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The choice of the right paddles

The paddles are one of the best friends of the triathlete. Among the numbered colorful swim cap, the large open water goggles and the bike water bottle on the edge of the pool, the paddles are a good way to spot a triathlete in a pool from the other « normal » swimmers.
Sometime it seems that they never leave them for the entire session! It make me wonder if they have been transplanted to their arms and do they sleep with it at night?…

There are pros and cons about using paddles.
Let’s say it straight, they are great training tools!
Only IF they are used correctly!
Otherwise the damages might be greater that the benefit.

How so?
Firstly because it increases the surface of your catch, they are more tricky to control underwater. This might increase your technique weaknesses. The bright side is that because of this extra surface you have a greater feedback from what happens under you.
My main advice, when you use paddles: FOCUS, to keep the control of your strokes, and focus even more at the end of your intervals when you are tired, that’s when there is the higher risk to slip into a poor technique.
Secondly paddles are as much a drill tool than a strength conditioning one. An quick overuse could lead to some joints/ligaments injuries.

This is why the choice of the paddles is important.
When it’s about how to choose the right once, first you have to go progressive in the sizing.
In the beginning choose ones that are just the same size or a tiny larger than the palm of you hand, and with the time you can take larger sizes.
Include them as well progressively into your swim sessions, to let your muscles and joints getting use to that extra load.
You should as well vary the models and shapes. Like golfers use different clubs on the practice to improve all sectors of their technique, some paddles are shaped to target a specific technique element, such as high elbow catch, forearm use or the stability of you strokes.

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