Catch-up: to isolate one arm, to practice a long stroke and a long body position.
- Swum like regular freestyle, except one arm is stationary, always extended forward (front arm), pointing toward the destination, while the other arm performs the stroke (working arm).
- When the working arm moves forward and "catches-up" with the stationary arm, they change places.
- 3/4 Catch-up: Just like full catch-up, except the stationary (front) arm begins to work or move before the other arm fully "catches-up" - it begins to move after the working arm is about 3/4 of the way through a full arm motion.
Catch-up with a board: Just like regular catch-up, only your front hand is holding a kick board.
- As the arms trade places, they hand off the board to each other.
- You can substitute a pencil - or anything else that won't make you sink.
Fingertip Drag: to promote a high elbow recovery and to make you aware of your hand position during recovery.
- Swum like regular freestyle, except your fingertips never leave the water as your arm moves forward during the stroke recovery.
- You drag your fingers forward through the water, slightly off to the side of your body, focusing on good body roll and keeping your elbows pointed up.
- Change how much of your hand stays in the water: fingertips, hand, wrist, even your whole forearm.
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.