Breaststroke - Sculling

May 19, 2006
Breaststroke - Sculling

Last week's DOTW featured a sculling drill in which the hands moved back and forth at hip level. In reviewing the video file, the crack staff at Go Swim (OK... both of us), disagreed as to what the proper way to scull really is.

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We decided that we were both right, and that we'd use this week's DOTW to illustrate a slightly different sculling technique.


The controversy has to do with the swimmer's wrists. In last week's DOTW, the swimmers wrists were "flexible," that is, they turned in at the finish of the scull, rather than staying in line with the forearms to create a longer lever. I argued that the swimmer was FEELING THE WATER by turning in his wrists.

Barbara argued that the swimmer would get more power by maintaining a straighter wrist -- to create a longer, more unified lever. This is generally a good thing, but I have watched so many world-class swimmers release their wrists when they do drills like this, that I think swimmer's need to experiment. Like I said, we're both right -- and this week's drill explores the other side.

Why Do It:
Learning how your hands work has been a focus of quite a few drills on this site, and this is just another way to figure out which is best for you. While the differences between straight wrist and flexible wrist are subtle, it does show that there is never an end to thinking and learning how to do things better (and fine tune even more).

How To Do It:
To isolate the hands, and to make the focus process easier... use a pull-buoy to keep your hips up. Keep the eyes down, and we think it's best to use a front scull for this exercise.

2. Start with a regular sculling motion. For the first few laps, pay particular attention to maintaining a rigid line from the forearm through the fingers. Try to create the longest paddle possible with your arm.

3. Sweep the hands back and forth in a sculling motion, feeling your forward momentum building, and feeling the work your arms are doing. You'll probably feel the muscles in your forearms working pretty good.

4 For the next few laps, release your wrists, and focus on your fingers and palms.

5. You'll really feel it at the widest part of the sculling move. Your hands are now allowed to sweep out, like the end of a whip, snapping out and around and back in.

6. Experiment with wider, narrower, more, or less of everything. How much movement, or involvement, can you get in your wrist and still be productive? Can you become MORE productive?

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Notice that our swimmer is really pushing the envelope toward the end of the video with how much he's using his hands. Don't be shy in experimenting... just remember to pull things back just a bit. Any move in swimming should be somewhat controlled, and within a reasonable range... due to the fact that you'll be conducting ANY movement SO many times... you'll eventually have to manage the energy usage.

When it's all said and done, you'll know that I was right! Oh... and so was Barbara. :)

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