When doing drills, the main focus should be
breaking the stroke down and perfecting it. Don't rush drills -- good technique
is the important factor.
(100's @ :30 rest)
- 25 left arm freestyle swim (left arm only for the stroke) breathing
only to the right side
- 25 right arm freestyle swim (right arm only) breathing only to the
- Count strokes per length. Is it the same for left and right arm in
the 25's? Work at this drill until it is. This will help balance your stroke
and help you maintain a better streamline in the water. Breathing to the
opposite side of the stroke will also help you develop a roll and balance
when you swim regularly.
- 50 freestyle swim breathing every third stroke (bilateral).
- Try to take the fewest number of strokes possible on the last 50 by
maintaining balance and a streamlined body.
This drill is good for freestyle because it emphasizes a power feeling
in the last third of the stroke.
- With both arms extended above the head, pull with one hand, recover
to the beginning (both arms extended forward) and touch the other hand.
Focus on locking your elbow straight when you extend your arm to touch
the other hand.
- Repeat the motion with the other hand.
This drill is good for freestyle too because it emphasizes body roll
and a high elbow recovery.
- During the recovery, keep the fingertips in contact with the surface
of the water. You should feel your fingertips "dragging" in the
water as they recover.
This drill forces you to use your forearms, not your shoulders, when
you swim freestyle, and it also helps to train you not to drop your elbows
in the recovery.
- Swim freestyle with your hands closed in a fist instead of open. Focus
on pulling your arms through all the way to your thighs.
- Add some variations by using the Fist Drill with stroke and glide (normal
freestyle except the arm extension is held out there longer than normal,
accentuating a glide phase).
Hesitation Freestyle Drill
Normal freestyle allows 2 or 3 kicks per arm-stroke. This drill lengthens
the amount of time you spend on each side by increasing the number of kicks
per stroke to 10, then to 6. This should enhance the feeling of swimming
on your side.
- Push off the wall and do one pull, holding the upper arm to your side.
You should be on one side now rather than facing the bottom. The lower
arm should be extended out in front of you in a streamline position. Begin
counting 10 kicks.
- Begin recovering the upper arm WITHOUT MOVING THE REST OF YOUR BODY
and without dropping your extended arm.
- Once the recovering arm is at your ear, lift your extended arm at the
elbow, roll your hips, pull through, and breathe.
- Now settle onto your other side, and repeat the 10 kicks and the slow
roll. At no time should you be flat (face down) in the water).
The Salute Drill
This drill emphasizes the timing of the downward hip snap in the opposite
side arm pull during freestyle. Use fins if you wish.
- Kick on your side with the bottom arm extended forward and the top
arm resting on your hip. Do about 10 kicks in this relaxed position and
breathe as necessary.
- Lift the top arm by the elbow and bring your hand forward until your
thumb touches your forehead (a "salute" position). Lower the
bottom arm straight to about 5 o'clock and then rotate the elbow up (the
- Snap the top hip down, simultaneously driving the top arm forward (stab
the water) as you complete the pull with the lower arm, finishing on your
- Repeat until you complete a 25 or 50.
- Modification: Add the Hesitation Drill -- when you are on your side
in the salute position, hold it for a 4 count. Snap the top hip down as
above and rotate the body to the opposite side where you again pause for
a 4 count in the salute position with the other arm.
Shark Fin Drill
This is similar to the Finger Tip Drill, but with this drill, there is
a significant amount of effort made to swim on your side while your arm
is in a holding pattern.
- Kick on your side while recovering the elbow up high and in front of
the hand. Your wrist should be relaxed and your palm facing slightly toward
your body. Pause when your elbow reaches its maximum height (your recovery
arm will resemble a shark fin sticking out of the water). Your other arm
should still be extended in front of you in a streamline position.
- Take 3 kicks before continuing to recover the upper arm to the extended
position in front.
- Take one "catch-up" stroke to the other side and repeat the
Stroke and Hold Drill
This drill encourages you to reach maximum extension and rotation (hip
and shoulder) and to get comfortable with that feeling. Good freestylers
and backstrokers spend little time on their front or back sides and a lot
of time rotating from side to side. For breaststroke and butterfly, the
position emphasizes good streamlining and lengthening the stroke.
By concentrating on technique instead of speed and yardage, especially
early in the season, your body is able to "remember" the right
way to swim and your joints become accustomed to the training stress without
- Try to swim normally EXCEPT when starting the pull. One arm should
be extended forward and the other at your side. At this point, freeze your
arms in place but continue kicking, and "roll onto" the arm that
is extended forward. Count six kicks in that position before resuming the
This drill is for freestyle and is meant to force you to stay on your
side until the last possible moment. This should increase roll and a high
- As you recover your right arm, drag your right thumb along your rib-cage
while keeping that side dry (out of the water). Imagine a zipper running
from the bottom of your rib cage to your arm pit and you are pulling it
up with your thumb. Stay on your left side, with your left arm extended
ahead of you, until the right hand enters the water. Then SNAP your hips
to your right side.
- Now as you recover with your left arm, drag your left thumb along your
rib-cage while keeping that side dry. Stay on your right side with your
right arm extended ahead of you, until the left hand enters the water.
Then SNAP your hips to your left side.
- Continue to alternate from side to side while keep the transition smooth.