Freestyle – Shoulder Catch

Developing an early catch in freestyle is extremely important for all swimmers, but it’s just not easy for all swimmers.  This drill, which asks you to keep your shoulder against your cheek during the catch, may help you develop a better feel for the catch.    

Why Do It:
Obviously, why to catch the water early in freestyle isn’t a question, but why do this drill?  By developing a focal point, or even a bit of timing as to what starts first in the freestyle catch, you can take some time to actually build your pull.

How to Do It:
1.  This simple drill starts with slow, smooth freestyle.  To really feel what’s going on with this, it’s best to plan on not breathing for a bit.  Using a snorkel and pull buoy will help you focus on what you’re trying to do. 
2.  Start by swimming freestyle, making sure that you’re reaching complete extension with each arm.  You should be extending so much that you’ll feel your shoulder come into contact with the side of your face or cheek.
3.  From this position, the drill is simple… all you have to do is start your pull prior to allowing your shoulder to break contact with your cheek.
4.  The order of the catch can be, Hand – Forearm – Shoulder.  While this isn’t the perfect definition of the freestyle pull, it will give you something to think about, and a simple process to get your hand and forearm in a more vertical position to initiate the pull.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
When you initiate the catch with the hand, you may feel your shoulder driving UP into your cheek.  This hand down, shoulder up, movement is not to be avoided in this drill.  It will help you get your entire arm into a better position to connect with the water.  While ultimately you don’t want your shoulder popping up when you swim, this drill is about the arm, from the hand to the forearm.  The shoulder against the cheek at the moment of "catch" just gives you something else to think about.