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Triathlon Swim Drill: Fingertip Drag Drill

Professional triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty explains the benefits of the fingertip drag drill and how to properly execute it.

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Professional triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty explains the benefits of the fingertip drag drill and how to properly execute it.

Written by: Sara McLarty

Many coaches use the fingertip drag drill to teach the proper arm position for the recovery phase of freestyle. It is a simple drill that can improve swimming technique and efficiency. It can be difficult for novice swimmers to be aware of each subtle movement involved in one complete stroke cycle. Swimming drills are the best way to improve body position awareness.

When the fingertips drag along the surface of the water, a swimmer receives immediate tactile feedback that the drill is being performed correctly. My first question after an athlete performs fingertip drag drill for the first time is: “Did you feel the water?”

This drill forces the swimmer to keep the elbow high while her fingers stay close to the water. That position should be maintained all the way through the recovery phase. The difference between the drill and normal swimming is that normally you want to raise fingertips one inch above the water.

This drill also focuses on relaxing the unnecessary muscles during the recovery phase. If the upper back muscles are too tense and tight, try making a wider arc on the surface with the fingertips.