7 Strategies to Improve your flip turns

Are you looking to shorten your swim lap times without training more?

I have come up with the following seven tips to help you do an outstanding swim flip turn.

In our quest to become better and faster, we are always striving to do more.

Increase the frequency of training at race pace. More time in the water. Swimsuits made with high-tech space fabrics. A full large pizza after practice?

Nevertheless, as you will see in a few moments, you can do a flip turn more efficiently and produce faster swimming to get better results in the pool simply by focusing your attention for a little longer during your swimming sessions.

Your local swimmers show what they’re doing during workouts by doing flip turns that are slow, undisciplined, and sap their speed and velocity that they worked so hard to build up through practice after practice.

Make your next swim flip spectacular by following these 7 tips.

1. Line up the turn with the "T"

In the water, swimmers are forever faced with the black line at the bottom. On long swim workouts, it is often the only constant guide you will have.

In addition, it stops us from turning into the other side of the lane (and onto oncoming swimmers) and, with the tiled “T” at the end of every length, it helps us line up our turns.
Even Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer of all time, makes the occasional mistake when hitting the turn. At the US Nationals in 2014, Michael Phelps missed the wall in the 100m freestyle.

Trick: Be familiar with swimming against the wall at different speeds, whether you’re swimming faster, slower, or fast with fins. This will increase your ability to judge when to turn your flip.

2. Accelerate towards the wall

Recently I was working with a swimmer and called out the fact he visibly slowed down in the final 10m before his turn during a 50m short race. After the race, we calculated this slowdown cost him 0.61 seconds. An eternity in a 50m race.

What caused as he neared the wall he was picking his head up trying to judge the distance before initiating the turn. This is an obvious mistake but it’s one I see all the time.

You should think about acceleration as you approach your turn: the more speed you carry going into your turn, the quicker you will spin and then explode from the wall. When approaching the wall, make sure to accelerate less, and to exit the turn more quickly.

3. To ensure that you are moving at a steady pace, do not breathe into the wall

Every time I teach, I tell my students to avoid breathing into the wall, and you probably hear your coach say that all the time, too. Truth be told, almost no one follows this advice.
Nevertheless, it can make a big difference.

In addition to not breathing into your flips, this also helps you not slow down when you approach the wall. As well as promoting a better head position, it can be useful in teaching breathing techniques that are more efficient.

So listen to your coach!

4. To reduce snow-plowing Keep your head straight.

This is the most frequent mistake I see in swimmers, from beginners to experts, the habit of lifting your head up to gaze at the wall.

Relax and allow use the flags to measure your stroke count. This will ensure that your feet hit the wall squarely so that you can accelerate with the maximum amount of power.

Every one of your thousands upon thousands of flips must be executed efficiently straight in, straight out, straight in. Efficiency is the key here.

Lifting your head up into the wall causes an over-rotation on both the exit and approach movement of your flip-turn. Your body tends to go up and over as you start the turn (wasted speed and distance), and then end up having to over-compensate for the extra rotation upon exiting it, and this usually leaves you pointing straight up at the surface with significantly reduced momentum.

Tip: Try to drive the top of your head straight to the middle of the T on the wall or bulkhead.

5. Bend at your waist

While performing the flip, I visualize my legs collapsing onto my stomach, and my waist bending forcefully. My turn is tight and fast because I maintain this simple, yet odd visualization. This also means that my feet will not slip off because I have a natural tendency to do so.

It is common for swimmers to bend their knees too early in a turn. But to minimize drag, you should keep your knees near the water’s surface. As a result, your movements will become more efficient.

6A. Explode from the wall

This is where you will be able to see the benefits of lifting weights and doing exercises properly. Don’t forget to hit those squats during your dryland workouts people! When you push away from the wall, follow the same technique that you’d use to do a Squat Jump.

Your feet must be shoulder width. Push through your heels and touch your feet up against the wall for just long enough to securely launch yourself in the opposite direction.

If you do this you’ll quickly see how important strength training is for your swimming technique. The payoffs are quick and noticeable as you build strength.

It is essential to have a strong, quick push-off: besides the start, as soon as you push off the wall, you will be moving as fast as you can in the water.

6B. Position your arms for liftoff

During the flip turn, swimmers usually stand on their feet and then raise their arms above their heads to push off.

This is tenths of a second, and that’s the amount of time we can save here. Each time you reach your feet against the wall and turn your arms above your head, you will spend just that much less time doing it. Your body is already in place at the right angle, ready to power off without waiting around or fiddling around under the water for a way to keep it organized.

You may have to adjust your current turning habits to master this, but it’s worth the time and effort.

In a streamlined position, with your arms ready, you will be more inclined to “hot foot” the flip turns, pushing off sharply and quickly rather than hesitantly taking a step and replanting your feet as you move.

7. Get more sleep

Perhaps the best way to improve your flip has nothing at all to do with technique but rather in getting a few extra hours of sleep every night.

Swimmers performed better following a six-week study by Stanford researchers. By getting an extra 1-2 hours of sleep every night, participants experienced improved sprint times, faster reactions and other benefits.

It is particularly noteworthy that the swimmers averaged a 0.10-second increase in turn speed. This may not seem like much, but the total results add up in a race (particularly for longer courses). Add up all the small changes and you’ll notice an enormous difference.

Turning faster, swimming faster, and sleeping longer? Sign me up!

The Next Step

As part of your weekly swim workouts, you already do a crazy amount of flip turns.

What percentage of them are you already doing at your best? How often are they performed mindfully and with focus?

You don’t have to wait for your coach to hold a “starts and turns” session. Work on improving your flip turns next time you’re on the deck.

After all…

You will reduce the time spent on flipping turns significantly if you follow even a few of these tips. The result will be faster times when it matters the most.