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Learning how to perform the freestyle hand pull

Learning how to perform the freestyle hand pull, also known as the freestyle stroke or front crawl stroke, is essential for efficient and effective swimming. Here's a step-by-step guide along with common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Body Positioning: Start by getting into the water and positioning your body horizontally. Your body should be parallel to the surface of the water, with your face down and your body streamlined.

  2. Arm Position: Extend one arm forward in front of your head, with your palm facing down and fingers slightly apart. This arm will be your lead arm for the stroke.

  3. Hand Entry: Keep your hand relaxed as it enters the water smoothly, fingertips first. Make sure your hand enters the water in line with your shoulder, not too far to the side or crossing over your centerline.

  4. Catch Phase: Once your hand is in the water, immediately bend your elbow and begin to pull your arm back in a sweeping motion. This is called the catch phase, where you "catch" the water with your hand and forearm.

  5. Pull: As your hand and forearm catch the water, engage your chest and back muscles to pull your arm back towards your hip. Keep your elbow higher than your hand throughout the pull to maintain a powerful stroke.

  6. Finish: Continue pulling until your hand reaches your hip, then begin to angle your hand upwards towards the surface of the water. This is the finish phase of the stroke.

  7. Recovery: Once your hand reaches your hip and finishes the pull, lift your elbow out of the water and begin the recovery phase. Keep your arm relaxed as it exits the water and swings forward over the surface.

  8. Hand Entry (Other Arm): As one arm is finishing the recovery phase, the other arm should be beginning its hand entry phase. Repeat the stroke sequence with your other arm, maintaining a smooth and continuous rhythm.

  9. Breathing: Rotate your body to the side as your arm pulls back, allowing you to take a breath without interrupting your stroke. Exhale gradually as your face returns to the water during the recovery phase.

  10. Kick: Coordinate your arm strokes with a flutter kick or a dolphin kick to provide propulsion and maintain balance in the water.

  11. Practice: Repeat the freestyle stroke sequence, focusing on maintaining proper technique and rhythm.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:

  1. Crossing Over: Avoid crossing your hand over the centerline of your body during the hand entry phase. This can cause drag and reduce the efficiency of your stroke. Focus on reaching forward and entering the water in line with your shoulder.

  2. Overreaching: While it's important to extend your arm fully during the stroke, avoid overreaching and straining your shoulder. Keep your arm relaxed and maintain a natural reach forward.

  3. Incomplete Pull: Ensure you complete each stroke by pulling your hand all the way back to your hip. A short or incomplete pull will result in less propulsion and a less effective stroke.

  4. Dropping Elbow: Keep your elbow higher than your hand throughout the pull phase to maximize the surface area of your forearm and hand pushing against the water. Avoid dropping your elbow, as this can reduce your pulling power.

  5. Holding Breath: Focus on breathing rhythmically and exhaling gradually while your face is in the water during the stroke. Holding your breath can increase tension and reduce your endurance in swimming.

  6. Lack of Rotation: Rotate your body to the side during each stroke to facilitate breathing and engage your core muscles. Avoid swimming flat on your stomach, as this can lead to inefficient breathing and less propulsion.

  7. Overkicking: While kicking is important for propulsion and balance, avoid overkicking and using excessive energy. Focus on maintaining a steady and controlled kick that complements your arm strokes.

  8. Tense Muscles: Keep your muscles relaxed throughout the stroke to conserve energy and maintain fluid movement. Avoid tensing up, especially in your neck and shoulders, as this can lead to fatigue and decreased efficiency.

By focusing on proper technique and avoiding common mistakes, you can effectively learn how to perform the freestyle hand pull with efficiency and fluidity. Regular practice and feedback from a coach or experienced swimmer can also help improve your technique over time.

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