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View Full Version : Paddles! Hooah! What are they good for?



SwimStud
June 12th, 2008, 09:17 PM
So I have small paddles I use for breast drill (pressing the water).
I've swam a little front crawl with them too but I don't really know what I ought to be doing.

What is the use of paddles going to do for me?

Are there various types of target goals (speed or sttrength) that require different uses?

Will it create shoulder issues?

Any set ideas for an average swimmer?

Should I swim or just pull with them on?

Thanks...

ALM
June 12th, 2008, 10:26 PM
"Paddles! Hooah! What are they good for?"

Shoulder pain, for one... :cane:

scyfreestyler
June 12th, 2008, 11:24 PM
Re: Paddles! Hooah! What are they good for?

Absolutely Nuthin!

Ripple
June 12th, 2008, 11:42 PM
I got shoulder problems from my first (conventional) pair of paddles. Now I have a pair that are shaped like the hull of a boat and sort of work the opposite way to the conventional flat ones - slippery. They actually do seem to improve my catch, mainly because I'm forced to keep my hand relaxed and anchor my whole forearm. (The difference is apparent when I take them off - my hands feel bigger, similar to the FistgloveŽ effect. NAYY.)
I don't use them very often - they weigh a ton and I have a fear of whacking a lane mate on the head with them and putting him or her into a coma.

knelson
June 13th, 2008, 12:02 AM
I love them. If you're using fairly big paddles I'd suggest using them for longer swims. You just can't turnover very fast with paddles so I personally don't think they are good for sprints.

I primarily use paddles in conjunction with a pull buoy. Very rarely I'll do something with both paddles and fins. That's pretty interesting!

I use the blue Stroke Masters paddles, by the way.

Syd
June 13th, 2008, 12:39 AM
I use them for fast 25 sprints. I sprint as fast as I can but without compromising good form. I focus on the catch, EVF and release (essentially the whole pull from beginning to end). These are always NO BREATHERS so I can focus all my attention on the pull. These are EXTREMELY tiring if done properly and you should feel your triceps aching. I don't have shoulder issues with paddles, but if you do have shoulder problems this set won't be a good idea.

scyfreestyler
June 13th, 2008, 12:43 AM
I can't say that I have ever seen anyone do a sprint set with paddles, and it sounds like an avenue to an injury quite frankly.

Syd
June 13th, 2008, 12:57 AM
I can't say that I have ever seen anyone do a sprint set with paddles, and it sounds like an avenue to an injury quite frankly.


I never do more than one set of 8 X 25m with a 25 recovery between each sprint and, at least, a minute's rest. I only do it once a week (usually on a Friday) and never after I have lifted weights.

It is more of a controlled sprint, though. You have to be very strict on form. It never hurts my shoulders, only my triceps and my forearms.

scyfreestyler
June 13th, 2008, 12:58 AM
If it works for you, that's great. It just sounds scary to me...my supraspinatus began twitching in fright as I read your post.

Slid
June 13th, 2008, 07:50 AM
I got shoulder problems from my first (conventional) pair of paddles. Now I have a pair that are shaped like the hull of a boat and sort of work the opposite way to the conventional flat ones - slippery. They actually do seem to improve my catch, mainly because I'm forced to keep my hand relaxed and anchor my whole forearm. (The difference is apparent when I take them off - my hands feel bigger, similar to the FistgloveŽ effect. NAYY.)
I don't use them very often - they weigh a ton and I have a fear of whacking a lane mate on the head with them and putting him or her into a coma.

I have some light weight "PT" paddles that are like plastic pebbles with plastic tubes to put your fingers through. They are very good for getting SPL down. Ypu swim 100 with paddles, 100 without on frontcrawl. I Don't use them that often now that the novelty has worn off. Tried them with other strokes but they didn't seem to do much good for some reason.

aquageek
June 13th, 2008, 08:42 AM
We do a lot of sets with paddles but I usually leave them in the bag. I have these monstrous TYR Catalyst paddles and they put a beating on shoulders. I've heard smaller ones are much easier on the shoulders. I'm just too lazy to go buy them. Plus, Sunday is Father's Day (aka The Forgotten Holiday) so we'll see if my hints have been effective.

