View Full Version : Catch question

February 27th, 2010, 04:58 PM
So I am still in search of the decent catch. Unfortunately, particularly on my left when I try to pivot my forearm at the elbow (without lowering the upper arm at all), my elbow suddenly drops for a millisecond and my forearm actually gets higher, as if something is pushing my forearm up and medially. Then I regain control and pull back with a high elbow. :confused: I happens so fast that I only see it when I take video, I don't really feel it. I'll post some video when I get home. I can't figure out why it happens. One thing I discovered that seems to help is I lower my whole arm just an inch or so before pivoting at the elbow, and the momentum of this seems to help get that shoulder internally rotated and keep the forearm heading down from the get go.

I know this is not the ideal EVF, but I'm wondering if this would be a good start to work with. Does anyone else do this? In some video of Thorpe swimming casually he does this, but in his races he doesn't. Here's a couple examples;
YouTube- Ian Thorpe swimming freestyle 1 (casual)

YouTube- Ian Thorpe swimming under-side (you see a little of both in this one)

YouTube- Ian Thorpe Underwater (right upper arm doesn't seem to drop at all, classic EVF).

I'm thinking I should just stick with what I'm capable and build from there rather than struggle with an ideal catch and feel frustration. Trying so hard to get a good catch messes with my breathing as I don't breath relaxed.

Any advice is greatly appreciated, I really want to get better. As I said I'll post video later tonight of my ugly catch. I don't have video yet of the adjustment I'm doing, but my son said it looked better. I'll try to post that next week.

February 27th, 2010, 07:33 PM
What works for them may not work for you. If by trying different angles your time goes up or down you will have an answer.

February 27th, 2010, 08:26 PM
A current video of you swimming would be helpful.

February 27th, 2010, 09:43 PM
Any advice is greatly appreciated, I really want to get better. Not sure I even need to see the clip.

You're problem may be a timing one. You're probably applying too much pressure on catch. That will undoubtedly happen if you're little late taking it (although you may not be late on catch and still apply too much pressure on it, but it's rare). That seems to confirm by the fact that when dropping the whole arm little deeper, thus placing your shoulder in a more favorable position to sustain the pressure, elbow doesn't drop.

In other words, EVF (or at least as much as your flexibility allows you to achieve) isn't only a matter of thinking very hard about not dropping the elbow. It is also a matter of carefully applying pressure progressively. Very little first, thus allowing EVF position to be held, then as soon as you feel strong enough you increase the level of pressure, givin a strong (very strong) acceleration until final push.

On other thing, for which I need to thank Coach T. EVF is affected by timing relative to your body rotation. It's little (read sometimes *quite*) easier to hold steep EVF when you reach a flatter position on the water. That means that by delaying a little bit your catch relative to body rotation, EVF is easier to reach.

Now, be very careful with this last element. If you wait too long, it means you'll be late on catch. Being late on catch means that you're applying way more pressure on it.

Best recipe for achieving satisfying EVF is to eliminate any dead spot in the front. Start flexing the wrist immediately then take a very slow (at first) and unloaded catch. As soon as you feel you can put pressure on it, pull hard. For an even steeper EVF to occur, let the body roll whilst delaying the catch just a little.

Work on it 1 arm at the time:

YouTube- Free Style Drill : 0-Arm-to-Full-Stroke Progression

February 27th, 2010, 10:45 PM
I am posting the videos now (pre-adjustment). Sorry for the fuzziness, my underwater camera has had recent issues. In each of these I had tried to make little changes in my timing or way of initiating the catch. SolarEnergy, I think you may be on target with your comments. I also notice that in the process of trying to pivot the elbow I pronate my hand and push out initially. I think as you said I need to just let my forearm drop initially rather than try to push it down.


February 27th, 2010, 11:20 PM
As of this moment your youtube videos are set as private which doesn't allow us to view them!

February 28th, 2010, 12:55 AM
As of this moment your youtube videos are set as private which doesn't allow us to view them!

Oops, thanks for letting me know. I made them public.

February 28th, 2010, 09:15 AM
Exactly what I thought.

April 21st, 2010, 10:11 PM
Trying so hard to get a good catch messes with my breathing as I don't breath relaxed.

The breathing advice I found here the most helpful:

- Exhale face in water, inhale (only) face out of water.
- Exhale most air in one big blast right as you begin to turn head to breathe.
- Exhale fully each time before breathing in.
- I pretty much hold my breath between breaths, particularly in and out of turns.


April 22nd, 2010, 09:28 AM
I also can't seem to get the catch/evf thing down. Seems typical since I started from scratch so late in life 22 months ago (44). But anyhow, I can perform either a good catch or a very solid evf, but I seem to have trouble performing both in the same stroke. I think it's because a good catch, with fingers leading the hand and forearm down to anchor, leaves me less time to set up for evf. But in reality the catch is supposed to set up for EVF. I'll get it down sooner or later

Taruky, in the video it appears you might be tensed up. Let gravity and momentum start your catch, dont pause, and dont push back so violently all of a sudden. Make it one easy movement.

April 22nd, 2010, 09:55 AM
Taruky: your head moves side to side which means that you are zigzaging while you swim. Your hands tilt out which means you are pushing water sideways and out instead of straight back.

Look at this video of Ian Thorpe. He swims straight, his head never moves from a straight line, and his hands enter flat and push water straight back:

YouTube- Ian Thorpe-front


April 23rd, 2010, 05:08 PM
MJ, you're right. I've been working on trying to stay straight down the middle, need some more work on that. I also agree that I'm pushing out initially. Here is my latest video from today. On a side note, you may remember my other post asking whether a 50 sprint should be all out the whole 50 yards or paced. At the time I couldn't break 33 seconds and would wear out on the last 25. I'm now at 30 seconds with a gentle push off the wall, so hopefully if I can develop a decent dive I'll be able to break 30. I'm not sure if my times are improved due to a better stroke or more endurance, probably a little of both. I feel more energetic now on the back 25 and am not as air hungry (I'm now taking "only" 2 breaths on the last 25, 3 breaths for the whole 50).

YouTube- April 23 2010 swim

I still see some of the same problems, including elbow drop, but maybe not as pronounced?

April 24th, 2010, 05:15 PM
29.5 on my 50Y free today. Yipeeeeeeee.:banana: Of course this is the equivalent of a basketball player bragging that he finally touched the rim, lol. My dive is way subpar, so I think I could still knock off another second with improvement in that area.

Question; I've been recently (about 2 months) swimming 4-5 days a week, doing about 2000 yards each swim of mixed kicking, free, back, and breast stroke. I know that's not a heck of a lot, but better than the 800 or so yards I used to do. I've improved in my 50Y from 37 sec a couple months ago to my current time. I want to eventually swim in some meets, possibly work towards age appropriate nationals (I'm 42).

In your estimation, how much of a further drop to say 24.5 seconds would be on stroke improvement and how much on me just putting in more miles and improving strength and endurance? In other words would swimming a lot more (lets say 4000 yards/swim) really help my sprint speed that much more, or does 29.5 sec imply an inherent defect in my stroke? Just trying to figure out where I should concentrate my efforts. Thanks.

April 24th, 2010, 05:25 PM
I think a lot of your body movement is as a result of your kick. Your kick is very large, so large that I can make out your knee and upper thigh in your head-on video. Compare that to the Thorpe video and you can only make out his foot and a very small part of his upper thigh. The amplitude of your kick is much too large. Focus on a smaller, faster tighter kick.