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Freestyle Technique – High Elbow Position

Gary Barclay explains the importance of a high elbow position in both the arm recovery and under water pull when swimming freestyle.

For more swimming freestyle tips go to www.SwimFreestyleFast.com.

Hi, I’m Gary Barclay. We’re going to have a look at one of the most common problems in freestyle, and that is where a swimmer drops their elbow. There are a few different stages in the stroke of free style where an elbow drop can cause problems.

The first is as the swimmer enters the water, if they drop the elbow into that position there, then they don’t catch the water with their hand and their forearm. So it’s really important as you enter that you keep your elbow nice and high in that position there and then press over as you go into the water.

The second part that you need to focus on in free style is once you enter the water, is to actually keep your elbow nice and high when you’re underneath the water, that way. So make sure you’re keeping your elbow high and pressing down. You don’t want to drop your elbow and slide through, because then you won’t move forward.

So there are just a couple of hints in regards to stopping a dropped elbow in free style.

Keep that elbow nice and high when you enter and right through the pull through.

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4 Responses to Freestyle Technique – High Elbow Position

  1. A. Jones June 5, 2013 at 6:04 am #

    Please can you explain to me your advice re arm recovery in Freestyle. I am living in Asia where they seem very keen on teaching my daughter to do straight arm recovery because they say it helps with full shoulder rotation. I am from the UK and an ex competitive swimmer and I do not remember this aspect of the technique. Am I out of date or are they technically incorrect? Thanks for your help.

    • Gary June 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

      Hi, There is a school of thinking from some coaches around the world that a straight arm recovery helps with full shoulder rotation and a limited number of swimmers have had success with straight arm recovery in freestyle… often sprinters. From my observations, a majority of coaches teach bent elbow recovery as you would have been taught when you competed. From my viewpoint, the key is entering into the water with your hand from the correct angle to begin the next stroke and this may be easier to achieve with the bent arm recovery. I would be interested in the thoughts of others. Regards Gary

  2. A. Jones June 29, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Thanks Gary, I appreciate your response. I have had a look at Uswim Australia on You tube which seems to be what all the swim schools here base their teaching on. I want a good solid foundation of technique. I cannot find anyone teaching bent arm recovery in any of the swim schools in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Any suggestions- I am at my wits end?

    • Gary July 11, 2013 at 5:25 am #

      Hi Alex, When children are very young, they are often taught just to bring their arm over and it can be straight. As they develop their feel of the water and get a littler bit older many swimmers naturally bend their elbow and many teachers teach this. I would not worry too much Alex because as your daughter gets older the teachers / coaches will move towards a bent elbow in recovery.

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