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4 Freestyle Drills for a Winning Stroke

Every swimmer knows that the key to a winning stroke is drag reduction. But this can be achieved through multiple channels. Here are four simple freestyle drills that you can easily incorporate into your current training routine. Each drill will isolate and bolster an essential component of the freestyle stroke to improve overall efficiency & speed.

Man Performs Freestyle Drills with a Center Snorkel


For Catch & Pull Improvement

Deck Ups are a great freestyle drill to help you feel the full potential of your pull. Facing the pool wall, place your hands on the deck of the pool and pull yourself up and out of the pool. Make sure to fully extend your arms and complete about 5 to 10 reps. Then begin swimming once again, really focusing on your pulling action. During freestyle, your pull should feel very similar to the Deck Up action. Or, just add a Deck Up between each lap for improved feel for the pull.


For a Higher Kick

One drill that that is guaranteed to improve your flutter kick, is the Kick-Off-The-Wall Drill. To perform a Kick Off the Wall, simply push off the wall in a glide position and kick as hard as you can for 15 meters or so, focusing solely on your legs and feet. Your hands should remain out in front of your body with fingers pointed directly forward and ears trapped between your biceps. In this position, you’ll want to zero in on a few aspects of your kick. Make sure to point your toes softly and keep them turned slightly inwards. Keep the knees fairly straight as you want the kick to originate from the hip, not the knee. Do this drill 3 to 4 times in a row before resuming your normal freestyle routine.

Head First

For Alignment & Balance

Alignment and balance are absolutely crucial for a winning freestyle stroke. To work on your alignment, try a Head First Balance Drill. Begin by swimming the freestyle with your arms placed down at your sides. Focus on keeping your head in line with your body, eyes trained toward the bottom of the pool, and be sure to turn from the hip when breathing. The main purpose of this simplified freestyle drill is to establish a feeling of balance in the water and proper alignment in the freestyle position. By eliminating arm movement from the equation, your sole focus becomes head position. Remember: the body follows the head in the water. Keep it low with the top pointing straight toward the wall ahead.


For Rotation & Recovery

The Zipper Drill is an excellent way for you to practice your front crawl rotation and recovery. Begin swimming the freestyle as you normally would, but as you recover with your right arm, run your thumb from your hip up to your arm pit (like you’re zipping up a zipper along the side of your body). As your right arm re-enters the water, rotate your hips to the left side and go through the same zipper steps on your left arm. Continue this drill from side to side down the length of the pool. The slow-motion rotation and high elbow brings focus to the body rotation and increases roll for an easier breathing pattern.


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