Friday, May 4, 2007

Freestyle Drills to Improve Swimming Technique

image from
Here is a list of Drills that one can do, thanks to: Mat Luedders, from
Swimming drills are specific movements, done repetitively, to get your technique "in the groove." They can help you get more efficient and they can help you become a faster swimmer. Generally included in all workouts, most coaches feel that you can never do enough technique work. You should include some in your workouts, too.
• Catch-up: to isolate one arm, to practice a long stroke and a long body position.
Swum like regular freestyle, except one arm is stationary, always extended forward (front arm), pointing towards the destination, while the other arm performs the stroke (working arm).
When the working arm moves forward and "catches-up" with the stationary arm, they change places.
• 3/4 Catch-up: Just like full catch-up, except the stationary (front) arm begins to work or move before the other arm fully "catches-up" - it begins to move after the working arm is about 3/4 of the way through a full arm motion.
• Catch-up with a board: Just like regular catch-up, only your front hand is holding a kick board.
As the arms trade places, they hand off the board to each other.
You can substitute a pencil - or anything else that won't make you sink.
• Fingertip Drag: to promote a high elbow recovery and to make you aware of your hand position during recovery.
Swum like regular freestyle, except your fingertips never leave the water as your arm moves forward during the stroke recovery.
You drag your fingers forward through the water, slightly off to the side of your body, focusing on good body roll and keeping your elbows pointed up.
Change how much of your hand stays in the water: fingertips, hand, wrist, even your whole forearm.
• 10/10 (simple): to promote good body roll and head alignment (when you add breathing - see the next drill). This looks like regular freestyle in very slow-motion.
• One arm is extended forward, pointing towards your destination (front hand).
The other is backwards, pointing towards where you just left (back hand), with the arm resting against the edge of your body.
• You should be on your side, with the back hand side of your body up, the front hand side of your body down (towards the bottom of the pool).
• Your ear should be against your front hand shoulder, chin in line with your chest, eyes sideways (or even up a bit), mouth out of the water (so you can breath).
• Take 10 kicks, then stroke, so that your body rolls and your hands switch places.
• The front hand takes a stroke underwater and finishes against your side, becoming the back hand.
• The back hand recovers over the surface of the water, becoming the front hand.
• Your head switches, rotating with your body (rolling down into the water and then up on the other side), and you continue, taking 10 more kicks, then everything switching again.
• When you have this drill figured out, move onto the next step, adding breathing (see the next drill).
• Fist: to promote "feel" for the water. Swum like regular freestyle, except you hold either one or both of your hands in a fist.
• Vary the pattern and the number of strokes that you are "fisted."
• When you unclench your hand, you should notice a difference in pressure on your hand - use this feeling to keep your hand holding water as you move through your pull pattern.
• When you are clenched, you should also try to press on the water with the inside (palm side) of your forearm - think of the lower arm, from elbow to wrist, as an extension of your hand. And don't forget body roll!
One-arm: to focus on one arm at a time.
• Swum like regular freestyle, except only one arm is moving.
• The other arm is stationary, either forward (front hand) or backwards, against your side (back hand).
• The moving hand takes a series of strokes, each arm performing a set number of pulls before they switch roles.
• Practice this drill with the stationary arm in both positions.
• When your stationary arm is on your side, breath towards that side (away from the moving arm).
• When your stationary arm is forward, breath away from it (towards the arm doing the work).
• Again, time the breathing so that as your body rolls, your head rolls with it for a breath, then your head should return to its forward alignment.

That's it, Think Tri!