Keep Your Body Straight and Rotate Like a Solid Log when Swimming Freestyle
Your body should look like a torpedo when you swim freestyle. Torpedos do not fishtail; they stay rigid. The key to looking like a torpedo in the water is to manage the rotation of your body from side to side so it does not deviate from your long axis (your head and toes are the endpoints of the axis). Said another way, think of a pole going through the center of your body starting at the head and continuing through your torso. When you swim you cannot bend off the pole, but you can rotate around it.
You will create the most power pulling against the water when you have rotated to the same side as the arm you are pulling with. For example, when you rotate your left hip down it creates a more stable body position so you can maximize the benefit from the catch/pull you are doing with your left arm. If you fail to rotate along your long axis thus not causing your hip to get under your body during the pull, then you will not have the stable body position you need to effectively use your arms to paddle your log-like body through the water swiftly.
Wobbly hips are a symptom of not maintaining a stable body position. Fishtailing legs while swimming freestyle is a symptom of not maintaining a stable body position. Failure to kick at a steady rate is usually a symptom of not maintaining a stable body position. When the body position becomes unstable the swimmer’s kick will likely pause until s/he can re-stabilize.
An unstable body position kills a swimmer’s ability to move fast through the water. It makes it impossible to get good leverage on the pull – so it restricts the maximization of power that goes into the stroke. It also limits the amount of time during the stroke the swimmer can effectively pull against the water. Even the worst of swimmers are stable for part of their stroke. And during that time the swimmer will create power that will propel them. And thirdly, an unstable body position creates tremendous drag. Since the body does not remain on “the pole” it takes up more room as it tries to slip through the water.
Below are a few videos that can be found on YouTube that offer words of wisdom and some swim drills to help overcome a swimmer’s unstable body position during the freestyle stroke.
- Side balance
- Freestyle pull buoy balance
- Freestyle ankle buoy
- Advertisement for the Finis “hydro hip” device [see comments below]
- Head lead rotation drill for backstroke [see comments below]
Comment re: Video 4 –
Not sure this device is necessary, but the video is worth watching. Supposedly the device helps strengthen the core muscles that enable you to rotate properly during the freestyle stroke.
Comment re: Video 5 –
I realize this video is for backstroke. However, the movement practiced in the drill works equally for freestyle as it does for backstroke. I recommend practicing this drill to improve the stability of your body position during the freestyle stroke.
CLICK HERE for a related blog post of mine.