View Full Version : Advice on my flip turn

August 26th, 2009, 09:58 PM
I have been working on developing a flip turn intermittently for the past 18 months. So far, I have strengthened my abdominal muscles to the point that I can flip without using my hands, just abds. Now, I am trying to figure out when to flip relative to the wall and how to get off the wall in streamline.

This video has 4 turns looking from the side, followed by 5 turns looking from the bottom of the wall aimed up toward the surface.

I am still using fins as it gives me more kick control as I approach the wall, and fins protect my feet if I overshoot.

Looks to me that I flip too far from the wall and then have to find the wall with my feet, so I end up pushing off too deep. The last 2 or 3 turns are a bit better.

Any expert advice would be greatly appreciated!

9/2/2009: For privacy, I have removed this video from public view on floswimming.org. PM me if you wish to view it.

Video with GoPro Hero Wide camera and edited with Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.


August 26th, 2009, 10:22 PM
I'm no expert but it looks like you could be a bit more compact on the turn and the streamline when you push off.

August 27th, 2009, 01:02 AM
It seems to me that you are gliding into the wall. You want to accelerate into the wall; not glide into it.

You need to tuck yourself up into a tighter ball. The smaller the ball, the faster you will turn. Try it!

You are turning too far from the wall. This is partially related to you not having enough momentum going into the turn.

Having said that, you are doing very well for someone who has just started learning the flip turn. My advice would be to lose those fins. ( You need to get a proper feel for what you are doing. You probably will smack your heels on the wall a few times. That is par for the course. It happens to almost everyone). Try to speed the whole processs up without losing form. If you tuck into a tighter ball you will find that you can turn a lot closer to the wall than you are now. That final stroke before the turn should be powerful and drive you into the wall. You don't want to lose any of your speed in the turn. It is not the time to take a rest but rather an opportunity to advantage of the kick off the wall to speed up.

Here are some really sensible tips from swim.com.

1. Accelerate as you approach the wall.
The faster you swim into the wall, the more energy you have available to convert into a fast spin. And the faster you spin the easier it will be to blast off the wall. Power through those last couple of meters with a strong kick and you may be surprised at how quickly your feet land on the wall.
2. Do not breathe on your last stroke.
Every breath takes you out of streamline position, which decreases your momentum. On that last stroke before the wall, you want to maximize (not decrease!) the amount of forward energy you are carrying into the turn.
3. Do not breathe on your first stroke.
Again, breathing on the first arm stroke after the turn takes you out of streamline position and bleeds forward momentum at a critical moment. (The fastest you’re ever going in a pool is in the first few meters after you have pushed off the wall.) Plus, your first arm stroke will be most powerful if your head is in a neutral position, rather than turned to the side.
4. Make sure your feet go straight over the top.
You will actually spin faster, and your feet will arrive on the wall more quickly if your throw them straight over the top, as opposed to over the top and slightly off to the side.

5. Push off on your back.
If you are flipping your feet straight over the top, but twisting onto your stomach before pushing off the wall, you are likely spending at least one, if not three, seconds ON the wall, where your speed is exactly zero meters per second. Instead, push off the wall the instant your feet land there. (You should be on your back.) Twist as you streamline kick to the surface.

Hot Tip: Breaking Old Flip Turn Habits

If you are trying to break the habit of twisting either during your somersault or when your feet are on the wall, swim freestyle-to-backstroke 50s in your warm-up and warm-down. In other words, swim a lap of freestyle, flip turn, and push off on your back for a lap of backstroke.

Once you’re doing those five things – even when you’re swimming on automatic pilot – there are a few details that will take your flip turns to the next level.

6. Tuck into a tighter ball.The smaller you get, the less time you will need to complete the rotation. It really is that simple.

Hot Tip: Somersault Freestyle Drill

Somersault freestyle is a drill that will help improve the speed of your flip turns. As you swim freestyle, every six or eight arm strokes, do a somersault. Practice getting as small as possible, spinning really fast, and not breathing right before or right after the somersault.

7. Do not look directly at the target.When you look directly at the target on the wall (the black cross), you have to lift your chin, and that takes your head (and upper body) in the opposite direction you need to go! Instead, look for the target by moving just your eyes. You cannot look directly at the target if you…

8. Keep your chin tucked.A common mistake beginners make when learning flip turns is that they pick their head up and out of the water before initiating the forward flip. They are using their head and upper body to generate the momentum they need to somersault.
You may not pick your head so far up that your eyes come out of the water, but check to see that you are not letting your chin come too far away from your chest. In other words, don’t cheat and use your head to create momentum. Use your core muscles and the good technique described in the above steps to convert your forward momentum into spinning momentum.

9. Keep your elbows near your torso.Resist the temptation to create spin with wide, flailing arms. When you finish your last arm stroke just before the turn, both arms will be at your hips. Press on the back of your hands, but keep your arms where they are, so that you somersault between them. (Use your core muscles to pull your head down toward your knees and to whip your feet over and down to their landing spot on the wall.) When your feet hit the wall, your hands will be in exactly the right place to streamline as you push off the wall.

10. Don’t flip too close to the wall.If you execute your turn when your head is within an inch or two of the gutter you are way too close to the wall! When your feet land on the wall in a well-executed flip turn, your legs should be bent as if you are sitting in a chair that is slightly too short. To understand why, try this experiment.
Do two vertical jumps from the ground (with your arms in streamline position, of course). On the first, crouch all the way to the ground, and begin your jump from there. (Bend your knees so that your butt is basically touching your heels, as it would be in a too-close-to-the-wall flip turn.) On the second, crouch down just until your knee angle is slightly less than 90 degrees. (Your hips will be just barely lower than your knees.) You’ll probably get about the same height off the ground on both, but which felt easier? Plus, here’s the added bonus of flip turning just a little further from the wall: that’s 12 inches less you have to swim on every lap!

Experiment with these techniques in your workouts, and you should have faster, easier freestyle flip turns.

August 27th, 2009, 01:43 AM
Thanks Syd

August 27th, 2009, 08:38 AM
Be sure to tuck your chin as you approach the flip.
It looks like you are trying to get back to your stomach too fast(after the flip). Glide a little longer on your side and try a dolphin kick or so.
Also, I think turns are more difficult in long fins; I'd work on turns without fins....you can't use them in a race anyway so why set your timing with fins on. :)

August 27th, 2009, 10:36 AM
Looks to me that I flip too far from the wall and then have to find the wall with my feet, so I end up pushing off too deep

Definitely. When your legs come over they should contact the wall without while still in your tuck without extending your legs. You don't want to flip and then kick your legs out a little before they hit the wall. This really takes away from the amount of force you'll get on your pushoff.

I do think you are gliding in too much, but I think it's more important to get the distance from the wall down first. Look at the bottom of the pool, not the wall (like 7 says in Syd's post) and gauge where to turn based on the hash mark on the bottom. Once you get the distance down you can work on charging into the wall more.

August 27th, 2009, 10:56 AM
The most important thing that I see is that you are not carrying any speed into the turn. Speed in = a fast flip and speed out.

The turn should be initiated with a hard arm pull, once your hand reaches your hip, that shoulder should be dropping down to initiate the flipping action.

August 27th, 2009, 12:08 PM
Thank you Syd.

One thing, not sure what you meant by pressing on the back of the hands while arms are at sides of hips:

Press on the back of your hands, but keep your arms where they are, so that you somersault between them.

All of my energy is wasted with the turn, I always rotate before feet contact and breath on first stroke. It becomes a vicious cycle - I loose O2 from lack of efficiency, then I have to catch up with less efficient breathing requirements. After 400M I become so sloppy and O2 deprived that aerobic swimmers and tri-geeks start to catch me:cane:. I think I can become so much faster if I can master this, thanks for the tip!

August 27th, 2009, 04:03 PM
Your mechanics are not bad. A couple things to add to the list:

1). Your feet on the wall are too low and that pushes you into the wall of water your body produces as it moves toward the wall. So, get your feet higher so you can get under that wave your body creates.

2.) It's hard to see with your fins on but I suspect you're pushing off the wall from your toes. So try to get your whole foot (bottom of your feet) on the wall. You'll immediately notice you're traveling much farther. It's very difficult but try it.

