Learn to Swim Front Crawl: Roll To The Sides Drill

Roll to the Sides is a front crawl drill where you practice maintaining your balance while having one or both arms extended forward and rolling from a downward position to a sideward position:

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Maintaining good balance while rolling from side to side is important because ideally, in front crawl, you should roll from side to side with each arm stroke to improve propulsion.

Note: This drill belongs to an older series of drills to learn the front crawl stroke. Please have a look at the Learn to Swim Front Crawl article to learn about our current series of swimming drills for this stroke.

Drill Instructions

Here are the instructions for this swimming drill:

  • As previously, float in a prone position (face down), your head in line with the trunk.
  • A relaxed flutter kick will help keep your legs up and will provide propulsion.
  • Extend both arms forward, one hand resting on top of the other.
  • When you feel that your balance is good, sweep one of your arms backward as you would do when swimming front crawl.
  • Roll your hips out of the way of the sweeping hand when it arrives at that level. As a result, your whole body rolls on the side.
  • Roll your head a little bit further so that your face is now turned upward. Your back-sweeping arm should now be wholly extended and resting on your thigh. Take a few moments to breathe in this position.
  • Once you have taken a few breaths and adjusted your balance, roll back down into the initial position, head and chest facing downward. Simultaneously recover your active arm forward.
  • Take a few moments to adjust your balance, then start again.
  • Alternate lengths where you roll toward the left side and lengths where you roll toward the right side.

Some Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips to practice this swimming drill:

  • If you notice that your hips and legs drop down while rolling on the side, make sure that you don’t start to roll before your backward sweeping hand has moved past your head.
  • While floating on your side, make sure to apply downward pressure onto your head and bottom shoulder to keep your hips and legs up.

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