The way your hand enters the water and stretches forward has a significant impact on your freestyle stroke. Subtle changes in the angle of your entry will effect your stroke timing, your catch, and your body position.
Check out our guide below of how to hit the sweet spot for your hand entry and learn what you may be doing wrong.
The ideal way to enter the water is to enter fingertips first and stretch your hand and arm forward but on a slightly downward angle. When your arm is in its longest position just before you initiate your catch and pull, it should be anywhere between 25cm – 10cm below the surface of the water.
– Having the arm pointing slightly down will create a diving effect on your body. As your arm stretches forward and down your lower body will go closer to the surface as if you were about to dive down.
– In this position, you are ready to go straight into your catch. This makes the catch easier.
– This position creates a “downhill” effect, allowing you to maintain a higher stroke rate easier and keep the momentum rolling forward all the time.
– This position is easier on your shoulders which can help to prevent injury.
Stretching along the surface of the water. This is a common mistake and causes your lower body to sink slightly. Your body position will be similar to a boat where the bow is high but the stern is low in the water. It also causes a delayed dead spot in your stroke where you have to push down first to get into your catch position. This push down only pushes your upper body up and therefore is a waste of time and effort.
Stretching too deep. Entering and stretching too deep will cause your body to sink a little too much at the front. You will miss the first section of your initial catch which is a missed forward momentum opportunity.
Check out our video for drills to help correct your hand entry:
Carl is head coach at Swim360 Coach, a former Olympian and national champion freestyler. Carl now uses his skills and passion for coaching and competing in the open water.