Why too little body roll is a slow way to swim

This is part three in a three-part series on common mistakes in freestyle. Last week we discussed too much roll the neck.  I don’t want to confuse anyone, this week we are discussing roll of the torso, not the neck. Correct freestyle technique calls for the shoulders and torso to roll with each stroke to increase the core’s muscles ability to engage in every pull.  A lack of body roll, also referred to as swimming flat, cuts off your arms from using the large muscles of the torso. It is the power of the large muscles of the torso, not the smaller muscles of the arms which make us fast.

Think of your arms as oars. Oars deliver power, they don’t create the power. The rower creates the power.  The oar has two jobs; first, be stiff, ever try to row a boat with a wet noodle? Second, set the best possible angle for delivering power. If the arms are the oars, the swimmer’s torso muscles are the rower.  Using the large muscles of the body core creates a much stronger pull. In order to use the core, the swimmer must create a line between the core and the arm. This is achieved when we roll a minimum of 45 degrees from flat (looking at the bottom of the pool), to each side and reach our arm out directly above our shoulders.  Most of us need to roll more than 45 degrees to optimize the use of our core muscles. How much more? Good question, certainly less than 90 degrees, but where in between is dependent on the swimmer’s muscle make up and flexibility. You need to work on finding the best degree of roll for you.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I again turn to a body alignment tool to help correct this error. By limiting the amount of neck roll, see last week’s blog on Rolling the neck, the swimmer will be forced to roll the torso more to breathe.

Up Next: The Problems of Not Having a Coach

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