Let’s try a quick experiment. Look to the left. Then look to the right. Then look up. Then look down. Now, notice what happens to your body when you do so. You’ll notice that wherever the head goes, the body follows.
And the bigger and faster the head motion, the more your whole body is going to get into it. Of course, I assume you’re doing this on land, where you rooted to the ground either through your feet or on a chair. In the water, it’s going to be much worse!
If your head and shoulders are going to left in the water, your hips are going to move to the right to compensate.
When the head is moving side to side or up and down, the shoulders are going along for the ride. When you move through the water, you want to be moving straight forward like a missile.
If your shoulders are moving all over the place, you’re definitely not moving through the water in a streamlined fashion. Further, if your shoulders are moving side to side, that also means that your arms are going to follow.
That’s going to make it much tougher to execute great pulling mechanics, which is going to further impair your speed.
While it can definitely be a problem if your head is moving all over the place, there’s some good news. Making one simple change can make all of those problems go away!
If you can keep your head relatively stable, a lot of swimming errors are going to improve. Better yet, it’s a pretty simple fix – just keep your head still.
It doesn’t involve any complicated arm actions or precise timing of any sort. All you have to do is keep everything straight.
The Elevator Swim
Here are two exercises you can use to improve the influence of your head on your swimming. The first is Elevator Swim.
This exercise helps you learn how to control your head position so that it’s not too high and not too low. Further, by going through the process of actively changing your head position, you’ll learn how to control it.
By gaining control of your head position, you’re much less likely to be at the mercy of an out-of-control head.
Paddle Cap Freestyle
The second exercise is even more valuable for our purpose. More than any other skill, the breath is likely to cause your head to move around. Paddle Cap Freestyle can help address the issue.
The beauty of this exercise is that if you move your head around, you’re going to know it because the paddle is going to come off. It provides instant feedback. It forces you to keep your head straight, without lifting your head to breathe or pulling it out to the side.
If you’re struggling with this exercise, that’s a strong sign that your head is moving when you breathe. Start slow and just try to get one good breath. Once you do, then start practising.
Top image credit: Getty Images