Put a pull buoy with paddles and that is a sweet dream set.

USMSarah
June 13th, 2008, 10:28 AM
They are good for building strength and power in your stroke, but beware - they can destroy your shoulders. NEVER wear them during warm-up, get your body nice and loose before you put those on. I really don't like them for sprints because I have shoulder problems (paddles did not create my shoulder probs, BTW). Feel the water... if you have any pain or clicking in the shoulder... take them off! Listen to your body. I am currently using the TYR Mentor paddles (yellow) - they are just the right size, if they were a hair smaller I'd have to move up a size - IMHO, paddles that are way too big can create shoulder issues as well. Have fun Stud! They're fun to wear to work on the breastroke pull.

ourswimmer
June 13th, 2008, 12:30 PM
Re: Paddles! Hooah! What are they good for?

Absolutely Nuthin!

Say it again!

I haven't worn them since I was about 12. Stopped due to shoulder pain and never started again. They scare me.

Seriously, aside from hurting your shoulders, in a pool with narrow lanes paddles are also good for whacking your lane mates in the forehead or for breaking a teammate's finger in the next lane. Watch your surroundings.

slknight
June 13th, 2008, 12:33 PM
"Paddles! Hooah! What are they good for?"

Shoulder pain, for one... :cane:

I've found that they are also good for scraping ice/snow off your windshield if you don't have an ice scraper. :p

geochuck
June 13th, 2008, 12:40 PM
So many paddle users.

I have never used paddles but have instructed swimmers to use paddles. They are a good instrument to teach the underwater portion of the stroke to learn hand position. I do not recommend more then a few lengths using paddles and do not recommend power swimming paddle use.

aztimm
June 13th, 2008, 12:40 PM
As anything else, in moderation they can be good and effective. If you use them all the time, you'll either get used to them, or have problems as everyone else describes.

I've had paddles as long as I've been doing masters swimming. I've had the TYR Catalyst, the XL or whatever the big size is. I wear them maybe 1-2 times a month on the rare occasion we do a mega pull set, and I actually feel like pulling. They are great for sets when we do breath control (for those of you who believe in those).

Thankfully, I've not had an issue with paddles and swimming yet. But like I said, I use them sparingly, and also do weights to build up my shoulders.

tomtopo
June 13th, 2008, 01:07 PM
I think it's safe to say that if you're getting the improvement you're looking for from the equipment you're using, you should stick with it, if not, try something that will.

If you have a predisposition to shoulder problems be careful using anything that may aggravate the pain. If any kind of shoulder pain pops up you should immediately stop what your doing. Don't try to be stoic an swim through the pain. Although shoulder pain can be caused by many things, the very beginning of a stroke and at the moment of the recovery is where a lot of shoulder problems begin and are aggravated. This is when a knowledgeable coach may help you recover from the pain and even eliminate the causes of your pain by changing your stroke mechanics.

Forearm or EVF paddles are technical tools and are in a different ball park than hand paddles. There are forearm trainers out there that have been used successfully without causing any pain by swimmers with severe shoulder problems (a swimmer with 1 intact rotator cuff tendon told me that she could use forearm trainers without feeling pain). Nuff said about EVF trainers.

I think there's a lot of great training aids that can increase your swimming performance. Most training equipment that's used correctly (read the directions) is safe and can be very helpful.



Good luck and train smart. Coach T.



A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So the rival florist hired Hugh Mac Taggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

anita
June 13th, 2008, 01:15 PM
A fellow lap swimmer uses paddles with holes throughout the surface. It seems that they would put less effort on the shoulders...? I don't know what they are called. Maybe they are the TYR ones that have been commented on this thread.

SwimStud
June 13th, 2008, 02:47 PM
Thanks all! Some good tips here, including ice scraping in a pinch! :)

George--do you think just swimming or certain drills for the underfwater part?

Coach T--are EVF paddles expensive? I do some fist drill and over barrel drill sans fins right now to try and capture that feeling.

Good news is there will be a coach available to me for the summer up to 5 nights a week, so I can hopefully get some hands on analysis etc!

geochuck
June 13th, 2008, 02:59 PM
Swim Stud I am not a drill guy either. I like to watch someone swim and actually be in the water and make their hands do the position I want them to do.

