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Training - PT Paddles

Posted by Glenn Mills on Nov 30, 2007 07:05AM

Most of us LOVE paddles for the power they provide and for the way they make us feel. The problem is... with most paddles, when you take them off, you're immediately left with a feeling of loss. The loss of power, and especially that wonderful feeling that your arm has now become a stick.

While we love paddles, it does take a few lengths of swimming before you regain your feel for the water. Some swimmers see this as a negative, and don't use paddles because of it. But, actually, anything that makes you focus more on what your arms are doing is a good thing.

The PT Paddles certainly don't give you that longing feeling when you take them off. On the contrary, they give you that longing feeling when you have them ON! They do a fantastic job of taking away all the feeling in your hands, and leave you with the responsibility of moving yourself forward using the rest of your arm, or your legs.

Best Use for this Product:
Learning to pull efficiently and effectively is the target of any paddle. The PT Paddle certainly accomplishes that for all strokes... except breaststroke. I could also be wrong about breaststroke, but it just didn't work for me simply because I kept hitting them together on the insweep, and MAN do the hands come in quickly with these things on. Butterfly is tough as well, but backstroke and freestyle are great -- ESPECIALLY freestyle. If I were a triathlete with heavy hands, I'd pick up a pair of these, and learn how to use the rest of my arm.

How to Use It:
1. These paddles are very simple to use, and easy to put on. You have to get only one finger through the strap, and the rest of your hand pretty much falls into place.

2. While you shouldn't totally GRAB the PT Paddle, the shape encourages you to "take hold" while you pull. The hand forms nicely around the paddle, which keeps them comfortable for a long swim... a very important point, because NOTHING else will be that comfortable.

3. Start swimming. It won't take long (usually 1 or 2 strokes) for you to realize what you've just lost... your pull. You will immediately have to start using every other part of you arm to propel you through the water. You'll find yourself reaching a little farther, keeping your elbow a little higher, and using your forearm a little earlier. You'll be engaging your biceps, lats, and whatever else you can bring to the task of keeping your hand connected to the water for as long as you can.

How to Use Them Really Well (the Fine Points):

These things are either torture devices, or a gift sent from heaven, depending on whether you're in the middle of using them, or have just taken them off. Once you take them off, you'll realize just how nice it is to use every part of your arm ALONG with your hand. A good way to use the PT Paddles is to alternate them with hands and even with standard paddles -- either WITHIN a set or on back-to-back sets. By adding and subtracting surface area, you'll gain a new understanding of your pull. By swimming these alternating sets while counting the number of strokes you take, you'll gain an even deeper understanding.

DESCRIBE THE IMAGE While we've seen swimmers add a significant number of strokes by using these, once the new knowledge of the pull starts to take hold, those counts get much closer together. A variation of 1 or 2 strokes per length of increased strokes is typical among accomplished swimmers. Less advanced swimmers might take 3 or 4 or more extra strokes per length with the PT Paddles.

Something else to be aware of is that these paddles float. While that's great when you're putting them on, you'll have to be careful during the extension of your stroke. The paddles want to rise to the surface, and you'll want your extension to remain level, or FORWARD. This turns out to be a great exercise, because you need to focus on your fingers leading down just a bit, which positions the hand, then elbow, for a great early catch.

After getting feedback from a wide range of swimmers -- elite to beginner triathlete -- we concluded that these paddles are very effective in their task. They make you think when you have them on, and make you feel wonderful when you take them off.

Archived Comments

Responded Nov 30, 2007 12:59PM

Glenn, good article. I got a pair of these about a month ago and have been using them during most of my warmup sets.

One thing that struck me about them (and you don't mention this) is the _weight_ of the paddle. Compared to standard paddles, there's a whole lot of weight in the PTs which I have found quite difficult to get used to. I've worn fist gloves a lot in the past and the PTs are a different sensation to those.

In one respect I enjoy fist gloves better because the weight of my hand/arm is the same as "normal", but in another I prefer the PT because my hand is in a more natural shape/position (not a fist).

Finally using the PT tires my arms out more. I don't think it's the standard "your using your muscles differently" answer, but primarily down to the weight effect.

Responded Nov 30, 2007 01:13PM

Interesting. I didn't experience the weight factor. Either it's because I'm SO strong already (joke), or mine and the swimmers recoveries are lower. Makes me wonder about another benefit... what is your recovery like? Does it sweep, is it high, straight-arm?

They DO feel different than first gloves, and in the long run, I think will prove to be more durable. I like both products, but I'll be carrying these in my bag for a lot longer. As always, personal preference.

Responded Nov 30, 2007 02:50PM

Hi Glenn,

My recovery is a high-elbow/zipper/shark-fin-thing. I need to use them some more to button this one down. I agree they're more durable and they're a permanent fixture in my bag already.

Oh and I know I'm a weakling!!

Responded Dec 03, 2007 02:04PM

I want to try them but cant seem to find them on a few of the big swim product sites----any help?? barry

Responded Dec 03, 2007 02:07PM

The link is at the top of the page. Contact the manufacturer and see where they're selling them in the states.

Responded Dec 03, 2007 02:29PM

Thanks Glenn---barry

Responded Feb 15, 2011 10:53PM

good sense of humour in the article :)
btw, when I see ideas like those paddles I have one book in mind:
"Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite" by Paul Arden
while most of training tools are like more and more and more here you have less is more:)

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