Friday, November 1, 2013




(1.)  ALTERNATE BREATHING DRILL – This drill is done during a set of 50s.  On the odd ones, have the swimmers breathe to the right on the first lap and to the left on the second lap.  On the even ones, have the swimmers breathe every three strokes.  (Tom Himes – North Baltimore Aquatic Club)

(2.)  BREATHING PATTERN DRILL – Have the swimmers swim a set of 6 x 50s at the end of a particularly strenuous practice session.  The set should be done at the end of practice so the swimmers will be as fatigued as they would be in the second half of a 100 race.  Swim the repeats at 100 speed starting each with a turn to simulate the second half of a 100 race.  Alternate n a random manner the various breathing patterns that might be used during the 100.  Caution the swimmers to maintain the same effort per repeat.  You can check this by counting heart rates immediately after each swim.  Keep a record of the times and breathing patterns used.  The pattern than consistently produces the fastest time should be the one used in competition.  If two or more patterns produce identical times, the one that allows for more frequent breathing should be used because that pattern will produce a greater oxygen supply.  (Ernest W. Maglischo – California State University – Chico)

(3.)  BILATERAL BREATHING – Have the swimmers breathe every three or every five strokes.  This provides for stroke balance, promotes shoulder roll, and is a good lead-up to hypoxic training.


(1.)  KICKING ON YOUR SIDE – This is done with the bottom arm extended and the top arm on the hip.  One goggle should remain underwater at all times.  This drill helps the swimmer establish the feel for the water on the feet.  Because of a swimmer’s sensitivity to water pressure, this drill will enable the swimmer to “feel” the proper kick mechanics.  Be sure that the swimmers kick both forward and backward.

(2.)  POWER KICK – Swimmers kick underwater with their arms up in front in a streamline position.  They can be asked to kick for specified distances underwater, or they can do this drill across the width of the pool. 

(3.)  6 – 6 TURNS – The swimmers do a turn, then push off on their back for six kicks.  They then turn to their side for six kicks before doing a bottom arm pull.  They must stay streamlined past the flags during all the kicking.  (Dan Patton – Birmingham Swim League)

(4.)  SPRINT/KICK DRILL – The swimmers start in the middle of the pool and sprint to the wall, emphasizing their reach for the wall on every stroke.  After 15-20 seconds of rest, have the swimmers push off the wall, holding a tight streamline position, and kick back to the middle of the pool.  (Tom Himes – N.B.A.C.)

(5.)  360-DEGREE TURNS – The swimmers push off the wall, either at the start of a repeat or after a turn, holding a tight streamline position.  They should then rotate, towards their bottom arm, and complete an entire 360-degree roll before doing a bottom arm pull to the surface.


(1.)  ARMPIT DRILL – The swimmers should touch their armpit during recovery.  They should concentrate on keeping their elbows up and sliding their hands close to the body.  (Jon Urbanchek – Univeristy of Michigan)

(2.)  FINGER TIP DRAG – The swimmers drag the tips of the fingers of the recovery hand through the water with a high elbow.  Their hands should remain close to the body.  This drill is sometimes done while running the thumb up the side.

(3.)  SPLASHLESS DRILL – The swimmers should emphasize entering the water without making a splash.  They should run their hands forward, about 8 to 10 inches below the surface, to ride out the stroke to full extension on the side.  (Kathy McKee – Dynamo Swim Club)

(4.)  TARZAN SWIMMING – Have the swimmers swim with their heads up.  Their heads should not move during the drill and they should focus their eyes on a point and make any necessary changes themselves.  This drill helps hand speed and the catch at the top of the stroke.

(5.)  THUMB TRACE – The swimmers should trace their thumb up the side of the body during recovery.  They should feel the high elbow recovery position.

(6.)  WRIST DRAG – With their heads up, have the swimmers drag their entire hand through the water and force the elbow forward.  This teaches shoulder lift as well as a high elbow position.  The water pressure encountered by the hand will elevate the elbow.  This drill also works well with fins.  (Bill Miller – Clarion University)


(1.)  CATCH-UP STROKE – The swimmers pull with one arm while the other arm remains outstretched in front.  They should recover with a high elbow until both hands touch together in front.  This is continued one arm, then the other.  The swimmers need to have a steady kick and breathe every three strokes throughout the drill.  This drill also helps to establish smoothness and hand acceleration at the back part of the stroke. 

