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The Pull – How To Swim Front Crawl | Freestyle Swimming Technique

The Pull – How To Swim Front Crawl | Freestyle Swimming Technique


– Today I’m at Team Bath and
I’m going to be talking you through the pool phase of
the front crawl stroke, which is the propulsive
phase of the stroke. This is simply the part in
which your hand and your arm are pulling against the water
directly beneath our bodies. And if you get this part
of the stroke right, it can completely transform your stroke, making it both easier and faster, however, it is quite a complicated part
of the stroke to get right. So today, I’m going to
be running you through it step by step. (energetic rhythmic music) Previously on GTN we have
covered the catch phase and the rotation of
the front crawl stroke. And today, we’re going to
be honing in on the phase directly after the catch, the pool phase. And as I’ve mentioned already,
this is a really important part of the stroke because
this is the part of the stroke that really helps to propel us forward. Now to help me explain this
better, more easily today, I’m actually going to do
a non-swimming action. It just makes it slightly more relatable and easier to understand. And it’s probably an
action most of you really look forward to, it is getting
out of the swimming pool. Now, let me demonstrate. I’m going to put my arms
wider, my hands wider, than my shoulder width, and try
and get out of the pool now. (grunts) It’s really, really hard
work, near impossible. Now how is this relatable? Well if you’ve been told
that you pull with quite a wide arm angle or you’re
outside of your shoulder width, then you’re gonna struggle
to apply the force. Whereas, if I demonstrate
now with my hands within my shoulder width,
got my arms at around a 90 to 100 degree
angle, 120 degree angle. I try and pull myself out,
it’s much, much easier. It’s a much stronger position. Equally, if you’re someone
that drops your elbow during the pool phase or
you’ve been told that you do, then you could also be
losing considerable power. Again, if I demonstrate,
if I drop my elbow as I’m trying to pull myself
out of the swimming pool, I really can’t apply the
force to get myself out. And this is another really
common technical mistake during the pool phase of the stroke. So now, let’s play all together
and let’s do some swimming. After entering our hand into
the water first, we should aim to catch by applying
pressure down onto the water. This maintains our body
position in the water and begins to load our arms ready for the pool phase. With a perfect catch,
you should see the elbow above the hand as the hand presses down and through the water. As the hand starts to
come underneath your head, this is when you start the pool phase. There are different
teachings on this pool phase but the one that I recommend for symmetry, balance and efficiency is a direct pull straight underneath the body. This prevents any movement
or snaking from side to side. To do this effectively, you
should have a slight bend in the elbow, somewhere
between 90 to 120 degrees. As demonstrated earlier,
this really allows maximum force production. If you’re in a pool with
a line on the bottom, as I am now, and you are
fortunate enough to have a whole lane to yourself or
you’re in scored session, then you can use this line
to help teach this movement. Just imagine the line as a ladder and you have to pull
yourself up this ladder. Each hand and pull should
track over this line. Now back to our physics lesson. It’s important to remember
that we’re trying to push ourselves down the pool. To do that, the palm of
your hand needs to be facing and pushing the opposite
way, at the wall behind you. It sounds like a silly thing to point out but when you’re immersed in
the rest of your technique, it’s easy to let it slip. Now you may also have heard
of some different methods of pulling yourself through the water on the front crawl stroke
such as the S-shaped pull. So what happens on this pull,
is the hand enters the water, pulls out to the side
before coming back in and then pulling down past your side, almost like an hourglass shape. Now this was taught to me as a
kid when I was first learning to swim and it’s pretty good,
however, what I will say is that you don’t see many
of the top swimmers or top triathletes doing
this simply because it’s not really direct enough. You’re actually wasting time
in the front of the stroke and almost offloading
that force that’s helping to propel you forward. And what I will add is
that with triathlon, we’ll most be swimming open
water, the water is moving a lot and you really want to make sure that you’re pulling effectively and quickly to maximise that propulsion forward. Now let’s finish the pool phase off. As your hand starts to pass your elbow, you should seamlessly begin
extending your arm out while still pushing against the water. This is another area that
is so often forgotten and neglected but without it, it can cause serious dead spots within your stroke. As the arm fully extends,
the hand should be alongside the hip ready to begin the
recovery phase of the stroke. We have previously discussed
the rotation of the stroke in another video and this ties nicely in with the pool phase of the stroke. I recommend working on the technique of the pool phase first, mastering that, and then moving on to
learning the rotation after. Trying to do both at once would
just be a little too much. If you are at that stage
in your stroke technique and development, then the
rotation can really help to utilise bigger muscle groups. Without the rotation,
you’re predominantly hitting the pecs and biceps. By rotating, you can start
to use the back muscles, including the big lat muscles. In turn, it also helps
us cut through the water by reducing our frontal area. Nothing should change in
terms of your hand position or the angle of your arm. When you rotate, your shoulders
and hips should move in sync and as you extend forwards
to begin the catch, this is when you rotate and whilst keeping a strong position through
your shoulder and back. As you finish your stroke at
your hip, I like to imagine that the hand almost moves
the hip out of the way as you begin the rotation
to the other side. Now I’m back to the pool
phase, there are a couple more drills that can really
help to emphasise this technique and one of my favourites
that I’ve used before on GTN is the doggy paddle drill. Okay, it sounds like a daft
drill but it’s actually really quite valuable. The doggy paddle drill
essentially puts that catch and pull into action but in a nice, slow and controlled manner. If you like, you can put
fins on for this drill just to make it easier and
make sure that all your focus is on nailing the drill itself. Just keep your head up and simply perform the catch and pull phase of the stroke and then slide your hands
back under the water to the start of the stroke again. Focus on pulling straight
down the centre of your body and pushing right out the
back with an extended arm. And the final drill isn’t
really a drill as such but it’s to swim with paddles. It really helps promote a
greater feel for the water. It also helps to slow the stroke down so you can really focus on the technique and it also helps you develop a greater and more powerful pool phase. But do take your time with the pool phase of the front crawl stroke. It can be really tricky
putting it all together. So as I mentioned before, just
really take your time with it and break it down into stages. As always, if you have any
questions, please do drop them in the comments section below and we’ll try to get back
to you as soon as possible. If you liked this video,
hit our thumbs up button. If you’d like to see more from GTN, just click on the globe and subscribe. If you’d like to see our
video on the catch phase of the front crawl stroke, that
beginning part as your hand enters the water, then
just click down here. And if you’d like to see
our video on the rotation within the front crawl stroke,
which everyone is always talking about, then please
just click down here.

