Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Perils Of Catch Up stroke




Don't teach Catch Up stroke!

Now you are all saying that Richard is the most inconsistent ... (something)

Not true! (well sometimes - we all are sometimes) I still think that catch up stroke is the best way to start to teach freestyle. But it has its pitfalls.

There are swimming students out there that just can't get Catch up stroke. That is the more you try to teach them how to do catch up stroke the less they are able to do it. Or they start to get it but they reverts the next week.

The point is that not everybody is the same and if you get a student that is not getting any better with catch up stroke, stop trying to teach it to them.

Sure it is going to be a little harder, but once they have a good straight arm action going you can always introduce them to the kickboard.

I know, I know, I've said that I don't like the kickboard being used to teach freestyle, but I've also said that you "should never throw away a tool".

As long as the swimming student has learned to do a good straight arm action first there is no problem with using a kickboard to introduce them to catch up. Just don't consentrate exclusively on the kickboard once you have introduced it.

Here is a good sequence:

- You've tried to introduce catch up without the kickboard and without breathing and the student is getting more confused.

- introduce them to windmill arms without breathing. In other words teach them to do straight arms in a big circle out of the water and don't bother making them touch hands at the end of the stroke.

- once they have mastered straight arms in a big circle out of the water, introduce the kickboard.

At this point your lesson or training plan should be:

3 min. windmill arms (between three (3) to five(5) strokes at a time. Remember there is no breathing action yet. They can't hold their breath forever)

3 min. with kickboard straight arms under the water (between three (3) to five (5) strokes at a time. Remember there is still no breathing action yet. They can't hold their breath forever).

If you decide to reverse this sequence of 3 min actions try it both ways at first and see which works best (let me know your results).

**The kickboard will usually introduce bent arm action out of the water. Which is why you need to keep the non kickboard drill to maintain straight arms under the water. Whilst you want the bent arms out of the water you want straight arms under the water**

- once they have mastered the kickboard with straight arms under the water, introduce the Catch Up stroke.

At this point your lesson or training plan should be:

3 min windmill arms (between three (3) to five(5) strokes at a time. Remember there is no breathing action yet. They can't hold their breath forever)

3 min with kickboard straight arms under the water (between three (3) to five(5) strokes at a time. Remember there is still no breathing action yet. They can't hold their breath forever).

3 min Catch Up stroke without kickboard, straight arms under the water and hopefully but not necessarily bent arm action out of the water (between three (3) to five(5) strokes at a time. Remember there is still no breathing action yet. They can't hold their breath forever).

- once they have mastered the Catch Up stroke, straight arms under the water and hopefully but not necessarily bent arm action out of the water, introduce the breathing action.

If you or your swimming student still can't master the catch up stroke using the above sequence after a few weeks of practice, then it is time to introduce breathing with a kickboard. It's not ideal but it's better to make progress than spend too much time on a drill and get stuck. You may just have to accept that a good teacher will have to fix the faults that the kickboard introduced later.

Every student is different and some will need more time than others. All in all small progress is better than no progress. So whenever you get stuck break the problem down into smaller bits. However the above sequence should help with most swimming students that are having problems mastering catch up.

Catch up is my preferred way to introduce breathing and to fix breathing problems. But a lot of teacher don't like it as a method of teaching swimming and don't use it. So just remember that Catch up stroke is not the only way to teach breathing.

Enjoy
Richard

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