Timing in freestyle is a critical skill in freestyle that is constantly overlooked. The focus is always on the specific motions of the arms and the legs, and the technique involved with executing those actions.
However, very little thought is given to how to integrate the arms and legs together, and if you can improve that skill, you’ll be able to make a big difference in your freestyle.
Freestyle isn’t just kicking and pulling. It’s integrating the two together. The challenge is that it can be really difficult to feel that skill and it can really difficult to become aware of it, even if you’re a seasoned swimmer.
One of the key timing points between the arms and the legs is when the hand enters the water. Just as the hand enters the water, the opposite leg should kick down. What that does is help shift and rotate the body to other side, positioning you for a great pull.
That side-to-side shift can happen without the kick, but the kick makes it a lot more effective. That’s the essence of a two-beat kick. Learning that timing is key to efficient freestyle. Let’s take a look at how to do it.
Opposite fin-opposite paddle
Whenever you’re trying to learn a new skill, the most important part is getting a feel for what that skill is. The harder it is to feel what you’re trying to accomplish, the more difficult it’s going to be to make it happen.
That’s why great drills work so well, they help you really feel new ways of moving through the water.
When it comes to feeling the timing connection between the kick and the opposite arm, none beats Opposite Fin-Opposite Paddle.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. You wear a paddle on your left hand and a fin on your right foot, or a paddle on your right hand and a fin on your left foot. The biggest skill to focus on is kicking with the fin as the paddle enters the water.
When you do that well, everything else tends to sync up. The goal is to feel a big connection all the way between the tip of the paddle and the tip of the fin.
By only wearing the gear on one side of the body it really magnifies the sensation, you can get one side of the body locked in. Simply switch back and forth between sides every few repetitions.
To enhance your learning even more, practising increasing your speed each repetition, then slow back down and take the same approach on the other side. When you change your speed, the timing changes as well.
By being exposed to different speeds, you’re more likely to find the timing you’re looking for and get it to click. The same is true with stroke counts, by forcing yourself to take more and less strokes, you’re more likely to find a better timing option.
Top image credit: James Mitchell