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Freestyle - Shoulder Breath

Posted by Glenn Mills on Dec 22, 2009 09:30AM

If it weren't for the breath... that darn need for air... just about anyone could learn to swim a beautiful freestyle.  This drill, which asks you to connect the shoulder to the breath, can help you establish better rhythm and timing.  

Why Do It:
Breathing late in freestyle usually means you'll not get the proper amount of oxygen into your lungs.  It can also throw off the timing of your stroke.  Connecting your cheek to your shoulder to learn an earlier breath can help solve both of these issues.

How to Do It:
  Start by swimming slow freestyle, focusing on extending your arms with your shoulder pressed against your cheek.
2.  As you prepare to breathe to either side, before the pull even begins, press your cheek more firmly against the shoulder that's about to pull back.
3.  When the shoulder drops for the pull, the head will be free to turn to air before the arm finishes the pull.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Make sure you're really extending to feel the connection between your shoulder and breath... face and arm.  As you feel more comfortable with this, increase the pace to make it more like natural swimming.  Remember to keep your head stable until it's time to push toward the shoulder for the breath, and it's best to practice this drill alternating sides, breathing every 3rd or 5th stroke.

Archived Comments

Responded Dec 22, 2009 07:55PM

This is a drill that I defenetlly will show our swimmers....of all ages!!!!!!( the Dad)

Responded Dec 23, 2009 11:21AM

Hey Glenn, have you got any drills for the other end of the breathing process - when your head should get back into the water?

Responded Dec 24, 2009 01:40PM

I have struggled to breath to the right - it never feels comfortable, I worry about it and loose any sense of ease and then revert back to left side breathing. And then become frustrated with myself.......... I've been told to, close the gap between my cheek and shoulder, follow the shoulder to air, but the truth is I've never felt comfortable and now realise that I've never understood what was required.....
Until seeing this clip yesterday - it all made sense at last,
I tried the drill, I felt comfortable and got air to the right. Even the left breath felt easier.
Like all things it needs more practice and concentrated focusing, but I feel I'm on the way to bilateral breathing at last. What a good way to end the year.

Glen and the team, Thanks a million and Good Wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Responded Dec 24, 2009 10:00PM

Thanks, this one is DEFINATELY gonna be used.

Responded Dec 26, 2009 01:51PM

I enjoy watching that swimmer. I think she has a cool style.

Responded Dec 28, 2009 08:53PM

Hey Billy... we can certainly shoot something for putting your face back in... we'll add it to the list. Thanks for the suggestion!

Responded Jan 04, 2010 02:02PM

Cheers Glenn; for me I think it's a through back to my catch-up-esque stroke. My breath timing works okay for middle/long distance, probably because my stroke rate is low and the effort/power I put into my stroke is lower, but as my stroke rate increases (and the overlap of my recovering arm reduces) when I sprint then it's all wrong!

Responded Jan 06, 2010 07:01PM

good training tip, indeed. i think it will find the most use with adult lessons.

Responded Jan 08, 2010 09:16PM

Yeah... I've been using this more and more with adults. Works well.

Responded Mar 17, 2010 03:48PM

Thanks for this one, Glenn. Tried it with my 11-12s yesterday, and just the process of learning the drill helped my late-breathers (read: all of them) adjust a bit. I'm going to hammer this one for a while, since it also helps with getting a little more length out front, which helps with balance, which helps with alignment....

The Pool

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