How do I practice keeping my elbow high in freestyle swimming?

Swimmers often will hear that they are dropping their elbow in a freestyle stroke. What this means is that on the overhead portion of their stroke their elbow is not pointed straight up. Instead, it is more parallel to the water than perpendicular. Swimmers lose power and efficiency when they drop their elbow. Think about a high elbow as cocking a gun. The high elbow provides the thrust for the rotation which powers the swim stroke itself. Dropping the elbow will detract from the forceful entry into the water and slow a swimmer down as they rotate from one side to another. There are a few drills that can help remind a swimmer to keep their elbows high. One is called fingertip drag. To perform this activity, have a swimmer literally drag just their finger tips along the surface of the water on the overhead portion of the stroke. When the swimmer’s hand comes out of the water their fingers should be in contact with the surface throughout the entire portion of the stroke until they once again enter the water with their hand. Keeping the fingers in contact with the water ensures a high elbow on the portion of the stroke where the arm is out of the water.

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