5 Reasons Your Arm Drops When You Breathe

Many swimmers struggle with keeping their lead arm in front and reaching forward while turning to breathe. This can result in the lead arm dropping down and not getting a good catch. In this video, I will explain the causes of this issue and provide solutions so that you’ll have a better hold, a better catch, and ultimately, a faster freestyle.



  • The two main mistakes that cause the lead arm to drop are lifting the head up too high and looking in the wrong position
  • The head should be straight to the side, not too far behind or in front
  • Keeping part of the bottom goggle in the water when turning to the side can help with breathing
  • Breathing should be controlled and steady, not a big gasp for air
  • Doing drills like Sink Down Drill or a Side Breathing Drill with a kickboard can help improve breathing technique



  • Good swimmers typically have 30 to 40 degrees of shoulder rotation
  • Going past 90 degrees can make it difficult to keep the lead arm in front and put pressure on the rotator cuff
  • Overrotation can be caused by the head turning too far or lifting, but sometimes people just want to rotate more than necessary
  • To reduce overrotation, focus on rotating the torso forwards instead of side to side



  • The entry of the hand and arm into the water can affect the lead arm dropping when breathing
  • Landing elbow first during the entry can cause the hand to press straight down and make it difficult to continue reaching forwards in the water
  • To prevent the lead arm from dropping, it is important to enter fingertips first with the elbow up and slide the hand forwards in the water
  • An Entry Drill with fins and a kickboard can help practice entering fingers first and ensure the hand slides forwards in the water



  • Many people finish the stroke too short, coming out before their hip
  • Finishing too short results in a lack of propulsion at the back part of the stroke
  • Lack of propulsion can prevent the lead arm from reaching forward
  • The hand should press back past the hip and the palm should face behind
  • Avoid turning the hand into the body during the back part of the stroke
  • Proper exit of the hand allows for lengthening through the body and shoulders



  • The wrist should not be dropped and the elbow should not be lower than the wrist
  • The shoulder should be near the cheek during the reach phase
  • A drill called Shoulder to Cheek Scoop can help maintain the correct shoulder position
  • Exaggerating the reach or glide out in front can help improve the catch


It’s time to break free from this frustrating plateau and start making real progress in your swimming journey!

Trying to swim faster by pushing yourself to work harder usually leaves you exhausted and out of breath without improving your speed. With our 8-week Faster Freestyle course, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do to become a better swimmer by mastering these advanced techniques:

✔️Breathing And Relaxation
✔️Posture, Head Position, And Kick
✔️Balance, Alignment, And Hand  Position
✔️Rotation, Recovery, And Entry
✔️The Catch
✔️The Power Diamond
✔️Kick Timing

Start your journey with the 8-Week Faster Freestyle and feel the difference in your swimming immediately!

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways I can help you improve your swimming:

1. Join our 8-week Faster Freestyle program.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step way to become a faster swimmer in the next 8 weeks with the precise drills and workouts to do it, this is it – Click here

2. Join our Effortless Swimming membership for swimmers ready to move up a lane.
If you’re unsure where to start and what to do to find speed, I’m working with a group of swimmers and triathletes to increase their speed, efficiency, and swim fitness. – Click here

3. Work with me directly in our stroke analysis coaching.
If you’d like to work directly with me to take you from where you’re at to 15+ secs faster per 100m, you can record your swimming each week… – Click here


Join the 5 Day Catch Challenge
for Only $10


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Brenton and Mitch were great to work with at the clinic, Good to get video analysis to work on straight away, practice some new drills and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Alex McFadyen