Front Crawl Body Head Position

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Whether you are learning the front crawl for the first time or looking to improve your form, the position of your head should be considered early on. 

Proper positioning of the head improves your streamlined profile in the water, increasing your speed slightly without using more energy.

Keep reading to learn more about where you should put your head in the water, when to make adjustments to your head’s position, and why it matters for swimmers of all abilities.


Where Should Your Head Be When Performing the Front Crawl?

When performing the front crawl, it is important to keep your body as streamlined as possible, and this includes your head. 

To keep everything streamlined, you should have your head in a straight line with the rest of your body. Though it doesn’t have to be perfect, many swimmers notice that the water line sits somewhere between their eyebrows and hairline when they are in the best position. 

Not only does this allow you to go faster in the water, but it also makes it easier to get a breath when you need it. In fact, moving to take a breath is one of the only times your head should change from its standard position. 

Sometimes, swimmers will also move their heads to look at the distance they have left, but that should be a quick movement and not happen too often. Otherwise, you can suffer problems such as neck injuries.  


What is the Effect on the Front Crawl if the Swimmer’s head is Too High?

When a swimmer’s head is too high, the legs tend to sink lower into the water. This makes maintaining the proper power and speed difficult due to inefficient body angles. 

As a result, your times will be worse, and you will feel tired faster than if you had the proper position. You may be able to breathe a little easier and faster, but at the cost of efficiency. 

On the other hand, if your head is too low, there will be a lot of resistance angled at the top of the head, which will cause you to slow down and be exhausted sooner as well. 

In addition, lifting your head to breathe from this position is usually harder, and you have to ruin your form even more, to do so.

The key to efficient front crawl techniques is to find a balance between the two. This may take a lot of practice, but you can really see and feel a difference when you manage to get it right. 

Serious or professional swimmers will often wear a swim cap to reduce drag by presenting one surface that the water acts on as opposed to the head and hundreds of loose hairs. 

Keeping your head in the same position does a similar thing. No matter how small, every bit of drag will negatively affect your time. If you pay attention, you may notice that your feet dip lower when your head is in the wrong place. 

This makes your kicks less effective, and staying floating the way you want can be harder. This is why, though the head position doesn’t directly add to your time or propulsion, it does indirectly help a great deal. 


What is the Most Important Head Position in the Front Crawl?

The most important head position in the front crawl is just the neutral position. You want to keep your head facing straight down and align your head and neck with the rest of your body. 

Your head position is extremely important for speed, endurance, and preventing health issues. Originally, looking up often to keep track of what was happening in front of you was considered the norm. 

However, many swimmers developed neck issues because it forced their upper spines into unnatural positions. It also caused slower speeds as that time had to be spent working harder to maintain balance in the water. 

For this reason, it was changed that most of the time, a swimmer’s head should be underwater and facing down unless a breath is needed. It is okay to look up occasionally, but doing it too frequently isn’t ideal. 

That means that moving to get a breath is one of the most difficult parts of the front crawl to do correctly. Moving without altering the rest of the body’s position is important, or you risk losing momentum and efficiency. 

The proper form is to tilt the head to either side depending on which is out of the water during the recovery phase and the number of cycles you are on.

If done correctly, the tilt of the head should position your mouth just above the water in the general area where your ears rest during the neutral position of the front crawl. 

In addition, the shoulders and neck should naturally tilt with the head as you breathe to maintain your streamlined position.


Final Thoughts on Front Crawl Body Head Position

Whenever you are using the front crawl for swimming, your forehead should be partially submerged with the eyes pointed forward and slightly down. This improves your profile to reduce drag as you move through the water, increasing your speed and shortening your lap times a bit.

Even though your head’s position may not make or break your entire front crawl form, improper head positions and movements can increase your time and unnaturally strain the neck, which can lead to some health problems, especially later in life.

It is ideal to have the head in the proper position to get the best time and the easiest swim. It also leads the rest of your body to be at the right angle so that everything else will be there when your head is in the right place.