Thursday, August 19, 2010

Catch Up Drill - Should You Remove It From Your Sessions?

In swim clubs and masters groups the world over, 'Catch Up' is a standard drill inserted into swimming sessions, often without much thought or purpose. It's a simple drill where the lead hand is kept out front until the recovering arm comes over to meet it. To be perfectly honest, we don't really like catch-up at Swim Smooth and if we could have our way would probably consign it to the history books. Here's why:

Catch-up starts and begins with the swimmer flat in the water facing downwards. Each stroke is started and finished in this flat position when performing the drill, with the hips and shoulders horizontal:

Good freestyle technique is quite different- the catch phase at the front of the stroke is started whilst you are rotated on your side. This adds power and allows you to start the catch earlier, so you don't have to rush it:

The body position (flat) and timing of the catch (late) is all wrong with Catch-Up drill. In extreme cases it's enough to turn a swimmer into an Overglider all by itself. The catch-up drill also encourages poor posture with the shoulders slumped forwards - the leading cause of cross-over in a freestyle stroke.

We know that this is a controversial notion and that some good swimming coaches do use catch-up with reasoning and thought behind it. However, for us, we find many more downsides than upsides and you won't find it in any of our coaching products or programs.

What should you do instead? As a building block drill for the freestyle stroke we much prefer kicking on your side with fins. This basic drill allows you to work on your alignment in the water, improve your swimming posture, work on your rotation and develop a good catch set-up with good timing. You'll find this drill, and all its derivations, used extensively to improve your swimming in our DVD Boxset.

Swim Smooth!

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