2 Freestyle Drills for High Elbow Technique

by FINIS 11

February 09th, 2015 Britain, Europe, International, Training

Swim Training is courtesy of FINIS, a SwimSwam partner. Featured image: Olympic Champion Anthony Ervin

The Shark Fin Drill

Forearm Fulcrum, FINISSwimming freestyle, pause for six kicks on each side during the high elbow recovery.

The break in stroke cycle activates stabilizing shoulder muscles that support a high elbow recovery. This drill also engages major back and core muscles for a proper body rotation. We like the Shark Fin drill because you can easily build it into any workout – use this drill to focus on technique during warm up, or plug it into a main set to refine technique when fatigue sets in.

For increased technical focus, try using the Forearm Fulcrum. The figure-8 design locks the wrist in the same plane as the forearm, stabilizing a proper high elbow position during the catch and recovery.

The Water Polo Drill

Foam Pull Buoy, FINISSwim freestyle with the head lifted completely out of the water. To ensure proper head position, identify an object at deck-level on the opposite side of the pool and try to maintain focus on that object while swimming.

This is a great drill for all swimmer types – competitive, fitness or triathlon/open water. Lifting the head forces a higher elbow in order to clear the surface of the water. Additionally, the sighting component of the drill is an excellent way to practice proper open water technique during pool training.

This drill also pairs well with the Forearm Fulcrum or another hand paddle that will ensure proper technique during such a demanding drill. For the full effect of head-up freestyle, we like using a water polo ball. Go figure! Driving a ball through the water ensures that the upper body does not collapse when elevated above the natural plane of the water. Don’t have a water polo ball? No problem – grab a Foam Pull Buoy or a small kickboard like the Alignment Kickboard.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

For all the coaches out there i’m curious: what is the benefit of swimming with a high elbow recovery? Is high elbow recovery generally accepted as the ideal technique or is there some disagreement among coaches?

Becky D
Reply to  fatsmcgee
5 years ago

I teach high elbow recovery to my beginner masters swimmers who haven’t grasped the concept of “recovery” as a time to relax. I don’t emphasize it for swimmers with more experience.

Reply to  fatsmcgee
5 years ago

The fastest clubs in MN have swimmers with wide, relaxed recoveries. Does not look like they’ve been taught high elbow but I can’t say for sure. It looks much closer to straight arm but wide recovery with a slight bend in the elbow.

I’ve heard high elbow can be good for helping balance and correcting crossover. I don’t have enough experience to say anything for sure though.

Trent H
5 years ago

High elbow also helps promote proper body and hip rotation.

Guy #2
5 years ago

High elbow catch…absolutely. I don’t really care what their recovery looks like just as long as their tempo stays fast, and is setting them up for a good catch.
All that said, I do prefer teaching a lower profile recovery…have never been a fan of high elbow recovery