Swimming Tips: Head Position

swimming position

Millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions that revolve around getting healthier and losing weight through diet and exercise. Lots of my friends have signed themselves up for races like triathlons as a means of motivation. If you’re planning on hitting the water, whether you’re a beginning swimmer or just looking to improve your technique, take a look at these swimming tips: head position edition. You’ll not only get faster in the water, but your body won’t get out of whack from misalignment.

Why is Head Position Important?

Head position is the number one technical issue that most swimmers face and it causes a multitude of problems. Your stroke isn’t going to have nearly the effectiveness it should if your head positioning isn’t correct. Your body will become misaligned and you’ll find that you won’t be gliding through the water as easily as you should. Your head lifting too high will make your hips and legs drop in the water and cause unnecessary drag in the water which will make a freestyle swim feel much more difficult than necessary, not to mention how much it will slow you down.

Keep this in mind as you’re trying to fix wrong head positioning: neck tall, chin back. This will flatten out your spine and keep your head in line with your chest and core. Keep your head facing straight down to the bottom of the pool and rotate just your face when you have to breathe. If you’re lifting your head too much, you’ll have to tuck your chin to your chest and then rotate to breathe which takes too much time.

Additional Problems:

It causes your back to arch which creates a shape that is not in the least hydrodynamic.

Your core doesn’t rotate as quickly and is more restricted with this head position.

You have to kick harder to keep your hips afloat.
Tips for open water swimmers and triathletes:

Many open water swimmers keep their head slightly up for sighting purposes. Even though you have to check your course and surroundings more often in open water, you should move your head back to neutral position each time after.

Fixing It

Here’s a drill you can do via Swim Swam that will help you adjust any bad head position habits you’ve picked up:

Head Position Drill

  • Start out by relaxing your body in a floating position with your arms at your side, kicking lightly.

  • Begin floating with your eyes and head pointed forward, towards the other end of the pool. At this point you will notice your hips and legs will be dragging in the water.

  • Relax your neck until your nose points directly at the line on the bottom of the pool. Here you should feel your hips and legs rising up towards the surface.

  • To breathe, pick your head up out of the water and breathe while looking at the other end of the pool. Here you will feel your hips and legs drop significantly. When done breathing relax your neck and you should feel your hips and legs rise back up to the surface.

There are also items you can buy like a posture trainer that will remind you when you are adopting poor head position. This one, developed by swim coach Craig Lewin, fits like a set of goggles around your head and taps you on the back if you’ve lifted your head too high.

Whether you’re an experienced triathlete or someone with weight loss goals hitting the pool at the gym, fixing your head position is one of the most simple and effective ways to improve your stroke. Let us know how you’re doing on your New Year’s resolutions. Is swimming a part of the plan?
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