Why is body roll important?
Body roll or long-axis (from head to toe) rotation is a fundamental component of a good swim stroke. A rotated swimmer provides less resistance in the water and makes breathing and arm recovery easier. Body roll also facilitates the use of the large lat muscles and pectoral muscles rather than the smaller arm muscles during the catch and pull. Body roll or rotation results in a longer body in the water from toe to tip of extended arm and as we know longer vessels move through water faster.
The perfect stroke – body roll!
To achieve the correct body roll, imagine that you have a skewer running through your body from the tip of your head through your core. Body roll is initiated from the hips. Trunk, shoulders and legs follow together. Your head stays very still throughout the rotation the exception being when you are breathing. When you take a breath the head rotates with the hips, trunk and shoulders. On each stroke your whole body (hips, trunk and shoulders) rotates to around 45 degrees. The hips reach maximum rotation as the stroking arm begins the recovery phase (this is also when breathing takes place).
How to get there – body roll!
Use the following drills to develop and effective body roll:
What can go wrong – body roll!
Not enough body roll
The swimmer remains flat in the water during the stroke cycle. This reduces the stroke length and means that the swimmer is not utilising the large lat and pectoral muscles. The swimmer will not be as streamlined as they could be.
Too much body roll
The swimmer over-rotates through the stroke cycle, the maximum rotation being greater than 45 degrees. An over-rotated swimmer will not be able to move forward with an effective catch and pull phase.
Body roll is not initiated at hips
The swimmer rotates the shoulders but not the hips. There will be a reduction in stroke length and streamlining.