I’ll be honest, the first time I saw a few non-traditional paddles from FINIS I thought they were just gimmicks. Thankfully, at a pop-up FINIS store a former Olympian was singing the praises of the Agility paddles and I took a chance and bought a pair.
The theory behind these paddles is that they encourage you to maintain pressure against them during all parts of your pull for all four strokes. If you don’t, they will come off your hands and if you go outside the correct pull path they will come off. So, when I first put them on I was half expecting a complete revolution in my technique. Thankfully nothing so drastic was needed, but for that first time I was pressing my thumb against it as much as I could just in case.
I found that these paddles really made me focus on the path of my pull, especially on the initial catch and the end of the pull. While my stroke wouldn’t normally cause them to lift off my palms, if I lose focus during a set or get a bit too lax with technique I would instantly get feedback that my hand had gone too far past my bodyline. Of course, I’ve never had them dramatically fall off, only lift off my palm which does feel like they could fly off. Turning, finishing, and gliding all took some getting used to and compensating for this meant my turns aren’t as good when using them. Touch turns are particularly tricky.
The FINIS rep claimed they work for all four strokes, but need some getting used to, so I tried them with all four strokes. Backstroke was tricky especially on the initial catch, but once you take time to get used to them you can feel a difference. Try as I might I haven’t gotten them to work with butterfly. To keep the paddles in place for the pull I have to continue it farther than I’m used to, this leaves them lower on the recovery and the edges just clip the water enough to make them feel as if they’re about to fall off. I have been tweaking my butterfly since then so I will have another go some other time and will update this if there is a change. My breaststroke improved the most with these paddles, but then it is my weakest stroke overall. They encourage, or rather force, a strong catch and a narrow pull.
While these are all positives in terms of technique the question is “how do they function as paddles? I like my sets with paddles to serve two purposes: to help improve technique, and to work on strength and endurance. As you can see from above they fulfill that first purpose. So do they satisfy that second purpose? Yes, was the answer. While there are others that will work your arms more, I like these as they still deliver a decent workout that doesn’t put my shoulders under too much pressure.
So, to surmise, these are well worth the price and certainly make sets with paddles more interesting. – Mike
You should be able to pick these up for around 20 pounds. They are available on Amazon here.