Why A High Elbow Catch Is Difficult On Your Breathing Side

Do you feel like you have no catch when you breathe? It could be because you’re doing THIS in your stroke…


More importantly, it’s going to help you get a much better catch. If you feel like you rotate too far through your upper body when you do breathe, then a couple of things you can work on.

Hey, Brenton here from Effortless Swimming. In today’s video, I want to talk about over-rotating when you go to breathe. I’ve coached men for the last 12 years and I’ve worked with thousands of different triathletes and swimmers across that time. And one of the things that really stands out and is very, very common is over-rotating when you turn to breathe. And what that over-rotation is, it’s when the shoulders rotate too far onto the side and what happens when that occurs is that the arm out in front will typically press down on the water to help lift the head up above the water and it puts the shoulder in a compromising position to really … It makes it very hard to get a good catch because the shoulder is in such an awkward position because it’s so far on the side.

And often we’ll see swimmers, if you look at them swimming towards the camera, we’ll find that their upper body rotation is 60, 70, or 80 degrees when we look at the shoulders in line with the water. That’s too far. What you see at the top end, usually if we’re measuring that angle, 35 up to a maximum 50 degrees, but usually no more than that. And most of the time we’ll see it around 40 to 45 degrees on those breathing strokes. That is a good position to be in. That gives you much more control and stability, allows you to stay a lot better balanced, but more importantly it’s going to help you get a much better catch. If you feel like you rotate too far through your upper body when you do breathe, then a couple of things you can work on.
The first one is make sure that you’re looking straight to the side. You don’t want to be looking up to the sky or the ceiling, just look straight to the side when you’re breathing. The other thing you may need to check with is your alignment. Where’s your hand at in front of you? And if your hand in front of you is across the center, then that can also cause you to over-rotate. Make sure that the hand stays in line with the shoulder. You’ve probably seen some of our videos before where we talk about swimming on train tracks when you enter and extend forwards. Imagine that you’re swimming on train tracks there and keeping the hands in line with the shoulders.

Those two things can really make a difference in keeping the shoulders in the correct amount of rotation. That’s just one of the things, but often that’s almost one of the things that can really cause a lot of other issues or flaws to come out in the stroke. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of analysis videos for those members in our stroke analysis membership, where they send me their videos, I give them some feedback, say all right, these are the next few things that you work on. A lot of times, probably one out of every four or five swimmers has been over-rotating on the breathing stroke. So it’s very common. Now if you know that’s you, then when you change that, you might find that other aspects of your stroke will change as well. When you do rotate too far through the shoulders, the legs can often splay out, creating a lot more drag and slowing you down. It has this cascading effect down the rest of the body. That can be one very helpful thing to just make sure that you’re doing is rotating the correct amount.

If you’re looking to improve your swimming, then I’d recommend checking out our Effortless Swimming video membership. That’s where all of our videos are that are going to help you improve your technique. And in that, we’ve got a fault fixer section. If you know your catch isn’t where it needs to be or your body position isn’t where it needs to be, then you can go onto our fault fixer section inside the membership, and you can go through that drill progression that we’ve got to fix all of the most common flaws and faults in the stroke, and that’s the best way to improve your swimming. So check that out in the Effortless Swing video membership. I’m going to be back next week with another video. Please like and subscribe if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you then.


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Brenton and Mitch were great to work with at the clinic, Good to get video analysis to work on straight away, practice some new drills and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Alex McFadyen