How to Improve Your Freestyle Stroke in Five Steps

Make a splash and learn to improve your freestyle stroke with these step-by-step swimming tips.

If you are a beginner swimmer or thinking about joining a team, you may be wondering how to improve your swim skills. So let’s dive right in and break the freestyle stroke down into detailed steps to help you perform your best.


  • Keep your body in an imaginary straight line. Your right stroke should never cross over to the left side, and your left stroke should never cross over to the right
  • A flat and level body position will allow you to move faster through the water
  • Keep your head still (looking at the bottom of the pool) without looking ahead or side to side

freestyle stroke


  • Your fingers should be slightly open and relaxed
  • Allow your fingertips to enter the water first, above your head, to effectively move water
  • Pull your arm down so that each stroke ends near your hip
  • Pull your stroke straight through the water

freestyle stroke


  • Roll your head to one side to breathe, keeping your head parallel to the water
  • Rotate your body with your breathing about 30-40 degrees as if your body is on an axis from the top of your head to your toes
  • Breathe (to the same side) on every other stroke
  • When you have gotten better at synchronizing your breathing with the other motions, you can begin to breathe on every two to three strokes. Note: Do not go more than three strokes without breathing. You need oxygen to move your muscles, so if you go more than two or three strokes, you will be depriving your muscles of oxygen and taking power out of your stroke.

freestyle stroke


  • Flutter kick, which is done by pointing your toes and kicking from your hips with legs straight and minimal bending at the knee
  • Kick your feet rhythmically along with your strokes
  • Your kick is not really propelling you so much as it is balancing you and reducing drag

freestyle stroke

Now it’s time to put it all together.


  • Turn to breathe when you are taking your arm out of the water and rotate your hips
  • Your hip rotation should align with the end of your stroke
  • Go through the motions — practice strokes, turn to breathe and envision your body rotation while standing on the deck

freestyle stroke