- Receive one GoSwim video every week day
- New theme each week
- We choose, you get it delivered in your in-box
Become A Better Swimmer
Subscribe to GoSwim and gain access to thousands of videos that will help increase your swimming knowledge.
Find the techniques and fine points that will help you individualize your stroke for better performance.
The more you know, the faster you'll go
Let's get you signed in so you can keep swimming
Teaching Progression for the Freestyle Flip Turn
Here’s where you’re headed when you teach the freestyle flip turn.
Notice the unbroken, eyes-down approach... the straight-over flip... the tight tuck... the lack of extra arm movement... the sure and solid foot placement... the streamline push... the quick dolphin kicks that transition into flutter kick... and a forward-moving breakout.
The freestyle flip is a complicated gymnastic movement that takes place at high speed.
We’ll take it one step at a time, using a 10-step teaching progression that starts with blowing bubbles...
... and ends with a continuous turn that looks like this.
Step #1: Bubbles and Flips
Blowing bubbles out the nose is Skill #1 for learning the flip turn. Without this basic skill, swimmers will get water up their nose and this makes flip turns a very unpleasant experience.
Here’s where you need to get in the pool with your swimmer. Have them take a big breath...
... and then go under water with them to make sure bubbles are coming out their nose. Have them look at you and imitate.
When you see lots of bubbles from their nose, you can move on to flips. Have the swimmer push off right at the surface, with hands by their sides.
Tell them to “Go straight over fast and blow bubbles out your nose.” Don’t give any additional instruction. Just see what happens.
If they go straight over and you want to fine-tune how they do it, some good instructions would be:
Bend at the waist and look at your knees.
Make your chin go to your chest, and then bow.
Get your face close to your knees.
If the swimmer cannot go straight over and always “falls off” to one side, like this...
... or if they cannot get over at all...
... they will need special instruction to master the straight-over flip. This is another time when it helps to be in the water so that you can guide the swimmer through the correct movements.
Step #2: Head-Lead Submersion at Mid Pool
Step #2 is to swim 3 to 5 strokes toward mid pool and then stop one hand...
... and then the other hand by the hips, then lean in on the chest to submerge the body..
Here it is again... 3 to 5 strokes, then one hand back... then the other... then lean in on the chest.
You should feel as if you’re angling slightly down a ramp... or that your head is breaking through an underwater paper wall.
Step #3: Head-Lead Submersion and Straight-Over Flip at Mid Pool
Step #3 adds one more motion to your sequence Start with 3 to 5 strokes, then one hand back... then the other... then lean in on the chest... then flow into a straight-over flip.
Here it is again. One hand back. Other hand back. Lean in. Flow straight over.
Step #4: Flip with a Noodle
For Step #4, you need a noodle cut in half.
Float face down, holding the noodle at your hips, with palms facing down.
Push off and do a straight-over flip.
As you begin the flip, keep your arms straight and look for your knees, as you slide the noodle down the back of your legs to the knees.
When the noodle is past your knees, let go of the noodle and continue to flip straight over.
Here it is again. Float face down, palms down.
Push off, keep the arms straight, look for the knees, let go of the noodle, and continue straight over.
Step #5: Push the Hat Back
For Step #5, stand on the bottom of the pool or on deck, and place a tall “Abe Lincoln-type” hat on the top of your head.
Now try to push the hat back. Keep your elbows bent and in front of your face where you can see them. Point the fingers straight up, with palms facing the hat, and use both hands to push the hat back just a few inches.
Repeat this motion, making sure to use both hands, so that you get the feeling of using your hands like this during the flip.
Step #6: Mid-Pool Flip, Thinking Noodle, Hat, Streamline!
For Step #6, swim four to five strokes toward mid pool and get into head-lead position, than submerge.
As you flip straight over, slide your hands down your legs to your knees (as if you were holding the noodle), and then use your palms to push the water back over the top of your head (as if you were pushing back the hat), and then streamline and push off on your back.
Let’s watch it again. Four to five strokes. One hand back. Other hand back. Think Noodle... Hat... streamline.
Step #7: Practice Approach to the Wall
In step #7, practice a head-lead approach to the wall by stopping the arms at your sides as the head passes the “T” at the end of the lane.
Sight the wall by looking at the bottom edge of the pool (where the bottom meets the wall), or by sighting the bottom row of tiles of the target on the wall.
Come to a head-lead position, know where the wall is, and stop without flipping.
Make sure you finish your last stroke and submerge -- but don’t come too close to the wall.
Step #8: Swim, Flip, and Push Off on Your Back
Step #8 is to swim toward the wall and submerge on the last stroke.
You will be in this position: head lead... hands back.
Flip straight over, thinking... noodle as you slide your arms down your legs
... then hat as you push water toward the top of your head and bring your feet to the wall...
... and then streamline as you extend and push off the wall.
Step #9: Roll from Back to Front -- slowly!
We’re almost there! In Step #9, you flip straight over... push back the hat... streamline... push off on your back... and then rotate slowly until you are facing the bottom of the pool.
Notice which side you rolled to. Usually, one side feels more comfortable than the other.
As you roll from back to side to front, hold your streamline until you see the bottom of the pool.
When you can see the bottom, then you may pull with the arm that’s on the side to which you were rolling.
Do not breathe on this first stroke!
Step #10: The Complete Turn
In the final step -- Step #10 -- you push off slightly on your back rather than directly on your back.
Start with a straight-over flip, the same movement as before. But this time, the feet land slightly to one side -- your more comfortable side.
As you push off, just slightly on your back, hold a tight streamline until the body rotates toward the bottom of the pool.
As you rotate, start with 2 to 3 quick dolphin kicks, then transition to flutter kick, and the first pull into breakout.
Here it is again at full speed. Flip straight over, turning the feet at the last moment for a push off that is slightly on the back. Quick dolphin into flutter and into the first pull and breakout.
And once more in slow motion. Notice that all the moves are continuous and smooth, and that the first stroke is executed at a depth that allows the pulling shoulder to clear the water as that arm is finishing.
In this final clip at normal speed, notice the continuous motion and lack of extra motion. The turn is compact, smooth, and efficient.