Freestyle - Balance Catch Progression
Here's a short freestyle progression, using a combination of drills to help swimmers focus on balance, the timing of the weight shift in the body, and holding the water into the catch.
Why Do It:
Great freestyle is a combination of many components, and these quick drills can give you some idea where you may be lacking. For many masters swimmers, these drills become much more effective if you use fins.
How to Do It:
1. Start with "stun-gun," where you hold your recovering arm in a raised position. The arm still under water is held extended and you're propelling with a flutter kick. Breathe by turning only your head while in this position, and switch from one side to the other about half-way down the pool.
2. Next move on to a relaxed recovery, going back to front, front to back, then back to front into a few strokes. Being able to control the movement of the recovery, an active arm above the body, will require good balance and a constant kick.
3. Finally, make sure you understand that no shift in the body will be effective unless you know you're holding the water. Start with your leading arm extended, and your trailing arm down by your side. Drop your fingers and forearm into a slight catch position then return it to an extended position. Repeat a few times, then begin the recovery, and repeat the catch into a few strokes.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
This is all about setting up your body on a balanced line, then using something as simple as your recovery to disrupt that line and cause a shift to occur, which pulls the leading arm back. As long as that leading arm is in a good position, as the shift occurs, you're going to move forward.
The more stable you can be during all of these positions, the better all of the parts work together. Again, as you learn all of these drills, fins can be a great help. This isn't about overloading your legs, so don't be shy about putting on a small pair of fins. And the last piece of advice is to simply SLOW down.