Swim Club Blog: Swim Paddles

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

Registration is free and you may unsubscribe at any time from the Swim Club and stop receiving updates. Overview of the swim plan be seen below, but before you start you need to complete a test to set your swim paces, then register and download the sessions. GO HERE to register for swim club.

What are paddles for?

In their simplest form, paddles are for developing muscular endurance in your upper body. They make your hand bigger, which increases the resistance as you pull against the water. The increased resistance places more strain on your muscles, so you develop greater muscular endurance. When I'm talking to people about paddles I normally say they 'increase your strength' but if I use the term 'strength', rather than 'muscular endurance' someone will correct me on my terminology.

You can buy paddles in different sizes to suit different swimmers. Most people think that the small ones are for children and the larger ones for adults but that's not correct. The bigger paddles create more resistance, so that would place more strain on your upper body muscles, but unless you are a proficient swimmer, the larger paddles should be avoided as there are some 'downsides'.

What are the downsides?

INJURIES: If you add more resistance / more strain on your upper body, there is a chance of injury. Paddles can most commonly give shoulder injuries, but this is generally only if you use the wrong size or use them too much. If you're not a proficient swimmer, choose a paddles which is only slightly bigger than your hand, that'll be big enough.

TECHNIQUE: The increased resistance can lead to technique failure. For example, as you start to pull, the resistance is so great, the elbow will drop or your wrist will drop (losing the catch). It's hard enough to hold a 'high elbow' and a 'high wrist' when swimming without paddles, if you add paddles and increase resistance, it's makes it significantly harder! Swimmers with poor technique who use paddles are likely to exaggerate some faults, unless they concentrate very hard. Use them in small amounts and concentrate on holding form.

CADENCE: If you swim with a slow arm movement, paddles will make your stroke rate even slower. It's the same as riding a bike in a 'big gear' and pedaling slowly, if you then add even more resistance (even bigger gear), you're going to pedal even slower! If one of your stroke issues is that you just need to move your arms faster, then paddles will do the opposite. Likewise, if you're using paddles to develop muscular endurance, you do need to pull hard, that's the whole point!! Weaker swimmer who use paddles can often swim with a very slow stroke and not pull very hard. Imagine riding a bike in a 'big gear' and only pedaling very softly/slowly. Yes, you're cycling in a bit gear, but you're not pushing the pedals hard enough to develop leg strength (I know... muscular endurance).

Are all paddles the same?

Generally yes. There are different sizes, but they are simply plastic paddles with straps / tubing which attaches the paddle to your hand. There are some paddles such as 'Finis Agility Paddles' which encourage good technique. The paddles will fall off your hand unless you put your hand into the water correctly. However, you need to decide what you want the paddles for. Are they to improve your technique, or just to increase resistance and develop muscular endurance? If you are using them simply for 'resistance purposes' then a standard paddle is best rather than a 'technique paddle'. From our experience we also find that swimmers can 'tense' their arm using the agility paddles as they grip them with their thumb. A big part of successful swimming is a relaxed arm and hand, using traditional paddles with tubing allows you to relax more. You can see our paddles here, if you need advice regarding swim training accessories, then call in store or contact us on 01257 251217 and we'll make sure you get what's right for you!

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