FINIS Tip Of The Week: Sailboat Drill


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Welcome to the “FINIS Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), each tip is meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

This week’s drill is sailboat drill, also known as three-quarter catch up. Sailboat drill starts with one arm pausing about ¾ of the way through the recovery phase of freestyle. Stopping here should create a triangle shape with the arm, like a sail on a ship. Ideally, the arm should have a high, bent elbow with the hand and fingertips pointing forward toward the water.

Once paused, swimmers will hold this position for 6 kicks, before driving their arm forward into the water and initiating the pull with the opposite arm and repeating the cycle on the other side. Swimmers should focus on driving their paused arm into their next stroke using their hips and core as opposed to just their shoulder, reminding them of the whole body engagement they should have when swimming freestyle.

A major challenge to this drill is maintaining a stable body position while keeping the paused arm out of the water. In order to balance on your side with an arm out of the water, there needs to be a strong kick and core engagement to maintain proper positioning on your side. Encourage your swimmers to take this drill slowly and focus on being deliberate and controlled with each stroke.

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.