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Learn to Swim Front Crawl: Balance while Rolling Drill

Balance while rolling is a front crawl swimming drill that lets you practice balance while rolling between a head up and a head down position.

Mastering this skill is important because you should roll on your side instead of lifting your head up when you need to breathe.

Otherwise, your body loses its horizontal alignment in the water and drag increases.

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

  • Float flat in the water, with your head turned downward and aligned with your trunk.
  • Keep your arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Use a supple flutter kick for propulsion.
  • Apply downward pressure on your head and chest to maintain balance, as you learned to do in the balancing on your front swimming drill.
  • When you need to breathe, roll your body and head up into the position you know from the balancing on your back swimming drill. Make sure to roll your body all at once. Don’t anticipate the rotation with your head.
  • Once you have taken a few breaths and feel balanced, roll back toward the initial face down position. Again, make sure you roll your body all at once.
  • Alternatively, roll toward each side.

While you roll between the head up and the head down position, you will need to continuously adjust how you push upper body down to counteract the tendency of your legs and hips to drop.

This is a valuable skill to possess as you should roll from side to side with each arm stroke to increase the efficiency of your propulsion.

Furthermore, as described above, it lets you keep your balance while rolling on your side to breathe in.


This was the last one of our front crawl drills to practice balance. You should now be able to keep your balance during all phases of the stroke cycle. This is very important to keep drag to a minimum.

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