Freestyle - The Catch 

Short dog and a number of sculling type drills help swimmers develop a feel for the water.  Learning how to move water is important as once we understand this you can start to develop strong movements through the catch, pull and push phase of the stroke.  

Lane Rope Drill

Watch this from 50sec in the video below

  1. Place you arm over the lane rope (the opposite side to the elbow sitting on the lane rope 
  2. Place paddle on to enhance the feel for this strong movement
  3. Other arm at your side 

Window Wiper Drill

Watch this from 1:50sec in the video below

  1. High stable elbow (stationary)
  2. Finger tips down
  3. Lifting shoulders toward the cheeks

Scull to swim

- 6 Sculling Movements and then take 2 -6 strokes then go back into a sculling movement again.

Application of this

  • Focus on the width of the stroke (underwater)
  • Focus on the depth of the stroke (underwater) preferably shallower and driving through in a straight line from front to back (you tend to have a little movement that goes under your body on your right arm on some strokes)
  • Hand and forearm to drive the stroke underwater
  • (if you keep width and depth manageable then your shoulders should become more stable as the movement isn't as challenging)


  1. Keep your head neutral down (don't look forward)
  2. Push finger tips down 
  3. Elbows Up (elbows not moving much)
  4. Top part of arm (biceps)close to your head 

Short Dog

Watch this from 3:00min in the video below

  1. Focusing only on the catch part which is a quick movement that helps you ‘catch’ the water at the beginning of the stroke
  2. Shallow movement with a high elbow
  3. Keep the hand and forearm working together
  4. Don’t let the hands go too far outside of your shoulders (away from body)
  5. Keep the movement small so that it pulls you forward and then return to the start position
  6. You must keep your elbows up - don't pull your elbow back

One Arm Drill

Watch this from 3:38 in the video below

A simple one arm drill is a great way to bring the drills you've done above together. 

As you watch the video below note

  1. Elbow position at the surface (EVF)
  2. Early catch 
  3. Head down position 
  4. Reduced Drag (a shallow arm movement) - learn more about arm drag 

One Arm Drill...continued

  • Use your body rotation to help open up the hips so you can generate the power through the stroke - read more about power. 
  • Keep your elbow up at the start position
  • Accelerate the arm through the stroke
  • Point your elbow to the side of the pool as you drive the arm through the stroke. If your elbow is leading then you are not going to be following EVF and will have little pressure on the water and you'll generally slice the arm through the water and finish short at the back of the stroke. 

When you do this you’ll find that the pull phase starts to happen naturally with your elbow high as you slowly get a hold of the water for your setup to then implement the push phase. Applying the right pressure has a number of other benefit - read more about this here.