View Full Version : Flip Turns

June 8th, 2011, 08:52 PM
I know how to do a basic flip turn however not well. None of my flips are consistent and they definitely slow me down during practice and in meets. Any suggestions or tips that could help? Thanks!

June 8th, 2011, 09:58 PM
Practice! Practice! Practice! No open turns during your workout, only flip turns. Eventually you will find that flip turns have becomce easier, faster, and less tiring than open turns.

June 8th, 2011, 10:27 PM
As stated earlier, the key is practice. You also should have someone who can teach proper flip turn technique work with you and give you critique. I can tell you that if you stick with it they will get easier, both from a technique and a breathing standpoint. When I swam in high school I never did flip turns in practice, only in meets. Coming back many years later I decided it was something I should fix. I started out flipping 1/4 of my turns, then every other length, then gradually adding more and more until I was doing flip turns 100%. It took about 1-2 months for me to make it a consistent habit, by that I mean I don't think about "which turn should I use." At some point I was asked to demonstrate an open turn, started into it and messed it up because I flipped out of habit. I used to have pretty fast open turns, but that's all gone now. Just stick with it and make it a priority.

June 8th, 2011, 10:29 PM
...like she said.



June 9th, 2011, 12:37 AM
Ok, this is coming from someone who used to be terrible at flip turns and is now only marginally improved. The reason for the marginal improvement is because of an advice by a swim instructor who told me to add a quick dolphin kick right before the turn. I've never seen or heard that little piece of advice discussed in any intructional material for flip turns. Before that, I could never get enough rotation or speed going into the wall and my turns were always extremely sloppy & slow. Now, just slightly less sloppy & slow. Anyway, then I was watching this excellent video and noticed KPN adding a little dolphin kick before HER turns (watch her at 0:39). I never would have noticed that if this instructor hadn't mentioned it... anyway, try it, practice it. I still suck but I'm getting better each day!


June 9th, 2011, 10:15 AM
Also goswim.tv has step by step instruction videos on learning flip turns. These REALLY helped me, when I was learning.

June 9th, 2011, 12:27 PM
Also goswim.tv has step by step instruction videos on learning flip turns. These REALLY helped me, when I was learning.

Agree--these are the best help I found on the Internet. Here's the url for the first one: YouTube - ‪Swimming - Turns - Freestyle Flip Turn Step #1‬‏

This series got me to where I could do a decent flip turn--slow, a little oxygen deprivation at times, but not embarrassing.

To get to the next level, I took a lesson with my coach. I'm really glad I did that. No matter how much I practiced on my own, I wouldn't have known how to fix the small things I was getting wrong.

Now, I feel like I'm on track to gradually improve with practice. I'm still not fast on the turns, but I'm getting there. I never get oxygen deprivation on these anymore.

Good luck, and have fun.

June 9th, 2011, 12:52 PM
Watched a Tri friend in practice this morning who had complained about his slow turns earlier in the week. Turned out he was touching the wall with his hand before initiating the flip. He's a tall guy, so that must have been extra awkward. In case you are doing the same, you should know that on a freestyle flip turn you should not touch with your hand first, and you should initiate the turn close to when you are crossing the T for maximum thrust on your push off.

June 10th, 2011, 01:45 PM
When I was first trying to get a handle on flip turns, I couldn't generate enough speed :blush: to actually generate the turn properly. My coach told me to put on my fins, swim hard into the wall, then do the flip turn. That's all I needed. I knew what to do, but just couldn't do it. With the extra speed going in from the fins, it all fell into place. Once I knew what it was supposed to feel like, I began swimming harder into the wall without my fins on and my turns improved rapidly. Good luck!

June 10th, 2011, 04:51 PM
I've never had any issues with flip turns as far as the turn and push off. I do struggle with oxygen deprivation at times so I am working on that. I'm always surprised how many people do open turns in the pool. and I mean pretty fast swimmers.

June 11th, 2011, 11:06 AM
I think a flip turn will always be more aerobically demanding than an open turn, but faster.

Thrashing Slug
June 11th, 2011, 10:06 PM
The only way to get comfortable with flip turns is to do them all the time. As soon as you get to the point where you're doing them without smashing your heels on the deck, make a commitment to do flip turns for the entire practice. Or, use a progressive schedule like every 4 turns one week, then every 3, etc.

