While many swimmers feel that Freestyle is the easiest stroke to learn, it can be the most difficult stroke to master. Because so many aspects of the stroke can be tweaked, it can take a while to get it just right. This iSport lesson will show you ways to improve your freestyle by pointing out the stroke’s most common slip-ups.
One of the most common freestyle mistakes is looking forward as you swim. In order to align your spine correctly, you must fight the urge to look toward the wall. If you look forward, your hips drop in the water. This forces your spine to curve, it releases your core, and it adds resistance in the water. To fix this, look down toward the black line at the bottom of the pool. Relax your neck and you’ll feel your hips rise toward the surface. If looking straight down makes you feel uneasy, try looking forward at an angle. You’ll still be looking at the black line, but slightly in front of you.
Another common issue is swimming flat, meaning your stomach always faces the bottom of the pool. You should, however, be rotating from side to side as you swim. Swimming flat can lead to serious shoulder injuries, including tendonitis and rotator cuff issues. To fix this, rotate your body as you take each stroke. As you reach out in front of you on your stroke, extend your arm all the way until you feel your body rotate to the side. This should cause your other shoulder to roll out of the water. Your belly button should be pointing more toward the side of the pool than the black line on the bottom.
Bending your knees while kicking is another problem many swimmers make. Bent knees do not propel you efficiently in the water. It actually takes a lot of effort and creates resistance, making it quite exhausting. Instead, kick from the hips and keep your legs straight. Keeping your kicks small and fast will make it easier to straighten your legs.
Quite possibly the most common mistake in freestyle is pulling crooked. As they pull, swimmers often weave their hand under their belly and point their fingertips toward the wall. The trajectory on this pull slips a ton of water. This happens most often as the swimmer breathes. If this happens to you, watch your hand as you pull and pay attention to where your fingertips are pointing. They should be pointing straight down toward the bottom of the pool. During your breath, think about pulling straight and feeling for it. If you’re having trouble, ask someone to watch you. They can point out what they’re seeing.
And lastly, breathing late is another common mistake because it can affect your entire stroke. Many swimmers start their breath after their hand exits the water. It is very hard to balance in this position. This can also cause you to swallow water. If you have this problem, overcompensate by trying to breathe early. As soon as your hand enters the water for your pull, start your breath. To keep your breath quick, roll your head back into the water as soon as your hand exits the water during your recovery.
All of these freestyle mistakes are common, but very fixable. Once you identify what you can work on, just concentrate on that aspect of your stroke. Practicing each aspect of your stroke properly will engrain good habits into your muscle memory.
Here's a review of how to fix your freestyle stroke:
Look toward the bottom of the pool.
Rotate as you swim.
Keep your legs straight on your kick.
Point your fingertips downward on your pull.