Freestyle Head Positioning

Flippers cover -- Sheila Taormina.This week’s Speedo Tip of the Week comes from Greg Davis, a coach at Nitro Swimming near Austin, Texas. Davis is also the creator of Flippers, a company that publishes flip books that illustrate proper swimming technique. Here, he offers some tips on freestyle head positioning.


Davis’s Tip:

“With proper balance and a stable head position, a swimmer can gain more propulsion and efficiency in every stroke. Use the nose as a reference point instead of the eyes because you don’t necessarily need to alter your head position to look down.” Here’s a drill progression for achieving proper freestyle head position:

  • Short Arm Dog Paddle. Keep your head up with nose pointing forward. Do the first 3rd of the stroke- from the catch to about the armpit line. You must kick hard on this drill. Focus on keeping your head still and extending your hands in front of the shoulders for the catch.
  • Long Arm Dog Paddle. Point your nose directly down at the bottom of the pool. Take full strokes while recovering below the surface (underneath the body as in a breaststroke pullout). Breathe to the side every 3rd stroke. Focus on maintaining a stable head position without the complexity of an over-water recovery.
  • Skating Catch-Up. Position your arms straight out in front of your shoulders (like goal posts) and do the traditional catch-up drill without touching hands. If your head is stable when you add the body rotation and over-water recovery, then you’ve learned to coordinate great head position into your stroke.
  • Now try a length of balanced, stable freestyle with a nose down head position.

More freestyle techniques like those mentioned above are described in detail in the Flippers Freestyle flipbooks by Coach Greg Davis. For more information, go to

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