The offseason is an ideal time to work on improving swimmingÂ technique, especially freestyle. Whether you’re planning a break after a long season or preparing to ramp up your training for the next one, you may want to work on the checklist below, a list that can help you become a more efficient swimmer.
Although not even the world’s best coach would be capable of providing a written list that could guarantee success, the following 10 points are core things to remember when attempting a perfect freestyle stroke (also known as the crawl).
With luck and perhaps a little poolside advice from another swimmer or instructor, these 10 items should ensure that you have the basic freestyle stroke mechanics down pat. You may already have several of them mastered, or you may just be starting to learn how to swim. Either way, there’s no better time to make technical improvements than now.
The key to swimming efficiently is maintaining a streamlined position, and that requires a strong core. That means tight abs, glutes and lower back. Most people tend to relax and just float around when in the water, but you want toÂ work. If you donât tighten your core, youâre kind of like a jellyfish, wriggling everywhere. Interval-based pool workouts are perfect to develop power, strength and endurance, particularly in your core.
In other words, donât try to both inhaleÂ andÂ exhale when your head is above the water. Youâll never get the appropriate amount of oxygen so youâll feel out of breath. Remember to release air under the water so when you turn to the side, youâre getting as much air in as you can.
During practice sessions, take your drills beyond the kickboard. Fins are a really nice way to work on your stroke and you donât have to worry about propelling your body up. The fins do a lot of that work for you.
When youâre swimming, avoid looking straight down or up at the wall. To help find your proper head position, make a fist with your hand and put it between your chin and your chest. Thatâs where you want your head position to be. Tilting your head down this way will also help your body be more buoyant in the water.
When youâre in the water, you want to swim with the ease of a fish, so think of your hand as a fin through every stroke (and every type, from backstroke to freestyle). Keep a slight scoop so you can move more water. This allows you to propel yourself a little bit further and get a little more traction with each stroke.
As you pull your arm through the water during freestyle, make sure your hand doesnât cross over the midline of your body. Then, finish your stroke with your thumb near your hip. Thatâs the power point of your stroke. You have to focus on a long stroke out front, draw down the midline of your body, and then push really hard from your hip to fully straighten your arm. The result? Youâll maximize your efficiency and distance traveled every time you do the full circle.
Ideally, youâre never flat in the water. Youâre always rotating ever so slightly from one side to the other. As you freestyle through the water, you should position your body at roughly a 45-degree angle, like youâre on a diagonal and cutting through the water. The movement then comes from your hips and shoulders.
First things first, backstroke is more than just floating on your back. You have to keep your body in a streamlined position, not to mention swim without seeing where youâre going. In an effort to bring the hips and legs up, you may tip your head too far back in the water, leading to an inefficient stroke. Benes suggests focusing on something in your line of vision thatâs high in the sky â not a person on the deck. This will help your head be in the right position and youâll swim straighter, too.
The power in your butterfly comes from your kick, but itâs not your typical movement. It means you have to push your hips forward, instead of bending and kicking down from your knees. Imagine popping your butt up every time you kick so that it almost comes out of the water. This will help drive from the hips versus your knees.
While you may associate breaststroke with the older folks in the pool, the secret to supercharging your stroke is in the glide. Once youâve gone through your entire pull and kick, hold it for a second longer and get as far as you possibly can before you start your next stroke. This will give you a long, smooth glide. Plus, youâll get a little more time to relax, a bonus if youâre swimming speedy laps and need some active recovery time.
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