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When reaching forward in freestyle, the hand needs to fly straight, not up or down, but just straight.
Why do it:
When setting up the stroke in front, some young swimmers allow the hand to rise up to create an early connection. This is a natural desire that the swimmer should become aware of.
How to do it:
1 - Start by asking the swimmer to discover resistance by focusing their attention on the extended arm.
2 - While just kicking on the side, move the hand UP and feel the pressure of the water pushing under the arm.
3 - Move the arm down and feel the water pushing on the top of the arm.
4 - Continue to experiment with raising and lowering the arm to feel the resistance of your extension, gradually finding the position where the water releases the arm, and it just flies forward.
How to do it really well (the fine points):
Most this to slow swimming, or alternate a length of discovery, with a length of swimming. To make sure the focus is on discovery, and eventually driving the hand forward, we tried to stabilize the swimmer with a snorkel and fins. This releases the pressure of trying to develop propulsion from the pull, and can help focus the athlete on what’s going on out front.