you compare the two pictures, you’ll see that just a subtle change in direction of the hands will impact how your pull will follow through.  Remember, one of the goals in all the strokes is to keep your elbows high, and you have to figure out which direction of the hands best allows you to accomplish that.

  

While the more standard progression on the left looks good, and the catch on the right seems to be falling, we have to take into consideration that while the catch on the left will eventually develop more power, the catch on the right leads more quickly to a propulsive forward move.

  

This is where the questions really come in.  While the pull on the left (the more standard approach) provides the feeling of power, and will probably yield MORE power on the back half of the pull, the catch on the right, while losing some of the power underneath, allows for a quicker turnover, and limits the exertion of energy during the pull.

The "catch" is:  Which way works better for you or your athlete?  The later, wider catch allows for more of the power to be put in a very productive area a bit further back.  The narrow, quick catch allows for a direct motion forward, almost immediately after the hands enter the water.

Only through experimentation (by yourself or with your athletes) will you be able to determine which one is right for you.  Chances are, 9 out of 10 times, you’re going to opt for the entry and catch on the left.  There may be that ONE swimmer who needs a more narrow catch.  Get them focused on pulling FORWARD as quickly as possible, and it could turn out to be a good move.