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Freestyle – Fingertip Drag

Fingertip Drag is one of the oldest drills in swimming.  It’s survived the test of time because it’s simple to explain AND incredibly effective.  It’s amazing how such a basic drill can impact so many things in your stroke.  

Why Do It:
Fingertip Drag can help you practice many aspects of an efficient freestyle stroke.  It helps develop a high-elbow recovery…a relaxed recovery…a FASTER recovery…and an efficient recovery because it encourages you to move the hand forward in a DIRECT LINE.  

How to Do It:
Swim freestyle.  This is so simple that you can pretty much do it any time you want, at any point in practice.  All you have to do is drag your fingers right along the surface of the water…just skimming the top inch of water and making sure you never lose contact with the surface.  That’s it.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Fingertip Drag is easy to explain, and fairly easy to do.  The trick is to execute it with precision and control…and THAT takes focus and attention to detail.

In order to SKIM the surface and not simply JAM your hand forward with a sloppy splash, you need to keep your fingers relaxed and under control.   See if you can skim JUST the tip of your middle finger through the water, creating a long, continuous and CLEAN groove from the back of the recovery to the front.   

From under water, this can look really cool if you get it just right.

Focus on lifting from the elbow and shoulder rather than with the hand.  This will set up your hand for a long clean ride from where it exits…to where it enters out front.  It also helps you engage the larger muscles of your lats and back…rather than relying on the smaller muscles that surround your shoulder joint.

Try to keep the elbow higher than the hand, all the way through the recovery.  This helps you develop a more efficient and DIRECT recovery.  There’s no wasted motion as the hand moves in a straight line from exit… to entry.  

To get the most from Fingertip Drag, try alternating one or two lengths of drill, with a length of swimming.  Repeat many times.  The great thing about this drill is that you can add a few lengths of it at just about any point in your workout.   It can bring your stroke back into focus, without missing a sendoff.