I love sculling. Love it, love it, love it! For developing knowledge and understanding of the importance of hands in the stroke, I have always loved sculling as a method to teach “feel for the water”. In swimming, your hands and forearms are a critical element in all four strokes. We want you to feel pressure on the palms of your hand (and often your forearm as well). Sculling provides the perfect vehicle to feel that pressure and how the pitch of your hand dictates how long you can carry that pressure through your stroke.
For the next few weeks, I’m going to post different sculling drills for you to try. It is so important, when doing drills, to really slow yourself down and think about what you are doing. All drills have a purpose and will translate to something in your stroke. You want to know what that purpose is and you want to work to master a drill (and that doesn’t usually happen your first time out).
One important instruction on this drill. We want you to relax every part of your body that you can, except for your hands and forearms. You will need to regularly remind yourself to relax your head, neck, shoulders, back and legs, and to put all your concentration in your hands and forearms.
In this drill, it is best not to kick at all, otherwise there is a tendency to kick through the lap more than scull through the lap. A snorkel is a great tool, and a pull buoy or light, buoyant fins (like the AquaSphere brand) work well.
Scull 1: Wide Y Sculling
In addition to providing a feel for the water, this drill helps develop the muscles used in the outsweep of breaststroke and butterfly. It also promotes thumbs down position for the beginning of the outsweep on those short axis strokes.
- Fins are okay for this drill but only for balance. Go face down in the water and scull with your hands out in front of you. You scull to a “wide y” which is where you would “turn the corner” (to the insweep) if we were following through on the stroke. Here we just want you to scull in and out from your hands (starting in a superman pose), out to the wide y and immediately back to center. There should no bend in the elbow. All of the power comes from your hands and your forearms. If you kick, use only the slightest flutter kick to keep you level and on top of the water. Your head and eyes are pointed down. Breathe when you can and then immediately return to the face down position. Or, wear a snorkel to emphasize the head down position so you can concentrate on the outsweep/insweep.
Key points to success:
- Keep those arms straight throughout the drill, elbows locked.
- When sweeping out, start with thumbs down, pinkies up all the way to the widest part of the “Y”.
- When sweeping in, thumbs are up, pinkies are down.
- Think of your hands, wrist and forearms as one unit.
To view a short You Tube video on this drill, see the bottom of this post.