Five ways you mess up your freestyle
By Ea Francisco
Whether you’re swimming competitively or just for exercise, freestyle is the go-to stroke for every person. Despite it’s simplicity, there are still a lot of ways to get it wrong and these can hinder your progress. Catch yourself early and see if you’re guilty of making these mistakes.
One of the most common and most instinctive mistakes made by swimmers is having their head looking forward. It could probably be force of habit or the intentional urge to see where you’re going, but the point is that it’s not proper form. Looking up sinks your hips and adds drag. Align and straighten your body up to your head. When in streamline, your biceps should be tucked near your ears and your chin tucked in. If you’re doing it right, you should be facing the bottom of the pool.
No Body Rotation
Swimming is a full-body sport, and this includes your core. One mistake swimmers do is not rotating their hips with the movement of their arms and shoulders. In order to maximize efficiency of your pull, you should coordinate your hips and shoulders. This makes for a long and powerful stroke, and ensures a fluid motion that doesn’t create drag. The movement shouldn’t be too exaggerated and should feel as if you’re moving with the water. When in streamline, your biceps should be tucked near your ears and your chin tucked in. If you’re doing it right, you should be facing the bottom of the pool
Breathing is Off
When you breathe, your head shouldn’t go up the water. You don’t look up to breathe rather you turn your head to the side just enough to get a gasp of air. You don’t have to put your whole face out. It should still be half under the waterline with your breathing coordinated with your arm movement.
There are various ways your hand entry could be wrong. One could be that they’re crossing to the opposite side when it returns. This causes your body to sway and add extra drag. Another mistake is when your entry is too short, forcing your body to go down and requiring excess effort to recover. Above the water, you lift your elbow; it should be higher than your hand. Also, keep your hand flat and enter with your fingers first.
Kicking Too Hard
Your kick is just as important as your pull, and mistakes in your kick can easily drag you down. Kicking too hard here means that your legs are making large movements that become inefficient. There could even be tendencies when your knees would bend as you kick. The proper way to do it is to have small and fast kicks with minimal splashes. Too much movement is wasted effort. It should be rhythmic and coordinated with your pull and the rest of your body.
It’s important to practice the right form because it can easily render whatever exercise useless. If you don’t correct your form early on, it gets harder later on. The best way to monitor your form is to do drills or use different equipment, such as fins and paddles. Also, try going slow on some days, so you can focus on perfecting your form.