Image by Arisa Chattasa


The Recovery phase, is the transition of your arm between the Finish and Entry points. As your arm exits the water elbow first, you should feel that you are lifting the elbow in synchronization with the upward rotation of the torso on the same side of the body. Relax the lower arm and hand so the hand is alongside the body. Feel the hand move forward, as opposed to swinging it to the side and away from the body. For the optimal Recovery phase (in calm water), the following cues will assist you ...


  • Feel the elbow point straight up

  • Fingertips point down

  • Hand close to the side of the body


In calm waters, your elbow should always be the highest part of your arm throughout the Recovery phase. The fingertips, pointing down, should only be just above the surface. It should feel like the full range of motion at the shoulder is being used, but this should not cause any pain. In particularly choppy outdoor waters, although your elbow should still exit the water first, you will often benefit from a straighter arm recovery in order to prevent your hand, wrist or forearm making contact with the chop - resulting in increased drag. If the waters are calm enough, a high elbow Recovery will always be more efficient. The video below will provide you with some effective drills to rehearse the movement.

  • Water Polo (4:12)

  • Zip Up / Chicken Wing (4:50)

  • Finger Drag (5:18)