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High Elbow

There is a lot of information about teaching the high elbow in swimming and I feel there is a lot of misinformation. I ask you as coaches and seasoned swimmers to really think about the mechanics.


Most coaches just teach the high elbow in the recovery of the stroke with drills such as hand/finger drag drills or thumbs up the side. When doing so you totally eliminate the core rotation needed in freestyle and teach swimmers to swim flat. Please remember that the recovery of the stroke needs to be taught as a true recovery. If you teach proper rotation and finish of the stroke the recovery needs to be relaxed and natural. If the elbow happens to be above the hand then great but you need to focus on the core rotation and the finish of the stroke underwater.  If a swimmer stays flat and you teach the swimmer to work the recovery they will continue to engage the rear delts, rhomboid and descending traps thru-ought the swim. The swimmer must be taught that the recovery of the stroke is for true recovery of muscle groups to enhance performance.


Please remember that core rotation must be taught underwater also. You can’t teach a swimmer to have their elbows near the surface of the water while keeping the hand below unless you want them to swim flat and not engage their core.

If you add rotation to the stroke the whole arm will be used as a paddle and the elbow and hand will be deeper in the water.  You are still teaching high elbow but that really just means “above the hand”.

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I encourage any conversation or comments.


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