Sculling - Back Scull

Jan 12, 2007
Sculling - Back Scull

Sculling is all about awakening the hands, and building an awareness of how any little movement can help you go forward.

When you do a sculling drill, don't worry too much about how -- or where -- the sculling move will come into play in your stroke. When you do a sculling drill, just think about USING your hands -- that's all. Think about how you are using your hands to move forward. You just have to trust that at some point... in some stroke... your hands will need to move in a particular way. So the more sculling drills you learn to do, the smarter your hands will be.


As you practice this sculling drill -- which just HAPPENS to teach you how to flip the hands at the end of your pull in fly, free, and backstroke -- don't worry so much about integrating the move into the stroke. Instead, focus on isolating the hands as much as possible.

Why Do It:
Back scull will help you feel the PUSH of the fingers and palms. Learning to feel the water flip off the fingertips, and quickly dragging them back to the center in a productive manner, will help you understand what it's like to always be in touch with the water. Another benefit will become apparent when you watch the video. When done correctly, with great focus on ISOLATING the movement of the hands, this exercise REALLY works your arms.

How To Do It:
 Lie on your stomach, facing the bottom of the pool, looking forward just slightly.

2. Press in on your chest to make sure your body is balanced. As you can see from watching Kevin, you may need a bit of a flutter kick just to keep yourself balanced. If you want to use a pull-buoy to help on this, that's allowed as well.

3. Bring your hands fairly close together under your belly button, and flip them out and up toward the surface. Immediately following this move, bring them back to the starting point, and repeat.

4. Feel the fingers being dragged by the forearms and wrists. Try not to STAB... or POKE at the water. Keep your movements steady and even and continuous. Allow your hands to be a bit soft and flexible. Your hands should act more like the END of a whip, than the handle of it.

5. Try to keep your body as still and stable as possible. Move your hands in and out quickly to get some forward propulsion.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
As with any drill, start with short distances, and don't over do it. You'll find this drill will quickly tax your triceps, and even making it to the other end is tougher than you thought. Take lots of rest, or alternate one length of sculling with one length of easy freestyle.

Get a LOT of air prior to pushing off. While you won't see Kevin breathe during the video, you can rest assured this is not an easy trick. Lifting your head out of the water with your hands that far back gets pretty tough. When it's time to breathe, try breathing directly forward first. If you have to use your hands to hold you up... bring them forward, and give yourself a boost. Otherwise, add a bit of kick if you need, and do what you have to, to get yourself some air.

Remember, this drill has nothing to do with balance (although good balance always helps). This drill is all about giving you some time to focus all your attention on your hands.

Close your eyes, and feel the fingers whipping, and dragging. This is one of the spots in which you can allow your hands to be as relaxed as possible, and just act like flippers... not hooks.

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