Freestyle Swimming Drills – Head-Lead Prone Balance

This freestyle swimming drill teaches you how to be balanced in the water in a prone position (floating on your chest). In fact, this is the best drill to get forever rid of sinking hips and legs while swimming the freestyle stroke. Here’s how to do it:

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Drill Instructions

  • Lie flat in the water, with your face turned downward. Your head is in line with the trunk.
  • Keep your arms relaxed and extended along the sides of the body.
  • Start to kick with a gentle flutter kick.
  • If you notice that your hips and legs tend to sink, try this: increase the downward pressure on your chest and head while keeping your head in line with your body. Don’t press down too much though; your body should still be more or less horizontal.
  • You should notice that by the lever effect explained in the previous freestyle drill, your hips and legs are pushed upward. This is the key lesson of this drill.
  • When you need to breathe, gently extend your chin forward until your mouth clears the water.
  • You will notice that your hips and legs tend to sink while inhaling. Press your chest and head down as explained above to compensate and bring your body back into balance.
  • Pressing your head and chest down this way to make your hips and legs rise in the water is sometimes called pressing your buoy or pressing the T.

Additional Tips

Here are a few additional tips to practice this swimming drill:

  • If your kick is weak you can give swimming fins a try. Just make sure to compensate for sinking hips and legs by pressing your buoy, not by kicking harder with the fins.
  • Don’t overdo this drill, as extending your chin to inhale can strain your neck. Once you have integrated how to press your buoy to keep your hips and legs up, move on to the next drill.
  • A tip for sinkers from Frank, one of our readers: to bring your hips/legs in balance with your shoulders, consciously engage the lower back muscles and also do dry land exercises to strengthen those lower back muscles.

7 thoughts on “Freestyle Swimming Drills – Head-Lead Prone Balance”

  1. I am not able to breathe at the right moment when I take out my neck and my body totally sinks in the water. What should I do ?

    1. It is a question of practice and persistence. Doing the drills from this web site helps too :-)

    2. If needed, you can give your hands a little sweep (like the sculling drill), but keep them at your side. This should provide a little little rigidity and slight upwards propulsion sufficient to breathe until you become strong enough to do this drill without it

  2. In the video, the swimmer doesn’t seem to be exhaling while head is submerged. I only see bubbles right before head is lifted to inhale. Should the breath be held while head is submerged during this drill?

    1. Good catch! It’s been a few years since I made the video. Ideally, you should exhale a bit all the time. I didn’t do it in this video though, I don’t know why, maybe because I was a bit tense because I was being filmed?

  3. I had problem with this exercise. My experience is that after inhaling is better to hold breath while you obtain balance and chest is higher. Then you can start to exhaling. Does anyone have the same experience?

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