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Defining the Catch Phase of Front Crawl

How do you define the “Catch" phase of Front Crawl?
Is it one or all of the following:

  • Feel for the water?

  • When it all feels right?

  • Holding the water

  • A purchase on the water

The catch phase is basically the point from which your arm is straight and gliding following its entry into the water, it's the moment when your hand and elbow are directly underneath your shoulder joint,.

Why is it important?

I am asked this all the time. Well, if you aren't performing the catch phase effectively, then you'll be slipping through the water by moving too fast, by having too straight an arm, by twisting or turning the palm of your hand or your forearm which means you're pushing water in a direction away from moving straight behind you. You want to be doing this with a really high elbow (as you can see in the photo) and with your head position looking down not forwards.

Some of the errors (conscious or unconscious) that can affect how solid your catch is:
  • Slipping through the water

  • Snatching in the catch with too much power

  • Pointing your hands upon entry

  • Hands veering in towards the midline or too wide

  • Arms staying too straight in the catch

  • Elbows not bending enough

  • Forearms not at the correct 90-degree angle

  • Elbows winging in towards the body

How do you perform the catch correctly for maximum purchase on the water? To achieve an excellent and effective catch phase, your goals need to be:
  1. A high and early vertical forearm (EVF) position

  2. Keeping your lead arm up high in the water on entry

  3. Reaching over a barrel and pushing it behind you

  4. Pivoting at the elbow keeping the upper arm up high

  5. Performing the catch slower than the rest of the underwater stroke

  6. Bending your elbow to 90 degrees

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