How to Correct a Short Stroke in Freestyle

How to Correct a Short Stroke in Freestyle


Hi, in freestyle my child has a short stroke both at entry and at the end of the pull. How can this be corrected? Are there drills they can work on?

Thank you Jenny


Hi Jenny,

For swimmers who short stroke at the beginning and end of their stroke I would recommend taking a video of them swimming and letting them view what they look like and see what they are doing wrong. This will assist them to correct it.

The swimmer can watch themselves and then compare themselves with a video of a swimmer doing correct freestyle technique. You can now access an excellent video of the Freestyle Stroke Model with a voice over from former Australian Team Head Coach, Leigh Nugent.

With the hand entry, encourage the swimmer to enter the water at least two thirds of the way forward and extend their hand forward until there is a slight bend remaining and the elbow is in a high position. From this position, they can press with their hand, downwards and slightly outwards at the beginning of the arm pull.

With the back part of their stroke, ask them to brush the outside of their thumb past their thigh on every stroke. By doing this, you are providing them with a reference point that their hands must push back further and their thumb must touch their thigh. They will find this difficult and after a lap or two will need to be reminded to brush their thumb past their thigh.

The swimmer will often complain that it feels like they are going slower because their hand is pushing through further however explain to them that they will actually be moving forward through the water more and once they get good at it, will actually be swimming faster.


In regards to drills, one is to do single arm freestyle with the second arm holding the board at the end and enter the other arm just in front of the board and extend it forward under the board. They can do 25s or 50s with one arm and then swap to the other. This is a teaching drill and provides them with time to practice the correct stroke technique.

If you are a parent of a swimmer and you’re looking for support, direction or advice on your swimming parent journey, check out Swim Parent Advantage, an online resource for swimming parents.