Catch-catch-catch… seems as if all we talk about is a high-elbow catch. For good reason. Nothing will move you through the water more effectively than an early, high-elbow catch in freestyle.
Why Do It:
Speed and/or efficiency… take your pick. With a high-elbow catch, both will increase. Without a high-elbow catch, both will decrease. It’s that simple.
How to Do It:
1. Through much teaching, we’ve discovered there are things some people can do, that others can’t. In thinking about the catch, it’s important you get the feeling of a high elbow position. Here’s a simple exercise to see how easy it’s going to be for you to achieve a high-elbow catch. If you’re unable to do this, you’ll know how much you’ll have to focus on some of the previous drills, such as Bent-Arm Extension from last week.
2. Extend your arm on the deck, or desk, making sure the arm is extended straight from the shoulder.
3. With your palm flat on the deck, rotate your arm so the elbow is on top of the arm. Then rotate it back down, and repeat.
4. Lift your palm off the deck, and go through the exact same movement, WITHOUT moving the palm.
5. When you imagine how your elbow bends, and the position it’s in when extended forward in freestyle, if the elbow is on the BOTTOM of the arm, there is a tendency that it will lead the catch, and you’ll miss the early part of your pull.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
After you’ve had a chance to play with the arm rotation, start swimming, thinking ONLY about getting the elbow on TOP of the arm as you extend forward. Even our stunning model, who is able to rotate the arm very easily, has to really slow down to get that early catch, and the arm doesn’t rotate nearly so much as it did on deck. If someone is watching you, he or she may not notice that you’re working hard on this… but you should be able to feel that slight variation in the catch from the elbow through the shoulders and lats.