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Thread: High elbow vs straight arm catch

  1. #1
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    Raleigh, NC

    High elbow vs straight arm catch

    The high elbow catch (90 degrees elbow bend) is professed to be better than a straight arm (180 degrees) catch, but why is that so?

    Is not the arm surface area connecting with the water identical in both cases?

    Physics would say they are equal surface area so it should not make a difference.


  2. #2
    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Aug 2009
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    Re: High elbow vs straight arm catch

    Itís the direction of force - back.
    With the elbow bent it happens earlier and produces less arm drag

    I think

  3. #3
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Aug 2002

    Re: High elbow vs straight arm catch

    Some sprinters do well with nearly straight army driving hard down on the catch with a rapid turnover. The efficiency is all in favor of the high elbow. With the straight arm the initial forces are down, not back and the ending forces are up and not back. High elbow with EVF gives the longest time for the large surface of fingertips to elbow to be pushing backwards.(Actually. Done right it is not so much pulling your arm back as it it pulling your body foward.)
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson

  4. #4
    Very Active Member jroddin's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Silver Spring, MD

    Re: High elbow vs straight arm catch

    You might also be able to exert more force on the water with the bent elbow. For instance, if you are using a tricep press machine, you will be able to press much more weight if your elbows are bent than using a straight arm in front of you (or better explained - imagine getting out of shallow water in the pool by pressing your body out with straight arms in front of you to the deck vs bent elbows).


  5. #5
    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    Oct 2004

    Re: High elbow vs straight arm catch

    We've done drills before with a straight arm catch and I found that it placed a lot more load on my shoulders than a high elbow catch, or so it seemed. YMMV

  6. #6
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    Jan 2011

    Re: High elbow vs straight arm catch

    If you are thinking about physics then you have to think about the physics of the human body and the muscles involved. The bent elbow catch uses your lat muscles and the straight arm catch uses your pectorals. The lat muscles are a lot bigger and stronger than the pectorals and much better for preventing injuries in adults. There are you tube videos showing swimmers trying both strokes on a swim bench with a computer that measures the force of each pull. The bent elbow always wins. You tube is amazing because that equipment is too expensive for the average person to try. After working the bent arm for at least a few weeks, try a time trial of both for yourself. 25 of each with a pull bouy. Every person really is different and you should do what works for you.

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