92 comments on “The Pull – How To Swim Front Crawl | Freestyle Swimming Technique

  1. А как по мне, очень сильный поворот ног, это как компенсатор, я понимаю, но очень уж. Смотрите, как вращение корпуса идет, которые ниже бедер? Это так должно быть?

  2. Wish I had watched this video before my swim, this morning. I've been thinking that my arms may be too straight on the pull phase and needed to find more info on the angle and location of my hands. So, this was almost perfect timing! Now I can work on this during my next swim session, this week!

  3. Hi Guys, I’m mostly struggling with breathing and after 15-20 m feel mostly shirt on breath. I’m assuming it’s either to much air out under water or not enough air in while at the side. Do you have any tips for that? My style is somehow quite good but breathing keeps annoying me ://

  4. Is your stroke considered a high elbow catch? Some camera angles it looks like you're sending your elbow down too deep (windmill punch, straight elbow) but the camera from below looking up, I see some elbow bend. Just wondering if you use a high elbow catch? Thanks

  5. Following an s shape as you do can cause less water to be driven back to your hips. Think about what you do when using paddles and how the force of the water needs to stay there to keep in tension – moving sideways loses this force and this loss of force is a loss of power. British Tri coaches are taught to coach a straighter pull under the water and therefore most athletes in the UK will have been coached this

  6. I was taught the s-shape pull as well when I first learned to swim. As my technique watered down over the years I also adopted a generous amount of cross over. To get rid of that, I had to think I was entering the water in a 'w' shape as this would lead to a proper catch position.
    My favorite drills of all time are scull drills as they learn you to 'feel' the water. They have helped me with dropping elbows as well. I also like to use a pull buoy because it enables me to focus on my arms. PS. For a second there, I thought Mark had pink nails. That would be cute.

