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  #1  
Old 11-28-2008
naj naj is offline
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Default Fist Gloves

On the second day of my freestyle workshop we all received fist gloves. One of our instructors was going to tell us how to use them but because of the size of our group -- 21 people -- we never got around to it. Can someone explain how I can use fist-gloves in my freestyle and how it will help me have a more efficient stroke?
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2008
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Mainly, they force you to anchor your whole arm in the water and use the strong back muscles, and to un-learn the delicate dropped-elbow paddling pull with the hand that so many of us have picked up. They also remove the feel of the water so that when you take them off, your hands briefly feel huge, like dinner plates. (Sort of like the sudden flash of visual details you'd get if you were in a totally dark cave and a light were switched on.)
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2008
naj naj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoda View Post
Mainly, they force you to anchor your whole arm in the water and use the strong back muscles, and to un-learn the delicate dropped-elbow paddling pull with the hand that so many of us have picked up.
Rhoda I'm completley new to swimming and learned the TI way so I'm curious what you mean by the "dropped-elbow" paddling?
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2008
daveblt daveblt is offline
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An example of the dropped elbow is when you reach too high during arm extension as you spear forward causing the elbow to be lower than the hand and then as you pull you also lead with the elbow instead of the correct way by keeping the hand lower than the elbow as you spear forward and then anchoring with the forearm and hand facing your feet as you pull.


Dave

Last edited by daveblt : 11-30-2008 at 11:39 PM.
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  #5  
Old 11-29-2008
naj naj is offline
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Thanks Dave now I can visualize what you're saying. Like I said before, I'm new to swimming and the TI method is all I know so I'm in a good muscle memory habit of keeping my hand lower than my elbow when I spear to my target.
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2008
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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I see that other people have explained the "why" of fistgloves. As far as how to use them, a simple way is to wear them for about the first 20 minutes of your practice - whatever you're doing - and then to take them off for the rest.
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  #7  
Old 11-30-2008
terry terry is offline
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Default Dropped Elbow vs. Raised Hand

Swimming folks have warned against the "dreaded dropped elbow" for years, but it's a bit more complicated than that. I'll deconstruct it a bit here.
Definition: Dropped elbow means the elbow sinks below the hand at any time in the stroke, but when people refer to it they usually focus on the first half of the stroke.

In the most effective stroke, the hand and forearm should be angled to trap water behind them from as early in the stroke as possible. When the surface of hand and forearm are facing back (or at least somewhat back) from the moment when the hand finishes extension, then the resultant force from the first moment of pressure on the water will be backward -- translating into forward movement.

The swimmers who do this best are elite freestylers such as Michael Phelps, Grant Hackett, Ian Thorpe -- indeed every elite freestylers in the world. Typically they can manage to get the forearm into a vertical position immediately upon entry. To understand how truly freakish this ability is lean over and reach an arm forward so your upper arm is horizontal, the elbow is well forward of your shoulder, and your forearm is vertical. Quite a contortion, eh? Well elite freestylers hit that position in full stroke and at full speed -- and don't even really have to try. It happens naturally because they possess a freakish range of motion in the shoulder -- one of several characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of us "average" humans (and swimmers.) The technical term is Early Vertical Forearm.

Every swimmer manages to achieve a Late Vertical Forearm at some point in the stroke. The problem is that it often happens so late -- when the arm is already passing under the body -- that the backward pressure in the stroke is vanishingly brief. For most of the stroke pressure is directed somewhere other than back, usually down, with the result that the energy in the stroke is wasted, and forces are created that tend to move the body away from its intended path. Pressing down tends to cause lift in front, increasing drag.

There are three common causes for the Horizontal Forearm or - worse - Dropped Elbow:
1) Over-reach on Entry. When you reach far forward before entering the arm can ONLY enter in a horizontal position and the first moment of pressure MUST be downward.
2) Poor Balance. When the head is too high, or some other stroke flaw compromises balance, the swimmer is forced to use the extended arm as a "brace" rather than using it to "separate water molecules', extend the body line and finally to trap water. When used as a brace either the forearm will be tipped up -- elbow lower than hand -- or horizontal -- elbow and wrist at same level.
3) Brute Force Catch When the swimmer applies too much force, too early, on the catch, the powerful prime mover muscles of the torso overwhelm the rather small stabilizer muscles of the shoulder. The prime movers depress the arm -- move it down and back. The stabilizers keep the elbow rotated above the wrist to improve purchase and direct force in the most beneficial direction.

What most of us can realistically aspire to is a Somewhat-Later-Slightly-More-Vertical-Forearm.Even this seemingly modest aspiration will require diligent, concerted and patient effort to change our natural and instinctive way of swimming. However, even small improvements usually make a significant difference in the traction we can achieve while stroking. The stroke feels much firmer. We experience far less "slippage" and our stroke feels much more connected to the power of weight shift, hip-drive and leg drive.

