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Many swimmers think that the breaststroke pull should be a big, powerful movement. Sometimes, the bigger the pull, the less effective it is.
Something that Dave works on is called a mini pull. He reduces how wide he sends his hands, and keeps his elbows far out front. This keeps resistance and drag to a minimum as he recovers his hands, and helps him focus on hand speed.
Many swimmers try to get as much as possible out of each pull. They pull too wide and too far back because they like the feeling of power. Pulling too far back, though, creates so much resistance in the recovery that the pull doesn’t have much effect.
When Dave is thinking about keeping his pull small, he tries to turn his hands in sooner to start catching the water. You’ll see that he barely gets his hands outside his elbows before he initiates the catch.
You’ll notice that Dave’s pull is narrow AND that it happens out front. He doesn’t pull back toward his hips. Try to keep your elbows in front of your shoulders. This kind of quick, narrow, mini pull helps you get your hands back out front more quickly, with less drag created by the arms.
When you start to pick up the pace, try not to pull too wide, or too hard. Keep your pull compact, and quick.
In doing this, you’ll find that the in-sweep catches the water at a good sculling angle and generates great hand speed forward.
As the pace continues to build, keep fighting the instinct to pull harder. Allow your body to set up the rhythm, and keep the hands moving quickly.
As Dave changes his pace, watch how he swims from slow to fast, with his hand pattern remaining consistent.
Picking up the pace just a little.
And faster still.
Now watch this consistency side by side. Dave makes sure that what he practices SLOW, is something he uses when he swims fast.
Remember to keep your pull small and compact, and your hands quick.
Here are two drills you can do to help you think about your mini pull.
Underwater Breaststroke Pull with Dolphin Kick. Keep the pull narrow and quick. Feel any drag you create by pulling back too far. Keep the hands in rhythm with the body movement.
From this angle we see just how little Dave does with his arms – but how effective this mini-pull can be. It’s not how hard you pull, it’s how fast you can reach full extension with your body.
Move on to Underwater Breaststroke with a Full Pull and Kick. You’ll feel some added resistance when recovering the arms. Be aware of this resistance when you’re swimming full stroke, and make sure to get your hands back out front as quickly as possible.
Remember: use a mini pull. Keep your pull small, compact, and quick.