Flip Turns: The Basics

Love your work-outs! I have just recently got back I the pool after not swimming since high school. Any suggestions for good drills for getting used tO flip-turns again?  – Michelle

Thanks for the question, Michelle.  Yes, there are a number of drills that can directly impact the success of your flip turn.  Today, I’m going to offer a few tips to use during workouts and describe the benefits of one dynamic dry-land exercise.

Flip turns.

Love ’em or hate ’em, they are an essential skill of competitive swimming.

Every coach has their own way of explaining the skills associated with the flip turn and many debate about the best point of rotation.  However, most have settled on the importance of bringing the hips straight over the shoulders in a manner not un-like a front tuck or a forward roll in gymnastics.  For this reason, I often spend time teach the skill of the forward roll on a soft tumbling mat.  It is not a bad idea to look into introductory or beginner tumbling/gymnastic lessons.

In general, there are three key points necessary for a quick, efficient execution of the turn:

  1. Chin to chest!
  2. Knees to nose!
  3. Heels to butt!

No, these are not groundbreaking ideas – but they are the tools required in order for the swimmer to harness the power of MOMENTUM.

“But Coach…How do I DO that?”

Good question.  But, there is only one problem:

Learning (or remembering) new skills is hard enough on land…..enter the water and you have a whole new set of challenges.  

Thank you, Gravity and Buoyancy.

So….practice the skill on land AND in the water.  Prepare the body for performance in the water by first teaching the muscles how to respond a similar set of movements on land.  This will generally translates to an improved ability to manage the development of the skill.

A simple but very effective dryland exercise is Rolling Like a Ball (the same one found in most Pilates programs).  Completing 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps of this exercise, as part of a weekly dry-land workout or as an everyday routine, will not only improve your flip turns, but it will also strengthen your core!

For those of you looking for a little more help on flip-turning basics, try the pool noodle drill explained in the following video by GoSwim.  Trust me.  It’s a lot of fun!


Keep on Swimming,

Coach Meg


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