Paddles can sometimes become a crutch, but remove that little rubber tube and they become a great technical training tool.
Having to propel yourself AND keep the paddles on your hands requires you to use muscles you may not know you have. This double challenge will increase your awareness in the water at the same time it builds your strength.
How to Do It:
1. Take a regular pair of "flat" paddles and take off all the straps.
2. Start with some simple vertical sculling to get a feel for the pressure against the paddles.
3. Move forward to some front scull.
4. Experiment with some full-stroke breaststroke, being careful not to pull too far back so the paddles don’t fall off during the recovery.
5. Then move to doggy-dig freestyle drill. Experiment with various sculls until you get one that feels right.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Short distances…25s or 50s…of this drill are fun, but to really feel what it’s all about, try some longer sculling. This will require that you learn how to flip since you won’t be able to keep the paddles on if you touch the wall in an open turn. You can also add a breaststroke underwater pull when you get really good. After 100 or 200 meters of this, you should even feel it in your fingers. Obviously, this only works when you keep your hands IN the water. Enjoy.