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Friday 17 August 2012

Head, Hips, and Heels

Improving breakout/swimming body position creates higher levels of propulsion from the athlete's kick.  In this photo Erika Erndl is breaking out with her heels, hips, and head -- simultaneously.  Erika's kick is affecting her propulsion in a 100% positive way by directing movement 100% forward along the horizontal surface of the water.

If her feet were 8 inches underwater as her head broke the surface, the kick would be doing work, but directionally the kick would be pushing her body up instead of forward.  Because the law of gravity won't allow her to continue upward (humans are not dolphins), the 8 inch depth of the feet make for an inefficient kick -- no matter how powerful it may be.


  1. Too true! I think a lot of athletes are unaware of HOW they're actually breaking out. To work on this, at the beginning of the season we'll go through some 25s of what I call our Streamline Progression. For the first couple, they glide only and are not allowed to take a stroke until they have completely surfaced. Their goal is to have their hands, head, hips, and heels surface at the same time and carry as much speed as they can to the surface. For the next couple 25s, they can add kick, but still cannot take a stroke until they're fully surfaced. Then, for the last couple 25s they can take a normal breakout stroke. We've also done this from a block start. The added bonus we've had is that the kids are often surprised at how far they can get out with even just a glide so it makes the shortened breakouts and breakouts before the flags inexcusable!

  2. Well said, Coach Ben. We do similar drills but also specifically work on head position during the breakout as so many kids want to lift their head just before surfacing and surface nose-first (thus dropping the hips and feet). Seems like when we get the head fixed, the hips and heels are easier to tackle.

  3. Thanks for the comments everyone! Priscilla, that's a great point and reminds me of a backstroke drill that highlights your thought. I'd like to post on here soon.