Category: Drills


Crush The Catch!

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One of the most difficult elements of freestyle swimming to perfect is the catch.  There are many subtle movements that go into making the optimal catch.  Mastering the catch can take months or even years depending on how often you hit the pool.  Here is a drill progression that can help you speed up the process and bring your swimming to the next level!

1.  Press and Relax Drill

  1. Start on your stomach with both arms out in front about 8-10 inches below the surface of the water.
  2. Pick one arm and press your hand and forearm down while lifting your elbow up and forward.  Your finger tips will go from aiming in front of you to aiming toward the floor.
  3. Hold this position for a second or so and then relax the arm bringing it back to the original position.
  4. Repeat this with the other arm.  Continue to alternate arms like this for a few 25s.

 

2. Press, Relax, Press, Pull Drill

  1. Start on your stomach with both arms out in front about 8-10 inches below the surface of the water.
  2. Pick one arm and press your hand and forearm down while lifting your elbow up and forward.  Your finger tips will go from aiming in front of you to aiming toward the floor.
  3. Hold this position for a second or so and then relax the arm bringing it back to the original position.
  4. Repeat step 2, hold the position briefly, and then continue to pull through keeping the elbow high.
  5. Repeat this with the other arm and continue to alternate arms for several 25s.

 

3. Press and Pull Drill

  1. Start on your stomach with both arms out in front about 8-10 inches below the surface of the water.
  2. Pick one arm and press your hand and forearm down while lifting your elbow up and forward.  Your finger tips will go from aiming in front of you to aiming toward the floor.
  3. Hold this position for a second or so and then continue to pull through.
  4. Repeat this pattern with the other arm and continue to alternate arms for several 25s.

These three drills are a great progression to help you learn the freestyle catch and slowly implement them in to your stroke.  After getting the hang of these 3 drills you can then follow them up with the Catch Up Drill focusing on the hand and forearm press and high elbow under the water and finally moving on to the normal freestyle swim.

Good luck with these drills and come back for more tips to help you improve in the water!

 

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Heads Up!

Your head position may be a major factor keeping you from becoming the best swimmer you can be. 

The effectiveness of all strokes depends on head positioning, and when incorrect, misalignment of your body will result.  If your head lifts too high, your hips and legs drop causing a dragging movement, ultimately slowing you down.  Next thing you know, it feels like you are swimming uphill with your body struggling to make it to the other side of the pool.

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Head Position Drill

To improve your freestyle technique, perform the Head Lead Kick Drill prior to your freestyle workout. This drill will enable you to feel the angle at which your head will cause your hips to fall, allowing you to adjust your head position accordingly.

  • Start out by relaxing your body in a floating position with your arms at your side, kicking lightly.
  • Begin floating with your eyes and head pointed forward, towards the other end of the pool.  At this point you will notice your hips and legs will be dragging in the water.
  • Relax your neck until your nose points directly at the line on the bottom of the pool. Here you should feel your hips and legs rising up towards the surface.
  • To breathe, pick your head up out of the water and breathe while looking at the other end of the pool.  Here you will feel your hips and legs drop significantly.  When done breathing relax your neck and you should feel your hips and legs rise back up to the surface.

 

Head Strong Posture Trainer

Another effective and quick way to optimize head position while swimming is through the use of the Head Strong Posture TrainerThe Head Strong Posture Trainer can be worn comfortably throughout a practice.  The Head Strong Posture Trainer provides real time feedback.  When your head lifts beyond the optimal position causing your hips to drop, the Head Strong Posture Trainer will gently tap you on the back signaling you to relax your neck because your body is out of alignment.

Perform the mini set below while wearing your Head Strong Posture Trainer:

  • 1×100  Swim looking forward so the waterline is at your forehead.
  • 1×100 Swim with your Head Strong Posture Trainer on.
  • 3x: With your Head Strong Posture Trainer on.
  • 3×50 1st round breathing every 3 strokes, 2nd round breathing every 5 strokes, 3rd round breathing every 7 strokes. Pay close attention to your body rotation and hips in the water.
  • 2×50   Sprint with your Head Strong Posture Trainer on.  Focus on when you begin to feel the Head Strong Posture Trainer tap you and work to keep it from tapping you throughout an entire 50 sprint.
  • 6×25 Body roll drills with your Head Strong Posture Trainer on focusing on spinal alignment and a relaxed neck.

