Freestyle Stroke: 10 Powerful techniques and Drills for Optimal Performance

by | May 16, 2023 | Swimming and Calisthenics, Swimming | 0 comments

Are you an adult who loves swimming but struggles with the execution of the proper swimming strokes? 

Or you may be an experienced swimmer who wants to perfect your skill… whatever the case may be, polishing your freestyle stroke can be a game-changer for you when it comes to your swimming performance.

The freestyle stroke, also called the front crawl, is one of the most popular swimming strokes. It is not only fun to perform but also involves all the body’s muscles, so it is very beneficial in improving your cardiovascular health and strengthening muscles. Now to become a pro in this stroke, you need a solid understanding of the technique involved!

And that’s exactly where Swimcore comes in. We will cover everything in this article from basic to advanced level, the accurate technique, tips to improve your skill, advantages of freestyle stroke, and its medical importance, which will help you better understand the technique.

So let’s start with the technical part first! Here is a video to explain the technique in detail

Freestyle stroke: Technique

Although used in competitive swimming, the freestyle stroke is the most popular swimming technique. It’s a long-axis stroke, which means that the body rotates along a long line during this stroke. 

Here is the detail on how you can perform the stroke with an accurate technique regarding each part of the body.

The Head Position:

While performing the strokes, the swimmer’s face is towards the water. As you swim through water, the body shifts from side to side, following the motion of the arm propelling through the water. 

The head remains in the neutral position except for breathing. To enable the breathing process, the body needs to roll a bit more to the side during the arm recovery, and the head has to turn to the side until the mouth is above the water’s surface to breathe.

The Arm Movement:

In the freestyle stroke, the arms move in a regular alternating manner. While one extended arm pulls the water from the underside towards the hips, the other hand recovers from the water to extend in the forward direction. Upon completion, the cycle starts again.

The movement of the arm starts with a hand extended forward in the water. Swimming with your elbow up and your forearm moving downward will help you move with more speed and efficiency in the water. The other arm moves outward and backward.

The forearm and the palm are in line, facing backward, while the elbow is still high in water. The upper arm positions itself beyond the area of the shoulder. 

The arms work together in one movement, like a giant paddle that pulls through the water. During this motion, the upper arm moves backward and inward, while the hand will sweep from outside the shoulder to a lower point than the belly.

The hand changes the angle and moves beneath the belly towards the hip. At the same time, the body rotates to one side so that the hips move out of the way of the hand.

The arm should begin its motion from the hip, the elbow should be the leader, and the forearm and hand should follow.

The arm oscillates forward, and the forearm relaxes.

After the hand goes over the head, it goes back into the water, and the arm stretches forward under the water. At the same time, the head and the body come back to the neutral position.

As the recovering arm goes into the water, the other arm starts pulling back into the water, and the cycle begins again.

Also, note that there is a bit of overlap in the movement of the arms. This is because as one arm enters the water, The other arm is still pulling water underneath.

Freestyle Stroke: 10 Powerful techniques

The Leg Movement:

In this stroke, the legs perform flutter kicks. Flutter kicks are small, fast movements with stretched feet, keeping the hips and knees slightly bent.

The swimmers perform the flutter kicks throughout the entire stroke with alternating leg movement.


Now when the swimmer needs to breathe, he turns his head to one side while moving his arm until his mouth is above the water’s surface. The swimmer inhales and then moves his head back again.

Swimmers exhale underwater and continue doing so until they lift their heads for the next breath.

There are two most common breathing patterns depending on the breathing side. If you always want to breathe on one side, then breathe with every arm stroke. But if you want to change the breathing side every time, then breathe with every third arm stroke.

Freestyle Stroke: 10 Powerful techniques

Common Mistakes To Avoid:

Every beginner makes a few common mistakes, but you can overcome them with regular practice. Here are a few common mistakes you must avoid during the stroke… 

  • Raising your head too high to breathe, which slows down your speed. 
  • Not using your core muscles to rotate your body results in excessive use of arms and legs, causing fatigue. 
  • Kicking too hard or too softly leads to fatigue. 
  • Looking straight may strain your neck, putting more pressure on your shoulders.

And you can correct these mistakes by focusing on improving your skill and consistency.

Tips To Improve Freestyle Stroke:

If you’re a beginner, you should start by practicing the basic technique. The freestyle stroke is a continuous alternating movement of the arms and legs with the swimmer facing towards the water and breathing to the side. A good swimming technique will enable you to alternate between a moderate speed while remaining relaxed or a fast pace while keeping your energy levels up.

Enjoy Being In Water:

Before getting started, you must befriend water. You must be comfortable and confident being in the water. You should practice back and forth floating in the water daily, holding your breath in the water, diving, and gliding through the water. You should also practice balancing in water, which means you should be able to stay horizontal in the water while utilizing less energy.