(2.)  EXTENDED DOG PADDLE – The swimmers complete the entire stroke cycle, including the recovery, underwater.  Their head should remain above the water and they should concentrate on snapping the wrist at the conclusion of the pull.  This drill is good for press-out at the end of the stroke, extension of the hand, and body roll. 

(3.)  FIST SWIMMING – Have the swimmers’ hands enter the water with fingers extended, but then close the fist during the pull/push phase of the stroke.  This drill allows them to feel pressure on the entire arm, not just the hand.  They should feel the high elbow during the pull/push phase.  This drill is good for adding speed to the pull and emphasizing the acceleration of the hand through the stroke.

(4.)  HAND SCULL DRILL – The swimmers scull their outstretched hand for three-count while on their side.  They should then recover with a full pull and repeat on the opposite side.  (Sherwood Watts – Sarasota Y Sharks)

(5.)  HESITATION DRILL – The swimmers kick a 25 with one arm extended forward and the other arm at their side so that they are swimming on their side with one shoulder out of the water.  The swimmers head position should be looking forward and down so that the surface of the water is between the swimmer’s hairline and the middle of the head.  They should keep a steady kick as their body rolls from side to side.  The swimmers should change sides by doing a good freestyle pull.  Swimmers should breathe quickly every time they switch sides.  They can switch sides every 12.5 yards, every 2-3 seconds, or every 4, 6, 8, or 12 kicks.  This drill helps with the feel of the water while rolling and with bilateral breathing. 

(6.)  ONE ARM FREESTYLE – Swimmers should swim with one arm at their side.  They should breathe on the side with the arm down.  Swimmers should emphasize the acceleration during the back part of the stroke and a high elbow/shoulder during recovery.  This drill is good for establishing the swimmer’s feel of the water.

(7.)  PULLING/SWIMMING WITH HAND PADDLES – Pulling or swimming with hand paddles helps to improve the pattern of the stroke and the feel of the water.  Be careful to use paddles only under supervision.  Using paddles is not recommended for younger swimmers.

(8.)  S-DRILL – Have the swimmers kick on their sides with one arm out in front and their faces in the water.  Swimmers can then watch the arm perform the “S” pull pattern underwater.  (Kathy McKee – D.S.C.)

(9.)  +2, 0, -2 STROKE COUNT DRILL – Have the swimmers swim 2 x 25 and count their strokes to get an average stroke count.  Then go a set such as 12 x 75.  The first 25, of each 75, they should take two strokes over the average.  On the second 25, they should take the average number of strokes.  And on the third 25, have them take two strokes less than the average.  (Kathy McKee – D.S.C.)

(10.)  VIKING DRILL – This drill is done as a 100.  The first 25 the swimmers scull with their arms extended out in front.  The next 25 they scull with their upper arms near their ribcage and their fingers pointed toward the bottom of the pool.  On the third 25 have them scull with their arms extended down to their hips.  The final 25 is full stroke.  While sculling, the swimmers should kick as little as possible.  This drill is excellent for establishing the swimmer’s feel of the water.  (Wally Morton – Cleveland

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Butterfly Drills



(1.)  BREATHING DRILL – The swimmers swim 100s breathing every other stroke on the first length, every third stroke on the second and  third lengths, and every other on the fourth length.  Do not allow for variations with the pattern during the drill.  (Tom Himes – N.B.A.C.)

(2.)  BREATHING PATTERN DRILL – This drill should be done at the end of a hard workout when the swimmers are somewhat fatigued.  Have them swim a set of anywhere between 8 and 12 50s butterfly.  They should alternate breathing patterns, using 3-and-1 (meaning the swimmers take three breaths and then one non-breathing stroke, 2-and-1, 1-and-1, and every arm stroke breathing.  This drill should be repeated over several days and you should discard the patterns that are obviously less effective until you find the one that is consistently faster.  This pattern should be used in races.  If there is no difference in speed between certain patterns, use the one that provides the greatest oxygen supply.  (Ernest W. Maglischo – C.S.U. – Chico)

(1.)  ONE UP DRILL – The swimmers kick on their sides with one arm up and the other arm at their side.  They should concentrate on kicking both ways and moving their feet quickly.  This drill helps to get the hips into the kick. 

(2.)  REVERSE FLY KICK – This drill is butterfly kick on the back.  It can be done with the hands at the side for good hip movement and feel or it can be done with the hands extended for speed kicking and conditioning.  Emphasize to the swimmers that their knees should not break the surface of the water and that they should kick both up and down.  This can also be done with fins.

(3.) SWITCH KICKS – Swimmers do four kicks on their stomach, four kicks on their side, and four kicks on their back.  This drill is good for getting the hips into the kick and for emphasizing  to the swimmers that they must kick both ways.  (Sherwood Watts – S.Y.S.)

(4.)  TIMING DRILL – While on their stomachs, the swimmers do dolphin kick with their arms at their sides.  They should emphasize constant head motion coordinated with breathing.  (Bill Thompson – San Jose Aquatics)

(5.)  UNDERWATER KICKING DRILL – Have the swimmers kick widths of the pool underwater.  This can be done with their hands at their hands at their sides or extended out front in a tight streamline.  They should concentrate on a tight kick from the hips.

(6.)  VERTICAL DOLPHIN KICK – Have the swimmers kick vertically in deep water.  This is a good drill for developing fast feet.  They can hold their hands slightly out of the water for good hip movement and feel or they can totally extend their hands for a fast rhythm.

(1.)  BORO DIVE DRILL – The swimmers dive in, streamline, and take two full strokes with a strong kick.  They should emphasize driving the chest forward at the top of the stroke.  This drill is great for getting the body to surge and the feeling of the stroke.  (Edinboro University)

(2.)  BROKEN 100s – This drill is done as a set of 4 x 100s.  The first one is 25 right arm only and 75 full stroke.  The second 100 is 25 left arm only and 75 full stroke.  The third 100 is 75 right arm only and 25 full stroke.  And the fourth 100 is 75 left arm only and 25 full stroke.  The swimmers should concentrate on a clean entry at shoulder width, arms slightly flexed at entry, and a good underwater stretch.  (Brent Rutemiller – S.A.C.)

(3.)  COMBO DRILL – Have the swimmers take two left arm fly pulls, two full fly strokes, two right arm fly pulls, and two full fly strokes.  They should not breathe during the two full strokes.  This drill is good for timing and instills confidence in the swimmers in their stroke.  (Tom Himes – N.B.A.C.)

(4.)  EXPLOSION SPRINT – This is a short distance sprint for beginners to learn the timing of the stroke.  They should emphasize the snap at the end of the stroke to help initiate the recovery.  Short sprints will give young swimmers success and eventually confidence to begin longer efforts.  (Bill Miller – C.U.)

(5.)  4-4 DRILL – Have the swimmers do four kicks followed by four full strokes.  This drill helps teach the carryover between the kick to the full stroke.  (Edinboro University)

(6.)  FOUR STROKES DRILL – Timing tends to fall off when swimmers tire so have them take four full strokes then some type of drill for the rest of the length.  They should try to build up to 6, 8 , and 10 strokes.  This can be used for distance fly sets of 200 or 300 yards.  (Dan Patton – B.S.L.)

(7.)  ONE ARM FLY – Have the swimmers stroke with one arm while the other arm is extended out front.  They can breathe to the side or out front.  Have them concentrate on a straight arm recovery.  They should enter thumb first so that they can start the outsweep with a good catch.  The hand should accelerate under the body.  This drill teaches kick, stroke, and breath timing. 

(8.)  TEMPO DRILL – Have the swimmers kick four times to establish the leg tempo.  Then they should do two full strokes using that established tempo before repeating four kicks and two full strokes.  (Bill Thompson – S.J. A.)


(1.)  FINGER PRESS DRILL – This drill is done as 12.5s or 25s with or without fins.  They should concentrate on stretching their hands outward during the catch.  Have them sweep their hands inward until the fingers touch.  They should then accelerate the press backward with the fingers touching as long as possible until they separate for recovery.  (Brent Rutemiller – S.A.C.)

