Get Over The Fear Of The Tumble Turn

2 boys in swimming pool during daytime

Have you watched people effortlessly swimming up and down, and gracefully flipping over at the wall, bouncing off and swimming the opposite direction? Have you ever wondered how people do it? Or do you watch in fear of trying something like that?! Here’s how you can get over the fear of the tumble turn!

First and foremost, doing tumble turns aren’t a necessity; they aren’t even important. They can be useful though, if you do them well. A well executed tumble turn, as well as looking cool, slick and fast can give you power and speed off the wall as well as saving you lots of time. That said, a poor tumble turn could be slower than what you do now, so practice is required!

Learning to flip turn

1. Practice doing somersaults in the water. Do them from standing to help give you the power and propulsion to get over. Don’t forget to tuck up tight! The tighter you tuck up, the quicker you will spin over.

  • If you find water goes up your nose, blow out hard. If air is coming out, water can’t go in!
  • Not going over straight? Push off both feet, and tuck both your knees tight against your chest.

2. Swim a couple of strokes and somersault. Try swimming a length and do a tumble every 5-6 strokes. The key with this is to make sure your last pull is strong, then drive your head and shoulders down and tuck your knees into your chest.

  • Don’t worry if you get a little disoriented the first couple of times! As you get more used to the skill, you’ll get more comfortable and be able to carry on.
Tumble turns

Think fast entry

3. Swim a length (with or without somersaults) and as you head over the T at the end of the length, do a somersault so you can finish with your feet flat against the wall – hopefully level with your head!

  • Ideally you want to be less than a metre from the wall, but this will come with practice and experience as to what works for you. Use the T as your guide, and adjust once you get a feel.
  • Maintain some speed into the wall. It’s counter intuitive, but if you slow down it makes it harder to tumble, there is less momentum. That speed and momentum gets carried round in the circle for you to push off – whereas if you slow down, you actually travel closer to the wall. It’s another example of speed being your friend!
Tumble turns


4. Swim a length front crawl and somersault into the wall as above. Then push off on your back. Simple!

  • If you find yourself pushing down toward the bottom of the pool think about staying tucked up for a fraction longer. It’ll make waiting a lot shorter!
Tumble turns

Plant your feet against the wall

5. Once you have mastered the skill of planting your feet on the wall and pushing off level – and not downwards – you can take on the last part, getting onto your front. There are two ways to do this. My favoured way is to plant your feet pointing upwards, but with one foot slightly above the other. This means that when you push off you will roll on to your side – and be ready to take that first stroke on your front. Alternatively you can plant both feet together then twist both together by about 45 degrees.

  • If you find your feet slipping off the wall, focus on planting your feet first before trying to twist them.
Tumble turns

And push off!

Take your time with learning this – as with any skill. The point is that drills are there to make you smoother, stronger, more efficient. Make sure you hit all those target points!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here!

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

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