Correct Your Body Position:


Mastering the correct body position is most important in performing accurate freestyle strokes. Your body should be horizontal, with your head and spine in a straight line. Stretch and extend your arms in front of you, and your legs and feet are straight and streamlined behind you.


Use a Neutral Head Position:


This is a common mistake that most beginners make. They tend to look forward rather than at the pool’s bottom. This may strain their neck and cause undue pressure on their shoulders. It also causes the legs and the hips to sink. As a result, you kick harder, which may further exhaust you.


Movement Of Arms:


The freestyle arm stroke requires a regular alternating movement of the arms with hands entering ahead in the water, pushing water past your hips, and then bringing them up in water to repeat the cycle. Practice keeping your elbows high, and your hand relaxed to perform the stroke accurately and efficiently.  


Work On The Kick:


The freestyle kick means moving your legs up and down in a regular manner with a slight bend at the knee, trying to kick a bit harder upwards. Keep your focus on keeping your feet close together, relaxing your knees with forceful and continuous kicking.

Freestyle Stroke: 10 Powerful techniques

Breathing Technique:

Breathing with an accurate technique is the most important part of freestyle swimming. Unfortunately, most people make mistakes here. You must practice a lot to learn the breathing pattern in freestyle stroke. In this technique, you have to breathe to the side with your mouth turning out of the water as your arm pulls back—Exhale in water. Practice a rhythmic pattern that feels comfortable and natural.

If you want to learn the exact breathing technique, you can follow our expert coach Theo in this video. The “SECRET” to Perfect Freestyle Arms & Breathing for Beginners!

Roll Your Body:


During the stroke cycle, roll your body from side to side to activate the more significant back and shoulder muscles, which provide more support to the arm stroke.


Exhale In The Water:


In the freestyle stroke, the time your mouth is above water is too short to inhale and exhale. This is why you only inhale when you are above water and exhale in water, and continue until your lungs are ready to inhale.

Continuous exhalation in water makes you feel more relaxed than holding your breath in water. So practicing exhalation in water is an important technique to learn when it comes to mastering freestyle stroke.

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Advantages Of Freestyle Stroke Over Other Strokes:

One of the significant advantages of freestyle swimming strokes is its speed. Competitive swimmers prefer this stroke because it allows them to swim at a greater speed without much exertion. Besides, the continuous alternating arm and leg movements allow you to swim at a greater speed with more precision.

Another advantage of freestyle stroke is that it involves all the body’s muscles, so it tones them. The freestyle stroke is especially used to tone the stomach, buttocks, and shoulders muscles. Also, freestyle stroke helps to tone the muscles of the back.

Freestyle stroke has the greatest calorie-burning potential, which is why it is the most helpful stroke if you want to lose weight fast.

Also, the freestyle stroke has low impact, which means it puts the least stress on the joints. So this makes it suitable for people of all ages and people with special needs.

Last but not least, freestyle stroke is the best aerobic activity that engages all body muscles and improves cardiovascular health, flexibility, and strength.

Medical Value Of Freestyle Stroke:

One of the most important medical benefits of freestyle swimming is that it is best for arthritis patients. It improves joint mobility and flexibility. Freestyle swimming least affects the joints as it has the lowest impact on the joints. According to a study, “Regular swimming exercise reduced joint pain and stiffness associated with OA and improved muscle strength and functional capacity in middle-aged and older adults with OA.”

Swimming is an excellent exercise as it strengthens the muscles and involves all the body’s muscles. That is why it improves cardiovascular health. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, “Swimming is an exercise modality that is highly suitable for health promotion and disease prevention, and is one of the most popular, most practiced and most recommended forms of physical activity.”

Freestyle swimming is good for people with asthma because it lets them breathe in a lot of air and breathe out as they swim. They can keep breathing out in the water until they need to breathe in again. This helps in increasing the lung capacity.

Swimming is also known to reduce stress and anxiety. It also relieves depression, making you release endorphins which are the “happy hormones.” These hormones generate the feeling of happiness. 

Swimming Lessons For Adults:

Everyone should learn to swim. It is such an enjoyable activity that has many health benefits. Learning to swim or improve your swimming technique may be challenging for some of you, but it is not impossible. We at Swimcore offer swimming lessons for adults to make you a pro at swimming. We help you build confidence in the water and improve your skill so that you can enjoy swimming to the fullest.


In conclusion, the freestyle swimming stroke is an efficient and popular stroke to learn, which has many health benefits. You can benefit most by focusing on proper technique and avoiding mistakes. Whether you want to learn swimming for weight loss, enjoyment, or competitive swimming, the freestyle stroke is an excellent stroke that can improve your physical and mental well-being.


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