6 Of The Most Common Mistakes Slowing Your Freestyle Down – Find And Correct!

Here at Swim360 Coach we see many swimmers through our adult swim squads, private lessons, and video analysis sessions. After analyzing and improving so many different techniques we start to see patterns of mistakes that come up often. For 6 of the most common freestyle mistakes slowing you down – check out below.


1. Looking forward too much


When swimming freestyle we want our head to be facing the bottom of the pool. Lifting your head causes your lower body to sink and breaks your streamline. Sometimes we get in the habit of lifting our head to look what is at in front, especially when following other swimmers. It is better to be in the habit of having your head facing down, only lifting it when you choose to.


freestyle swimmer looking forward too much while swimming freestyle

freestyle swimmer with a good head position swimming freestyle in a pool




2. Dropping elbows


When we reach our arm out in front during freestyle we want to reach forward and down slightly while avoiding dropping the elbow. We want to keep the elbow facing more towards the surface of the water instead of dropping it down facing the bottom of the pool. This ensures it is in a good position ready to catch the water.


female athlete swimming freestyle in a pool dropping elbows


ironman swimmer reaching forward while swimming freestyle in a pool



3. Finishing too far out the back of your stroke


Although you may think it is logical to have the longest stroke possible, this is not always the best way to swim freestyle. We definitely want a long streamlined stroke, however finishing too far out the back causes you to have a dead spot in your stroke momentum. This small amount of time you spend flicking the water right out the back creates a pause in your stroke rhythm, as you struggle to get your arm back over for the next stroke. This kills forward momentum.


female swimmer swimming freestyle in a pool flicking water at the back of her stroke


elite freestyle swimmer



4. Not catching the water


Getting a grip of the water is how you pull yourself forward. Not catching or gripping the water causes you to spin the wheels doing many strokes but not going very far. Read our article on the freestyle catch and pull to master your catch


open water swimmer not catching the water when swimming freestyle


triathlon swimmer with a really good catch swimming freestyle



5. Not rotating enough


The best freestylers rotate their body from side to side as they cruise through the water. We want to be going from side streamline to side streamline using our bodies to help pull through the water and drive us forward. Do not try to swim flat on the surface of the water. Instead, we want to swim in the water.


female swimmer not rotating enough when swimming freestyle


male elite triathlete swimming freestyle in a pool with good rotation


6. Pulling underwater too early


Make sure to leave your arm reaching out in front until your other arm is just about to hit the water ready to reach out on the other side. Starting your stroke and pulling too early causes your upper body to sink when you are in the middle of a breath. This can make you take on water in your mouth and cut your breath short. 


male swimmer learning


male swimmer doing front crawl



For more information check out our video!


Carl is head coach at Swim360 Coach, a former Olympian and national champion freestyler. Carl now uses his skills and passion for coaching and competing in the open water.