Three basic balance drills that will improve your technique and make you a better swimmer.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about how to become a faster swimmer.  I said that the most important thing that every swimmer should work on in order to get faster is technique.  In swimming technique is everything.  To improve technique swimmers need to include specific drills into their workouts and work on those drills every time they swim.  In my post I didn’t give any specific examples of drills.  This post will describe a couple of what I consider the most important basic balance drills.  These drills will lay a good foundation for further improving your technique.  The first two drills require a snorkel so you don’t have to think about breathing and only concentrate on your body position and balance.  It’s important to do these drills in the order specified:

1.  Head lead flutter kick.

Head lead drill
Start kicking on your chest, head down, arms by your hips.  You need to look down at the bottom of the pool and may be little bit ahead.  Make sure your neck is long and straight.  You need to train your head to always be in the same straight position.  Kick like this 4 x 25s and take as much rest as you need between 25s.

Q – What is my head doing during this drill?
A – Your head stays in the same position during the entire drill.  It is not moving at all.

2. Side to side.

Start the position described in step 1 but this time rotate your body 90 degrees to a side.  Your head position does not change, you still need to look down at the bottom of the pool with your chin almost touching the shoulder.  Start kicking, do 6 kicks on one side, then rotate your body (not the head) to the other side. Now your chin is almost touching the opposite shoulder, you’re still looking down. Do another 6 kicks and rotate again, then repeat the whole cycle.  Initiate the rotation with your hips.  Most likely, you will feel the urge to “help” with you arms or hands, but don’t.  There should be no arm/hand movement at all.  To help isolate the arms, you can put them on your thighs and keep them pressing the thighs.  You can also wear fins.  Remember, the key here is to be able to rotate with your hips.  Swim 4 x 25s working on this drill.

Q - What is my head doing during this drill?
A – Your head stays in the same position during the entrie drill.  It is not moving at all.

3. Log roll – no snorkel.

Start this drill exactly like you start “side to side” but after the first body rotation, do 6 kicks, then turn your head 180 degrees in the same direction as your body.  Now you’re looking straigt up and almost touching the oposite shoulder (you can breath now).  Reember to keep your neck straight and long.  Then do anouther body rotation but in the same direction as the first rotation.  Then rotate your head 180 degrees again in the same direction as your body and look straight down.  You just finished a 360 degrees rotation.  Keep rotating this way till you reach the other wall.  On the way back, rotate to the other side.  To clarify, here is an order of your rotations, each rotation is 180 degrees.

body -> head -> body -> head

Q – What is my head doing during this drill?
A – Your head followes the body rotations.  It rotates in the same directin as your body but it is rotating on its own, not along with the body.

Now repeat the entire drill progression again :

  • 4 x 25 head lead flutter kick
  • 4 x 25 side to side
  • 4 x 25 log roll

Things to pay attention to while doing these drills:
1. your body position is straight, no bending or arching.
2. your neck is long and straigt.
3. you are looking down at the bottom of the pool, NOT at the wall ahead of you or the wall behind you.
4. your arms and hands are completely isolated (no movements with your arms or hands)
5. body rotations are initiated with your hips
5. you have a constant kick to keep you from sinking.

Don’t expect quick results.  It will take time to feel comfortable doing these drills.  If you do these drills every time you swim, I guarantee your balance will improve and you’ll become a faster, more efficient swimmer.

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