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How to Correct a Short Stroke in Freestyle


Hi, in freestyle my child has a short stroke both at entry & at the end of the pull.

How can this be corrected? Are there drills they can work on?

Thank you Jenny


Hi Jenny,

For swimmers who short stroke at the beginning and end of their stroke I would recommend taking a video of them swimming and letting them view what they look like and see what they are doing wrong.  This will assist them to correct it.

With the hand entry, encourage the swimmer to enter the water at least two thirds of the way forward and extend their hand forward until there is a slight bend remaining and the elbow is in a high position.  From this position, they can press with their hand,  downwards and slightly outwards at the beginning of the arm pull.

With the back part of their stroke, ask them to brush the outside of their thumb past their thigh on every stroke.  By doing this, you are providing them with a reference point that their hands must push back further and their thumb must touch their thigh.  They will find this difficult and after a lap or two will need to be reminded to brush their thumb past their thigh.  The swimmer will often complain that it feels like they are going slower because their hand is pushing through further however explain to them that they will actually be moving forward through the water more and once they get good at it, will actually be swimming faster.

In regards to drills, one is to do single arm freestyle with the second arm holding the board at the end and enter the other arm just in front of the board and extend it forward under the board.  They can do 25s or 50s with one arm and then swap to the other.  This is a teaching drill and provides them with time to practice the correct stroke technique.

If anyone has other suggestions, please feel free to include them below.



The Swimming Expert


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2 Responses to How to Correct a Short Stroke in Freestyle

  1. Amer February 17, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    Nothing wrong with a short stroke. It is, in fact, a smart strategy and will save your child shoulder injury in the long run.
    Think of a kayak,how fast it moves with those short but powerful kayak strokes.

    Make sure that your child enters his/her hand in the water close to his/her head and does NOT EXTEND the elbow and straighten the arm in front of him/her. In fact, let him/her enter the hand deep BELOW the shoulder, and start pulling BEFORE the arm straightens. He/she should NOT do single arm drills as this is too stressful for the shoulder.

    The thumb touching the thigh is not a problem.

    Good luck

    • JM August 1, 2014 at 10:47 am #

      Hi Amer,
      I do want to confirm the accuracy of your advice about short stroke. I changed from a short stroke to a long one and I started to suffer pain in the shoulder in a week’s time, probably due to subacromial impingement. I understand that I have a tendency to suffer this injury, but your advice worked for me wonderfully.
      Thank you form your healthy recommendation.
      José M.

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