Coaching Center: Freestyle

Welcome to the Coaching Center’s Freestyle section.

The Freestyle section is broken down into the following skills:

  • Wrist bend
  • Catch
  • Pull
  • Arm recovery
  • Breathing
  • Kicking
  • Body Alignment
  • Rotation
  • Other skills

These videos are not intended to be viewed in a specific order. You can jump to the video that interests you. If you are a beginner and want a foundation order start with body alignment, then kicking, rotation, arm recovery, catch, pull, breathing, and other skills.

Bending the Wrist
Should you Tip your wrist when you swim? From Swim Smooth with Coach Paul Newsome

Important note:  While Paul gives you a great look at how top swimmers imitate their catch with a slight bend to the wrist he does not give you enough detail.  Here are a few items I wish he had said:

  • Your wrist should not exceed a 15-degree angle
  • As you move through the catch the wrist must straighten back out.
  • If you overbend, or cannot get your wrist back to straight as the catch progresses, then don’t do this. While I believe in the slight tilt, not having one is strongly preferred over too much or not getting back to straight.

I think you should also know that this is a debated concept with other coaches saying no bend is acceptable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_gNW2XqUt0

 

Catch

The Freestyle Catch: The Key to Swimming Faster Freestyle with Chloe Sutton

Important note:  Chloe explains common errors in freestyle catch.  You will see that Chloe is in disagreement with Coach Paul Newsome in the wrist video. Remember this is an area of disagreement in coaches.

Her drills can be tough for a weaker to moderate swimmer.  To make them easier to do and still get the mechanics work add fins to her drills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1OY_yQBiXM

 

How and Where to Start Your Catch in Freestyle from Effortless Swimming

Important note:  They give a great look at how you should extend forward to armpit depth. It is important to not begin your stroke with the hand either too high or too low.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7mPxoMe5hM

The Pull

Where to Exit your Hand in Freestyle with Effortless Swimming

Important notes:

This video discusses more than just the exit. It discusses the pull and the exit.  This portion of the stroke is dependent on having started with a good catch discussed in the Catch video.  For more on exiting the water with the arm see the Arm Recovery video which follows this section.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks_X9gjrW5A&t=16s

 

Arm Recovery

Freestyle High Elbow Progression Drills from SwimLife Guru

Important notes:

Feel free to do these with the snorkel, but I prefer them without!  If you start with the snorkel you need to drop the snorkel later.

What she does not say–Look at where her hand enters, she is not over reaching out front.  This is easier on the shoulder and makes for a smoother entry that pulls less air into the water.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l8EDj0JLCk

 

Freestyle Breathing

I have placed several videos in this section.  The first, from TriMasters Swimming, is for the nonswimmer who is nervous or uncomfortable putting their face in the water, or tends to get water up their nose when trying to breath.  The second from Skills NT is for the swimmer who is comfortable with their face in the water, but is struggling with rhythm breathing basics. The third is for the moderate to strong swimmer who has too much head movement or timing issues in their breathing.

How to Breathe easier when swimming from TriMasters Swimming

Important notes:
This video is for the beginner swimmer.  Excellent for those who are not yet comfortable with putting their face in the water.

Bobbing –Helps you work on taking conscious control of the breathing.  While breathing in and out is so simple an infant can do it, doing it on demand is tougher.  When doing the bobs make sure you take only one breath when you are above the water.

Try adding in a step in the progression where you hold on to the side of the pool with feet on bottom, with feet in front of you.  Then move on to their step of extending your feet behind you and kick while still holding on to the side of the pool.

Sink-Downs are great for those of you who are uncomfortable in the water, for the rest of you skip the Sink Downs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z9fBy7IDPo

 

4 breathing exercised for smooth freestyle swimming: Progressions for beginners from Skills NT

This video is great for the swimmer who is struggling with the basics of swimming with their face in the water, but are comfortable with their face in the water.  I would again consider using fins during his drills at first, then progressing to doing them without fins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k7n60ZelRo

 

 

Breathing in Freestyle with Chole Sutton

Her video does a great job of showing you common errors like lift, anticipatory lift, and over rolling.

I question her comments on timing of breathing.  Don’t key on the nonbreathing arm… key instead, on the breathings side arm.  Also think of your hand as knocking your head back down. While Chloe’s stroke works for her you can take a little longer to breath.

Her drills can be tough for a weaker to moderate swimmer.  To make them easier to do and still get the mechanics work add fins to her drills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XN7jvcoKQZ8

 

Kicking

Freestyle swimming Technique – Kick from Speedo International

Important notes:

What they don’t say—The size of your kick from top to bottom should be about the size of your shoe box. Imagine your shoe box (no boots please).  Turn that box on its side and push it into the water.  This gives you a sense of size.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK563K_DZP0

Body Alignment

Swimisodes – Improve Freestyle Technique – Head Position from the Race Club

Important notes:

Finally a video that mentions using fins for weaker and moderate swimmers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC3vTXrW8Q8

Body Alignment Tool with Pat Rohner

This video demonstrates how an incorrect body alignment, or high head position can be corrected through the use of the body alignment tool.

 

Rotation

Freestyle Side to Side Drill with Drew Porter from Quixotic Racing

Important notes:

Once again, drills can be tough, these drills work well with fins.

Bear with a little jumpiness during one portion of the video.  The demonstration and explanations are worth it.

 

Streamline

Swimisodes – Swimming Streamline from the Race Club

Important notes: I like the use of snorkel and the small underwater kickboards from Finis, but the same drills on body alignment can be done without these tools.

Watch their head positions closely….nice low head positions looking down at the bottom of the pool and not where they are going.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QAHUEGPSAA

 

Additional Freestyle Drills

Two Drills for High Elbow Freestyle from Effortless Swimming from

Important note:  To get to the drills skip to 2:15 into the video.

what he does not say—in the Top to Bottom Scull, watch the hands during her scull motion.  As she sweeps her hands in her palms are facing in.  And palms are facing out when sweeping out.

When doing the second drill, catch up.  It can also help you to try it with paddles.  Paddles increase your surface area and help you feel the power in the catch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDKYVjKZWoA