6-3-6 is a progression drill and it can be done by swimmers of all abilities. It can help greatly with every aspect of freestyle – body position, leg kick, arm pull, breathing and timing of stroke.

How to do it

It’s a simple drill to understand and can be very effective if done correctly.

Start off by doing 6 kicks on your side in a swordfish position making sure you look directly at the pool floor and maintaining a high leading arm. Once you’ve done 6 kicks, do 3 freestyle arm strokes, as you would normally do in full stroke, but then on the last stroke, extend your arm out in front of you and return back into swordfish. You should now be on the other side with your body facing the opposite way to which you were before.


6-3-6 is excellent at improving your all-around freestyle stroke and the main aim of it is the timing of the stroke. You want to try and perform the catch phase of the stroke as you are rotating onto your other side. This makes your drive phase stronger as you’re not only using your arm to push water backward, but you’re using your hips and core to make the movement more powerful.

Beginner swimmers should try to breathe during the 3 arm strokes and not during the 6 kicks. This is so that they can make sure they focus fully on the 6 kicks segment as that would be the most important thing to concentrate on for improving the basics of body position and leg kick.

More competent swimmers can work on breathing to the side during the 6 kicks. Make sure to do it swiftly as 6 kicks don’t take that long to complete and you need your head back into a neutral position ready for the 3 arm strokes.

Common Faults

One common fault with 6-3-6 is rushing it. It should be done at a steady rate to ensure you have got your body in the correct position, rushing it loses body control and alignment. Try to keep your body outstretched for the duration of this drill, take your time and think about every part of your body being in line – from your lead arm to your toes.

Slipping water is known to happen with freestyle drills which is another fault. This is where you don’t catch enough water with your hand or forearm on the underwater pull phase of your arm stroke. If this happens, you will lose a lot of momentum through the water. To combat this, use paddles to help catch as much water as possible and train your catch phase in the correct position.

A last common fault, which occurs during the swordfish part of this drill, is the hand that’s by your side starts to move or wave. Doing this puts you out of streamline and shows that the swimmer isn’t balanced enough of their side so you’ll need more practice in the swordfish position. Your hand should be fixed by your side with just your legs kicking when in swordfish. Make sure you’ve mastered swordfish before progressing onto this drill.

Check out this drill in full in the video below!!

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