After a while they become completely natural and even a source of free speed.

June 12th, 2011, 04:06 PM
I think a flip turn will always be more aerobically demanding than an open turn, but faster.
When my arms are tired the short rest they get with a flipturn helps a lot. I have no underwater kick so my streamline is shorter than others who burn energy with a strong SDK. YMMV.

I've seen some never-tried-a-flipturn swimmers learn quickly with these steps:

Learn the somersault portion away from the wall so you don't worry about whacking your heels and misjudging walls at first.

Find water about 4-1/2 feet deep where you can do a little push off the bottom. Do a full somersault at first landing on the bottom , then learn how to quit so you finish on your back still tucked. Simulate the wall pushoff by thrusting both legs.

Try a somersault with your neck arched back/chin jutted out. It's almost impossible. Then try it with your chin tucked to your sternum. Note the difference.

Master your air control just doing somersaults before you progress to full turns.

Use a fast tight stomach crunch to initiate the somersault instead of flailing both arms around. So many beginners get the somersault done, have their feet on the wall, then have to re-orient to get their hands into position for a streamlined pushoff.

Whether you do an open turn or flip, set a goal to do a great streamline every turn no matter how tired you are.

June 16th, 2011, 04:54 PM
Thanks to all for the responses. I think I'm on my way to better flip turns!! :)

June 16th, 2011, 08:23 PM
Do them ALWAYS & when you are tired the change will happen.

Maui Mike
June 16th, 2011, 09:13 PM
Started doing flip turns back in the fifties and always felt I was pretty good at doing them. Don't remember losing ground to anyone either in practice or in races (age group, high school, and college) --- usually it was just the opposite, I often beat swimmers who were a little bit faster but their turns weren't as good. But now I've started training again with the Maui Masters Swim Club and a thirtyish young lady who often ends up in the lane next to me beats me by almost 1/2 body length every turn! We're pretty even through the push off but then she throws in a few SDK's and it's adios. Dang! Guess we'll see if this old dog can learn a new trick.

June 26th, 2011, 04:49 PM
Thanks so much for all of the help!!! I realized I was flailing my arms like nkfrench suggested so I watched a couple videos and listened to some of everyone's tips. Anyway, went to a swim meet this weekend and had the best flips turns I have ever had. Still needs work but much improved! Thanks for all the help :)

June 26th, 2011, 06:34 PM
Great !! Keep the good flips coming !:applaud::banana:

Dan Mayhew
September 12th, 2011, 12:02 PM
Here is a playlist of 5 videos breaking down how to learn or improve on your flip turns. It is the best set of tips I have found. http://www.vizme.com/?u=uTO&t=c&i=1E0

September 14th, 2011, 10:37 AM
I feel like mastering the flip turn is almost as involved as learning a new stroke.

I agree that the Go Swim video series a few people have posted are a great start. They do an excellent job teaching the "flip" portion of the turn. But I haven't seen anything that goes into depth on the approach, foot position, push-off, and rotation after the turn. It took a few sessions with my coach to get those under control. Without my coach's help, I could practice all I wanted, but I didn't know what I needed to do differently.

Open turns can be pretty fast. No one should feel embarrassed about using them. It took a long time for my flip turns to get faster than my open turns.

I've never had any issues with flip turns as far as the turn and push off. I do struggle with oxygen deprivation at times so I am working on that. I'm always surprised how many people do open turns in the pool. and I mean pretty fast swimmers.
I wonder if your feet are hitting too high on the wall. That was one of my (many) problems. It caused me to push off at a downward angle, so it took me a long time to get that first breath.

September 14th, 2011, 11:36 AM
A bizarre tip I was given when learning turns was to "look for my feet", and I still do this now if my turn is going off for some reason.

When they appear above you in the water then kick out. The chances are your feet are in the right position on the wall without even trying

And yes, the coach didnt know why this worked either !

September 14th, 2011, 12:37 PM
Very helpful thread!!

September 15th, 2011, 08:07 AM
I watched a video of a friend recently, who is an elite freestyler. He broke it down into:

Planting your feet
Planting your feet and pushing off on your back (not what I learned, but makes sense)
Planting your feet, pushing off on your back, and rotating back to swimming position


If I was learning now, would definitely turn onto my back