This drill was originally published on February 16, 2007
Every swimmer wants to have super-fast freestyle flip turns, and wants to execute them with vigorous authority. Sometimes, however, this desire creates more problems than it solves.
The desire to do flip turn quickly and with authority can often cause swimmers to over-use their hands. It’s OK to use your hands when you are first learning how to flip, because the hands will help you initiate your somersault. But once you learn the move, you need to rely less on your hands and more on your core body and legs to initiate the flip. Once you’ve learned the flip turn, the key assignment for your hands is that they have to BE READY for a STREAMLINED pushoff.
Many swimmers, in their desire for speed, try to use their hands WAY too much. Instead of going faster, they end up getting stuck in too tight of a ball… and then have to uncoil their body DURING the push off. By the time the push off occurs, the arms should be ready, in their connected, torpedo-like shape, to accept all the power that’s coming.
Why Do It:
We all know that in a race, you are never faster than when you push off the wall. If your hands aren’t in streamline at the moment of the push, you will be wasting a lot of power and a lot of speed. So you want to do everything you can to get your hands in position quickly and smoothly.
How to Do It:
1. Approach the wall in the proper way, which means keep your head down and keep your kick going so that you don’t lose momentum.
2. Press your hands down, palms facing the bottom to help you initiate your rotation, but…
3. … that’s it for the hands. Wherever the hands end up after initiating the rotation, that’s where they will stay. Their job now is to get ready for the streamline. The hands help to start the turn, but now your abs, your legs, and the momentum created by your tight tuck will take over.
4. Get the hands together BEFORE the feet get to the wall, then push off… in a streamline position.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
When you really want to play with the freestyle flip turn, don’t even press down with the hands… let them totally relax in the back. Then, once you’re rolling, let them float. Try doing turns without using your hands at all, and learn to use your momentum, and the rest of your body, to spin you around.
The ENTIRE point of this drill, or focus, is to create more FLOW on your flip turns — whether for freestyle or backstroke. The goal is to eliminate ANY delay between when your feet are ready to push off… and when your hands are ready to streamline. The two things should happen at the same time… and the hands should get into position with no hesitation and with no jerky or sudden movements.
Think about what the hands are doing in the flip turn, and get them ready for what they’re really needed for… splitting the water in the push off.