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The Importance of Sculling in Learn-to-Swim

One of the most important skills a young child can learn in swimming is the ability to scull effectively.  Sculling is used to provide children with a good feel for the water and will also improve their initial catch of the water in all four strokes.

Sculling is the back and forth movement of the hands in the water in a figure 8 pattern, so that the hands are always pressing against fresh non-moving water.  The pitch of the hand changes on each inward and outward sweep and the body will move in the direction of the back of the hands.

In learn-to-swim, there are a number of sculling drills that should be taught from a young age.  A suitable progression of sculling drills is provided below.

Initially, teach children to use their hands to swirl, pull and push the water to feel resistance against their palms. This can be done at a very young age.  This can be progressed to using their hands to get forward movement through the water for 3 to 5 metres and lifting the head to breathe.

The next step is to teach children to demonstrate horizontal arm sculling.  Initially this should be done by standing in the water and moving their hands inwards and outwards to feel the water on their palms.  When they are doing this, they should feel lift upwards.

Once they can accomplish horizontal arm sculling and get a good feel for the water, ask them to lift their feet off the bottom of the pool.  Some children will use their legs to keep their head above water because their sculling won’t be strong enough.  Encourage them to reduce the use of their legs until they can scull in the upright position for 10 to 15 seconds with their feet off the bottom.

Move now to deeper water and ask the children to do horizontal arm sculling actions, which support the body in an upright position for 15 seconds.  They can experiment by leaving their legs down straight or crunch them up by lifting their knees to their chest and sculling on either side of their body.

The next extension to teaching sculling in learn-to-swim is to ask the children to lie on their back with their arms by their sides and then scull in and out with the hands so that their body moves head first through the water.  The rest of the body should remain streamlined and the back of the hands should be pointing in the direction they wish to move.

A slightly harder skill for them to demonstrate is feet first sculling on their back.  Once again with their hands by their side, they can use sculling actions to move in a feet first direction.

Once children have developed the different skills above, it is time for them to learn some of the most important sculling drills in swimming.

On their front, ask them to put their face in the water and do small figure 8 sculling actions out in front of the body to move forward through the water.  Their head should lift to take a breath and then go straight back into the water and they can use a very light freestyle kick to assist with forward momentum.

Once they can do this, the hands move down slightly deeper in the water and scull in and out with their wrist slightly forward of their elbow and their elbow slightly forward of their shoulders.  The hands will be below and slightly forward from the chin and the finger tips will be pointing to the bottom and slightly forward so that the lift direction (back of hands) is forwards and slightly upwards.

A third skill on their front is to scull with their hands down by their side, once again sculling in and out with a light freestyle kick so that they move forward.

Once they can scull in these three positions, they can move between each one over a 15 metre distance.  Start with the hands sculling out in front and gradually move them backwards under the chin, under the body and down to the legs and then scull back through the same positions until both hands are back out in front again.

For young children, gaining a strong feel of the water can be greatly enhanced by teaching sculling from a young age.  Each of the skills above can be included in progressive levels of your learn-to-swim program and by doing this, you will give every child a great opportunity to be a better swimmer.

The sculling action is used in the underwater pull in all four strokes and must be learnt from a young age.  Sculling also improves feel of the water and the strength of the catch in all four strokes.

Are you doing enough sculling in your swim school?

One Response to The Importance of Sculling in Learn-to-Swim

  1. movahedi July 11, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    hi i am living in iran.
    thx for your article
    i used your comment for my son.
    regard bye

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