(2.)  FIST SWIM FLY – Swimming butterfly with the fist closed forces the swimmer to “grab the barrel” with the entire arm and helps with the high elbow catch.  (Edinboro University)

(3.)  HAND TOUCH DRILL – The swimmers swim full fly stroke touching their hands together at the point where the hands enter the water.  This drill will help eliminate the problem of entering and beginning the pull too wide. 

(4.)  HEAD UP DRILL – This drill helps to correct a swimmer whose entry is too narrow.  The swimmer swims butterfly with his/her head up while doing flutter kick.  They should do four fly strokes like that followed by four strokes of regular butterfly with a dolphin kick.  (Bill Thompson – S.J.A.)

(5.)  PRESS-UPS DRILL – The swimmers press up on the gutter with a single dolphin kick.  They should accelerate on the way up.  This drill helps strengthen the upper body and emphasizes the coordination of the kick and the pull.  (Sherwood Watts – S.Y.S.)

(6.)  STRETCH DRILL – This is a good drill for the finish of butterfly races.  The swimmers do several finishes from about 12-15 yards from the wall while concentrating on stretching into the wall with a strong kick and their head down.  (Dan Patton – B.S.L.)

(7.)  SURFACE DRILL – The swimmers work on the pull pattern by sculling and working the press through.  They should recover underwater and breathe only during the pull.  Be sure they snap their wrists at the end of the pull.

(8.)  THREE FRONT – THREE BACK DRILL – Have the swimmers streamline and do three half pulls in front until their fingers touch underneath their chests.  They then do three finishes pressing back to the point of recovery, followed by three whole strokes.  (Dan Patton – B.S.L.)

Breaststroke Drills



(1.)  4 KICKS UNDERWATER/1 ON TOP – The swimmers should take four kicks underwater before surfacing to take one kick on top of the water.  The swimmers should maintain a tight streamline position during the entire drill.  They should take a breath when they come to the surface for the one kick on top.

(2.)  KICKING ON YOUR BACK – Have the swimmers kick on their backs with their hands either at their side or extended in a streamline position.  Their knees should remain underwater throughout the kick and they should concentrate on a good glide.  This drill allows the swimmers to quickly realize if they are pulling their knees up instead of pulling their feet back to their rear-ends.  This is also a good stretch for the upper quads after a hard set.

(3.)  LINEUP DRILL – Swimmers kick without a board on their stomachs.  They should concentrate on getting their head down between their arms and their body streamlined as they execute the propulsive phase of their kick.  They should push down with their hands or use a very small sculling motion to get a breath during the leg recovery.  The purpose of this drill is to teach swimmers to streamline their body during the propulsive phase of the kick.

(4.)  NO BOARD KICKING – The swimmers should extend their arms backward beside their hips and attempt to touch their feet to their hands as they finish the leg recovery and begin the propulsive phase of the kick.  This drill is done while the swimmers are on their stomachs and is excellent for teaching the proper leg recovery.  As an advanced drill, this can be done with the chin on the surface of the water.

(5.)  VERTICAL KICKING – Have the swimmers kick vertically in deep water.  They should keep their hands out of the water and concentrate on a fast kick turnover.


(1.)  MULTIPLES DRILL – Have the swimmers take two or three pullouts off of each wall.  This drill is great for fast 25s or 50s or as a part of longer sets.  (Dan Patton – B.S.L.)

(2.)  1 PULL/3 KICKS or 1 PULL/2 KICKS – During the kicks the swimmers should maintain a tight streamline position with their heads tucked down between their arms.  This drill is good for reinforcing the streamline at the end of the stroke.

(3.)  PULLOUT PROGRESSION – The swimmers should push off the wall in a streamline position and glide to the surface.  The next step is to push off the wall, pull, and glide to the surface.  They should then push off the wall, pull, kick, and then take a second pull exploding out of the water as high as possible.  (Tom Himes – N.B.A.C.)

(4.)  STEP DRILL – This drill is done during a set of 25s breaststroke.  On the first one they should take three pullouts.  On the second one they should take two pullouts, and on the third 25, they should take one pullout.  Then repeat.  This drill helps to condition the swimmers to take full pullouts off each turn.  Kathy McKee – D.S.C.)

