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Learn How To Swim 101 - Beginning Freestyle - Common Faults- Over Reaching

Common Over Reaching Faults When Beginning Freestyle

Over reaching is, in my view, the single most common problem in freestyle swimming. It is just as common among straight arm action swimmers as bent arm action swimmers.

Over reaching can look like so many other things are happening that the unaware may actually spend a lot of time trying to fix the wrong problem. For example it can look like a swimmer is kicking on the side or that their legs are moving from side to side or that the head is acting like a rudder and causing a zig zag effect (picture on left).

The problem with fixing the over reaching is that the swimmer cannot always feel what it is they are doing. They know that something is wrong because they know they are not swimming as efficiently as they want but if you tell them what it is they are doing wrong then their sensors are telling them that is what they are already doing.

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There are two causes of over reaching:

1) Over reaching itself

2) Turning your head too far (ie looking at the roof even to the point of the student rolling over on their back when they breathe)

and sometimes it is both.

The simplest solution if the case is really mild, is to get the student to turn their hand more, thumb in first when their hand enters the water. Turning your hand more forces your arm to move away from your body making over reaching more difficult. As I said however this only works if the student has a mild case of over reaching.

The next simplest way to fix the problem is for the student to pretend that there is a board running from just past their head all the way down the center of their body. The pretend board has glass and razor wire on both sides and you must keep your hands away from it as you swim or you will cut your hands (pretend wise anyway).

Sometimes getting the student to exaggerate the movement they are doing wrong in the opposite direction helps. That is getting their hands to enter the water with their hands so far away from their heads they they feel wrong. In these case the funny thing is that even though the student feel it is wrong their body is actually doing the action correctly.

Correct arm action should not have the arms passing the center of the body.

Correcting the head the easy way is just a matter of telling the student to keep the tip of their goggles in the water when they turn their heads. Or keeping their ear in the water when they breathe or both.

The fact is however that most of these suggestions only work in a few cases. Normally you, the student, are going to have to have a helper or swimming teacher get in the water with you and physically guide your head or arm or both into the correct position. Once the student feels where the body parts should be, then eventually they will be able to make the correction themselves.

More Common Freestyle faults to come.


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