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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Early Vertical Forearm (EVF)

I am going to be heading into a swim focus soon, as my tri season winds down... and those that know me are aware that I like to read about training concepts and see if I can apply them practically. One of the hot swimming topics is early vertical forearm or EVF. For those watching the Olympics, you will see most of the top swimmers utilizing this concept. Essentially it is all about early high elbow position in the water. There is a blog I will be referencing by a swim coach (coach T... Tom Topolski) who is an expert on this.

Think of EVF as occurring before you start to pull. The forearm is perpendicular to the water surface, facing directly rearward, as is the hand. The hand is directly below the elbow at this stage. The elbow must be high in the water!!!
The CATCH is the EVF position. Great swimmers hold onto water and pull their body over their hand. This is the opposite of what beginners think, ie; pulling their hand past them. A concept to think of is swimming over a barrel. The “catch” involves a hold on the water. The arms are in their most propulsive position when the forearm is vertical, and the sooner the swimmer engages the vertical forearm, the more propulsive will be the pull. Thus EVF!


Rich Strauss is a triathlon/swim coach who also has written on EVF.

Here is what NOT to do:
1. When your hand enters the water, palm is down towards the bottom of the pool.
2. If you start pulling now, without doing anything else, you will be directing force downward and lifting your body, rather than moving your body forward.
3. This continues until the natural sweep of your arm stroke eventually directs forces rearward.

The CORRECT way:
1. Get your palm from "down" to "facing rearward" (and thus pushing you forward) as quickly as possible.
2. The proper way to do this is by bending the elbow, or "catching" the water as soon as possible. EVF.
The SHOULDER SHIFT is a component of EVF. Adams makes key points as follows: Once your extending arm has reached forward to full extension, you can get a few more inches by advancing the shoulder. At this point in the stroke, take the time to assume the high elbow as discussed... ASAP! You accomplish this act by internally (medially) rotating the upper arm bone (humerus) and flexing the elbow. This action ends with the forearm and hand assuming an almost perpendicular position in relation to the surface of the water, before the elbow is moved (adducted) toward the feet. The positioning movement of the arm takes place in the shoulder with very little muscular force. Read this again... it is VERY IMPORTANT!!!

READ THIS AGAIN!

There are 4 quadrants in the swim stroke:
The front quadrant is where propulsion initiates; the second quadrant is where the acceleration of the stroke occurs; the third quadrant where the recovery is initiated and the fourth quadrant is where the recovery makes the transition to the entry.

EVF is all about the 1st quadrant.

BTW, according to coach T, most of the great swimmers actually use a straight pull as opposed to the curved description many of us have been told. The position of the hand and forearm as it moves through water, determines the efficiency of a swimmer’s propulsive mechanics.
EVF is all about LEVERAGING (increasing drag) the water and improving the HOLD of the water.
Early Vertical Forearm position is the ideal. A late or Lagging Vertical Forearm position is not as good., and the dropped elbow is the worst position!



EVF equipment is now available.






Techpaddles are a relatively cheap way to help learn the correct technique. These make you close your hands and the paddle is on the forearm. Movement should be slow and deliberate. EVF equipment encourages the direction of the hand to move under the elbow. Techpaddles promote early forearm pressure and discourage downward pressure with a straight arm, during the first quadrant of the stroke. Pulling too fast and too hard at the start of the pull increases vortices behind the hand, increases air on the hand, and promotes a dropped elbow, all of which are BAD. Practice swimming 2 laps with them, and then 2 laps without and the laps without will feel much different than before you used the paddles. Hesitating in the EVF position and then pulling is another good drill to use the paddles for.

The fist drill is actually very useful in itself for learning EVF as well. Think of moving the water with your forearm and also focus on getting EVF asap.
Tarzan or 'head up' swimming also helps with EVF. It can be done with or without the paddles.
From Coach T, here are some isometric drills to practice:
DRYLAND and ISOMETRIC TRAINING DRILLS: A training response can be gained from an isometric drill performed at 80% of maximum effort for six to twenty (20) seconds or more.1. Isometric drill where the swimmer has both hands over their head in an EVF position. You’ll be surprised how difficult it is to keep the elbows slightly above the shoulder for any length of time. 2. Isometric drill where the swimmer has both hands pushing up and/or against an immoveable object like a wall or a starting block. 3. Using light weights and the most forgiving surgical tubing, have swimmers hold the EVF position for short bouts and slowly increase resistance and time. 4. Have swimmers, while standing, mimic the EVF stroke, moving their hands up and down but never past their shoulders.5. Have swimmers hold a rescue tube, noodle, kick board, etc., above their head in the EVF position.6. Have swimmers bend-over and mimic the swimming stroke of world-class swimmers using a great EVF position.
Here are Number of great videos too:

I have written this blog entry as an aid to myself, with hopes that it may help someone else as well.











7 comments:

Ian said...

Thanks for the nice post. I just bookmarked it.

triblog carol said...

Awesome information - thanks for posting it!

Brittany M. said...

Very helpful post--your blog is great!

Anonymous said...

I created some EVF videos on youtube (EVF + Swimming). One of the videos is on swim-specific exercises with stretch cords. Good luck to you! Coach T

Thomas said...

I really enjoy your videos. I have some on youtube and would like to know what you think. Thanks for the nice comments. If there's anything I can do for you give me a holler

Thomas said...

I have some more EVF videos on youtube. Please check them out and tell me what you think. Thanks, Coach T.

Thomas said...

Please keep in touch. Coach T.