I am an instructor of swimming. I take into consideration the movement I want them to accomplish and try to make it happen.

Glenn
June 13th, 2008, 03:26 PM
I don't ever use paddles. Too much stress on the shoulder. However, I used the EVF paddles for a few weeks and ended up with a shoulder problem - bursitis/capsulitis. Don't know if there is a connection between the use of those paddles and my shoulder problem, but I put the EVF paddles away for good. Someone want to buy a pair cheap?

hofffam
June 13th, 2008, 05:15 PM
I use TYR Catalyst paddles (red). I think they CAN contribute to swimming performance. I find that they:

- are unforgiving of hand entry errors so they reinforce good hand entry
- the extra resistance forces me to have a higher elbow, more vertical forearm, and pull with hands shallower. All good things.
- can strain my shoulders so I am careful with their use.

I use them mostly on moderate effort, longer sets. In a set of 4x400 I may use the paddles for half the set. I rarely swim hard with them.

I also use them occasionally for heads up breaststroke (very tiring) to work on fast hands.

quicksilver
June 13th, 2008, 06:19 PM
The problem is, they can numb the feel for the water. And when you take them off, if feels as if you're swimming with shrunken hands.
People over-using them tend to focus on their hands for power rather than also becoming aware of a vertical forearm.


Better to build your strength out of the pool if that's the main reason for using them.
They can be the number one cause of shoulder strain if used excessively or with poor stroke mechanics.

Your hands (and forearms) are your natural paddles.
And learning how to hang onto the water naturally is the way to go.

tomtopo
June 13th, 2008, 07:17 PM
The forearm trainers are about 26.95 but that doesn't include shipping and handling. You only use them at the beginning, middle and end of your practice for only 50 yards. You also practice ultra-slow with them. I use a Finis snorkel and examine my stroke when I use them.

Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

Chris Stevenson
June 13th, 2008, 08:06 PM
A fellow lap swimmer uses paddles with holes throughout the surface. It seems that they would put less effort on the shoulders...? I don't know what they are called. Maybe they are the TYR ones that have been commented on this thread.

I have a pair with holes that I really like a lot, called Stingray paddles (http://stingraypaddles.com/). They are contoured too. (I have no affiliation with the company.) But I don't believe that the holes make it more shoulder-friendly; the paddle shape might do so, however.

I have been blessed to be almost completely free of shoulder problems (knock on wood) through 35 years of competitive swimming. The major lone exception was one summer in college when using paddles with backstroke; I actually felt the "snap" in my shoulder during the backstroke pull and I was done for the summer.

I now use them only in freestyle for long, low-intensity swims, DPS work, to emphasize/feel the "catch," and to keep up power once off the weights during taper. Maybe 2X a week during the season and almost every day during taper time, until the last week.

marksman
June 14th, 2008, 04:12 AM
I would suspect that paddles could be useful for building up the muscles used in the stroke.

Something else that paddles have helped me with, is realizing how weak my left-arm catch is. The paddles force me to really pay attention to that arm too.

The age-group swimmers at my local pool use paddles for about one set a session, but it's always done as part of their "slow swimming" freestyle work. Basically 1000m straight focusing on good distance per stroke.

That being said, I think it's always good to "visualize" catching as much water as you can, and feeling this catch, even when you're NOT wearing paddles. I'm surprised by how much water I can actually catch if I'm really are thoughtful about each stroke.

chaos
June 14th, 2008, 06:36 AM
i have a pair of speedo paddles that are shaped like a potato chip and are not any bigger than my hand. they can assist in finding the best hand position (grip) but unlike those big monsters, won't make you feel like you are moving in slow motion when you take them off. i don't use them regularly....only when i am looking to correct/improve some small detail that their design would help with.

swimshark
June 14th, 2008, 07:00 AM
My first try-out of paddle ended me in the ortho's office with tendonitis of the left wrist. So be careful using them.

smontanaro
June 14th, 2008, 07:16 AM
I have some Techpaddles which I use on occasion. I generally do a slow catch-up drill with them so I can watch my arm position. I also carry a pair of tennis balls and do fist drills with them. Like Coach T said, ultra-slow.

