Power is useless without rolling
We have already looked at the importance of the right position in the water for proper forward propulsion (Alternate breathing and perfectly balanced freestyle swimming).
Coordinating your arms and legs properly means that, on one hand, we move in a way that causes our hips to sink slightly and, on the other hand, our legs help keep our hips in line so that we have a more hydrodynamic position.
But that is not all, as well as using the thrust from our legs to cancel out this “sinking” effect, the time has come to reduce another factor: front resistance.
The only way to solve this problem is to “cut through” the water, reducing the amount of body surface preventing forward motion by means of the so-called ROLL.
So how do you perform this movement? How do you train it? Let’s take a look together.
The roll is an oscillating-rotating movement of the body around the central axis by simultaneously pushing downwards with your shoulders and hips as your hand completes the recovery phase.
Except during breathing, your head should be still throughout this movement, also rotating slightly to the side we are not breathing.
Your hand on the side of the shoulder that is guiding the rotation must catch the water properly to facilitate forward motion.
Once you have found the right angle of rotation (approximately 45° around the axis of your body), begin your arm stroke. Thanks to the thrust from your large dorsal muscle and downward thrust from your shoulder /hip on the other side of your body, you first return to a flat position before continuing to roll over to the other side.
Performing a proper roll requires a smoothly rotating gesture.
Let’s take a look at a set of drills aimed at improving this technique:
- Swim freestyle breathing continuously (every stroke) both to the right and left accentuating the rotating movement (relax your legs and lower back region)
- Swim freestyle with one arm only (your other extended along your body) breathing continuously both on the side of the moving arm and on the side of the motionless arm.
- Swim freestyle with a snorkel checking each shoulder as it comes into view.
- Swim with freestyle legs using fins (without a kickboard) performing a half roll (90°) every 4/6 leg kicks to one side and then the other for breathing purposes.
Performing this technique properly will not just make you more hydrodynamic, it will also lengthen your arm stroke and the depth your hand reaches during the catch phase, making your technique more efficient and more economical.
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