(5.)  3-2-1 DRILL – This is a 200 yard drill that can be used to improve distance per stroke and emphasize proper streamlining.  The swimmers swim 50 yards with a three-count glide.  Then 50 yards with a two-count glide and 50 yards with a one-count glide.  They should hold a tight streamline position while gliding.  They finish the 200 with a 50 of full stroke breaststroke.  (Bill Miller – C.U.)


(1.)  BREASTSTROKE PULL – FLUTTER KICK – The swimmers should pull breaststroke while doing a rapid flutter kick.  This drill is good for increasing turnover.  The swimmers should emphasize fast hands and fast feet.

(2.)  ELBOW SQUEEZE DRILL – The swimmers should swim 25s concentrating on squeezing their elbows together in front of their chests.  They should shrug their shoulders in order to lift the body high out of the water and to speed up recovery.  (Brent Rutemiller – S.A.C.)

(3.)  HALF-PULL BREASTSTROKE – The swimmers do a half pull so that their arms stay in front and are fast from the end of the up sweep to the end of recovery.  This is a good drill to prevent over-pulling.  (Dan Patton – B.S.L.)

(4.)  HAND SPEED DRILL – Have the swimmers swim with their hands laced together and fully extended.  They should bounce their hands off their chests and recover as quickly as possible.  The swimmers should bounce their hands off their chests three times along with doing one kick with a two-count glide.  The fourth time they should pull, kick, and glide to a count of two.  (Sherwood Watts – S.Y.S.)

(5.)  OUT-SLOW, IN-FAST DRILL – Swimmers pull in a horizontal position during this drill.  They sweep out with their arms slowly and gently until the water is behind their arms and then scull in fast and hard.  This is an excellent drill for teaching swimmers how to make a good catch and to emphasize the phase of the arm stroke where propulsive force belongs, that is, in the insweep.  (Ernest W. Maglischo – C.S.U. – Chico)

(6.)  PULLING IN AN INNERTUBE – The tube should be placed just under the armpits and should be large enough for the swimmer to move relatively freely.  This helps to create a natural arm pull and the sculling action.  (Edinboro University)
(7.)  PULLING WITH PADDLES AND LEG TUBES – This will help to develop strength for longer breaststroke races.  Sets such as 6 x 150 or 5 x 200 will help accomplish the needed effect.

(8.)  SCULLING PROGRESSION DRILL – The first step is to have the swimmers scull while upright in deep water.  Next, have them scull on their stomachs with their hands out in front.  They should start narrow and progress to wider sculling.  Then, while still on their stomachs and with their elbows up and forward, they should scull their hands in and out quickly and up underneath their chin.  The sculling should resemble windshield wipers.  This drill can be used to help the swimmers feel the sculling action of the stroke.  (Kathy McKee – D.S.C.)

(9.)  3 PULLS/1 KICK or 2 PULLS/1 KICK – The swimmers legs should remain straight during the pulls.  They should concentrate on a strong pull.  (Edinboro University)

(10.)  3 PULLS – 3 WHOLE STROKES – During the three pulls, the swimmers should not kick at all, letting their legs drag behind them.  This drill helps to reinforce the carry-over between drills and the whole stroke.  (Edinboro University)


(1.)  BREASTSTROKE PULL – DOLPHIN KICK – This drill can be done with or without fins.  It gives the feeling of moving over the bow wave and riding downhill.  This drill can be used to enhance timing and rhythm and to speed up the arm stroke.

(2.)  RUSSIAN BUILD UP DRILL – This drill can be done as 75s or as 150s.  This should not be done slowly, this should be done at a very quick pace.  Have the swimmers do a 25 pull only/25 doing 2 pulls and 1 kick/25 swim.  Then they do a 25 kick only/25 doing 1 pull and 2 kicks/25 swim. 

(3.)  STROKE COUNT DRILL – This drill is done during a set of 25s or 50s.  The swimmers should try to drop the number of strokes taken by emphasizing the pull, the kick, and the reach.  Counting strokes per lap tends to help the swimmers concentrate on reaching and making a full recovery before starting the next stroke.  (Tom Himes – N.B.A.C.)

(4.)  TIMING DRILL – The swimmers take a full breaststroke cycle and a 2-3 second glide in a streamline position.  Then repeat with the glide cut down to 1-2 seconds.  They should then take a normal stroke and repeat.