Freestyle Drills for Beginners to Master Strokes and Turns

The Dos and Don’ts of Four Easy Freestyle Swimming Drills

freestyle drills for beginners

The first step in learning to swim is developing essential water survival skills. But once you’ve mastered the basics, we want to encourage you to practice freestyle swimming drills.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced swimmer looking to refine your skills, mastering these freestyle drills will help you build a strong foundation and improve your technique in the water.

We’ll guide you through four essential freestyle swimming drills, using videos to demonstrate the right and wrong ways to perform each one!

Focusing on each element of each freestyle drill will help you level up your freestyle swimming skills!

Tip: Record yourself swimming or have a friend watch you perform each drill so you can see exactly what you need to improve and which skills you’ve mastered!


1. Freestyle Kick Drills: Hand Lead – Front Kick

Mastering the Hand Lead Front Kick drill is essential for developing proper body position and kick technique for freestyle swimming.


  • Stay on top of the water
  • Extend one arm directly in front of your body 
  • Keep your head facing the bottom of the pool 
  • Keep your other arm straight at your side
  • Keep legs in alignment with your head
  • Perform kicks with straight legs



  • Reach your arm out of the water
  • Let your hips and legs sag below the water
  • Allow your other arm to float off to your side

Focusing on maintaining a straight, streamlined body position and keeping your arm and head in the correct position will strengthen your core and build a strong foundation for efficient freestyle swimming.


2. Freestyle Drill: Rotary Breathing on Your Back

The rotary breathing drill on your back is a progression that teaches swimmers the proper timing and technique for side breathing in freestyle. By rolling onto your back to practice breathing, you’ll better understand the rhythm of when to take breaths during freestyle stroke.


  • Keep your body aligned in the water with your head facing down
  • Extend one arm directly in front of your body and keep it there
  • Keep the other arm at your side, close to your body
  • Alternate arms every three seconds
  • Rotate your hips when you’re ready to turn over to your back
  • Breathe when you’re on your back
  • Keep your hand in front of your shoulder



  • Let your arms flail or slap them on the water
  • Use wide kicks or let your heels come out of the water
  • Don’t bend your knees
  • Use your arm to assist you in turning over to your back
  • Lift your head to breathe or lead the turn with your head
  • Turn your head to breathe when your body is face-down
  • Fight against the water by lifting your head directly up

Tip: Focus on keeping your extended arm stable and your body streamlined as you rotate to take a breath. This will help you maintain a consistent rhythm.

As you become more proficient with this drill, you’ll find it easier to rotate your hips to smoothly roll back onto your front and continue swimming freestyle with efficient breathing.


3. Swimming Drill: Six-Kick Switch

This drill is intended to improve the length of your stroke by working on how to rotate your body correctly without equipment.


  • Engage your core
  • Keep your head down
  • Extend one arm
  • Continue flutter kicking
  • After six kicks, pull with the extended arm
  • Rotate to your back and breathe
  • Switch arms and repeat



  • Lift your head directly above the water to breathe
  • Breathe while facing down
  • Let your body sag

Tip: Keep your arm extended and the opposite shoulder out of the water.

By mastering the 6-Kick Switch drill, you’ll develop a more efficient and powerful freestyle stroke to swim faster and easier.


4. Freestyle Swim Drill: Two Strokes & Backstroke

The freestyle swim drill with two strokes and backstroke is a great way to practice transitioning between freestyle and backstroke while maintaining proper form and technique.


  • Head facing down
  • Strong kicks
  • Hands reaching in front, pull back toward your hips
  • Roll Front to back
  • Complete your pull to keep yourself in alignment



  • Flail hands and arms
  • Look at your feet 
  • Let your hips sink into the water

Tip: You’re not progressing in the water when your pull is short. So be sure you’re completing the full pull to propel yourself forward and keep your body aligned.

Practicing this freestyle swim drill to backstroke will improve your ability to seamlessly and efficiently switch between the two strokes.

Practice Makes Improvement at WeAquatics

Everyone starts as a beginner. With consistent practice, you’ll find you’re closer to the ‘Do’ swimming videos than the ‘Don’t’ videos.

WeAquatics’ Learn-to-Swim program for adults and kids above age four is designed to help swimmers of all levels develop proper technique and build a strong foundation in freestyle swimming.

These freestyle drills for beginners are just a few essential skills we focus on in our one-on-one personalized lessons.

We encourage you to practice these drills whenever you swim, paying close attention to the dos and don’ts in each video.

Ready to take your freestyle swimming to the next level? Sign up for our Learn-to-Swim classes today to start your journey swimming like a pro!