If swimmers want to develop an efficient freestyle stroke, they need to learn to get their elbows high into the air and glide on the side of their bodies in the water. American record breaker Josh Davis uses the “Thumb Drag” or “Zipper” drill to teach these concepts to swimmers of all ages.
Drill Summary: Swimmers push off the wall and swim the length of the pool using a freestyle stroke. The key to this drill is dragging the thumb of each hand up the side of the body until it touches the arm pit on every stroke. This will ensure swimmers get their elbows pointing up and help them develop a rhythm in the water.
This video came from Championship Productions’ video “Josh Davis on Everything Swimming: All 4 Strokes, Starts and Turns.” View other world class Swimming & Diving videos!
University of North Carolina head coach Rich DeSelm uses the “Combination Drill” to promote staying low and gliding through the water. This exercises gives athletes a drill that will help them improve their stroke, without the extra fatigue of doing continuous reps of the full stroke.
Drill Summary: Swimmers push off the wall and scull four times. After that, they take two butterfly strokes (being sure to breathe on one or both strokes). Do this drill twice in a row on the way down the pool, then turn around and do it twice on the way back.
2013 ACC Men’s Swim Coach of the Year Braden Holloway takes you through a few of the drills he uses to build a strong core for his swimmers. These dryland alignment drills will help build endurance and create strong body connections from head to toe.
Drill Summary: The first exercise presented is “Knee Tucks.” To perform a knee tuck, the athlete places both feet on an exercise ball and puts their hands on the ground, shoulder width apart. From this position, the athlete brings their knees up close to their chest, rolling in tight with the exercise ball. The second exercise presented is the “Rotation Drill.” In the rotation drill, the athlete begins the exercise in the same position as they started the knee tuck, but with both feet spread further apart. To execute a rep, the athlete rolls the ball slowly side to side, until their feet touch the floor on both sides. You can also switch the position of the ball to the chest to work the upper body in the rotation drill.
This video came from Championship Productions’ video “Dryland Training for Maximizing Swimming Performance.” View other world class Swimming & Diving videos!
Bill Dorenkott, Ohio State head women’s swimming coach, uses the “Forward Start with Butterfly Breakout Half Cycle Glide for Distance” drill to make sure his swimmers are being as efficient as possible on every butterfly start. This drill will increase explosiveness and allow swimmers to achieve maximum speed with minimum effort.
Drill Summary: For this drill, the swimmer takes their mark and begins by executing a forward start. On their breakout, the swimmer focuses on maintaining momentum from their start in their first cycle. Once their first cycle is completed, the swimmer glides for as long as they can. The next progression of this drill is to increase to three cycles. When doing three cycles, it’s still important to allow the momentum of the start to carry the swimmer through their first cycle and a half so they can conserve energy for later in the race.
In this drill, Dr. Sam Freas of Oklahoma Baptist University teaches swimmers how to maintain good body position when using the freestyle stroke. Drills like this helped Dr. Freas lead the Bison to the title at the 2014 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.
Drill Summary: For this drill, coach Freas places a rope about six inches under the water (held down by a weight belt) about five yards off the end of the lane. Swimmers will need to wear a weight belt around their waist to do this drill as well. To begin, the swimmer pushes off the wall and swims under the rope, focusing on staying down and keeping their head flat to their back. Once they’ve made it under the rope, the swimmer breaks out into their stroke. Coach Freas stresses the importance of keeping the feet up during the stroke to increase power. During the first rep’s breakout, have the swimmer keep their head up. On the second rep, have them keep their head down. After a few reps, remove the weight belt and do the drill again without the added weight.