List Of Swimming Drills

List Of Swimming Drills

Like any sport, swimming is something that you can only improve at with practice. There are several drills that one can do in order to grow as a swimmer. Here is a list of some common drills that swimmers do in order to refine their skills.


Freestyle Drills

Swimming freestyle is one of the first things that every new swimmer learns. Along with this, it's a staple of any good swimmer's repertoire, whether they're a novice or an Olympic athlete. Here are some drills designed to help you improve your freestyle stroke.

Closed-Fist Freestyle

This drill is a common one that most swimmers do in order to get an understanding of the connection between your upper arm and forearm when swimming freestyle. In order to do the drill, simply make a fist with both hands and swim freestyle like you normally would. After doing that for a while, open up your hands to feel the difference.

Head-Up Freestyle

This drill is an excellent way to force yourself to improve your kicking while off-balance, helping teach you how to not to over-glide. To do this drill, simply keep your head above the water while swimming freestyle. It will feel uncomfortable, but it's designed to make sure you don't rely on gliding when swimming.

Catch-Up Drill

A great drill for young swimmers, this exercise teaches them how to make the most of each stroke, attempting to increase the distance per stroke and minimizing the strokes needed in a race. To do the drill, freestyle normally, but wait until one arm stroke is finished before starting the next stroke. In order to do this most effectively, sometimes coaches will have a swimmer touch one hand with the other before starting the next stroke.

Front Scull

While it is an awkward movement, the front scull is a great way to get a feel for how to angle your hands in order to "grab" the water and use them to better your stroke. To do this, place your arms as far out in front as possible. Then, once you kick off into the water, bend your wrists and use only your hands and kicks to propel yourself forward.

Single-Arm Freestyle

This is simply just freestyle swimming using only one arm at a time. It's a great way to focus on generating power with each stroke, helping deliver big improvements all around if done correctly. To do the drill, simply enter a pool ready to do a regular freestyle stroke, but only use one arm down the length of the pool. Use the opposite arm on the way back.

Backstroke Drills

Swimming isn't all just freestyle. Improving one's backstroke is an essential part of diversifying your skillset in the water. How can you improve on this skill? By doing some of the drills listed below.

Closed-Fist Backstroke

This drill is just like with freestyle, except on your back. It's a drill designed again to help connect your forearm and upper arm while also giving you a feel for the water. To execute the drill, simply lie on your back in the water and complete the same motion for a backstroke, just with your fists closed. Open your palms up to feel the difference.

One-Arm Drill

This drill is one that is exactly what it sounds like: swimming backstroke one arm at a time. It's a great way to focus on minimizing drag and creating the most efficient stroke each time. In order to do the drill, simply get in the backstroke position and pick one arm for stroking to go from one end of the pool to the other with. Once you reach the end, flip and do the same with the opposite arm.

Back Scull

This drill is the same as the front scull, except instead of doing it in a freestyle position you do it on your back. Like the front scull, it's also a great way to get a feel for the water and optimize hand usage. Once in the water, lie on your back and position your hands down under your hips. While kicking to stay afloat, move your hands in a figure-eight pattern. Focusing on using your hands and wrists in order to properly scull.

Double-arm Backstroke

While a lot of swimmers see this drill as an excellent way to cool down, it's actually an effective way to work on bent elbow catch. The bent elbow is supposed to help give you more power in your pull when doing your backstroke. In order to do the drill, enter the water and set up to swim backstroke. Instead of alternating arms, use both in unison, focusing on having that slight bend in the elbow upon entry to maximize propulsion. Repeat down the length of the pool.

The Water Bottle Drill

This is a fun, classic drill that can help improve several aspects of your backstroke, including keeping your head in place and keeping your spine straight. Doing the drill is simple: Get an empty or half-empty water bottle, get in the water, get the bottle balanced on your head, and start your backstroke. Try to not let it fall off, but if it does just try again!

Breaststroke and Butterfly Drills

Freestyle and backstroke are generally speaking the most common strokes, but that doesn't mean that they're the only ones. The butterfly stroke and breaststroke are also strokes you will see in competitions. To finish it off, here are some drills that swimmers do to improve on these other strokes.

Breaststroke Above Water

This drill is similar to the head-up freestyle drill, except instead it focuses on using the breaststroke techniques. To do the drill, simply get in the water and do the usual breaststroke motion with your arms and legs, except do it while keeping your head above the water. Doing this exercise with a fast stroke rate will help you keep your head above water.

Breaststroke Arms with Flutter Kick

For this drill, the goal is to combine the breaststroke movement in the arms with freestyle kicking. It is a popular drill for working on arm recovery speed and aggressively attacking the water. To do the drill, simply jump into the pool and do the breaststroke arm motion while doing a regular freestyle kick.

Breaststroke Arms with Dolphin Kick

Like the drill above, this drill focuses on keeping the breaststroke motion in the arms while switching up how you kick. This particular drill is great for focusing on short-axis undulation, which is a rotation centered primarily in the hip area. To do the drill, get in the water and do the usual breaststroke, but when you kick, do so with both feet next to each other and in unison. Stick to one kick per stroke cycle.

Iron Man Butterfly

This is a drill designed to help improve how a swimmer kicks when performing a butterfly stroke. To do the drill, swimmers have to keep their arms by their side while doing the butterfly kick across the water. The swimmer's head should be looking at the bottom of the pool, bringing their head up by pushing their chin forward to just break the surface.

Superman Butterfly

The advanced version of the Iron Man Butterfly, this drill simply moves the arms from the side of your hips to being fully extended in front. The goal of this drill is to alternate between the upper back and hips for breaking the water. Follow the same instructions as for the Iron Man Butterfly drill.