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7 Freestyle Drills for All Swimmers

7 Freestyle Drills for All Swimmers

If you’ve been on the hunt for all the drills to improve your skills in the pool, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right into some of the absolute best freestyle drills you can start incorporating into your routine now for noticeable results. 

No expertise needed! These drills work for anyone of any ability level. 

What Are Freestyle Drills?

Freestyle swimming drills are targeted exercises that break down and refine specific aspects of your freestyle stroke. Drills might focus on improving your kick, strengthening your arm pull, enhancing your body rotation, or even perfecting your breathing rhythm. 

The key benefit of drills is that they give you the opportunity to slow down, pay close attention to your form, and gain the proper muscle memory and movement patterns that will allow you to make small changes that will get big results. 

What Is the Purpose of Swimming Drills?

By isolating the smaller, more manageable components of your stroke, drills help you to identify and address any technical weaknesses you may have. Whether you’re a beginner swimmer looking to build a solid freestyle foundation or an experienced athlete aiming to shave seconds off of your times, incorporating drills can be helpful for anyone.

By systematically working on the building blocks of your stroke, you’ll develop a greater feel for the water, increased efficiency, and overall enhanced performance in the pool! 

What Are Some Kick-Focused Drills?

Kick-focused drills will help you maximize the efficiency of your kicks and build your leg strength at the same time. Here are a couple of drills that can help with that.

Flutter Kick on Your Back

To do this drill, you will want to start swimming freestyle on your back. Focus on a strong, steady flutter kick. How long/far you swim is up to you. Just remember that the focus should be on your kicks.

As you kick, you’ll know that you’re doing it right if you feel your efforts in the tops of your thighs, lower abs, lower back, and glutes. Remember: in a flutter kick, your hip should be the hinge, and the rest of your leg just finishes the kick. This tip is key to improving both form and stamina. 

If you want to take this drill onto dry land, you can actually do that, too! Lay flat on your back on a mat or soft surface and put your feet about six inches off the ground. Then, use your leg and core strength to execute quick flutter kicks. 

No doubt, you won’t be able to do this as long as you would be able to in the pool because it requires a lot of core strength. Do what you can, and building that core will help your swimming efforts as well as your abs! 

Kicking With a Kickboard

Obtaining a kickboard is an absolute must if you’re serious about improving your kick. They are fairly inexpensive, making it a worthwhile and achievable purchase.

To do a kickboard drill that is great for beginners and experts alike, hold a kickboard out in front of you and swim freestyle, emphasizing a powerful and consistent kick. Again, it’s up to you to choose the distance and time you want to achieve. 

When doing kicking drills, it’s worthwhile to consider how your kicks correspond with and complement your breath. Try to get into a steady rhythm that works for you.

What Are Some Drills To Help With Arm Technique and Strength?

Listen, we’ve all seen those Olympic swimmers’ shoulders. It should come as no surprise that if you want to become a great swimmer, you need some serious arm strength. 

Here are a few drills to help you improve your technique:

Closed-Fist Freestyle

Swim freestyle with your hands clenched tightly in fists. This action forces you to engage your forearms as you swim, which will improve your catch. 

This one will feel a little unnatural at first, as drills often do. Once you get the hang of it, you will see how great it works to improve your stroke!

Finger Drag Drill

This simple drill will get you some great results. The fingertip drag is one of the oldest swimming drills in the books, and it’s survived the test of time for good reason! It’s simple to explain and execute and will help you practice a high-elbow recovery.

All you have to do with this drill is to swim freestyle, and on the recovery of your stroke, drag your fingers right along the surface of the water. You want to imagine a scraping motion, making sure they never lose contact with the surface. That’s literally all there is to it!

What Are Some Drills I Can Do To Help With Coordination? 

Anyone who has been swimming for any length of time knows how much coordination is required in this sport. From breathing techniques to head turns and the coordination of legs and arms, there’s a lot to think about! 

Here are a few drills to help:

3- Strokes, 6- Kicks

For this drill, take three freestyle strokes, then balance on your side with six kicks. Repeat on alternating sides. Keep repeating for the distance of your choice. We recommend 25 or 50 meters before resting or alternating with easy swimming. 

This drill works on rotation. Try to focus on originating the rotation from your hips and legs, not your arms and shoulders, which is what many people tend to do without thinking. Again, that’s the whole purpose of drills! We need to get out of our own way, get out of our comfort zones, and fine-tune our techniques. 

Catchup Drill

We love this drill, but it does require a little bit of (inexpensive) equipment. The catchup drill will help you to improve your stroke timing and force you to be more patient in the water. 

You’ll need a piece of PVC piping or stick that’s about half a meter long. Honestly, a kickboard or a pool noodle would do the trick as well, so if you already have one, there’s no need to go for something else. 

Hold onto the object of your choice, keeping your arms extended in front of you in a streamlined position. Maintain a high, balanced body position, keeping hands directly in front of shoulders.

Here’s the key: As you swim freestyle, delay each stroke until your recovering arm finishes each motion and “catches up” to your extended arm. This will help you to develop a more efficient, cohesive freestyle technique. 

What Is an Effective “Whole Stroke” Drill?

Super Slow Swimming

One of our favorite go-to freestyle drills is called super slow swimming, a technique that forces you to hyperfocus on your stroke mechanics and body position. And, yes, it’s just what it sounds like.

The name of the drill says it all. You’ll need to fight against your natural urge to swim quickly and instead move through the water with super slow, deliberate strokes. 

This will force you to maintain an even, controlled tempo. If you don’t, your body starts to sink in between each pull. If that happens, it’s a clue that your rhythm is off.

To execute the drill properly, you’ll need to kick consistently to keep your hips high, nail your hand entry, and focus on a clean, powerful pulling motion. For an added challenge, try incorporating a pull-buoy between your legs to over-emphasize the kick and pull. 

How To Stay Motivated During Pool Workouts

If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut, believe it or not, drills might help to get you out of it. However, if you still feel like you need a little more motivation, you could try:

  • Getting a swim coach: Even if it’s only temporarily, this could be the push you need to get working in the pool.

  • Listen to music:Underwater headphones have come a long way. Getting yourself a pair, using the app, and having your favorite playlist in the water with you could make a huge difference.

  • Meditate in the morning: This might sound unrelated to swimming, but a short daily meditation can really help with motivation as well as relaxation.

  • Remember your goals: Why did you start swimming? What are you training for? Remembering your “why” can really help when motivation starts to wane.


Try some of these effective drills to improve your technique, stamina, and strength. If you find yourself deviating from proper technique during drills, simply correct yourself and move on! 

Life is too short to worry about perfection. However, with attention to proper form and the right set of drills, you can rest assured that you can come pretty darn close. Grab your swim cap, your favorite pair of headphones, and your list of drills, and get to the pool! 


6 Freestyle Drills for Better Technique and Faster Swimming | Swim Swam

5 Freestyle Drills For Beginner Swimmers | My Swim Pro

Two Freestyle Drills | U.S. Masters Swimming

Swimming : Top Drills For Freestyle | NATA

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