Want to know how to power up your freestyle stroke? Swim faster? Be more efficient? There is no one element in swimming that is more important than the other, as all of the pieces need to work together to make a cohesive whole. However, in our experience, we see one common denominator among them: The Pull-Through. The pull-through is the answer and we can tell you all about it.
What is the pull-through?
The pull-through begins where the catch ends. This becomes a grey area when the catch is not done properly. To be clear, we define the pull-through as the moment the hand faces backwards. This is the point in the stroke where the force exerted will propel us forward. We want to maximise that force and so the earlier the hand is facing backwards, the earlier we can step on the gas and pull-through. We have to be careful however. If we apply too much pressure early on we will slip through the water, much like a car wheel-spinning. So we also need to learn to increase the speed of our hands, from a more patient catch to an explosive push out the back.
How to improve your pull-through?
1. Practice with drills
By drills, of course. Drills should always be done slowly and with care in their execution. Seeing them being done is vital. So go along to our drills section and find all your favourite drills before going into the water. Sculling is a very effective way to train, not only the muscles - making them stronger, but also your brain to speed up the hands. Two very important sculling drills are the mid and the back scull. They can help you achieve the desired outcome of stronger muscles and quicker hands.
2. Train with paddles
Swimming with paddles is another way of practising the pull-through. It increases the pushing surface and so helps to train those crucial muscles. Don’t use paddles if your shoulders start to hurt. Paddles may put undue stress on your shoulders if the catch is not up to scratch. There are many paddles on the market, technique as well as power paddles, and which ones to use is the subject of another blog. Just be aware that the bigger the paddle, the more stress it places on muscles and shoulders.
3. Incorporate dryland in training routine
Push-ups, pull-ups and tri-dips are all excellent dryland exercises to train the right muscles for the pull-through. They will strengthen the tri-cep, pectoral and lateral muscles to push the water back more powerfully. They will also help prevent injury in general, so always excellent to do them.
The pull-through is such an important part of the freestyle stroke, yet so many swimmers struggle to get the job done. Scull, use paddles and work on your dryland exercises and you will swim like a pro.