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Freestyle Swimming Head Point Drill

A Simple Swimming Technique Tip


When swimming freestyle, keep the top of your head pointing in the direction of travel. A swimmer's "Head Point" - the top of their head - works like a compass. If a swimmer's head points someplace besides the destination, things get out of line, swimming technique suffers, and the swimmer gets lost.

Add a second point -nose point (which also is where their eyes are looking!). Keep the nose pointed at the bottom of the pool while keeping the Head Point towards the destination. When it was time to breath, the nose point turns to the side of the pool, the Head Point stays exactly oriented at the destination. For a backstroker, the Nose Point is at the ceiling or sky.

We started using thiswith our youth group, and they got it - it clicked. The swimmers body positions improved and they got more efficient in terms of swimming stroke count versus swimming speed. This cannot be a unique or original idea, but I can't recall hearing it used exactly this way before. Give the Head Point drill a try, see if it helps your freestyle or backstroke swimming technique.

  1. We start by having the swimmers stand on the swimming pool deck with good posture, extend one arm overhead, then ask them to tell us what they feel - what parts of their body are touching other parts or what part of their head is touching their arm.

  2. Then we have them lay on the pool deck on one side of their body, one arm extended along the deck - trying to mimic the position they might be in if they were in the swimming pool. Their eyeslooking sideways to up, and their bodies horizontal.

  3. We then help them roll from one side to the other, switching arms as they roll (and telling them that if they were in the pool the extended arm would be pulling through the water, something they can't do when on the pool deck).

  4. We watch each swimmer and help them keep their Head Point intact as they roll or rotate from one side to the other. We call this rotation switching, and we signal when it is time to switch by counting. For example, a 6-count switch would mean the swimmer counts to 6, then performs the rotation or switch, counts again, the reverse the rotation or switch. They must be kicking when doing this or it won't work - most of them would sink. If needed, flippers could be worn to make this stage of the learning processless tiring.

  5. Next, we move them in the pool for a few lengths of "0-count" switch, which means the swimmer stays on one side of their body for the entire length.

  6. Then we begin 16-count switch for a few lengths, then 12-count, 8-count, 6-count, etc. At 6-count the swimmers seem to begin getting a good feel for switching at faster speeds.

  7. Now we match the counting to the swimmer's kick, aiming for them to switch on a count measured by their foot speed. This means that 6-count-kick-switch means they count their kicks and when they complete 6 kicks on one side, the switch or rotate to their other side.

  8. We like them to breath at the very end of a switch as opposed to just before starting the next switch. This seems to give them more time to fell where the parts of their body are sitting in the water, make any Head Point correction needed, then continue with the drill.

  9. We use directions like "Head Point Freestyle 6-count Switch" and the swimmers now know exactly what to do. Combining 25-meters of Head Point and 25-meters of "regular" to make a 50-meter swim results in a good carry-over of body alignment from the first to the second 25-meters.

  10. We see swimmers making adjustments while they swim that did not occur previously - and these adjustments are occurring less and less as the swimmers begin in the right position and have a good reference point to keep that position.

Try some Head Point next time you swim and see what happens. Remember, you can use it with backstroke, too.

Swim On!

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