Front Crawl Arm Technique

Is your front crawl arm technique letting you down?  Not sure if your arm action is quite right?  

Did you know that the arm action for front crawl can be broken down into three basic parts?  Three parts, that when executed correctly, will give you the smooth, effortless swimming front crawl technique you've been looking for. 


Essential Parts Of Front Crawl Arm Technique

Front crawl arm technique can be broken down into three main parts:

1.  Catch

2.  Pull

3.  Recovery 

front crawl arm technique for beginners

The front crawl video below clearly shows all three main parts of the arm pull technique seamlessly flowing together in a continuous alternating action. As one arm pulls, the other recovers over the surface of the water, whilst the legs kick continuously and give rhythm and balance to the whole stroke. 


Front Crawl Technique Video: arm pull technique




Catch Phase

The hand should enter the water approximately in-between the line of the shoulder and the centre of the head.

The hand enters  and 'catches' the water thumb side down, with fingers closed before it stretches forward under the water without until the arm fully extends just under the water surface.  It is important that arm does not overstretch, causing the shoulder to extend the overall body movement to ‘snake’. 


Propulsive Phase

The hand sweeps through the water as the arm pulls under the body, towards the hip.

The elbow bends and leads the movement backward and remains high throughout this propulsive phase of the arm pull.

The hand pulls through towards the thigh and upwards to the water surface, with the fingers remaining closed at all times. 


The propulsive phase of front crawl arm movement


Recovery Phase

The elbow bends through the propulsive phase and exits then water to begin the recovery phase.  The hand and fingers follow,  fully exiting the water and follow a straight path along the body line over the water surface.

The elbow is bent and high and the arm is fully relaxed yet controlled during the recovery phase.


Basic front crawl arm technique

Check the other parts of your front crawl technique



free front crawl technique ebook

FREE EBOOK:  all of the technique tips here can be found in my 'Front Crawl Technique' book, along with a couple of bonus drills to help you perfect some essential parts of your swimming stroke.

Don't miss out!  Click here to grab a FREE copy of my book. 



The 2 Most Common Arm Pull Mistakes

  1. Pulling too deep under the water.  The hand and forearm should pull deep enough under the line of the body to get a good purchase on the water, but not reach down deep and cause the shoulders to rotate excessively.
  2. Recovery too high over the water surface. The hand and fingers should reach over the water surface at a minimum height that is comfortable without compromising the line of the shoulders.  Similarly, if the hand and arm reach too high it will not only disturb the body position, but will slow down the arm action and disrupt the timing and balance of the swimming stroke

Both of these mistakes will disturb the body position by causing an excessive body roll which, in turn will create an inefficient overall front crawl technique.   

A Great Exercise To Try...

A simple exercise to try out in the pool is to use a kickboard to focus on one arm at a time.  Hold a float or kickboard in one hand and kick whilst practicing the front crawl arm pull with the other. 

It is important to hold the float or kickboard in front with an extended arm so that it promotes a streamlined and efficient body position. 

Isolating one arm at time ensures focus on correct technique by allowing you to perform the arm action at slow speeds - slow motion if needed - focusing and concentrating on the details of each phase of the arm technique. 


For more front crawl drills, click here


Time to Fine-Tune Your Arm Action

If it's practical drills and coaching tips you're after, then look no further.  

'How To Swim Front Crawl' not only contains specific exercises to help iron out those arm technique bugs, but it will help to fine-tune your whole front crawl technique. 

Click below to download your copy today, or click here for more details.  

Basic drills for learning how to swim front crawl
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