Courtesy of Headstrong Posture Trainer, a SwimSwam partner.
Both swimmers as well as triathletes can improve their performance with a well-executed flip turn. An effective flip turn starts with a speedy approach into the wall. There are two common mistakes that many swimmers of all abilities make when performing flip turns. The first and most frequently observed is gliding into the wall, causing the swimmer to lose speed thus slowing down the flip. I will focus on the more difficult to conquer error of picking the head up to spot the wall. Along with losing speed, lifting the head causes the hips to drop making the flip turn even harder and slower to achieve. For a proper flip turn approach, swim at maximum speed into the turn. On the last stroke before the flip, tuck your chin into the chest submerging your head. This will allow you to use the force of the water to push your head and torso down, speeding up the flip. By not lifting the head and not gliding into the wall you are ensuring that the maximum amount of energy is being transferred into the turn helping to get you through the flip and off the wall faster. Keeping the head down and not looking up at the wall at the last second is the most difficult habit to break. It is human instinct to want to see where you are going!
6 Strokes and Flip
To improve your flip turn approach, perform the 6 Strokes and Flip Drill throughout your freestyle workout. This drill will help you get used to the feeling of performing a flip without the fear of hitting a wall. It will allow you to focus on what it feels like to keep your head down just prior to flipping instead of popping the head up prior to flipping. After performing this drill a few times you will know what you should be doing as you approach the wall and start your freestyle flip turn.
- Start out by pushing off the wall with your head relaxed.
- Take six strokes and on the last stroke tuck your chin to your chest and allow the water to hit the back of your head.
- Continue to keep your head tucked and use your core and the water pushing on the back of your head to help you finish the flip.
- Resurface take 6 more strokes and repeat.
- Finish this drill by doing a flip at the wall at the other end. Fight the urge to pop your head up and to look at the T on the wall. Focus your eyes on the bottom of the pool where the floor meets the wall to help you know when to flip and once close enough tuck the chin and continue with the flip turn.
Flip Turns With The Head Strong Posture Trainer
If you are not sure if you pick up your head before the turn, then pop on your Head Strong Posture Trainer. When wearing the Head Strong Posture Trainer, if your head lifts up beyond an optimal head position on the approach to a flip turn the Head Strong Posture Trainer will tap you on the back. This tapping is a signal that your head is up and you are losing speed going into a turn. At no point during the approach, flip, or break out should you feel the Head Strong tap you on the back. If it does it means you are lifting your head, which is causing you to lose speed. Stop losing speed and start swimming faster! Pick up a Head Strong Posture Trainer!
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About Endurance Swimming and Head Strong Posture Trainer:
Head Strong™ was developed by Craig Lewin and his team of swimmers at Endurance Swimming.
Through his coaching, Craig realized that head position was the most common technical error that hinders efficient swimming. This resulted in the idea for the Head Strong Posture Trainer. This simple device is worn around a swimmer’s head, like goggles, to ensure proper head positioning in the water, aiding in the correction of total body posture. Head Strong Posture Trainer has played a large role in helping his swimmers improve their race times and enabled one of his swimmers to successfully swim across the English Channel. Craig is a USA Swimming Coach and Level 2 USA Cycling Coach, with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology and Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Movement Science, Economics and Sociology. As an alumni of Boston College’s Varsity D1 Swim Team, a 70.3 World Championship Qualifier and open water marathon swimmer, his swim expertise and coaching helps hundreds of athletes become successful competitors in the sports of swimming and triathlon.