Many swimmers — especially young swimmers — have a tendency to apply too much power on the outsweep of their breaststroke. They also tend to apply power too soon — wanting to apply force the instant their hands separate.
Applying lots of force makes them FEEL like they’re being productive and powerful, but it can have the opposite effect. By slowing down the stroke and counting to 3, you can learn a more effective way to initiate the catch.
Why Do It:
Learning to allow your hands to begin their work in the most productive position not only helps you achieve higher velocity, but also allows you to save heart beats by not putting energy into non-productive movements.
How to Do It:
This can be as simple as 3-count breaststroke, which means holding the streamline position for a count of 3 upon the completion of each stroke cycle. But let’s introduce are a few focus points to the basic drill. While you’ll start by counting to 3, each count will have an assignment.
The first count (1) happens at the initial extension into streamline. Make sure your hands are TOGETHER above your head, with thumbs overlapped, and shoulders held tight against the head.
The second count (2) is your cue to release your hands from streamline. If you’ve held your streamline tight enough, just the simple release will cause your hands to separate and head toward the catch position, sliding to about about shoulder width apart.
The third count (3) is where you begin the catch. By keeping the elbows as high as possible at this point, you’ll point your fingers toward the bottom and draw your body forward and a bit up. Also at this point, it’s only NOW that you can lift the head toward the surface just a bit. You should feel your body powering up and forward. But when it all happens together, you’ll find a flow you’ve not had prior to this.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Start this drill by making sure your count is consistent. Practice a few lengths of 3-count breaststroke, being very patient and counting very slowly. Rushing this drill will usually lead to the same problem you’re trying to avoid… powering the outsweep.
At count one (1), make sure you’re REALLY in the streamline position. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that if your hards are CLOSE, and your eyes are sorta down, this will work. This drill is useless unless you start with the eyes focused DIRECTLY on the bottom, and the hands held TIGHTLY together. Without the snap of the hands when they’re released, or without the head being down when the head catches, you’re swimming normal breaststroke, and you’d better start lifting more weights.