Get your stroke right by doing it wrong

By Ea Francisco

There are a number of ways to improve your strokes. One is to correct it while doing your regular swim, and another is to do drills. Drills break down the components of your stroke and help you correct them. Drills isolate certain parts so you can keep working on it without being too concerned with the rest. These are a few examples that can help improve your stroke.

One arm pull

This drill is similar to a regular freestyle, except you only pull with one arm with the other fixed forward. It allows you to work on the pull of your freestyle one arm at a time. It also helps your breathing and kicking techniques, and even lets you concentrate on the power of each arm.

Side kick

If you don’t have a kickboard, you can use this drill to develop your kick and balance in the water. To do this, extend one arm in front and the other on your side. You won’t be moving your arms, but you have to keep turning your head to breathe while maintaining your kick.

Closed-fist freestyle

As the name says, it’s just doing a normal freestyle, but your hands will be in fists. The way your upper body moves is that you grab as much surface area and pull yourself forward. In this drill, you remove the surface area from your hands, so you highlight your forearm’s efforts. Being able to utilize both hands and forearms strengthens your pull and gives you more distance for less strokes.


Being able to maximize the reach of your arm is essential, so this drill is made to correct short-hand entry and to reach out in front during recovery. Catch-up is doing a normal freestyle, but one hand is performing a pull and the other is extended and waiting. The extended hand waits for the other to completely return to its streamline position.


One of the most versatile swimming drills has to be sculling. It benefits all four strokes and can be done in several variations. Also, it’s made to get a better feel of the water and to correct your technique. The basic method of sculling is to have your palms facing down and your hands moving in a circular movement. One example of a sculling variation is the front sculling. Here, your arms are extended forward with your elbows bent and your feet kicking. Your fingers are pointing outwards, and you move your hands just like the normal circular movement of sculling.


Elbow bend

This drill can help improve your arm recovery. It’s like a regular freestyle, except it emphasizes your high elbow. When your arm is bent and high, hold it for a second to perfect the form before letting it return.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest sports news and active lifestyle and fitness features you need