But it's a process requiring a Kaizen mindset for most to achieve results. Here's a quick outline of how I've pursued it.
1) Improve balance. Until you feel "weightless" you'll have no choice but to use your lead arm as a brace and will be unable to do any of the steps that follow. Superman Glide/Flutter (SG/F) and other Lesson One drills in Easy Freestyle.
2) Wider Tracks. When your extended arm is slightly outside your shoulder line your shoulder range of motion is considerably greater than when it's near the centerline. Set these tracks in SG/F and Skating - Lessons 1 and 2.
3) Soft Hands and X/Y Coordinates A relaxed (or hanging) hand is, for most Kaizen aspirants, the first step in moving toward a more-vertical forearm. Learning and memorizing the correct X/Y Coordinates for each hand -- establishing a bit of slope between elbow and wrist and keeping the hand slightly outside the shoulder line is the second step. Also Lessons 1 and 2, particularly Skating.
4) VW Bug Focal Point. Create a habit of extending the hand in a graceful downward arc to a fingers-down, hands-back position. Happens in Spear-Switch practice. Lesson 3.
5) Relaxed high-elbow recovery. The higher your elbow is on recovery, and the longer it stays high as you bring it forward, the better positioned you'll be to enter the water on a path that results in a semi-vertical forearm. This takes particular patience in learning to improve your range of motion through mindful relaxation of often-tense shoulder muscles and learning to move the elbow forward of the ear, before the wrist moves ahead of the elbow in ZenSkate and ZenSwitch practice. Lesson 4.
6) Marionette Arm and Mail Slot Entry. Doing the OverSwitch rehearsals and focal points in Lesson 5 correct the common tendency to move the arm into a horizontal position before entry and helps ensure that the hand and forearm will be at least semi-vertical at the entry.
7) Feather-Light Catch. As I said above, the prime mover muscles are far stronger and can easily overwhelm the stabilizer -- primarily rotator cuff - muscles. Also these muscles will be undertrained if you've swum millions of "dropped elbow" strokes. It will take time for them to acquire both muscle memory -- the right pattern of muscle recruitment and relaxation -- and muscle endurance -- the ability of those muscles to perform an unfamiliar action hundreds or thousands of times without fatiguing. The only way to succeed is to be willing to apply feather-light pressure on catch and be very conscious of holding the elbow outside the shoulder and near the surface in all your whole-stroke practice. When you hold your arm in a water-trapping position, you'll be surprised how much speed can result from light pressure. Also, reducing pressure on your arm shifts more of the work to your core and allows you to swim with much greater ease and much less fatigue -- a key contributor to Perpetual Motion Freestyle.

PS: Oh yeah. This all started with Fistgloves. Wearing them during whole-stroke practice greatly reinforces your inclination to swim with a higher elbow -- because you need to get more propulsion from your forearm. And by reducing the load on your pull it reduces the likelihood that prime movers will overwhelm the rotator cuff muscles.

Last edited by terry : 11-30-2008 at 01:44 PM.
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  #8  
Old 11-30-2008
terryhand terryhand is offline
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I was just about to post this when I noticed that Terry has just given a wonderfully comprehensive answer.

I’ve only been using fistgloves for a short while, but for such a simple, low tech swimming aid they really are a revelation. Apart from the already mentioned benefit of encouraging a high elbow they have helped almost all aspects of my stroke – better balance and relaxation and a much better feeling of hip drive. I find I can also initiate the switch from the kick much more effectively, which has always been a real bugbear for me.

In my very humble opinion I would think that the best time to start using them would be when you have achieved at least a feeling of balance with your switches, but obviously this is different for everybody. I think if I had started using them too early it would have thrown me completely off balance.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2008
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RadSwim View Post
"What most of us can realistically aspire to is a Somewhat-Later-Slightly-More-Vertical-Forearm.Even this seemingly modest aspiration will require diligent, concerted and patient effort to change our natural and instinctive way of swimming."

Terry-

From your remarks, I understand that you consider the true "early vertical forearm (EVF)" beyond the reasonable goals of the TI student. Correct?

If so, where do you recommend that we go after we have reached maximum benefit from our TI learning?

Thanks,
RadSwim
Rad,

I think you mis-understood Terry. "Most" students is different from "all" students. And everyone can benefit from becoming better at the EVF.

EVF is a continuum, not an either-or proposition. So any student can continue to make improvements.

TI is as much a mind-set as it is a particular set of drills and techniques. I sometimes refer to TI as "outcome based swimming". Any mindful avenue you might pursue that helps you to swim better is a Kaizen, TI Avenue. And this is the same mind-set that top swimmers have:

"Right now I'm working on my head position in freestyle. It's too high. Even after 11 years, I've never swum it right." Michael Phelps, Sports Illustrated, July 28, 2008.
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  #10  
Old 02-24-2018
jhartshorn jhartshorn is offline
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What a great post by Terry.
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