I’ve recently been working with 2 very different paddles from Finis: the PT Paddle (the paddle you’ll love to hate) and the Agility Paddles. These paddles work very different skills in the water and are both extremely efficient.
The PT Paddle
PT stands for Perfect Technique. These paddles effectively remove any advantage your hands may have in your catch or stroke, but keep your hand in a natural swimming position (unlike fist drills). By removing the ability to use your hand in your stroke, you’re forced to enlist your forearm and body position more effectively to move yourself forward. I’ll tell you, from several hours of personal experience, that these paddles do exactly that.
When you first put on the PT paddles and start swimming, you feel like you’re flopping around in the lane (definitely move down a lane (or two) when you start using these, unless you already have great form). Your arms feel like they’re paddling around through the air and your tempo is definitely impacted. A good time to start with these is when the pool is slammed with people who are slower than your normal pace – it’s a handicap that will improve your form. After a few lengths you’ll have started enlisting better form. As you go, you’ll actually start to approach (or perhaps surpass) your normal pace. Don’t stop at this point though: you’re (re)training your body and establishing new form – if you stop too soon, you’ll lose your gains.
After you’ve put in a bunch of time with the paddles, take them off and go back to a catch where you can use your hand, but try to not revert to hand-dependency. You’ll immediately feel the difference in your swim and how much harder you have to work with your hand at the end of your arm. Because you’re building new form, I suggest not doing too much of a swim after using the paddles, rather, get out of the water and let the new form “sink in”.
Because you’re pulling less water with each stroke, the PT paddles also make for a good time in working to increase your stroke cadence and get those neural pathways set as well.
The Agility Paddle
Finis released the agility paddle earlier this year, they’re very popular and can be a little hard to find, and with good reason.
Unlike many (all?) other paddles on the market, the agility paddle is held on your hand by placing your thumb through the hole in the paddle. That small pinch, combined with the force of the water against the paddle is all that keeps the paddle in place. Similarly, if your hand position is bad in your catch or just before your recovery starts, the water will happily pull the paddle out of position alerting you to your problem(s). Similarly, if your catch enters the water without a good forward stretch or if you’re stalling in your stroke, the paddles will react to the water flow and push out of place or fall off completely.
I had been using the little sculling paddles with all but the middle-finger strap removed and achieving some similar results; however, the sculling paddles are a bit small and force an unnatural hand position. The agility paddles keep your hand in an excellent swimming position, and due to their size also give you a good pull work-out, while all the time, helping to improve your stroke and hand position.
Two great products from Finis to help you improve your swim! Train hard!