  7. Another great video, simple to understand. This series has certainly helped me. Before following your tips I could only really swim breast stroke and back stroke. With your help have managed to go from 50m to 1,500m freestyle in about three months. Thanks guys.

  8. Great! A really helpful lesson . With the 90 deg arm bend – I guess i should be keeping my hands quite close to my chest and not reaching downwards during the pull?

  9. Can someone please explain to me why his hand swept down to his stomach first instead of straight down to his hip level before existing? Thanks.

  10. Thanks for the helpful videos! I feel confident that my techniques have improved substantially, but I still run out of breath just as easily. I know my strokes and breathing angles are better, but I can't go 25 m without breathing. How can I work on fixing that?

  11. I'm 36 and just start swimming. Don't have any basic drills. Any advice, don't know how to do like everyone, 1, 2, 3 and breath on the side.

  12. I have a left rota-tors cub this is out and it's be on repair so I'm short armed on the left, any Ideas cause it's very hard to freestyle. Any other thing I can try? Let me know please. Thanks..

  13. While Mark is an accomplished triathlete it should be noted that this style of swimming is likely about efficiency and energy conservation, it is not ideal for most swimmers in a pool or short distance settings. His pull starts too early, the catch angle is too deep and wide, hand position during end pull too far across, and too wide a kick box. That being said his hip-body rotation is great and allows him to 'efficiently' use less energy in his arms and legs which he will very much need for the rest of a triathlon. New swimmers be aware of what your goals or styles will be before thinking there is a 'best' way to swim.

  14. 2:30 Its actually a bit funny that you say "[…] with the perfect catch […]" at the very moment when the palm of your left hand is facing forward… 😉
    Apart from that detail – great video! 🙂

  15. There is no pull, I spoke to a 3 time Olympian medley guy who told me that the energy expenditure should be 5/15/65 roughly depending on the freestyle distance. This changes the conversation towards the impulse of energy coming mostly from the topside and the backend. Women do this better than men. Men dominate the stroke with chest and lats. Women are three times weaker than men in the gym but only 10 percent slower in the water.

  16. How do you breathe during the doggy paddle drill? I tried it and basically could not swim more than 5m without either getting out of breath or completely losing the form.

  17. Do you trickle exhale as soon as your face's back in water after breathing when swimming, as if I'm correct above video I didn't see you doing it?

  18. Swimming has been so incredibly frustrating no matter how much I practice. This is one of the most helpful videos I've seen.

  19. Thanks I'm starting high school and I'm going to do swim team for the first time and I'm so scared. So I'm going to start working out to get ready. This really helped.

  20. I have a question as a person who is just learning proper swimming and breathing techniques ( I can doggy paddle and swim underwater well enough to get by) I want to know if I should be breathing out the whole time my head is underwater (I see some water coming out your nose as you swim and I am a person who can just hold their breath and keep the water out) or should I only breathe out right before I am preparing to take a breath?

  21. 2:20 …applying pressure down onto the water… this maintains your body position…
    That's why your head is moving up and down – it's a mistake. Pressing down lifts your upper body and makes your legs sink – the pressure must be applied backwards as much as possible to provide propulsion.

  22. During the straight-back pull you recommend, should one feel the pecs contract when pulling? When I pull with each pull hand pulling directly over the black pool line, I feel my pecs contract, but when I pull with each pull hand just lateral to the outer edge of the black line, I don't feel my pecs contract, and the full feels easier.

  23. Thanks for the video!
    I struggle to get this right…my elbow is almost in straight position during pull face, if I bend it to be closer to 120-90 degrees, I kind of lose balance…

  24. When do you inhale during crawl style? From the videos, it looks like you have to hold your breath through the entire pool length.

  25. When do you inhale during crawl style? From the videos, it looks like you have to hold your breath through the entire pool length.

  26. Your closed caption keeps showing "the pool phase". Isn't all of swimming that? It only shows "pull phase" once. Must be using voice recognition not familiar with your accent.

  27. Thank you so much for this. I recently started swimming open water. But I’m an absolute amateur. I noticed that I seem to roll my hips naturally and wasn’t sure whether this was right. So I was actually looking for this information specifically and you answered it for me.

  28. Thank you for the video. Wanted to know what should be the force applied during that phase ( if 100 is max) how is it spread?

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