Catch Lesson

Forums Library Course Instructions Catch Lesson

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    Admin Mediterra

    How The Catch/Hold Fits In

    Let’s review the four essential features of the freestyle stroke we need to make sure are in place for you to experience the ‘magic’ of the stroke:

    1. The Torpedo Frame
    2. Long, firm Skate Position
    3. ‘Send Force Forward’ through the Recovery Arm Swing
    4. Optimal Arm-Switch Timing

    In the second lesson of the Freestyle (fundamentals) Technique series we worked on feature #3 and touched on feature #4. In this lesson we will build another piece of #3 and then tie it back into #4.

    In the last lesson we began to pull pieces of the stroke together – the recovery swing, entry and arm switch timing. When these come together they allow you to  ‘touch the magic’ – that moment you feel some acceleration in each stroke that comes from well-shaped, well-timed movements.

    To build upon the arm switch timing you started to develop (indirectly) in the previous lesson, in this lesson we examined the catch (a.k.a. the underwater pull/push as it is known in the conventional swimming world). We call it the ‘catch’ and ‘hold’ because our orientation is about holding a point in the water and sliding the body forward, past that point. Our emphasis is on the body moving forward, not on pushing water backward.

    This effective forward propulsion depends on the three components each doing their part and being well-synchronized with the others:

    • the Catch generates a wave of force
    • the Torso Rotation transfers that wave of force from the catch side to the entry/extension side of the body
    • the Entry/Extension into Skate Position delivers that wave of force into forward motion


    The Catch

    The better you perform the catch, the bigger the wave of force you may transmit to the other side of the body.

    The quality of this wave depends on:

    1. The shape of your catch arm in order to get a bigger grip on the water
    2. The pathway that catch action follows
    3. The pressure applied – steadily through the motion, not too abrupt, and not too weak but just right

    The focal points below will help you create and improve these three features in your catch action.

    Creating the wave with an arm is not enough – it must be tied into the torso rotation so that the torso is doing most of the work of holding the water, which mean it is transferring that force from the catch side to the skate side of the body. So, the lesson starts with a focus on only the catch arm and torso, and eventually adds the other side of the body, completing the full choreography.

    Useful Imagery

    During the lesson you may have been given one or both of these images/analogies to work with:

    • the ‘beach ball’ of water molecules (or ‘swiss ball’, or ‘pilates ball’ if you prefer)
    • the ladder under your body, parallel to the surface
    Beach Ball

    The beach ball of water molecules represents the pressure zone of water you create and direct with each underwater stroke. You form this pressure zone then send it under your body, especially under your hips and legs to help those ride higher in the water.

    The Ladder

    The ladder gives you a directional grid to set the placement and trajectory of your movements.

    The two rails correspond to your two arm tracks, and your arms extend forward on that rail, and your catch holds that point on the rail; the rungs represent the point ahead where you set your catch (get a grip on the water).

    The depth of the imaginary latter determines the depth of your catch, where that pressure zone is created so that your body-frame can slide over it.

    The Catch Drills

    • standing rehearsal with catch shape
    • 1-Arm Drill (other arm tucked at the side)
    • Superman to Skate (with a weighted object in lead hand)
    • Swing Switch (two arms) with pause at Entry moment
    • Whole Stroke

    Focal Points

    • Set the catch
    • Hand stays on track
    • Elbow slide out and upward to make shape of arm
    • Touch the ball with entire forearm and palm
    • Hold the ball and rotate body past it
    • Press the ball straight toward the hip – hips rolls out of the way at last moment
    • Press the ball straight toward the toes – send the ball of water under hip and leg
    • Press on ball steadily
    • Catch hand and extending hand move (on their tracks) exactly opposite to each other, at approximately the same rate of speed
    • Hesitate ever so slightly after ‘Set The Catch’ in order to Load The Torso
    • Pull with hip (not with shoulder)

    The entry and extending arm is the main actor, while the catch arm is the supporting actor. Set a good catch and then focus upon sending force forward into your best Skate Position. The better your Entry, Extension and Skate, the farther you will slide forward on each stroke!

    There are more focal points for the Catch on our 101 Focal Points page as well as some demonstration of the 1-Arm drill on the Video Tutorial page.

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