Front Crawl Drills
Dept. of Physical Education, Health, Dance &
- Deck Drills - good for warm-ups
- Stand on a step or side of the pool if possible so one leg can
swing back and forth without hitting the ground. Swing the leg from the
hip with the knee and foot relaxed. Notice when the knee bends naturally.
Once you've learned it in slow motion, you can increase the speed until
you feel like you are "whipping" your lower leg back and forth.
- Stand on the deck with one foot forward slightly and the other back.
Feet no more than a foot apart. Jump slightly and switch which foot is
forward and which is back. Repeat this movement as if doing an aerobic
exercise. In water aerobics, it is called a cross-country leg action.
- Sit on the edge of the pool with the legs overhanging the water. This
works best when the water level is lower than the deck. Lean back and
legs straight, imitate the flutter kick from the hips.
- Water Drills
- Flutter kick while holding onto the side of the pool. Works best if
one hand in on the top of the wall and the other is directly below it
approximately 18" deep for support.
- Kick while gliding away from the wall. Can be done without kickboards
or with with kickboards.
- Exploration drills. This drills are meant to help students feel their
kick better and to help them correct their own mistakes. Obviously, some
of these ask the student to do it wrong so they can feel the correct form
- Kick as fast as you can.
- Kick as slow as you can.
- Kick with lots of splash.
- Kick with no splash.
- Kick with no leg bend at all.
- Kick as if riding a bicycle.
- Flutter kick on your side. Can use empty milk jugs for support or
other flotation device. Helps the student to feel the kick both forward
- Kick with fins on.
- Kick across the pool with head up. If swimmer can do this and keep
mouth above water for breathing, they know they have a very strong kick.
This is also called "alligator kicking". Good self-test drill.
- Don't point the toes. This will cause a cramp in the arch of the
Rather relax the ankle and let the force of the water move the ankle joint
for maximum force from the foot.
- Don't pull the foot backward. Pull the knee back instead. Pulling
foot back often causes the cramp in the calf.
Front Crawl Breathing Rules
- Do not hold your breath. If you are not inhaling, you should
constantly exhaling slowly through both your nose and your mouth. Holding
your breath can cause water to go up the nose.
- Exhale into the water. If you don't exhale, you can't inhale.
You don't have time to both exhale and inhale above water, so it better to
exhale when your face is in the water and inhale when your face is above
- Do not lift the head when you breathe. This is one of the
mistakes and it causes the feet to sink and water to go up the nose. Keep
the forehead down and the chin slightly tucked while you turn both the
and the body to get your breathe.
- Open your mouth to inhale. Do not attempt to breathe in
a small opening. This increases the pressure and the chance that you'll
swallow water. If your mouth is open wide and you get some water, just
spit it back out after getting your air. This is normal and should not
cause you to panic.
- Inhale quickly and exhale slower. You inhale quickly when the
head is turned and the arm is in the correct position. But you will
much slower so that it continues until the next inhalation.
- Open your mouth when you exhale. Do not attempt to exhale
through the nose. Some of your air will come out the nose anyway, but
forcing it all out the nose can disturb the sensitive membranes. If your
nose drains or you get headaches after you swim, check the way you exhale.
- Turn your head to breathe as you pull. Timing the head turn to
the arm pull is crucial to breathing correctly. You can not wait until
arm gets back before turning your head. You must do those motions at the
same time. Attempt to get your head turned just prior to the hand coming
out of the water.
Front Crawl Arm Pull Drills
- Practice the pull while standing in the water.
- Practice the pull just one arm at a time while the other holds onto a
milk jug or kickboard. This is a good drill to practice breathing.
- Practice the pull just one arm at a time without a floatation device.
This is called "catch-up" swimming.
- Practice the pull without bringing the arms out of the water. This
been called the "human stroke" or the "beginner stroke."
- Swim with a close fist for a distance and then with hands open.
This can increase the "feel" for the water.
- Swim with hand paddles. Again, this increases the feel for the pull.
- Swim with pull-buoys between the legs. This reduces the effect of the
kick on the body.
- At the end of each pull, touch the thumb to the leg. This makes sure
the swimmer is pulling all the way back.
Front Crawl Arm Recovery Drills
- Practice shoulder shrugs forward while standing on deck or in the
and arms hanging relaxed at sides. Start with both shoulders moving
forward at the same time and then alternate the shrugs. Add a high elbow
move and then add the rest of the arm recovery motion.
- Stand on deck or in the water and elevate the shoulders and raise the
elbows high. If possible, the elbows should be as close to shoulder high
as possible. Move the hands forward and back as if swinging the arms like
a huge crane. This helps the student to feel the arm movement at the
- Stand in the water and have the swimmers imitate the arm recovery
movement while dragging their fingertips across the surface. This helps
them to build kinesthetic awareness of what they are doing.
- Swim with one hand holding onto a floatation device such as an empty
milk jug. Pull with the other arm and recover with the fingertips
across the surface.
- Swim with one hand holding onto a floatation device and focusing on
high elbows with hands below the elbow. Don't let swimmers bring the hand
inside like a chicken wing.
- Swim catch-up style (hands touch between pulls) and concentrate on
the pull and the recovery.
- Swim with a kickboard in one hand. Pull and when you enter, aim the
hand for the corner of the board and reach out under the side of the board
instead of for the center. This can correct some of the common mistakes
moving the hands across the body on the reach after entry.
- Watch the hand enter the water and make sure the elbow is high and the
palm is facing away.
Date Last Modified: 3 February 1998
Copyright (c) 1 January 1998 Linda Delzeit (firstname.lastname@example.org)