In this episode of Whiteboard Wednesday, we’re showing you how to do a butterfly or breaststroke open turn.
What is an Open Turn?
Unlike a freestyle or backstroke flip turn where your body does a complete somersault at the wall, the open turn is a bit different. Rather than flipping in a ball, you pivot your body at the wall. An open turn is initiated with a two hand touch, and used primarily in breaststroke and butterfly.
Watch: How To Do A Freestyle Flip Turn
5 Steps to Master an Open Turn
- Two Hand Touch: Simultaneous touch under the water.
- Knees To Chest: Activate your core to bring your knees into wall.
- Elbow Brother: Drop one arm/elbow underwater to open chest.
- Call Mother: Bend top arm to connect to other hand above water.
- Streamline Push: Push off the wall on your side.
Related: How to Swim Butterfly with Perfect Technique
Similar to doing a freestyle or backstroke flip turn, the goal of an open turn is to make your body as compact as possible at the wall. You want to reduce drag by making your body occupy as little space as possible at the moment of highest resistance. This occurs at the wall and for an instant you have zero velocity.
It’s ideal to reduce the time spent with zero velocity so you can get your feet into position on the wall to push off as quickly as possible. In swimming, the fastest body position is streamline off the wall or dive. Focus on maximizing time off the wall and maintaining this speed after the push.
Breaststroke & Butterfly Turn Tips
It’s easy to overcomplicate the mechanics of any kind of competitive swimming turn. We recommend to keep it simple: Start with a two hand touch, then elbow your brother, then call your mother. It’s that easy, just three core steps:
- Two Hand Touch
- Elbow Brother
- Call Mother
Related: How to Swim Perfect Breaststroke
Additionally, it’s important to stay low in the water and away from wall. Avoid grabbing and pulling yourself up to the wall. In elite international competitions and many pools around the world, there is no gutter or wall to grab. The wall or touchpad extends above the water so you have to be used to touching the wall under the surface of the water and use it as a pivot point rather than something to grab onto.
Related: Analyzing Adam Peaty’s Breaststroke Technique
Use your speed heading into the wall. The faster you approach the wall, the faster you’ll be able to carry momentum and speed off the wall. The fastest point of any swimming race is the start and push off the wall in streamline. The rest of your time is spent slowing down, so it’s critical to approach the wall with as much speed as possible to carry it off the wall in streamline!
Incorporate these drills into your workouts to improve your open turns!
- Floating Turn Drill At Wall: Float at the wall with your hands extended, then practice the motions of the turn with zero momentum. This will be challenging but reinforce proper technique before applying speed.
- Somersault at the Wall: Rather than doing an open turn in breaststroke and butterfly, simply do a somersault at the wall to practice the hypoxic feeling when pushing off the wall. When you do a traditional open turn your body will be used to doing the movement on less oxygen and you’ll be less dependent on taking a big breath during the open turn.
- Turn on Non-Dominant Side: Everyone has a preference for which side they turn to. If you normally turn to your right, practice turning to your left. This will teach you to really think about the mechanics of the turn and reinforce best practices.
The open turn is used in more than just breaststroke and butterfly. It’s also used in the Individual Medley! Two of the three transitions in the IM apply the open turn: butterfly to backstroke and breaststroke to freestyle.
Always think to yourself: Two hand touch, elbow brother, call mother. If you’ve made it this far, you’ll definitely be interested in one of our other Whiteboard Wednesday’s titled: How to do a Freestyle Flip Turn.
I hope this Whiteboard Wednesday was helpful in mastering the open turn for butterfly and breaststroke. Have questions? Leave us a comment below! For more tips like this, follow our series on the MySwimPro YouTube Channel!.
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