How to Land Drill Your Synchronized Swimming Routine

Land drilling is the best way for synchronized swimmers to work on routines outside of the pool. If you have limited pool time, it’s a chance to get in some extra practice time. Or if it’s time to give your legs a break from eggbeatering, you can match positions and perfect your timing using land drill.

So, how does it work if you can’t use your legs? Well, you just have to translate all of the leg movements you do into coordinating arm motions.

When you’re just starting out as a land driller, it can sometimes be tricky to make that translation from upside-down to right-side-up. This is even truer when spinning gets thrown in to the mix! This guide should help you make that transition.

Land Drilling Arm Strokes

Arm stroke and eggbeater sequences are the easiest skills to translate from the pool to the deck practice. Basically, you just need to remember the same corrections you have in the pool and apply them out of the water. Since you don’t have to worry about eggbeatering, focus all your energy on the quality of your movements.

Hot Tip: Coach Your Reflection

Land drilling in front of a mirror will help you self-coach and self-correct. If you can find a large room with mirrors, like a dance studio, you and your entire team can match to each other in the reflection.

Land Drilling Ballet Legs & Hybrids

When land drilling ballet leg-type moves and hybrids, certain parts of the lower body are represented by certain parts of the upper body so you can simulate the leg positions with your arms. But, because arms are most definitely different than legs, on occasion you’re going to have to get creative. Some teams make minor adjustments to the specific correlations, but they are usually pretty standard:

  • Shoulders represent hips
  • Elbows represent knees
  • Wrists and hands represent ankles and feet

Back Layout

Tip your head back so you are looking upward. Stick your arms out parallel to the floor and touch your hands together to represent your legs.

Ballet Leg

To land drill a ballet leg, it’s much the same as the back layout except hold one arm straight up to represent the vertical leg in a ballet leg position.

When You Are Upside-Down

On land you will face the opposite wall that you would be if you were actually upside-down to account for the way the way arms are able to bend.

Front Pike

Face the opposite wall that you would be looking at if you were upside-down in the actual pike. Position your forearms above your head and parallel to the ground — this represents the back of your legs flat on the surface.

Also, touch your hands together with your palms facing the sky, just like the bottoms of your feet would look in your actual pike.

Crane Position

The crane position is the same as the pike, but with one arm lifted to the same vertical line that your leg would be lifted to in the pool. Keep your bottom arm, which represents your bottom leg, in the same position it’s in when you land drill a pike.

Heron Position

This position is the same as the crane, except this time, bend your bottom hand so your fingertips touch your vertical arm. Split Position

For a right split, hold your right arm the in the same position it’s in for the pike. Point your left arm straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. For a left split, just switch arms!

Helicopter Position

For right-leg straight helicopter, put your right arm in the same position as it is in for the pike. Bend your left arm so that your left hand (now representing your left shin) is parallel to the floor (your wrist represents your knee).

This is a little different than how it would look in the pool. It’s meant to accommodate for the way arms bend compared to how legs do when upside-down.

Overall Expectations

How you approach land drill is just as important as learning how to perform the drills themselves. Since you don’t have to actually swim, it’s easy to think of land drill as a break.

However, it should be considered an important part of your training — your coach will certainly consider it such.

When done correctly, land drill is actually a good workout, too! Here are some of the expectations your coach might have for you during land drill:

  1. Practice your posture and presentation. The same posture and vertical alignment corrections you have in the pool can be worked on in land drill.
  2. Extend your hands and arms just like you would extend your legs in the pool. The palms of your hands should always mirror how the bottoms of your feet would be in the pool.
  3. Between choreography sections (like when you would be swimming underwater if you were actually in the pool), maintain your posture and move quickly to the next pattern or set position.
  4. Don’t chat about non-synchro related topics while you’re land drilling. Remember that land drill is still practice time, even though you might not be treading water.

Get Your Land Drill’s Worth

The main goal of land drill is to improve your performance once you’re back in the pool. When you’re on the deck, think about how the same moves feel in the water and how you can translate the progress made during land drill into a better synchro routine.

If you keep your eye on the prize, you will soon be able to reap the rewards of a good land drill… and your coach might let you out of the pool more often, too!

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