3.) As your feet touch, you should as you've been told, push off on your back but be sure that your arms are behind your head and in the streamlined position when the feet touch. You'll notice that you're pushing off the wall and getting into the streamlined position vs. being in the streamlined position.

Good luck!!! Coach T.

August 27th, 2009, 09:47 PM
Thanks all for the analysis and advice! It gives me a good idea of how to proceed.

August 28th, 2009, 01:26 PM
Radswim, any recent progress on your turns? It's cool how you can rotate on to your belly from either side. Planning on reporting back with filmed progress without the flippers?

I've got to get an underwater vid camera for analysis like that. Currently thinking how I can rig a normal camera placed in a 5gal tank submerged just below the surface, to get some turn footage of me (budget style).

I'm doing something wrong turning that is killing my swim. The first 25 always feels perfect, but after one turn everything falls apart whether it's the first 25 of a 500M or each first length of 10X50M on 2:00, after one turn form becomes wasteful chaos. Distance doesn't help either, two weeks ago I did a 3600M and my turns got worse after and I'm still trying to recover from the damage.

August 28th, 2009, 01:36 PM

How is your breathing? Are you exhaling while your head is underwater to clear the dead air prior to rotating to breathe? Do you find yourself gasping or gulping air when you do take a breath? At the end of practice do you find yourself belching a lot?

August 28th, 2009, 02:26 PM

How is your breathing? Are you exhaling while your head is underwater to clear the dead air prior to rotating to breathe? One thing I did try today was depleting lungs and inhaling more thuroghly prior to the turn. This helped allowing a full stroke prior to 1st breath.

Not to long ago I would take the 1st breath (left side always) upon 1st stroke (I rotate left for turn) and could not endure a full stroke prior. If I tried, my whole body would start tingling - close to light's going out:snore:. What helped today, as you mentioned, was a good breath before turn without anyn nasal bubbling (beginner habit). The full stroke after is easier, but a little sloppy.

At the end of practice do you find yourself belching a lot? Yes. Also, I once had pool water drain from my nose for about 1hr - about 40cc total lol


August 30th, 2009, 02:46 PM
I agree with a lot of the suggestions but you might want to reconsider the follwoing.

Tucking into a tighter ball is probably not a good thing to do because you won't be in a powerful position as you try to get off the wall. When you're in a squatting position, you lose the ability to push off quickly. The power position of a flip turn is in a sitting position. Watch video's of any world class freestyler and try to mimic that angle. You will indeed flip over more quickly when in a tight tuck but you'll sacrifice distance, power and speed off of the wall. Good luck!

August 30th, 2009, 04:15 PM
Good advice Tomtopo. Here are 2 pages of starts and turns http://www.goswim.tv/entries/c/24/starts-turns.html the tight tuck is not what anyone really suggests

August 30th, 2009, 05:48 PM
As to "Do not breathe on your last stroke", I saw in many competition videos pro swimmers often catch air during the last time an arm is above the water. Or I misunderstand what a "stoke" means? Does it mean a cycle of an arm moving from hip, through air and water and finally back to hip?

August 30th, 2009, 06:00 PM
To me the stroke starts from the time it enters the water until it returns to enter again. Or off a dive or turn when it goes from the extension until it makes a complete stroke and enters out front, not from the thigh or hip to thigh or hip. When I raced I would not breathe the last 2 or 3 strokes.

August 30th, 2009, 07:11 PM
I realized one of my problems has to do with the 25M pool I use. It is a fitness club so lanes are ~4' wide, but worst of all the lines go all the way to the wall, and then up the side! Then one side of the pool is only 3.5' deep .

Nevertheless, the next chance I have to get into the water (15 hours from now) I am going to try the weighted turn exercises suggested in the link George posted (thanks man!). I don't have the weights yet but without them by just turning off the wall, flip again, turn off wall, etc looks good enough.

August 30th, 2009, 08:50 PM
3.5 feet is plenty deep to do a flip.

In the whole spectrum of things to learn about turns, I'd say breathing in and out of the wall is pretty low on the list. Get the turn mechanics down first before trying to hold your breath. It sounds like you are already struggling some with running out of air. Breathing in and out of the turn while using a flip turn is still going to be faster than an open turn, so if breathing more will let you try flipping more often then breath!