Catch Up Drill

‘Catch Up Style’ swimming is when each arm waits at the front of the body for the other arm to complete an arm cycle before starting.

Catch up drill can have multiple purposes depending on what your focus is at the time. By slowing down the stroke using catch up a swimmer can focus on one arm movement at a time. So a swimmer could use this while focusing on the recovery or the initial catch phase of the stroke. 

Catch up is a great way to start to apply progression of a specific swim technique.  

Catch up holding a kick board

This helps you to have the physical cue of the board to get the arm placement at approximately shoulder width apart. 


  1. Focus on 1 arm at a time
  2. Option - the arm holding the board –rest your hand flat on the board and then try and keep your elbow slightly up but relaxed
  3. The arm taking the stroke – move the arm off the board to the side and then start you catch, remember to keep your elbow up so you don’t lean on the board as you take your stroke.
  4. Imagine you are getting your arm over a swiss ball. 
  5. This hopefully gets you away from pressing straight down on the water which isn't a catch or helping you move forward
  6. This helps you to get an understanding of how you need to hold the water when your turn to breath – you don’t want the arm (opposite to the side you are breathing) push straight down in the water at the time of the breath

Key technical points to implement this drill

  1. Place your hand to the side of the board each time you are taking a new arm stroke
  2. The hand and forearm drive the catch - pull - push phase NOT the elbow 
  3. Elbow up at the front of the stroke (like you are jumping over a fence) – the front of your shoulder should be engaged ie .activated not the back or your shoulder
  4. The catch motion imagine you are getting your arm “over a swiss ball”

Common Faults

  1. Swimmers drive and lead the movement underwater predominately with their elbow 
  2. When using a kick board the swimmer will simply slide their hand off the board toward the body as this encourages poor technique to start the catch and again an elbow driven movement