Hand Shape in Swimming

image of hand above water

Recently, I’ve been thinking about hand shape in swimming.

I’ve been coaching beginning to intermediate swimmers and many of them have poor hand shapes in the water.

Here are the common mistakes I see…

  1. Fingers wide open,
  2. Hands cupped,
  3. Fingers squeezed together tightly,
  4. Hands too loose.

Think of the hand as a fin on a seal. If it’s all curled up or relaxed then there’s a good chance the seal is dead. Don’t be a dead seal.

Here’s what I believe the best hand shape for. swimming is1

  1. The fingers should be together, touching, This presents a large surface area to push against the water,
  2. A slight bend in the hand. This provides strength to the hand without any muscular force. Think of folding a piece of paper so that it can stand up on edge.
  3. The thumb can be either tucked in, or out. Choose whatever is most comfortable for you,
  4. Do not squeeze the fingers together. This tightens up the hand which leads to tightening up the whole body.

A good way to practice and learn your hand shape is to scull in the water.

Experiment with different positions while you just move your hand back and forth in the water, about one to two inches below the surface.

Try these variations;

  1. Fingers spread wide
  2. Make a fist
  3. Cup your hands
  4. Try with your fingers squeezed tight
  5. Super loose hands

Each one will give you a different feeling and effect on the water. Learn to notice the effect so that when you’re swimming you can control it.

I’ve found the worst swimmers have the worst hand shapes. Improving your hand shape will go a long way to improving your swimming.


Ron Usher

I help swimmer have fun, improve, get fast and learn about the great sport of swimming. I've always loved coaching the swimmers who weren't as talented or world class fast but they loved the sport and they wanted to learn and improve. I want you to benefit from my coaching and training.

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