Originally published October 28, 2005. Updated with Fran Crippen on January 12, 2010.
Do you limp when you swim freestyle? Do you lean too much to one side or the other because you breathe to only one side? While these things are easy to correct for a short period of time, a permanent fix requires greater focus over a longer period of time. Here’s a quick way to experience what a proper, balanced freestyle pull should feel like.
Why Do It:
By using a paddle on your weak hand, it’s going to be a bit tougher (more resistance) to maintain a consistent rhythm. You’ll need to work that hand JUST a bit more. You’ll also have to make sure you rotate to that side a bit more as well, since dragging a paddled hand, can cause it to get caught by the water and fall off.
How to Do It:
1. Determine which hand is giving you some trouble. If you’re unsure which hand is weaker, try this drill for each hand.
2. Put on one hand paddle on your weak arm… start swimming freestyle.
3. That’s pretty much it. Focus on listening to the cadence of your stroke. Make it consistent, rhythmic, and equal. Start with short distances, and pay attention to what’s happening. This is not the kind of thing you’ll do for a really long set.
4. Focus on maintaining a complete stroke with both hands. If your paddled hand is getting caught, work on rotation.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Be consistent. Consistent. Consistent. Make sure you’re not short-changing either arm, and get a complete stroke always.
You’ll need to work on maintaining equality all around. Rhythm, rotation, reach.