How Paddles can Help Improve your Catch in Swimming

The catch in swimming is often lumped together  - early vertical forearm (EVF) comes to mind. But a personal coaching bias is the static nature of calling something ‘early’ or ‘vertical’. The expressed visual connotation is a simple image, when the process of grabbing a great deal of water is dynamic in its very nature.

The catch in swimming is not a moment in time. Rather its a series of dynamic movements throughout the propulsive phase of all swimming strokes and we wanted to accentuate that feeling with our Mimic Swim Paddles. And give you a better understanding of your progress with the stroke visualizations in the KineFusion Swimming app.

Finger Straps Let Swimmers Connect Hand with Paddle

A swimmer's fingers are the first and last thing to enter and exit the water. The pressure, direction, and position they show lets swimmers connect with the water. So finger straps on training paddles should focus on those requirements.

training with swim paddles

Training our best swimming form requires a balance of surface tensions underneath and on top of the paddle. Stability is key; so just one strap per paddle to encourage proper mechanics.

An increase in force demands tremendous immediate pressure from the fingertips and cascading down from there. Challenge speed and acceleration by overlapping straps to hyper-focus kinesthetic awareness in a single direction.

Finding the right swimming flow demands a slower tempo with more initial finger extension to allow time for more overall body glide throughout a cycle. Stagger/offset straps on a hand paddle to promote this 'feeling'.

    And most importantly when promoting a strong catch in swimming, paddles should not have a wrist strap. The wrist strap lets swimmers 'drop the elbow' beneath the hand. A wrist strap is like training wheels for a road bike. They may help you learn to ride a bike, but it's not cycling.

      Stroke Cycles Break and Create Tension with Water

      A recovery cycle, no matter the stroke, sets up a powerful catch and is influenced by an efficient one. Swimming with paddles should accentuate these needs as we understand that each phase has a unique hand position.

      A swimmers hand entry should be 'clean' and not slap the water. Unwanted bubbles, turbulence or eddies makes it very difficult to initiate the catch. Scalloped edges help create an entry point to manage our approach to the water.

      Humpback whale has scalloped edges on its flippers. And those scalloped edges play with flow in such a way that is reduces drag by 32 percent. These wind turbines can rotate in incredibly slow windspeeds, as a result.

      To sustain a great catch, swimmers 'splay out' their fingers to work with the water to maximize a 'grip' and 'vault over their hands'. Think of a gymnast launching themselves off the vault. Hexagonal channels can direct and focus attention for a swimmer.

      And when the connection begins to produce diminishing returns as the hand moves toward hip, swimmers customize release points to avoid 'poor timing' with the next stroke cycle. This elasticity exploits the stretch shortening (plyometric) cycle to create even better opportunities with the next catch. A smooth hydrophobic material encourages a 'clean' release.

      Swimming with Surface Tension

      But equipment that doesn't mimic 'real' swimming is just a distraction from tedious laps. To make a paddle feel as though it's an extension of your swimming and ‘stick’ to your hand requires unique design. To allow a swim paddle to flex with your grip requires multiple materials.

      The combination is swimming innovation for your catch inspired by a misbegotten youth, a small desert beetle, and Sal Kahn. And to quote the great swammer Eric Knight - 'It floats!'

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