top of page

The TBN #53-Swim Smarter: Master Hand Position For Instant Speed

Read time: 2min.

By Coach Yan Busset

Swimming tecnique is simple when you break it appart. It's a bit like a watch mechanism, first its complex and intimidating with its interlocking gears, but each component is straightforward and basic when viewed alone. Swimming follows the same principle: it’s the assembly of simple, basic techniques that, when executed correctly, make for efficient and effective swimming. A key element often overlooked is hand position, a simple part of a larger whole that greatly influences your swimming performance.

The Importance of a Firm Hand:

The firmness of your hand in the water is crucial, akin to the robust gears of a finely crafted watch. Imagine paddling a kayak with paddles made of soft foam; your progress would be slow and labored. Similarly, in swimming, your hand and forearm act as the anchor points. After positioning your hand gently in the water to avoid pressing down, you must then firm up and "rip it!" Don't be too gentle—this isn’t the time to "pet the puppy." A solid grip and robust movement are what drive you forward, propelling you through the water effectively.

Exploring Hand Position:

While often overlooked, the position of your hands in the water can instantly increase your speed. Conventional wisdom may instruct swimmers to keep their fingers tightly together or to form a cup shape with their hands. However, science* offers a slight but impactful modification: fingers slightly apart, can improve your strength from up to 10% . This setup not only increases the effective surface area of the hand but also enhances drag, therefor improving propulsion. It's a delicate balance, fingers should not be too spread apart nor too tight. So forget about " hand in cup" from swim school, but open a bit your fingers (not too much!), in order to grip more H20 molecules!

Practical Drill: Hand in Fist:

To better understand and improve your hands position you need to improve your feel for the water, try the "hand in fist" drill. Swim 25-50 meters with your hand clenched into a fist, followed by the same distance with your hands open as normal. This exercise will sharpen your awareness of how different hand positions affect water resistance and help you refine your technique to maximize efficiency.

Like a watchmaker who understands each component's of the clock, a swimmer must master each aspect of their technique to improve their performance. Small adjustments, such as optimizing hand position, look like not much, but it can lead to significantly improve your swimming efficiency. Remember, every detail, every marginal gains will add-up, to finally make a huge difference. Share this article if you know a friend who keeps his hands in the wrong position while swimming. Thanks for reading and until next, stay strong, fast and furious!



Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

2. If you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here

3. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.


Join our newsletter subscribers and

get actionable training tips every week

211 views0 comments


bottom of page