ITP Glossary: Swim Move

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Swim Move

A swim move is a pass-rushing technique used primarily by defensive lineman and linebackers, where the defender uses an arm maneuver very similar to a freestyle swimming stroke to get past a blocker at the line of scrimmage.

Here we see Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman use a swim move to get past Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet from the 3 technique. Goldman is able to use his left arm for leverage which puts Marpet off balance, while his right arm comes across and over the top of Marpet’s right shoulder, giving Goldman a clear path to the quarterback.

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In this example we can see Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett – also from the 3 technique –  use a swim move employing impressive hand speed and quickness to execute the move by arching his right arm up and over Oklahoma guard Jonathan Alvarez before the offensive lineman is able to engage Barnett.

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To pull off a swim move effectively, a defender must be able to react quickly in getting off the snap, and then be able to use a jab step to deceive a blocker and get him off balance. Coaches work to train the defensive lineman to pin the offensive lineman’s playside arm, like Goldman did to Marpet, when gaining leverage, and many teach their defensive lineman to punch their “swim” arm through to decrease the time their chest is exposed to the offensive lineman while finishing the swim move. Defenders with quick, strong hand and arm technique can perform this move to perfection; timing, however, is always key.

A swim move is generally used just as a blocker uses his arms to engage a pass-rusher and, if executed well, the result is – at least – effective pressure on a quarterback.

Jon Ledyard contributed to this entry.

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Justin Twell wrote this entry. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinTwell78.

Video courtesy of NFL Game Pass.

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