How to Do a Swimming Pull Drill

Pull drills with buoys are widely used for the freestyle stroke.
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A pull drill is an exercise used to work the arm movements of a swim stroke, called the "pull," independently of the kick. When combined with other swimming drills, pull drills can help improve your body position in the water. Many coaches use pull buoys for freestyle. Coaches are split on using pull drills for other strokes, according to Lucero and Bluehl, authors of "Masters Swimming: A Manual. " They worry that pull drills may cause shoulder stress in breaststroke or butterfly. Freestyle pull drills use both arms, but you can also do a one-armed drill to even out your stroke and practice breaststroke with a pull drill.

Swim a Freestyle Pull Drill With a Buoy

    Choose a pull buoy, a foam flotation device, that is a comfortable fit for your body. A common buoy is a figure-eight shape, but they come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The buoy needs to keep your lower half afloat while you use your arms. Try several models to find one that will be easy to hold between your legs.

    Tuck the pull buoy between your thighs. Squeeze the curved middle section of the hourglass-shaped float with your thigh muscles. When standing up, the rounded ends will stick out below your buttocks and in the front below the groin area.

    Point your toes to reduce drag and try not to kick as you swim. Concentrate on keeping the buoy in place. Kicking can take the focus away from the pulling of your arms.

    Keep your upper body as low down in the water as you can. The buoy will try to force your body upward into a position that is different from your normal stroke. Look down and tuck your chin toward your chest if you find yourself floating up.

    Tighten your abs as you pull with your arms in a freestyle stroke. Breathe as usual. When swimming multiple laps, consider open turns. Flip turns are more difficult to execute with a buoy.

Do a One-Armed Pull Drill

    Place a pull buoy between your legs if you want. One-armed pull drills help even out a stroke in which one arms pulls harder than the other. Therefore, buoys are not necessary and you can kick during the drill if you want.

    Hold a flutter board in one hand with your arm stretched out in front of your body. The flutter board helps you immobilize the arm so you won't accidentally pull. If you can manage this without using the board, that's fine too.

    Swim a lap of freestyle, pulling with just one arm. When you get to the end of the pool, turn around and swim back using the other arm to pull. Complete an equal number of laps with each arm.

Swim a Breaststroke Pull Drill

    Toss the board and use a freestyle flutter-kick instead of a frog kick to keep yourself afloat and moving during this breaststroke pull drill. Point your toes, bend your knees slightly and engage your hip-flexor muscles for the kick.

    Put your head up out of the water. This allows you to focus only on the arm stroke instead of coordinating the breathing along with the pull.

    Keep your shoulders hunched up toward your neck and head as you perform the arm portion of the breaststroke. Scull in broad strokes to the sides. This prevents your elbows from dropping, which can slow you down.

    Things You'll Need

    • Pull buoy

    • Flutter board

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