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Head position – swimming drills to improve front crawl

Navigation and sighting

There are many swimming drills to improve front crawl, but one thing that is of great importance is the head position. And this quote is something that I think is very good to have in mind when talking about this subject.


6 steps to becoming a faster and more efficient swimmer

We have chosen to sort the freestyle stroke into six separate segments. In all featured articles, you will both be able to read about that part of the stroke and watch our videos on different swim drills that will improve your skillset in that area.


“Where the head goes the body follows”

Ryan Holiday

Doing drills from these six areas will improve your swimming. 

  • The Catch – The part of your stroke from when your hand enters the water, up until you are able to start pulling yourself forward.
  • The Pull – This part starts where the catch ends, and continues until the hand exits the water.
  • The Recovery – It is the part of the stroke that occurs above the surface.
  • The Kick – Kicking in swimming is not the biggest power output, but, it is crucial for water position and reducing frontal drag.
  • The Rotation – The way you rock your body from side to side to create your optimal streamlined position and best power output.
  • The Head position – How you hold your head, and where you look will greatly impact your position in the water.

Drills to improve front crawl

Whether you are a pool swimmer or an open water swimmer. It doesn’t matter. When you are swimming, look straight down. Looking forward, even if it’s only a little bit will make two things happen. The first is that your head will be closer to the surface, and create more frontal drag since there are more of your head that breaks the surface. The second being that you’ll create a curve when extending your spine. That will result in pain in your lower back.

So, even though many of you reading this are open water swimmers, who will navigate from time to time, get your head back to a neutral position between sightings and breathing. (Do you get chafing from the wetsuit around your neck? Often this comes from a “roll” between sighting and rotation to breathe).

Polo-swimming is a great way of understanding the importance of the head position (among other things). Check out this article on how to analyze your swimming.

Head position while swimming

How to:
Try to start swimming with your head lifted and eyes forward.
Then lower your head and look down.
Feel the difference in drag.

Focus on:
Head, hips, and heels in line and close to the surface.

Good for:
Body position.
Balance.
Efficiency.

How to incorporate drills into your workout?

Chose a couple of drills that you need to work on, and one or two that you like doing and incorporate them into your warm-up. Or mix them in between sets! If you want help with the structure, let me suggest joining our online endurance club! In it, we supply:

  • TRAINING PROGRAM. As a member, you get a weekly general training program. It is based on the same principles as our individualized training programs, with the difference that it is limited in scope.
  • MEMBER GROUP. To create a leading hub of knowledge and inspiration for all members, we have set up a private group on Facebook. 
  • DISCOUNTS. Whenever you feel like escalating your training with one of our individual training programs, then you have a 10% discount on these.

Check it out!