Whether you are just getting started with swimming or you’ve been swimming for years, working on improving your stroke technique is one of the most important things you can do.

Focusing on technique drills helps you swim faster, get a better workout, burn more calories, reduce your chance of injury, and of course have more fun in the water!

These 5 swimming drills are perfect for beginner swimmers:

Listen to this podcast episode:

If you’re looking for more advanced freestyle drills, check out this video.


What is a swimming drill?

A drill is an exercise done specifically to help your swimming technique. It’s usually a modified version of one of the four competitive strokes like Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, or Freestyle. A drill is designed to help you focus on a specific part of the technique, like your arm position, kicking, or breathing.

Remember water is 800x more dense than air so because you’re moving through a medium of water that has a lot of resistance, any improvement in stroke technique can have a big impact on how efficiently you move through the water.

Related: How To Swim Freestyle with Perfect Technique


3 Strokes & 6 Kicks Drill

The 3 Strokes & 6 Kicks Drill helps you balance your freestyle stroke and improves your coordination by taking three strokes, then balancing on your side for six kicks.

Focus on driving the rotation with your hips and legs rather than your arms and add a pair of fins to help keep your body position high.

Related: Couch to 1k Swim Training Plan


Catchup Drill

The Catchup Drill will help you improve your stroke timing and patience in the water.

If you have a piece of PVC pipe or any stick that’s about half a meter in length, you can use it by holding your arms out in a streamline position and delaying the next stroke until your recovering arm finishes. We also recommend buying a foam swimming noodle, and cutting it with a pair of scissors.

Focus on keeping your body position high and when you return your hands to the neutral position in front of your head make sure they’re directly in front of your shoulder as if you were to take the next stroke.

Related: How MySwimPro Boosted My Swim Training


6-Kick Switch Drill

The 6-Kick Switch Drill is a fundamental drill in freestyle that works on balance.

Take 6 kicks while balancing on your side and your head is down, then take a single stroke and balance on your opposite side for another 6 kicks.

Great freestyle technique involves continuous rotation from side to side and this drill helps you find balance. Adding fins is a great way to complement this drill and help you keep a high body position.

Related: How To Do a Flipturn


Fist Drill

The Fist Drill is the single best technique to improve your freestyle catch.

If you have access to whiffle balls or tennis balls, swim with them in your hands and feel the connection with your forearm. Because you’re decreasing the surface area of your hands, the rest of your arms will have to step up and pull more water.

When you return to regular freestyle, your hands will feel really big! It’s important to keep the same mechanics you had with the balls in your hands to get the most benefit from the drill.

Related: 10 Health Benefits of Swimming


Zipper Drill

The Zipper Drill focuses on keeping your elbow high through the recovery phase of the freestyle stroke.

As you finish your underwater pull and your hand exits the water, focus on keeping your elbow above your hand. As your hand reaches forward the thumb of your recovering hand passes gently across your torso into your armpit.

It’s as if you’re zipping up the side of your body with your thumb. This drill works on balance, high elbows, and keeping a consistent stroke rate at all phases of the freestyle stroke.

Related: Learning How To Swim At The Age of 53

We hope you enjoy these 5 free freestyle drills for beginner swimmers! Try them out and let us know what you think!

If you’re looking for more drills, download the MySwimPro app and unlock a full library of technique videos, workouts and drills. Get started with a free 7-day trial of MySwimPro ELITE.

One thought on “5 Freestyle Drills For Beginner Swimmers

  1. Your description that says “It’s as if you’re zipping up the side of your body with your thumb” was perfect. I will try it when I get back to the pool.

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