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Freestyle Technique Drills: Big Arms v Bent Elbows

Freestyle Technique Drills Pros And Cons

I just thought I'd outline the pros and cons of learning freestyle technique drills with the bent elbow method as against the straight arm method; without progressing first from straight arms.

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There are those that insist that you should teach a student to swim freestyle using the bent arm method only. That you should not teach them to do this stroke with straight arms at all.

I want to look at the pros and cons of doing this.

Straight Arms (or Big arms)

Freestyle technique drills: Straight arms
Straight Arm Method

  • Promotes finished strokes
    That is the arm goes all the way down to the hips on the catch pull and push phase
  • Promotes correct Head and body position


  • Hard for young children

Bent arms

Freestyle technique drills: Bent Arm Method
Bent Arms Method

  • Easy for young children
  • Easy to extend to catch up stroke

  • Promotes raised head and body position (seems contradictory but never-the-less that's what it does
  • Often produces drag of arms in the water reducing the effectiveness of the stroke
  • Usually produces incomplete strokes

My point is: you never get rid of a teaching tool because no matter what method you use to teach it will introduce faults that you will have to correct using other teaching tools. It has always seems to me to be better to start students with the straight arm method and progress to the bent arms.


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