How To Stop Your Legs From Sinking – Root Cause 2

The  Ultimate Guide To Balance & Alignment In Freestyle Swimming

Fixing Your Sinking Leg Problems


Root Cause No 2: 

Looking too far forward 

Looking forward is a very easy mistake to make. It is one I personally struggle with. It is common in both beginners and competent, experienced swimmers.

You might have your head at the right level in the water, so you’re not holding it too high. But if you’re straining your eyes too far forward it can cause your hips to drop.

What’s interesting about this root cause is; your hips may not drop while your face is in the water. Depending on your flexibility you could actually look fairly far forward and still keep your hips up.

Depending on your flexibility you could actually look fairly far forward and still keep your hips up.

But when you look too far forward the hip drop happens when you turn for the breath.

Here’s why; as your eyes creep forward your chin moves away from your collarbones and chest. As a result your mouth ends up being deeper in the  water than your forehead. So, when you turn to breathe you’ll have to lift your head higher to make sure your mouth clears the water. It’s this head lift that causes the hips to drop.





When your eyes look downwards your mouth sits at the same level as your forehead. So to get your breath your head doesn’t need to lift for your mouth to clear the water. And as a result your hips stay in alignment.

Common Causes 

This mistake is usually caused by wanting to see where you are going.

I personally struggle with looking too far forward. I spent years sharing lanes in 25m pools with 6 to 8 other 6ft+ tall swimmers. This setup makes for a great team environment (and a lot of drafting). But in crowded lanes you’re constantly trying to make sure you’re not going to swim into people. So you look forward. With enough repetition, it became a bad habit that stuck.

You may have a similar problem if you swim in a new pool that you aren’t familiar with. Or if  you swim in a pool without lane markings on the bottom or flags at each end.

In open water a more common cause is being lazy when finishing the sighting movement. After the sighting stroke you need to get your head back down into a neutral position. If you drop your head down but keep looking forward your mouth will be in a bad position for the next breath.

How To Fix It

Depending on your flexibility you can get away with looking forward to a limited degree. Eyes directly down is ideal, but there aren’t a lot of swimmers that actually hold this position. Provided your hips stay on the surface you can look forward.

You will have to experiment (or get a video analysis done) to find what’s right for you.

{1} Work The Balance Drill 

The Balance drills will help you find a good neutral head position. You can experiment with how far forward you look while keeping your hips on the surface.

{2} Adjusting For the Breath: 

If you do look forward, you will need to bring your chin closer to your collarbone as you initiate the breath. This can be hard to control as a beginner without affecting some other part of your stroke.  In general  you want to limit your head movement as much as possible. The more you move your head, the greater the probability of downstream problems.

{3} Practice The Superman Drill

The superman drill will let you play with the degree to which  you can look forward when you breathe.

{4} Finish Your Sighting Stroke Correctly: 

Don’t save your sighting practice for the open water. Practice your sighting regularly in the pool. Work on it regularly during workouts.  Learn to return your head to a neutral position after the sighting lift. The more you practice lowering your head to the right place the better.