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Mastering the Freestyle Flip Turn: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Author: Skills N' TalentsTime: 2024-01-06 09:10:00

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Freestyle Flip Turn: What It Is and Why It Matters

The freestyle flip turn is an essential technique for competitive swimmers and triathletes looking to shave precious seconds off their times. Executed properly, the flip turn allows you to change directions with lightning speed while maintaining momentum and minimizing drag.

In this comprehensive guide, we will break down everything you need to know about mastering the freestyle flip turn, from foundational mechanics to advanced tips and tricks.

By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to incorporate speedy, efficient flip turns into your swimming workouts and races.

What is a Freestyle Flip Turn?

The freestyle flip turn is a maneuver that allows you to quickly reverse direction when you reach the wall during lap swimming. Rather than gradually turning around, the flip turn enables you to flip underwater, plant your feet on the wall, and power off in the opposite direction. This effectively eliminates the need to slow down or pause between laps. When executed properly, the whole process takes just seconds from start to finish. To visualize what’s happening:

Why Learn the Flip Turn?

For casual or beginning swimmers, flip turns may seem complicated or unnecessary. However, there are a few key reasons competitive swimmers invest time mastering this skill: Saves time - Rather than gradually turning and pushing off the wall, you can maintain speed and momentum from one lap to the next. Preserves energy - Flip turns are more hydrodynamic and energy efficient compared to open turns. Builds core and leg strength - Successfully flipping, planting your feet, and exploding off the wall requires athletic core engagement and leg power. Improves body awareness - Learning flip turn mechanics enhances your all-around feel for the water.

Step 1: Practice Flipping in Open Water

When first learning the freestyle flip turn, it’s helpful to break the skill down into individual components. We’ll start by practicing the foundational flip mechanics in open water, away from the wall:

Take a full breath about 5 meters from your desired flip location. This oxygen powers the entire turn.

As you approach the flip point, lift your knees to your chest like you’re curling into a ball. Simultaneously tilt your head straight down as if you’re trying to touch your knees with your nose.

Let your momentum carry you into a forward roll while blowing bubbles steadily from your nose. Use your arms to initiate the roll and accelerate the flip.

After one full revolution, extend your body into a tight streamline position on your back. Slice your hands into the water above your head for stabilization.

From streamline position, twist your torso so you flip back onto your stomach. Your goal is to end face down, arms extended.

When you can consistently execute the open water flip and land face down, it’s time to try the full turn against the wall!

Step 2: Perfect Your Wall Approach and Landing

The second critical component of the flip turn is the approach and foot plant on the wall itself. A proper wall landing sets you up for a fast push-off in the opposite direction.

Common Landing Mistakes to Avoid

Aim to plant your feet flat against the wall about 18 inches below the surface: Too high – Your feet will slip down the wall as you push off, wasting energy and speed. Too low – It’s easy to get disoriented when diving this deep. You may also launch yourself upwards rather than forwards. Too wide – Flaring your legs outward prevents you from channeling force for your push-off. Keep feet shoulder width as you make contact.

Step 3: Putting It All Together - The Complete Flip Turn

Once you feel confident flipping in open water and planting your feet appropriately, it’s time to connect the dots for a full freestyle flip turn!

As you complete your final stroke approach, take a big breath about 5 meters from the wall to fuel your turn.

Initiate your flip as your hands touch the wall, blowing bubbles from your nose throughout the maneuver. Use your arms to accelerate through the rotation.

Extend into a tight streamline on your back, slicing your hands overhead for balance. Your head should be tilted back to spot the wall.

Allow your momentum to bring your feet into contact with the wall about 18 inches below the surface. Press forcefully when you feel your soles connect.

Explode off the wall as you simultaneously twist forward onto your stomach, ready for your first stroke back in the opposite direction!

Pushing Off into a Streamlined Position

The final push and body positioning are critical for getting the most speed out of your turn: Keep your arms squeezed to your ears and head neutral as you drive away from the wall. Any extra drag here slows you down. Use your entire core to keep your body fully extended and streamlined off the wall. The more linear, the better! Time your twist back onto your stomach so you enter the water cleanly for your first stroke. Stay tight as you surface.

Conclusion: Tips for Quickly Mastering the Flip Turn

While flip turns take practice to perfect, you can expedite the learning process with these pointers:

Use a nose clip to avoid worrying about water up your nose during initial attempts.

Have a partner or coach watch your legs/feet as you push off the wall and provide feedback.

Focus on streamline position rather than speed for your first few full attempts.

Be patient and visualize each phase before trying to connect them.

Watch YouTube tutorials to reinforce proper form and mechanics.


Q: How long does it take to learn the flip turn?
A: It's possible to learn the basics of the flip turn in one day with patience and practice.

Q: Should I use a nose clip when learning the flip turn?
A: Yes, a nose clip can be very helpful when first learning the flip turn so you don't have to worry about water going up your nose.

Q: What is the correct foot position when pushing off the wall?
A: Your feet should be a few inches underwater, in line with your body. Too high or low will affect the angle of your push off.

Q: Why do you need a lot of air in your lungs for the flip turn?
A: The air helps you blow bubbles out your nose while upside down, and pushes you off the wall for several meters without needing to breathe.

Q: How can I speed up my flip turn?
A: Use your arms to push your body forward, and push water down to gain momentum during the turn.

Q: What is the key to landing the flip turn correctly?
A: Start flipping when you see the line where the floor meets the wall to land your feet in the ideal position.

Q: How do I finish the flip turn to swim off in freestyle?
A: Push off the wall in a streamline position while twisting slightly to end face down.

Q: Can the flip turn be dangerous?
A: Yes, attempting advanced flip turns before mastering the basics can lead to accidents or injury.

Q: How can flip turns improve my swimming?
A: Flip turns allow you to quickly change direction without slowing down, helping improve speed and endurance.

Q: Are there drills to practice the motions on land?
A: Yes, repeating the flipping, tucking, and turning motions on land can help build muscle memory before trying it in the water.