Analyzing Hand Force in Swimming: Characteristics of Olympic Sprinters
Rod Havriluk, Ph.D.
Coaches Quarterly, 16(2), 13-15.
An analysis of a swimmer’s hand force reveals positive elements of technique as well as limiting factors. Since faster swimmers are more technically proficient than slower swimmers (Havriluk, 2003), an analysis of faster swimmers provides insight into the mechanics of effective technique. A complete hand force analysis is complicated because force varies throughout the stroke cycle. However, interpretation of the data can be somewhat simplified by separately considering the propulsive phases of hand motion.
An analysis of hand force by phases determines if a swimmer is effectively using strength on the push phase. This information is critical to maximizing swimming velocity. Controlling the hand path, pitch, and speed are all important factors for maximizing force on the push phase. Some top Olympic sprinters demonstrate this characteristic extremely well. However, since not even all Olympians have mastered this skill, any swimmer can swim faster by improving technique on the push phase.