One of the most important skills to achieve while learning to swim is a proper head position. This will help dictate the form of the rest of
the body. When swimming on the front, your eyes should be looking down toward the pool floor. This allows your hips and legs to rise to
the top of the water level for a more efficient kick which will produce better and safer movement through the water. Here are some tips for
achieving proper head position.
1. “The Triple Tap”
Place sinking toys in shallow water. As swimmer is collecting toys, look for the eyes to face down. If you notice that the swimmer’s head is facing up or the neck is bent, give him or her 3 little finger taps on the head as a signal to lower their head and look down. Demonstrate
exactly what you want the swimmer to do by doing it the wrong way and allowing the child to tap your head 3 times and see your correction to make sure the student understands what the task is.
Using the mirrors helps. The swimmer can look down and watch the bubbles they are blowing. Or make silly faces. Pay attention to head position and use the tap to correct.
3. Ping Pong Balls
You can try this in any creative way you like. Have the students Xfer the ping pong ball under their chins from one location to another. Holding the ping pong ball ( or other small object ) under the chin, allows the swimmer to feel the proper head position. Make sure arms are long and in front of swimmer with hands on top of the water. I pretend they are baby duck eggs and the mama or papa duck has
to get it to the nest (cheese ) safely. The cheese is a perfect nest because it holds the ping pong balls nicely. You can
make it a competition. Put 2 or 3 balls in a cup or bucket and whoever gets all of them to the cheese w/o them poppin out can pick from the treasure chest or get a bracelet or a sticker or tattoo, whatever we’ve got to give em. * I don’t focus on arms or kicking when gliding toward the cheese, but after they drop off “the egg” they can kick back to the steps for a bit of speed. Flippers can be helpful.
4. Arms Behind Ears ( Rocket ships ) This is the best way to teach streamline and get the head down. If you call them rocket ships remember to also make sure swimmers know that this is a streamline position. We want them to know the correct terminology. Arms behind the ears forces the head down. You will notice that right before swimmers are about to push off into the streamline they will put their arms down first and pick up their head on instinct. Some of them anyway. Encourage them to keep the form and bend at the waist
as well as bending the knees a little for a good push off.
***How Parents Can Help***
These are all activities that can be practiced at home in a bathtub or in warmer times at your local swimming hole. Encourage your swimmer to wear their goggles in the tub or swimming pool for some fun and games. If they are collecting sinking toys, watch their head position and give them a triple tap to lower their heads. Have them bring toys from one side of the pool to the other in their chins while walking ( or swalking ) on their hands. Arms behind ears or rocketships may be difficult to practice in a tub but they can be practiced anywhere you have room to swim or on dry land. To practice on dry land, have swimmer stand up straight with arms behind their ears. Have them do a few bends at the knees (up and down) and a few bends at the waist and hold for a few seconds to mimic a swimmer’s start. Make it fun and creative and do as many reps as you want. For example:
● 10 reps North South East West
● 10 reps in every room in the house
● 10 reps every time someone says “swim” or “pool” or whichever word you like.