Method to Evaluate Shoulder Injury Potential for Butterfly and Freestyle

Based on previous research on the arm entry in butterfly (Becker & Havriluk, 2010) and freestyle (Becker & Havriluk, 2014), an evaluation procedure was developed for assessing the risk of shoulder injury. At the completion of the arm entry, evaluate the position of the elbows with respect to the shoulders.

 Shoulder Injury Potential  Position of Elbows with Respect to Shoulders
 Minimal  Below
 Moderate  Same Level
 High  Above

With some swimmers, the relative orientation of the shoulder and elbow are obvious from above the surface. Generally, underwater video is recommended for evaluation.

Other relevant factors for coaches and swimmers to consider are:

  • the number of stroke cycles performed in a training session/day/month/year,
  • muscular imbalances, and
  • the “time of exposure” (the time duration that a swimmer maintains the arm in a shoulder-stressing position).