Hinrichs, R. N., Vint, P. F., McLean, S. P., Riewald, S. A., & Mason, R. K. (2009). Comparison of swim starts using side handle and front handle grip techniques. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation number 2556.

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This study evaluated the differences in swim start performances using side-handle and front-handle grip techniques. A custom-built, instrumented starting-block system was designed using two force plates and two 3D force transducers attached to handles which were configurable to allow front-grip and side-grip starting techniques. Male (N = 30) and female (N = 18) swimmers participating in USA Swimming junior elite and national select camps completed three maximum effort starts each using front and side handle grip techniques.

Males had significantly shorter propulsion times but produced faster and more horizontal takeoffs than females. They also produced more power per unit of body mass. Across all swimmers, starts performed with a side-handle grip technique were characterized by significantly longer propulsion times with faster and more horizontal velocities, and greater power.

Implication. Improved starting performance when using the side-grip handles was likely attributable to longer propulsion times and significantly greater relative force contribution from the arms.

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