Beginners Technique Workouts

How to Generate a More Powerful Catch

How to Generate a More Powerful Catch

Do you lack propulsion? Long to get a better hold and feel for the water? Everyone would love a better catch and pull technique. Not only will it make you faster, it will also make you more efficient. This is because a poor catch and pull wastes a lot of energy – get it right and you will swim at the same speed much more easily. The single biggest difference between a normal swimmer and an elite swimmer is a vastly superior catch and pull. So why isn’t everyone working on this secret of the freestyle stroke? Perhaps because it is the most misunderstood thing in swimming.

Many swimmers ignore their catch either unaware of how important it is or unsure of how to improve it. Others are going about trying to improve it the wrong way. So what does that elusive great catch technique look like? More importantly, what does it feel like? In the article below we’re going find out, starting out with some common misconceptions about the catch. swimsmooth

Building strength through swimming alone can be difficult. With proper strength training on land, and with resistance tools like stretch cords and parachutes in the water, swimmers will increase their power with each stroke. Let’s discuss which components of your training will help maximize your power in the pool.

Resistance Training on Land

To develop power, you must challenge your muscles with a sufficient load, or resistance, and work against that resistance with explosiveness. What does this mean for your strength training? Each power exercise must be completed with a combination of quickness and force. Many strength exercises can be executed to mimic the power necessary in the catch motion of swimming. Some of these exercises include pull-ups, push-ups, and lat pull-downs. After swimmers develop a baseline level of strength, pair a power phase with competition season to maximize the strength gains. Resistance training can be achieved through either bodyweight resistance or regular weight training.

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Resistance Training in the Pool

Stretch cords and parachutes are great tools for resistance training in the pool. Don’t have either? Simply strap a stretchy band around your ankles, grab a pull buoy and paddles, and you’ve got a great way to work your catch and body position with your feet causing additional drag. Stretch cords will immediately reveal the dead spot in your catch because any slip will cause you to lose ground in the tug of war between you and the cord. Parachutes can help you develop power if you wear one during a sprint set, such as 25’s or 50’s fast with additional drag. They also expose parts of your catch that are too slow or missing altogether.

Whenever you are focusing on power—whether it is in the pool or on land—execute your movements with explosiveness. Resistance training is a fun way to help you find which part of your catch needs improving!


At full reach and without dropping your elbow, feel like you are tipping your finger-tips over the front of a barrel (again flexing at the wrist), which will start the catch.

At the same time start bending the elbow and pressing back on the water with the forearm in a near-vertical position.

This is what keeping your elbows high on the catch is all about.

A memorable way to think about this action whilst you are swimming is to visualise a smiley face drawn on the palm of your hand. As you start the catch, tip your finger tips down and show that smiley face on your palm to the wall you just left. This is like locking your hand in place, effectively feeling-the-water.

You will now be pressing the water back behind you rather than pushing it down.


  • Pose in the Mirror:

It may sound corny but looking at yourself in the mirror and practicing your stroke can help you visualize and practice what you should be doing in the water. Stand with a straight back in front of your mirror with one arm extended above your head and one are at your side. Then bring your extended arm down, bending and “pulling” with a 90 degree bend. Make sure your hand does not cross over your center axis. As you pull down, let our other arm float up and extend above your head.

  • (Advanced) Use a Vasa Trainer. If you have access to a Vasa Trainer, this can really help you “get” the high elbow catch on dry land. There are several workouts listed on their website (, but here’s an idea for a quick

If you have access to a Vasa Trainer, this can really help you “get” the high elbow catch on dry land. There are several workouts listed on their website (, but here’s an idea for a quick 15 minute workout, focusing on high elbows:

-2-3 minute warmup, moving your arms as if you are doing freestyle
-3 rounds of one-arm drill. 20 strokes right, 20 left. Focus on keeping the elbows high.
-3 rounds of 10 of the 2-stroke drill (2 right, 2 left, alternating)
-”Swim” full stroke freestyle for 5 minutes. Keep your focus on high elbows.


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About the author

Sanuj Srivastava

Hello everyone ! myself Sanuj Srivastava, I'm a National swimmer and Computer Olympiad winner. I'm working on writing articles for competitive swimming. If you have some problem in swimming that needs some creative injection then that’s where I come in!
My aim is to bring across your message and identity in the most creative way.


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