I used to have a pair of big yellow rectangular paddles. Left 'em at the pool one day by mistake and never bothered to replace them. I like pulling better without them anyway.

Skip

Daaaave
June 14th, 2008, 09:27 AM
I use TYR Catalyst paddles (red). I think they CAN contribute to swimming performance. I find that they:

- are unforgiving of hand entry errors so they reinforce good hand entry
- the extra resistance forces me to have a higher elbow, more vertical forearm, and pull with hands shallower. All good things.
- can strain my shoulders so I am careful with their use.

I use them mostly on moderate effort, longer sets. In a set of 4x400 I may use the paddles for half the set. I rarely swim hard with them.

I also use them occasionally for heads up breaststroke (very tiring) to work on fast hands.

Agreed hofffam, I find when I put on my paddles (red TYR) my mechanics improve, and I get an "ah yes, this is what it should feel like." Any tweaks in my catch and pull are amplified so I can concentrate on them and correct them easily, and I am better able to time my core rotation with the pull.

I feel what it's like to "stabilize" my body with my hand and arm as I pull, so I can recover with the other arm and enter my next stroke properly, rather than "swing" each arms forward into the water relying more on my shoulder muscles. After the paddles, I have to concentrate to replicate the feeling, but my body "knows" what it should feel like so it's doable.

Without paddles, it is easier for me to NOT notice when I'm dropping my elbows and sliding my hands, crossing over my mid-line, and/or not finishing my stroke by my hip. This makes my shoulders hurt more than the paddles.

That said, I don't push too hard with the paddles on--usually a set of 4-8 75s with 15 or so seconds rest or the equivalent interval, breathing every 3 strokes, sometimes a moderate build on the 3rd length. Freestyle only (maybe a length or two one-arm fly).

2 - 4 25s sculling after using the paddles is all I need to get rid of the "tiny hands" feeling.

Betsy
June 14th, 2008, 10:27 AM
I am a believer in the use of paddles. I believe they are a wonderful diagnostic tool. Many years ago, my coach (Joe Gentry) had us take off the wrist strap and loosen the finger strap. It was awful at first - the paddles kept coming off. However, as you develop a feel for the water and keep your elbow up and your hand in the correct position, they stay on.
I am coaching now and use them regularly to teach technique. Alternating 100s or 200s with and without paddles help you learn the technique. With the swimmers I coach, I have to watch that they do not strap them on tightly or hold them on with their fingers. I keep repeating that if you do the stroke incorrectly, you will get shoulder problems. If you do the stroke incorrectly with paddles, you'll get shoulder problems faster. Let the paddles loose and let them tell you where you are wrong. It really works.

SwimStud
June 14th, 2008, 10:33 AM
I am a believer in the use of paddles. I believe they are a wonderful diagnostic tool. Many years ago, my coach (Joe Gentry) had us take off the wrist strap and loosen the finger strap. It was awful at first - the paddles kept coming off. However, as you develop a feel for the water and keep your elbow up and your hand in the correct position, they stay on.
I am coaching now and use them regularly to teach technique. Alternating 100s or 200s with and without paddles help you learn the technique. With the swimmers I coach, I have to watch that they do not strap them on tightly or hold them on with their fingers. I keep repeating that if you do the stroke incorrectly, you will get shoulder problems. If you do the stroke incorrectly with paddles, you'll get shoulder problems faster. Let the paddles loose and let them tell you where you are wrong. It really works.

Thanks Betsy, that's good info. I do that no wrist and loose finger grip on breast pull, so I'll use the same idea for crawl and see what happens.

knelson
June 14th, 2008, 12:16 PM
This thread is a big shocker. People who use paddles think they're beneficial. People who don't use them think they're not. Who woulda guessed? :)

geochuck
June 14th, 2008, 12:50 PM
Hand position and grip, right on Chaos.

i have a pair of speedo paddles that are shaped like a potato chip and are not any bigger than my hand. they can assist in finding the best hand position (grip) but unlike those big monsters, won't make you feel like you are moving in slow motion when you take them off. i don't use them regularly....only when i am looking to correct/improve some small detail that their design would help with.