How could such a simple drill help you work on so many aspects of technique? Single-Arm Freestyle is one of the oldest drills in the book…and one of the most valuable. Here’s why.
At first glance, and to the uneducated eye, Single-Arm Freestyle looks like it’s all about the PULL. But if you take a look at the drill from under water, and then try it for yourself, you’ll quickly realize that it’s about ROTATION, too. And if you look even closer…and try it with more thought, you’ll find that it’s also about BALANCE…and how to BREATHE… and WHEN to breathe. And if you keep on searching, you’ll start to notice that when you’re balanced, and rotating, and breathing correctly, your ENTIRE BODY is helping you to pull.
Why Do It:
By taking away the speed, power, and leveraging force you’d get from your 2nd arm, you’ll be forced to be as perfect as possible in every other aspect of your stroke. That alone is enough reason to do this drill, but if you need more…do it to teach yourself what it’s like to really rotate while you swim freestyle.
How To Do It:
1. Push off in streamline, with both arms extended. Initiate your first stroke with either arm (we’ll stroke first with the left arm, for illustration). When you take your first stroke, don’t recover that arm; simply leave it at your side.
2. Start stroking with your right arm, and continue swimming in your normal rhythm, but only with your right arm.
3. While you’re stroking along with your right arm, focus your attention on your left shoulder. Feel how it breaks the surface of the water as you reach forward to anchor the hand for your next stroke.
4. As you begin your pull with your right arm, focus your attention down your right side. Feel the connection of your lats and your back as you try to grab as much water as possible. Think about holding the water with your forearm and pulling yourself forward.
5. When it’s time to breathe, rotate your head with your right shoulder, and turn, don’t lift, to get your breath. Without the other arm to help hold you up, you’ll need to make sure you’re rotating to air, and not pushing up to air. And you will need to rotate QUICKLY.
How To Do It Well (the Fine Points:
Maintain a constant rhythm once you start swimming. Focus on the centerline of your body, and rotate around that line. Keep your head very still and eyes focused on the bottom until it’s time to breathe. Feel how your body rotates around this stable head position, and really think about getting the opposite shoulder completely clear of the water. Make sure you have blown out all your air BEFORE your mouth clears the surface for a breath.