Do you think that you are the only one who has to work on the catch? As if everyone around you has got it just right? Hell no, you are not alone. The catch is an ongoing project for all swimmers, beginner or pro. In this blog we are going to explain why and give some pointers.
The catch is the most complicated aspect of the freestyle stroke. It is so technical because the hand has to change direction, in the water, from a horizontal to a vertical position. If the hand enters the water in any other way than with fingers first, the catch is complicated by a push down or to the side by the hand. This is undesirable for two reasons: firstly, we are pushing in a direction that is not backwards and secondly, this push can create shoulder injuries.
Every swimmer is unique and will enter the water slightly different than everyone else. This creates a different setup for the catch and the reason why, beginner or pro, we all need to work on the catch. However there are some fundamental take-aways that work for all swimmers when talking about the catch and we are going to highlight them in the following section.
Keep the fingertips straight or pointing slightly downwards after entry. Certainly don’t let the fingertips or hand move up towards the water surface, otherwise you will be pushing against the water and saying stop with your hand. A very difficult position to initiate the catch from. Bend your wrist slightly to get the hand to start dropping in the water. Resist the need to grab and push the water at this stage.
Here is the moment of patience. Your patience will be rewarded in swimming heaven, we promise.
Once the hand is dropping, the elbow bends to assist in this movement, but your elbow is still in front of the shoulder and pointing upwards towards the roof. Yes we know, this seems impossible, but it only requires practise and good feedback, both of which you will get from the coaches. The hinge drill, explanation video in the drill section, is perfect for this. Once the hand has dropped and facing backwards, the catch is finished.
A great visualisation with the catch is to imagine that your hand is being sucked in over a waterfall at the moment that you start bending your wrist. The hand tumbles over the waterfall and down. This visualisation will help remind you that the hand moves downwards while the elbow stays relatively stationary. Visualisation is a powerful tool in every sphere of life, but particularly swimming. We encourage you to look at the catch tutorial before swimming and this will help train your brain and help you ‘Train Like a Pro’.
Make sure you pack in patience with your swim kit this week and dream about catching all those molecules of water in a neat and tidy column for the great push to come.