Improve your catch, breathing and body rotation with this essential swimming drill, says triathlon coach Steve Bailey

Triathlon swim training: perfect single arm stroke

1. Rotate hips

At the end of the stroke, lift the hip as the hand passes it in order to begin rotation in the other direction. Having good rotation also alleviates pressure on your shoulder joints, so you’re less likely to suffer shoulder injuries too

2. Focus on entry

Monitor your hand entry so that it’s somewhere between the lead arm’s elbow and wrist. Aim for the hand to enter in line with the stroking arm’s shoulder and extend forward to avoid crossing over

3. Extend fully

When spearing the water with forearm and hand angling forward and down, extend out beyond the leading arm, keeping your stroking arm in line with your shoulder and rotating through the point of extension

4. Ready for catch

As the arm extends, keep it moving downwards slightly and directly forwards without dropping the elbow. This ensures the hand is at the correct point in the stroke cycle for setting up the propulsive catch phase

5. Look and breathe

Look forward occasionally to check your hand position at the extension point. Make sure you pay attention to good breathing technique. Try not to hold on to your breath – trickle-breathe out when your face is underwater

6. Press with forearm

Once you‘ve started the catch phase, pivot the forearm down to allow the hand to catch up with the elbow by the time both elbow and hand are level with the shoulder. This helps develop a ‘press’ action on the water

7. Roll through

There’s a slight pause in the stroke as you extend though, rotating your hip, shoulder and ankles downwards on the stroking side. It’s quite an exaggerated action that needs focus, but will help improve your stroke

8. Try using fins

As with many drills, fins avoid having to rely on the drill action for propulsion. A gentle kick will move you down the pool, enabling you to concentrate on doing the drill properly, rather than expending energy to stay afloat