As you read in the previous post, having good balance in swimming is important if you want to improve your swimming, especially freestyle and backstroke.
Here is why you need to be balanced.
- Being balanced in water let’s you relax,
- If you’re struggling to balance, you won’t be able to focus on stroke details.
- The secret to balance is the core, the secret to swimming is the core,
- Most beginner swimmers think they are balanced. Most beginner swimmers are not,
- Next to breathing, balance is our bodies second biggest reflex. If you’re unbalanced your body will override everything else to get in balance.
Now, there’s two types of balance in swimming; horizontal and vertical.
Horizontal swimming balance is for breast stroke and butterfly. It deals with finding the balance between your upper body and your lower body.
Vertical swimming balance is for balancing the left side and the right side of the body. Like backstroke and freestyle.
Vertical swimming balance is what the next swimming drills will focus on.
Vertical Swimming Balance Drill #1: Both hands on side.
For this drill, begin with both arms at your side, face in the water. Rotate your hips to one side. Try to balance on your side.
You probably won’t be able to do it. What you will do, is roll over on to your back.
And this is the scary part. I’m not sure why but beginning swimmers are always afraid of rolling over.
Once you you’ve learned that you can roll over on to your back without he world collapsing on you, then it is much easier to balance on your side.
If your legs drop and sink, use a pull buoy to help keep them up.
Obviously, repeat for both sides.
When first learning the drill, do it without moving…just floating. Then try it while kicking. It’s actually easier to do while kicking, especially with fins.
Vertical Swimming Balance Drill #2: Bottom arm in front, top arm at side.
Like the title says, you’ll have your bottom arm extended in front, and the top on arm relaxed on your side.
Do the drill first, by just floating. Then later, you can add a kick.
The top arm should be about 12 to 18 inches below the surface on the water. Don’t make the common mistake of keeping the hand on the surface.
Try to balance on your side. I like to have my swimmers go for 90 degrees but anything between 45 and 90 degrees is good.
You face should be in the water, looking down. So at first, you might only hold the position for ten seconds or so, until you run out of air.
When you’re comfortable with balancing on your side, turn your head to get a breath and place your face back in the water.
The common mistake is to roll back on to your stomach as your face goes into the water. To do this correctly, only the head turns while your body is balancing on the side.
If there’s a swim ladder or pole, you can hold that with your lead arm to assist you in your swimming balance.
The next step, is to add kicking. 25 yards on your right side, 25 yards on your left.
This is a great drill to teach you how to breathe on both sides.
As your balance improves, focus on relaxing and body position. You want a straight line from your palm, down your arm, past your ribs, hips and bottom leg.
Also keep your eyes down towards the bottom of the pool.
Do not look forward, as you want a straight line from the top of the head down the spine as well.
Spend five to ten minutes practicing these drills. In the next blog post, you’ll learn the next step in the progression and how it quickly improves your stroke.