Want to power up your sprinting? Develop some more drop-dead power? Here’s how dropping the flag-to-flag drill into your workouts will give your sprint speed a boost.
When it comes to freestyle drills there is no shortage of them. From the familiar catch-up, to the single arm, to the retraction drill, there are countless ways to tackle your freestyle.
But if you are looking to develop violent thrust in the water the flag-to-flag drill is your new go-to. Russian sprint monster Vlad Morozov is a big fan of them as well, incorporating them regularly into his swimming.
After all, this drill:
- Will help you improve reaction time
- Teach you to build speed from a dead-stop and without the momentum of a push-off and underwater work
- Show you how critical that early vertical forearm is in getting up to speed
- Awesome for developing those fast twitchy muscles
- Is great to use across all strokes
- Can be done in either a short course or long course pool (or even the dive tank, really).
How to Do the Flag-to-Flag Drill
The good news is that you don’t need any equipment to do this. After a thorough warm-up:
- Float out to the backstroke flags. Prop yourself into a horizontal position—some light sculling will help you get into formation.
- When the interval rolls along put your head down and explode out of the hole into a full and complete sprint. The goal is to get up to speed as fast as possible.
- Sprint the 15 meters or yards to the other set of backstroke flags.
- Aim to do it with no breath, fantastic technique and with your arms moving at race pace tempo (or desired tempo).
- You can do this in a long course pool—you’ll just need to float from the 20m mark to the 30m mark and repeat the sprint effort after a suitable amount of rest.
- Use lots of rest. The key is developing white-hot, scorching speed. If you are getting gassed and you find yourself losing the pop, snap and crackle coming out of the hole, take more rest.
- Focus on a high RPM from the get go. From the moment you explode out of the sculling motion you want to be moving your arms at a high turnover rate. Using a FINIS tempo trainer can be useful here.
- Do a couple quick 5-10m sprints from a dead stop before your next big race to activate those short twitch fibers and get you ready to swim like a demon.
Here is a sample set that I did recently on a quiet Tuesday evening at the local YMCA:
16 x 15m Freestyle flag-to-flag sprints @:50
Swimming fast isn’t a big mystery—it comes down to training fast. Tossing in some flag-to-flags to your regular training will help you fine-tune your top end speed and get that critical edge you are looking for.