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A couple of weeks ago on "How The Catch Should Feel To You", Mark Schnupp asked:
"I was wondering if you could expand upon this post and discuss the rotation of the hips and how they relate to the catch and pull to include timing, what to look for, what it should feel like and some drills to coordinate it. I know that I struggle with this and I'm sure others do as well. I know that all of the power comes from the rotation of the hips and would love to see a post on how that all is supposed to work."
That's a great question Mark. Many swimmers do struggle with timing their body rotation; it's one thing that separates intermediate from advanced level swimmers. Before we look at a visualisation to help you develop this, we need a quick word of caution: the reason most swimmers struggle with timing their rotation is that they have one or more fundamental stroke flaws in place. For instance:
- They have poor alignment with crossovers in front of the head or under the body.
- They have an over-glide in the stroke.
- They press down on the water during the catch phase.
- Their stroke falls apart when breathing.
Most beginner and intermediate swimmers have one or more of these problems in place in their stroke, which makes developing good rhythm and timing very difficult. If that's you it could well explain why you struggle to feel rotational power - work on those issues directly instead and good timing will start to follow naturally once everything else is right in the stroke.
That being said, if you are a stronger swimmer with a good basic stroke technique then a little focus on rhythm and timing can help bring everything together. At Swim Smooth we like to use a visualisation where we 'rotate the hips ahead of the hands':
Notice in the sequence above how the hip rotates out of the way before the hand reaches it. As your hand comes through and past your chest and stomach, visualise rotating your hip out of the way, maintaining a healthy gap between the two. Keep the effort in the arm stroke moderate and emphasise the hip rotation instead.
Try this visualisation out the next time you swim. It's at its most effective immediately after some catch development drills such as sculling and doggy paddle from our DVD Boxset or Catch Masterclass.