View Full Version : Body Roll or not???

June 24th, 2003, 10:40 AM
Hi, I have to say that I am somewhat confused about whether or not ,when I am doing freestyle ,if I should roll my body and rotate my hips.My Masters coach has said that the body should stay flat and that I should just roll my shoulders when I stroke and keep my hips flat.For me this means that my stroke length is shorter when I do this and also my time is slower.Can anyone please enlighten me.

June 24th, 2003, 03:25 PM
It would be harder for me to have a flat body while swimming. I was always taught to roll my whole body. But usually while swimming it should be a natural body roll, without you having to actually think about it much. It's harder to explain and easier to demonstrate. I know that for a longer stroke in freestyle you have to rotatle your body to stretch that pulling arm. I dont know if it helps, but my vote is for body rolling in the water. It works and I save energy doing it. Good Luck

June 24th, 2003, 05:37 PM
Consider this. My wife went with me to SC Nationals in Tempe. This was probably the first meet she's ever really watched. At one point she said to me "you can tell the fast swimmers because they're the ones with the most hip rotation. The flat swimmers are always slower."

I can't fathom why a coach would tell you to keep your hips flat.

June 24th, 2003, 05:47 PM

The importance of body roll is in reducing the drag effect that one has while moving through the water. If you stay flat, there's ultimately going to be more resistance.

And as swimrat mentioned, the flat swimming style means that the stroke length will be shortened. Perhaps your coach has noticed too much roll? And thereby suggested to tone it down a bit? But if you take a look at the swimming style of any mid distance freestyler, it's a good bet that they've got a roll to their stroke.

The only exceptions to this may be with sprinters who have little or no noticeable roll when they go all out on say a 50 meter race. To paraphrase from Coach Hines' book, you can either swim like a tugboat (flat) or like a racing boat (streamlined).:cool:

June 25th, 2003, 05:02 AM
I have to say that I agree with you all ,in that it is a lot easier to get longer stroke length with body roll.I even said to my coach about it being mentioned in "Breakthrough Swimming" by Cecil Colwin and that Emmett Hines even endorsed it.My coach seemed to think that by rolling your body you are always going to be off balance rather than when you are flat.I tried his method during a training session and actually found that I was talking 2/3 strokes more for a 25 metre lap.Also I think that front quadrant swimming is easier when you roll your body.Now you can all see why I was confused in the first place.Maybe it's the way that British coaches are trained as opposed to American ones.You guys seem to be more receptive to new ideas than we do over here.

Gareth Eckley
June 25th, 2003, 05:51 AM
Mark re your query about whether to use Body roll in freestyle. The answer is that it is a must. Rolling your hip up while your opposite hand enters the water and extends into the catch position is essential.
The body roll extends your reach and sets you up to use your core muscles to power the arm pull. The action of rotating your hip up also allows a relaxed bent elbow recovery where the hand can stay closer to the body and enter in line with the shoulder.
If you swim with flat hips then you are forced to have a wide straight arm recovery with all the lateral deviation problems that this creates.
One point that i see in almost all swimmers is that they roll onto the shoulder less on their non breathing side. So if you breathe to the right you probably do not roll fully onto your right shoulder on your next armstroke. This causes the hand to enter wider and you get less power on the arm stroke. Look at 45 degrees of roll, hips and shoulders roll as a unit. Do bi-lateral breathing often and be aware of this.
Re you comment about British coaches. I have been here 1 year, after 11 years in Vancouver and i am shocked at the ignorance shown by the coaches here. In the main Uk coaches have not kept up with the developments in technique of the last 20 years. The training we receive is appaling. I have taken the ASA level-1 and level- 2 coaches courses and in over 100 hours of instruction have yet to hear any of the points of modern technique.
The core theory in the syllabus is out of date and the instructional video on strokes that we are supposed to study shows very poor technique.
My main advice would be to find another coach, Barnet-Copthall in London have an excellent set up.