Give this drill and set a try and watch your swim instantly become easier!

Have fun and and come back for more tips and sets to help bring your swimming to the next level!

Although high elbows during the recovery phase of the stroke are not totally necessary, it is an important element when learning to swim better freestyle.  This allows you to learn the proper entry spot of the hand in the water.  Below is a progression of drills that you can do to improve your high elbow recovery, setting you up for an efficient entry and pull:

1. Shark Fin Drill

In this drill, start on your side with one arm out front 8-10 inches deep, palm down, arm inline with the shoulder.  Lift the elbow of the top arm to the ceiling keeping the forearm and hand relaxed.  Keep lifting the elbow up until the hand is relaxed right next to your shoulder/chest area with your knuckles pointing forward.  Hold it here for a couple of kicks and then relax the arm and bring it back to the side.  Do this a couple of times on one side and then switch arms.

 

2.  Shark Fin Touch

This drill allows you to work on balance, high elbows, and point of entry.  Start on one side with the arm out front 8-10 inches deep in line with the shoulder.  Lift the top arm up at the elbow keeping the forearm and hand relaxed.  This will make the shark fin.  Pause here for a couple of kicks, then swing the forearm forward and touch the water with your finger tips only where you would enter.  Then go back to shark fin and then back down by your side and breathe.

 

3. Stop Stop Switch Drill

Stop 1: Kicking on the side with one arm out front, 8-10inches deep, palm down, in-line with the shoulder and breathe.

Stop 2: Lift top arm’s elbow up to the ceiling so the hand is parallel to the chest/shoulder and make a shark fin and pause.

Switch: Swing the forearm forward and enter the water finger tips first take the stroke and repeat on the opposite side.

 

4. Catch Up With Finger Tip Drag

Start on your stomach with your arms shoulder with a part.  Start your pull with one arm while leaving the other arm in front of you.  As your elbow leaves the water to start the recovery, drag your fingers tips in the water next to your body.  Once your recovery arm enters the water pause for a brief second and then repeat with the other arm. This will help you get your elbows nice and high. 

 

Next time you are at the pool give these drills a try and see what you think.  All of these drills will not only help you with your recovery but they will work your balance and body rotation as well!

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See you at the pool!

Balance Out!

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One of the most important elements to swimming an effective freestyle stroke is balance.  This list of drills will help you to improve your body rotation and balance on both sides.  Start incorporating these drills in your swim workouts and see the results!

1.  Side Kicking

This is a very simple drill in which you start on your side with your head looking at the black line and your arms by your side.  Don’t forget to keep your neck nice and relaxed.  You want your chest, hips, and tops of your feet facing one wall.  Start kicking, keep a small and consistent kick going.  You will want your top shoulder out of the water and your top hip at the surface of the water.  When you breathe, don’t move your body just roll your head so your eyes are looking at the ceiling and breathe.  Do a couple lengths in a row on one side and then do the same on the other side.  This drill will help you to find your balance point on both sides.

2. 6 Kicks and Switch

This drill starts with you side kicking on one side with your arms by your side.  Before starting the roll, take a breath and put your face back in the water.  Once you are stable roll your body, as a single unit, so that your stomach goes under the water and your chest and hips face the opposite wall.  Make sure to keep the head looking down throughout the entire roll.  Once stable on your other side, breathe and take 6 kicks.  After the 6 kicks repeat the roll to the other side.  This is a great drill to help you smooth out your roll and go from one balance point to the other.  Don’t forget to keep your kick small and consistent throughout the roll.

3. 1 Stroke 6 Kicks

This drill is exactly the same as 6 Kicks and Switch except instead of having both arms by the sides keep the bottom arm out in front of you so your palm is down and your arm is in line with your shoulder about 8 inches deep.  After your 6 kicks take 1 stroke while rolling to the other side.  Once on the side keep the arm out front, kick 6 times, breathe, and then take a stroke and switch again.  When you roll from one side to the next, remember to roll the body as one unit.  The focus should be on a nice smooth and continuous roll and keep the neck relaxed as your roll from one side to the next.

Give these drills a try to help you improve your balance. Videos of all of these drills can be found through a simple youtube search for all of you visual learners!  If there is a drill you like better, put it in the comments so all our readers can improve their strokes!

Good luck and keep on swimming!