All Strokes - Hands Down!

Sep 21, 2007
All Strokes - Hands Down!

What do the hands have to do with it anyway? When you look at the surface area of your hand, and compare it to the overall surface area of your body, you might get the impression that the hands aren't too important.

But when you consider that the hands are the leading edge of your propeller, of your pulling force, then you begin to understand how just a slight change in pitch can give you a better connection with the water, and can help you become a faster, more efficient swimmer.

At every point in the pull -- but especially at the beginning, the widest point, the narrowest point, and at the end of the pull -- it's important to understand what the hand is doing, and why. During these four critical points, the hand needs to be positioned in a way that makes the body move only FORWARD. Not up, down, or sideways... but FORWARD.

Why Do It:
While sculling can improve your swimming, this drill can help improve your sculling. It asks you to play with the pitch of your hands while maintaining the same sweep of the arms. It should make you aware that slight changes of hand pitch can impact which direction you're going, and it should give you new appreciation for how much impact the hands have on your swimming.

How To Do It:
 Use a pull buoy to make sure you're using ONLY your hands and arms for propulsion. We are also showing this drill in the "head-up" position to encourage you to watch your hands.

2. Start by facing the wall and pushing off the wall with your hands, feet first and on your stomach. Move your hands as if you were the Queen, waving to the crowd. As you do this, make sure your fingertips are pointed UP. If you get it right, you'll be heading feet first down the pool.

3. Practice this for a while, and focus your attention on feeling the connection of your palms to the water.

4. Now start the same way but, this time, when you reach the 1/2 way point in your length, change the pitch of your hands so that the fingertips are pointing DOWN. Don't change ANYTHING except the pitch of your hands. Be patient until your initial momentum wears off and you begin to move in the opposite direction -- back to the original wall. Try not to start pulling breaststroke during the shift in momentum. Instead, keep your arm movements the same, and change only the pitch of the fingers.

How To Do It Really Well (the fine points):
Focus on the fingers. While this type of drill can be a bit tough on the forearms at first, you'll also be learning why STRONG hands are just as important as correctly pitched hands.

When you really get into it, see how well you can relax your fingers to get a better flow with the water. Try not to be too TENSE with the hands. When you're heading backwards, wave as if you were the Queen, to awaken the palms. Then, when you're moving forward, point the fingers down, while maintaining the same connection to the water with your palms.

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