I would like some tips on how to teach front crawl breathing. How do I correct my 7-year-old's freestyle stroke? Does he raise his head above water instead of turning to the side to inhale?
Thank you very much!!
This is very common, especially with children learning to swim.
The head has to turn to the side to breathe during a freestyle to help maintain a horizontal body position. If the head is raised to the front, it will cause the legs to sink and the stroke to become harder work.
Success when teaching anything to a child depends on how you explain it and what words you choose that they can relate to and understand. Here are a few things to try.
Explain that when he breathes, he must ‘roll’ his head to the side so that one ear faces up to the sky and the other ear remains in the water.
You could try teaching him to look at his shoulder when he needs to breathe. This will also ensure he turns his head to the side and not facing forward.
Another possible solution could be to use a focal point in the room or along the poolside. You must use something that runs along the pool because he will be moving along. For example, a poolside handrail, windows or seating area.
A simple trick with young children is 'look at the fish, then listen to the fish'. This encourages the correct head movement when breathing.
The above teaching points can be used when kicking with a kickboard. Use the opposite corner hand grip on the kickboard, where one hand holds the top corner, and the other holds the opposite bottom corner. This causes the arm holding the bottom to be bent, giving a space in which the head can be turned when breathing.
It goes without saying that when the breathing action is used with the arm action, the arm on the side the breath is to be taken must have pulled back to create the space in which to breathe.
My ebook How To Teach Front Crawl contains over 20 separate swimming exercises to help all parts of freestyle, including breathing. It also contains lesson plans tailored specifically to front crawl breathing. You can download it, print out the parts you need and take them to your pool to try out. Click the link below for more information.
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