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Freestyle - EVF Drill

Posted by Barbara Hummel on May 31, 2010 03:10PM

EVF (Early Vertical Forearm) Drill will help you isolate the initial point of connection for the freestyle catch.  

Add to Cart View Cart - Watch the best example of EVF! Kara Lynn Joyce Freestyle DVD

Why Do It:
"EVF" stands for Early Vertical Forearm.  It describes an ideal position for the hand, wrist, and forearm during a freestyle "catch."  The goal is to establish a long, straight pulling surface from the fingertips...through the wrist...and all along the forearm...and to establish this pulling surface as early as possible once the hand enters the water.

If you can learn how to establish EVF, you'll maximize the amount of force you can apply to the water.

If you've spent years and years pushing DOWN on the water before you establish your catch...EVF will feel very unnatural and will be an elusive concept. can slow down and isolate what it's supposed to feel like.

How to Do It:
1.  This would be a GREAT time to put on a Finis Swimmer's Snorkel.  The snorkel lets you focus completely on the drill without having to worry about air.  Grab a pull buoy, too, because you won't be kicking during the drill.
2.  Push off in "Position 11" on your stomach.
3.  Starting with the right arm...point the fingertips down and make a scooping motion out and around and return the hand to Position 11.
4.  Now the left arm.  Point the fingertips down (this is where you establish EVF) and make a scooping motion out and around and return the hand to Position 11.
5.  Repeat with the right arm and keep alternating arms.   Imagine you're using your hand and forearm to scoop out a giant bowl of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and then present it to your coach at the far end of the pool.  

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1.  Slow down!  This drill isn't about how fast you can get to the other end.  It's about how well you can isolate and maintain the EVF position.
2.  Keep your elbows near the surface and don't let them drop or pull back past your shoulders.  The forearm and elbow should remain out in front of your head.
3.  Don't let your wrist collapse.  Maintain a straight pulling surface from fingertips to elbow.  
4.  Stabilize your upper body and don't let it bounce up and down.  Keep your arm motions steady and even.
5.  Try alternating one length of EVF drill with one length of EVF freestyle.
6.  Or try alternating one length of EVF drill with one length of EVF breaststroke.

Archived Comments

Responded May 31, 2010 10:27PM

Hi Barbara...but if the "catch" is an anchoring movement (no great preassure required) instead of a propulsive movement, then what is the use or advantage of an EVF?

Responded Jun 01, 2010 05:19AM

Let me help Barbara reiterate exactly what she already wrote:

"to establish this pulling surface as early as possible once the hand enters the water."

"If you can learn how to establish EVF, you'll maximize the amount of force you can apply to the water."

Does that help?

Responded Jun 01, 2010 12:57PM

Is it possible to show the EVF in a video ? My english is weak and I don't understand "to scoop out and around". And I don't know what the giant bowl looks like. I try to figure it out, but i'm sure i'm wrong. How does the arm recover ? in water or in air ?

Responded Jun 01, 2010 03:17PM

Hi Camy.
We got a little ahead of ourselves and posted the text before the video. Now they're both posted, and you can see the video demonstration.

Responded Jun 01, 2010 04:14PM

Sorry does not help.
What is the use in applying the maximum amount of force to the water at the point of the "catch" which happens to be an anchoring movement not a propulsive one. Why don't you save all that energy for the back half of the stroke???

Responded Jun 01, 2010 05:52PM

If you're arm is moving back... it's propulsive. There's an old Audi ad that could help explain this... "It's better to pull a car, than to push it." Same with a body in water.

Responded Jun 01, 2010 07:57PM

I can use that ad analogy. Nice one, Glenn

Responded Jun 02, 2010 12:00PM

I’ve done this with strapless paddles at the surface and I have transitioned into underwater swimming. Ummm....I think that I may draw up a evf circuit that involves med balls, bands, on deck shadow/mirror training, wall press outs and drills .I think that its a good way to keep them moving and focus on the same skill differently.

Responded Jun 02, 2010 12:33PM

To give response not an answer to the above question (Because I don’t believe in answers, only questions and great perspectives)
-The greatest training device is the core body and the key is to discover the connection in MAXIMIZING the surface area of the blade (fingertips,palm,forearem) to the body.
-I coached a HS pitcher and he compared EVF to the action of driving his front foot down as anchor to his body and the end result is a fast ball. Its the same idea for evf, because the front arm becomes an anchor for the body and the finish becomes a transfer of that front end energy. Every explosive athletic movement requires an anchor, load, and energy transfer sequence. EVF is all about optimization.
Hope this helps!

Responded Jun 04, 2010 01:11AM

Question; does this drill suggest that we need to scoop out for EVF (sculling if you will)? Or is it a way to just see what it feels like, but you won't actually do that during the freestyle stroke. I'm trying to understand how this fits with the other EVF drills preaching internal shoulder rotation.

Responded Jun 04, 2010 03:13AM

Did you try it yet? Don't dissect too much prior to experimentation. Besides, as you can see, works beautiful for EVF for breaststroke.

Edited Jun 04, 2010 10:41AM
Responded Jun 08, 2010 10:38PM

As one who has pretty much blown one shoulder socket, I am trying to avoid all internal rotation at shoulder. This looks like it requires initial internal rotation, if you are scooping out a big bowl of ice cream.

Am I wrong?

Is it possible to swim without internally rotating the shoulders, ever? Some people have told me yes.

Responded Jun 08, 2010 10:49PM

This one really has me confused...maybe I really never understood the concept of sculling correctly. I'm seeing an outward push (away from the midline at hand entry). Is this correct? I can see how this works with breaststroke but not with freestyle...I'd really like to learn this. My catch is a huge problem for me....

Responded Jun 13, 2010 05:47PM

Hi Tomas,

I've been experimenting with this for about a year. It is still a work in progress, but I've found that the initial catch is propulsive -- I'd maintain that it is as propulsive as pushing down on the water with a straight arm -- it just does not take as much muscular strength to do it. The leverage is better. Once your forearm is about vertical, you can pull hard and it will move you more effectively through the water. If your arm is straight (i.e. what I used to do!) it feels like you're moving water, but it doesn't produce as much useful thrust.

Responded Aug 26, 2010 04:30PM

Great drill. I love the Ben and Jerry's comment! Awesome! I am worried however, that it will lead to people sculling out too far on their freestyle strokes. I think the drill should be more of a straight down scull with a little shoulder "pop" out of the water. This might teach people to get their "tips" down right away and get a little better body roll. Just my opinion, keep up the great work!

Responded Aug 26, 2010 04:37PM

Options are really what the drills are about. This drill would be for some swimmers, and if you notice them adapting techniques that ultimately could get them in trouble... switch to a different drill. Here's one with a bit more hand down orientation:

Responded Aug 26, 2010 04:43PM

Drills often call for a slight exaggeration of a motion and this may be one of those cases. If you do the drill with a straight-down scull and shoulder pop, yes it's more like a freestyle catch, but it's difficult to get the hand and arm back into position "11" without dropping the elbow and collapsing it medially... and that's something you don't want to teach. By making this more of a circular motion, you can really isolate the forearm and keep the elbow high throughout almost the entire cycle of the drill (even as you recover the hand back into position "11." So while the drill doesn't quite mimic the freestyle pull, it does isolate a critical move and lets you work on that. Also, the drill is excellent for working on breaststroke pull.

Responded Aug 26, 2010 04:53PM

oh Glenn, you can read me like a book! Thanks!

Responded Aug 26, 2010 04:58PM

:) Good to see you here. Keep posting.

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