What About Using Hand Paddles?

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Can I or should I use hand paddles? 

With every training device we recommend that you apply some basic principles. You can read more about this in Guidelines for Using Swim Training Devices

The short answer is: No. 

There is possibly a way to train with hand paddles that would allow the swimmer to carefully train the connections through the body and activate muscles in a certain pattern without putting undo strain in the shoulder joint, but we never see anyone using them this way. Paddles seem to overwhelmingly urge swimmers to pull on the water in a way that is de-training the kind of whole body connection we are working so hard to establish. Paddles focus attention on the hand, and load the shoulder joint with a torque. That emphasis on the hand places a greatly increased amount of force on the end of the arm, the end of the lever, which means a great deal of torquing force is created inside the shoulder joint which increases the risk of injury. 

We want to distribute the load up the forearm, brace the shoulder joint and use the torso rotation to empower the stroke. Paddles make it harder to do this.

Instead we recommend…


Use Fist Swimming Instead

Until you are a master of catch timing we highly recommend the use of fist-swimming instead – make the hands smaller rather than larger, and your brain will be forced to find a better grip on the water using the entire forearm. This will require you to lift the elbow and keep the hand below it and maintain the forearms grip on the water – since the small area the fist by itself can no longer do the work for you.

After all, you are preparing to do what? To swim a race with paddles on? (Granted, you can in the Ötillö, and that is a pretty cool race!) Or must you use what your body naturally comes with to get the job done?

Learn to use what you’ve got better, and continually train the brain to use all the piece working together. Use the forearm as much as the hand, and empower the catch with the torso rotation – fist swimming will urge you in this direction while paddles will urge you away from it.

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