Bear Paw is a type of Sensitization Drill that can help a develop a better feel for the water. It is similar to Fists Drill because the surface area of your hands is reduced, which forces the swimmer/ triathlete to focus on holding the water with their forearms.
Bear Paw is a great drill to practice before swimming DPS (distance per stroke) or sprinting because transitioning from swimming with your hands in a loose fist to swimming regular Freestyle will make you hypersensitive to the amount of water you’re holding and naturally encourages longer strokes. We prefer to swim Bear Paw with Freestyle – but only because it feels awkward to us to try it with other strokes (kind of like it can feel awkward to hold your ring finger up without holding up other fingers).
To swim Bear Paw:
- Hold your hands in a loose fist and swim Freestyle exactly the same as you would if your hands were not in a fist.
Things to think about:
- Try to grab the water with your forearms when you start your catch.
- Make sure you have a high elbow during the catch and focus on your forearms.
- Keep your fists inline with your forearms at all times, i.e. don’t let your hand bend.
- Focus on having a steady flutter kick.
- Rotate evenly to both sides.
- You may wear fins, but they will detract from the amount of sensitivity you feel in your forearms because they provide so much propulsion.
- Try to incorporate Bear Paw into a Freestyle Progression such as the one below to practice your feel for the water:
4 x 75s Free: 25 Fists Drill/ 25 Bear Paw/ 25 DPS