June 26th, 2003, 01:01 PM
I am glad to hear that it is not just me that feels that coaching in the UK is behind the times.Well actually I'm sad to hear it rather than glad.I feel that as Gareth said, I may well have to move to another coach,maybe at Barnet Copthall.That would be handy as I work in London.As for Gareth's point about not rolling enough on the non-breathing side during a stroke cycle,what drills would help with this?I already do single-arm drill and catch-up drill and I have reduced my stroke count for both of these considerably, with the feeling that in time I could reduce it even more.However,when it comes to complete swimming my stroke count and time have stayed the same even though I have made good progress as far as the drills are concerned.My thought is that as Gareth said when I do the complete swimming I cannot get enough roll onto my non-breathing side.I have not been able to master bi-lateral breathing and when I attempt it I find that I able struggling desperately to breathe.As I am a 400m/1500m freestyler I am not sure if bi-lateral breathing is the right route to follow.For body balance it would definitely make sense and if I could somehow find some drills that developed it then I would feel more comfortable.

Gareth Eckley
June 26th, 2003, 03:41 PM
Let me see if i can answer your queries in sequence.

1st-drills to help with rolling equally onto both shoulders, try "stick it"(delayed catch up). In this you do catch up but pause your recovery when your elbow and hand are next to your ear, hold for 3 seconds, making sure that your hip on the same side as your recovery hand is up and that you have rolled onto your shoulder. Then enter recovery hand into water and stroke the other arm.
Also when ever you swim think of rolling equally onto your shoulder on Entry, Reach and Catch.
Only by practicing Bi-Lateral breathing will you be able to correct this in the long term. You say that you get out of breath doing this. Are you breathing correctly ( explosive breathing).

Sequential Drills to get to Bi Lateral are:
1- breath to one side only for 1 length, breath to opposite side only on second length. Important, favour your weak side
by a ratio of 4:1 to really change things. Always start off drills on your weak side.
2- Move to -3:2:3 which is 3 strokes breath to left, breath to left again, 3 strokes, breath to right and again to right.
3- Move to Bilateral breathing. Breath out steadily underwater, forceful breath as mouth clears the water to breath.
However in competition you would want to breath to 1 side for every length as you need that oxygen to clear Lactic. So do left breathing for 1 length and right breathing for 2nd length. This lets you check out your competitors on both sides. I did this in the 1500m at the UK Masters last month and it worked fine.

You say your time has not improved, maybe your tempo, stroke rate, has dropped. A longer stroke length + maintained stroke rate = Faster. But longer stroke length + lower stroke rate may make you slower.

I may have gone a bit far in my comments on UK coaches. I am sure that there are good ones out there, but there are too many who learnt in the 70's and have not bothered to stay current with latest developments.
Check out the http://www.britishswimming.org/sports/masters/about.asp to find info on clubs. BTW, Barnet-Copthall dominated at the UK Masters in Swansea.

June 27th, 2003, 05:15 AM
Thanks for those drills and information about doing bi-lateral breathing.I am going to start the drills today.I think it will probably take a few weeks of "awkwardness" before I am able to master them.You have probably hit the nail on the head when you said that my stroke length has got better but my stroke rate has got worse.I assume that you mean that although I am able to take fewer strokes to complete a 25m lap it is actually taking me longer for each stroke cycle than before.AnywayI just wish that you were my coach as I have learnt more from you in 2 days than I ever have from my coach.Do you coach in Wales now?

Gareth Eckley
June 27th, 2003, 06:09 AM
Mark thanks for your comments, I coach in Brecon mid wales,on tues night 9pm on, if you are ever in this area contact me.

If you really want to master the roll in free to a great level of sophistication then you should do a lot of backstroke. The correct roll and shoulder movement necessary to do this well will teach you how to do it in free. It is no accident that many of the best freestylers in the world were top backstrokers first. Aleksandre Popov is the best example.

His video " Popov whats the limit " is great. I am not sure where to find this in the UK. My copy is from Canada. A web search should reveal it. I would caution that learning from Videos or books can cause problems as we tend to exagerate the teaching points when we are in the pool.

This is where a good coach is invaluable as they can see what you specifically need for your stroke. There are lots of links to good info on this site, the zoomers site is very informative as well. Go to www.zoomers.net for this.

June 28th, 2003, 09:48 PM
It would be harder for me to have a flat body while swimming. I was always taught to roll my whole body. But usually while swimming it should be a natural body roll, without you having to actually think about it much. It's harder to explain and easier to demonstrate. I know that for a longer stroke in freestyle you have to rotatle your body to stretch that pulling arm. I dont know if it helps, but my vote is for body rolling in the water. It works and I save energy doing it.

Same for me.