To become as efficient with your energy as possible you should aim for a flawless technique. You can easily feel lost with all tips and tricks available to you online. Here at SwimGym we like to incorporate drills into every session to improve your technique. And so we collected 5 drills with the biggest value when incorporated regularly. Take a look, and most importantly, incorporate them into your upcoming swim sessions to experience the effectiveness.
We as human beings are simply not made to swim. Water is fluid, moveable and sometimes turbulent, this makes pushing yourself forward against it quite complicated. Furthermore, the resistance of water is so big that little tweaks in your technique have major effects on the amount of energy it costs to travel through it. Also breathing can’t happen inside the water which complicates things even further.
Kick & breathe
The kick & breathe is a basic but a crucial one, because you need to get breathing under control before you can focus on any other technical aspect of your stroke. With this drill you’ll focus on exhaling while kicking. Next to working on exhaling you’ll be improving your body positioning significantly by kicking during this drill. An effective kick is necessary to minimize drag, and to stabilise your stroke. That is to say, don’t underestimate the power of an effective kick and a calm breath.
If we could only give you one drill to work with it would definitely be this one. The sidekick teaches you how to keep a horizontal body position when rotated on your side, while simultaneously breathing. This drill will improve your body rotation and head position while breathing when executed correctly, which both have a huge effect on the resistance you experience when swimming. If the drill is too complex at the beginning, start off with a snorkel and fins, and then slowly get rid of the snorkel to start practicing the breathing as well.
The catch-up is a very versatile drill in which you practise many freestyle skills. It forces you to slow down, by which you can really focus on a single skill you want to improve upon. You're making one single stroke at a time, so you can keep your focus on the complete stroke of every arm separately. It’s mostly used to work on the pull-through, by first focussing on the catch, then the start of pull and finishing off strong push out. But it’s also used to work on bilateral breathing, stroke timing or improving once rotation to both sides. A steady kick is necessary to keep up the speed while catching up, thus you are sneakingly also working on your kicking skills. Take a look at our workout archive and see for yourself how we incorporate the catch-up to work on the different skills.
One single drill you can incorporate to improve your freestyle recovery is the shoulder tap drill. It allows you to focus on having a relaxed and narrow recovery, by tapping your shoulder halfway your recovery. A relaxed and narrow recovery is necessary to give your muscles some rest after every pull, and furthermore when done correctly it provides you with a stable stroke and a good hand entry. You can also incorporate this drill for a completely different purpose, namely your stroke timing. By starting the catch during the shoulder tap you’ll learn how to surf on the front arm, and only start the catch when you’re halfway the recovery which is during the shoulder tap. This drill can also be simplified by using a snorkel. See what best suits your level and start incorporating this drill in your swim session.
Last but not least we have the body roll on the menu. This is one of the most important drills to teach you how to rotate your body. During this drill we use fins and a snorkel to allow you to focus only on the act of rotating. Body rotation is the most powerful way to increase your distance per stroke when timed correctly. It’s also called a coupling motion because when it's coupled with the pull and kick it makes both more powerful. During the drill you want to turn the body quickly and not slowly to feel the increase in speed it produces. Body rotation is also necessary for the other freestyle elements, such as the narrow recovery, head position while breathing, and body position. It doesn’t matter what level you're at, this drill should be inserted into your swim practise regularly.
We hope you now feel a little less overwhelmed by all the information available to you online. Incorporate these drills, when working on your skills and you’ll notice a big difference. If you’re not sure where to start, or on which skill to put your focus on first, you can take a look at the SwimGym analyser, in which we analyse your technique and guide you through your personal journey with workout and drills to improve your swimming performance. Thank you for sticking around, and remember practise makes permanent, so keep practising the drills with great attention on execution!
Written by Saskia Postma