10/10 (simple): to promote good body roll and head alignment (when you add breathing - see the next drill). This looks like regular freestyle in very slow-motion. If you flip over and keep your nose pointing up while you do this drill, it works for backstroke.
- One arm is extended forward, pointing toward your destination (front hand).
- The other is backwards, pointing toward where you just left (back hand), with the arm resting against the edge of your body.
- You should be on your side, with the back hand side of your body up, the front hand side of your body down (toward the bottom of the pool).
- Your ear should be against your front hand shoulder, chin in line with your chest, eyes sideways (or even up a bit), mouth out of the water (so you can breath).
- Take 10 kicks, then stroke, so that your body rolls and your hands switch places.
- The front hand takes a stroke underwater and finishes against your side, becoming the back hand.
- The back hand recovers over the surface of the water, becoming the front hand.
- Your head switches, rotating with your body (rolling down into the water and then up on the other side), and you continue, taking 10 more kicks, then everything switching again.
- When you have this drill figured out, move onto the next step, adding breathing (see the next drill).
10/10 (add breathing): just like regular 10/10 but you change your head alignment to mimic a relatively normal swimming position for freestyle. You look where you are going!
- Place your head so your cheek is against your front hand shoulder, eyes sighting down your front arm toward your destination.
- You need to roll your head to breath, then reestablish its position looking forward along the front arm.
- The breath should be taken away from the recovering arm (the one that is changing from back to front) just as that hand goes in the water; as your body rolls, roll your head with it.
- As you get better at this drill, play with decreasing the number of kicks taken while on each side of your body until you can move smoothly from the slow-motion drill (10/10) into regular speed freestyle (3/3 for a "six-beat" kicker)
Fist: to promote "feel" for the water. Swum like regular freestyle, except you hold either one or both of your hands in a fist.
- Vary the pattern and the number of strokes that you are "fisted."
- When you unclench your hand, you should notice a difference in pressure on your hand - use this feeling to keep your hand holding water as you move through your pull pattern.
- When you are clenched, you should also try to press on the water with the inside (palm side) of your forearm - think of the lower arm, from elbow to wrist, as an extension of your hand. And don't forget body roll!
One-arm: to focus on one arm at a time.
- Swum like regular freestyle, except only one arm is moving.
- The other arm is stationary, either forward (front hand) or backwards, against your side (back hand).
- The moving hand takes a series of strokes, each arm performing a set number of pulls before they switch roles.
- Practice this drill with the stationary arm in both positions.
- When your stationary arm is on your side, breath toward that side (away from the moving arm).
- When your stationary arm is forward, breath away from it (toward the arm doing the work).
- Again, time the breathing so that as your body rolls, your head rolls with it for a breath, then your head should return to its forward alignment.
There are plenty of variations for all of these drills. You can also combine drills to work on several skills at once, or to add even more emphasis to a single element. Experiment with these drills and develop some of your own. Always work to improve your technique.