Swim Club Blog: Hip Rotation & Swimming

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

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Hip rotation is one of the most commonly discussed factors among triathlon coaches. If you've read swim articles, you'll have read something along the lines of 'hip rotation is used to generate force' and 'all the power comes from hip rotation'. But what does this actually mean and how do you implement it?

How does rotation help me swim faster?

Rotation can help with generating power / force. In simple terms, think about someone kicking a football as hard as possible. As they draw the leg back, they will also 'twist' at the waist, they use this 'rotation' to generate more power as the leg swings forwards. Imaging standing with your hips square and only bending your knee to kick the ball... without the rotation at your waist, a lot of power would be lost. This applies to swimming also and relates to both arms and legs.

What's the issues relating to rotation?

It's a very complex skill to master. Unless you have great body position and can hold yourself in a firm, balanced and streamlined position, rotation just doesn't work. We discussed last week 'critical and non-critical factors of technique'. Hip rotation is an advanced skill and unless you are already at a proficient level, your chances of mastering it are slim at best. Despite this, it's regularly discussed in magazine articles and blog posts, leading most swimmers to think they've got to tackle it right now!!

Amateur swimmers and triathlon competitors who are asked to focus on 'hip rotation' will generally 'over rotate'. Their hands cross the centre line when under the body and their stroke loses rhythm and generally looks worse. From our experience, swimmers who have been told that they need to 'rotate' find it far too complex a skill.

So what should I do?

Rotation is important, but initially, focus on your shoulders. As your arm enters the water, reach as far as possible and use that as the instigator to roll onto your side. If you reach and really STRETCH with your left arm, then your left shoulder will drop and your right shoulder will rise out of the water. Keep the head still and look down at the pool, using your head/neck/spine as an axis point around which you rotate. Don't try to 'rotate from the hips' as you body position will falter.

You cannot rotate an object correctly unless it is in alignment and under tension. Skewers work well because they are straight and they are stiff. Focus on streamlining in the water and focus on balance, they are the 2 key elements for efficient swimming. Once this is mastered, practice stretching out on hand entry and allow the 'reach' to instigate the 'roll'.

The Endurance Store Swim Club