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Old 08-03-2009
Claire Claire is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5
Default "Good Traction With Hand and Forearm"

I started lessons with a TI coach at the end of June. I went from not being able to swim a stroke to breathing bilaterally in whole stroke less than 2 weeks later. I am swimming in the pool and in open water. The last couple of weeks I have been striving to get a good grip on the water, what Terry has called in another thread "good traction with hand and forearm." Nothing, and I mean nothing, is resonating with me on that point. I have watched the Easy Freestyle DVD so many times that I can recite it verbatim. I have watched Outside the Box so many times that I feel like I know the people in the DVD! I even went back and watched the old "Freestyle Made Easy" video that my husband had purchased several years ago when he taught himself how to swim. I have pored over the book. I have worn fist gloves. I have combed the TI website and YouTube and still (still!) I cannot gain a sense of good traction. I have drilled with various focal points and various ways of describing the concept -- featherlight pressure on the forearm, feeling like scooping pudding, moving past my hand in the water -- to name a few. I am just not getting it. Is there any other way to describe the concept that might help me? It would be great to have the same breakthrough I had when I came to understand that "relax your head" is, in fact, quite different than "keep your head down."

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-04-2009
daveblt daveblt is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 820

Here's something you could try .First slow down your stroke . In zenswitch try stopping the recovery arm for a second or two just as it enters the water. At the same time and with no hurry you get a mental check that your pulling hand is below the elbow and elbow below shoulder with the palm facing back on track in front of the shoulder and the recovery hand is hanging loose just over the water. Then try to roll to the other side by connecting your hip drive with the pulling arm but try to have a sensation of the hip drive doing the work of pulling the hand back as the recovery arm spears lazily into the water. Then try it in whole stroke .


Last edited by daveblt : 08-04-2009 at 01:56 AM.
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Old 08-04-2009
weinzwei weinzwei is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 54

Hi Claire, it took me over 12 months to figure out the relxed head looking down did not mean keep your head down.

Dave, i have a similar issue as Claire. However i feel connected and good grip of the water when i increase my SPL? My spl with a great feeling of grip happens at 26SPL in 20sec in a 25 M pool. If itry to decrease my SPL to 20 my speed falls to 30 sec per 25 M and i loose that feeling of grip? Is the arm turn over and speed making me feel like i am pulling on a rung on a ladder? My wife finds the grip at 12- 14 SPL for 25 M but her speed falls to 30-32 sec. When she speeds up the grip falls off? Is this grip feeling per indivdual?

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Old 08-04-2009
keith keith is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 16

I used Keith's computer to post this, but this is from Terry

Your motivation and instinct to purposeful practice are impressive. I'd suggest that some aspects of the overall skill simply take more time. We call them "emerging skills" because they depend on
1) development of fine-motor skills and
2) the capacity to make finer discrimination in body sensing and perceptions.

This is particularly the case in
- seamlessly linking the breath to the stroke
- timing/coordinating the 2BK, and
- achieving traction in the stroke.

One thing you might try is some index-finger swimming.

Last edited by terry : 08-04-2009 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 08-04-2009
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 402

Some things that might help:
  • Keep in mind that the catch starts way out in front of your shoulders. There is a tendancy to assume it happens right underneath the chest.
  • Practice a high elbow out of the water. Stand sideways next to a wall, rotate your body about 45 degrees inward (front to wall), then slide the arm that's closest up the wall. Try to lift your elbow off while keeping your hand touching. Notice how your body rotates inward even more.
  • Do the first 6-8 strokes of every length with loosely closed fists, then open up your hands for the rest of the length.
  • Imagine two balls of water; one that forms under your loose open hand as you start the catch (about softball size) and a big beachball sized one that forms under your armpit as you bring your forearm down.
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Old 08-04-2009
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 138


Traction is achieved with a good arm position AND streamlining. If you aren't balanced and streamlined, your hand will slip. Streamlining is far more important to develop traction than an effective catch.

Additionally, traction is improved when everything is connected - lead hand/anchor connected to the weight shift and the spearing arm (the Zen moment). Many people concentrate only on the timing between the arms, but the connection of the body to that patient lead hand is also important. Here's an article regarding that connection.

And here's a drill I like to use to emphasize those two ingredients - streamlining and propulsion (traction).
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Old 08-04-2009
madvet madvet is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 230
Default Doesn't work for me either

Good suggestions by all. But-- I have been swimming TI for 3 years, have had documented improvements in all phases of my swimming since then -- the traction concept doesn't work for me either.

There are a lot of other things to worry about. You can try some of these things, and I have tried many of them. For me, it is sort of a "oh, other people seem to get something positive out of this exercise, I wonder why?"

So, if it doesn't work for you, don't worry about it. Focus more on streamlining, long level body lines, reducing turbulence, .......
John Carey
Madison, Wisconsin
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Old 08-06-2009
Claire Claire is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5
Default Thanks!

Thanks to all who responded to my post. I wrote down all of your suggestions and took them to the pool this morning in my handy-dandy zip-loc bag o' focal points.

There was no "ah ha!" moment, but I did gain some interesting insights with a number of the suggestions -- particularly Terry's index-finger swimming and Rhoda's and DaveBLT's high elbow tips.

I tried Coach Brian's exercise and discovered that I was streamlined and balanced. That was nice!

DaveBLT's "lazy spearing" suggestion is one I will have to go back to. I've been working on having more oomph in my spearing because I tend towards the lazy spear, the small kick, the gentle and relaxed whatever, so much so that it is a bit detrimental to my SPLs. To that end, I have been making sure I am properly using the correct leg during each 2BK and also spearing with, if you will, more authority. I did try the lazy spearing/hip drive exercise and will revisit it in the future.

And thanks to Madvet for the commiseration. I threw in a few laps of working with other focal points (swimming tall, relaxing my head into the water when breathing) just in case I never "get" the traction concept. It gave me a little mental break from all the traction work.

I have another lesson this week, so perhaps my next breakthrough moment is on the horizon.


Last edited by Claire : 08-06-2009 at 12:53 AM.
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