As the most popular stroke in any pool, the freestyle is the fastest and simplest stroke to swim. But just because it’s easy to swim doesn’t mean that it’s a breeze to master. The freestyle takes time and patience to perfect. With swim season in full swing, now is the perfect time to improve and fine tune the stroke. Take a look at some of the freestyle swimming technique hints and tips below to get your front crawl into perfect shape.
Start At The Top
While swimming the freestyle might seem like it’s all about the arms and legs, head positioning can play a big factor in the stroke’s efficiency. Bad head alignment leads to bad body positioning, not to mention a strained neck, back and shoulders. To really get the most out of your freestyle, make sure that your hairline is just at the surface of the water. As difficult as it sounds, try to relax your shoulder and neck as much as possible. For the most efficient positioning, your head should be placed at a comfortable 45 degree angle. This will help reduce drag and place your entire body into the ideal, streamline alignment.
Even though you might be focusing on proper hand entry, you still need to actively think about reaching forward with each and every stroke. Extending your hand and arm to its maximum length allows you to catch and pull even more water. Imagine reaching for the next rung of a ladder as you move through your arm stroke. This results in a stronger, more efficient stroke. Reaching forward as far as possible will also make your body roll from side to side, as if on a center axis. This rotation also results in a more efficient stroke and will allow you to slice through the water with even greater ease.
While arm entry is an important part of the freestyle stroke, an efficient pull will help you move through the water faster than ever before. You want to imagine your arms making an hour glass figure as they slice through the water by your body. When you arm enters the water swing it slightly away from the body and as it moves towards your middle section, scoop the hand in towards the body. Before the arm is rotated up and out of the water, scoop the hand back out away from the body and lift it out of the water in already-perfect hand positioning.
This tip might seem contrary to a fast freestyle, but reducing the distance of the kick actually results in a more efficient stroke. Instead of kicking as big and hard as possible, it’s a good idea to focus on small, compact flutter kicks. As your body rotates from side to side, your feet should rotate with your body. This will help prevent your feet from splaying out and slowing your stroke down. Instead, keep your feet as narrow and compact as possible. If it helps, imagine that you’re swimming through a narrow passage way that can’t be touched. This will help keep your entire body in line and properly positioned for the freestyle.
While strength training the upper and lower body can help your freestyle, mastering the stroke is all about fine tuning the smaller techniques. Work on these specific points and you’ll be swimming the stroke faster and more efficiently than ever before!
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