Elbow Slap

A swimmer’s hand entry is important in setting up a good pull. Reaching through the water, rather than over it, helps the swimmer find stable water. This drill uses an audible cue to emphasize the practice of reaching through the water and forward.

Freestyle Kick w/ Arms by Side

Kicking like crazy isn’t a good idea during the swim leg of your triathlon. The primary role of your legs during the race is to help you “balance,” as your upper-body takes on the propulsive duties. Having said that, developing a strong kick can help establish the correct technique, create a better body position and improve overall conditioning.

Extended Dog Paddle

Body rotation is an important trick to learn. It will help you swim through the water with greater efficiency. This is one of the harder drills to help practice body rotation. By removing the over-the-water recovery, it focuses you entirely on the underwater pull. It’s hard because the recovery is through the water, which causes resistance.

Back Flutter Kick with a Roll

Finding the right “balance” is key to swimming. When a swimmer is balanced, they are working with the water, not against it. Finding the right balance is a matter of practice and it’s always good to get an all-round feel for the water — learn what it feels like to be balanced on your back, your front and your side.

This drill builds off of the regular back flutter drill and adds a roll. It helps learn to maintain balance, plus develops the kick as part of a body roll.

Back Flutter Kick

“Balancing” is an important part of swimming, regardless of which stroke you are doing. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to experiment with many different body positions. This drill is designed to help you find that balance, while removing the distraction of having to find air.

Also, this drill helps refine your freestyle kick because it changes the dynamic. The down kick, now becomes the up kick and vice versa. This, again, helps the swimmer find new aspects of the stroke that can help.


Swimming can be a balance between efficiency and effectiveness. There is often a trade off — we can develop an efficient technique while going slow, but it falls apart when we try to pick up the speed.

This drill is designed to help the swimmer maintain efficiency by keeping a low stroke count, whilst also adding speed.

Finger-Tip Drag

The over-the-water recovery can’t really help the swimmer gain extra momentum. However, it can cause problems with the stroke if the swimmer’s hand swings very high or out wide.

A high recovery arch, where the hand creates a high arch, extends the downward pressure on the swimmer. This can cause the swimmer to “bounce” while swimming. By the same token, a recovery path that sees the hand take a wide berth away from the body can cause the swimmer to “snake” through the water.

This drill is designed to encourage a compact arm recovery by keeping the arm close to the body and elbow high.


This drill is designed to help make sure that the swimmer completes a full underwater pull. It’s common for swimmers to start their over-the-water recovery before they have maximized the pull. This is inefficient because the last part of the pull is the most powerful part. The front part — the catch — does not add much to the forward momentum for the swimmer. When the swimmer’s hand goes past their shoulder line and then presses through to their side, momentum is gained.

In fact, I often encourage swimmers to think of the underwater phase of their stroke as a pull and push phase. The pull includes the catch and happens in front of the shoulder line.The push happens behind the shoulder line and ends in the swimmers arm straight by their side. Think about climbing out of the pool deck — you pull yourself up until your hands pass your shoulders and then you push yourself up.

Catch Up

Many swimmers have a tendency to “windmill,” meaning that their hands are always diametrically opposed throughout each stroke cycle. While the hands should be opposed at the end of each stroke — one hand forward and one hand back — the front hand should stay in front of you while the other begins it’s recovery.