Why is Sculling Important for Swimming?

Welcome back to Part II of our series on Sculling! In Part II of this series, we plan to dive deeper into Why Sculling is Important for Swimming and the many swimmers out there! If you missed Part I of this series, click here to catch up!

Let’s get started!

The purpose behind sculling for swimmers changes, as the swimmers age and progress through a club program. To better answer Why Sculling is Important for Swimming, we must break down the swimmers we work with by age to give you a better overall answer of why you need to make sure you have sculling for swimming included in your program.

Sculling & Age Group Swimmers:

We start using sculling drills with our swimmers at around age 8. The purpose of starting our swimmers so early with sculling is to help them improve their FEEL for the water. It’s more of an educational drill on floating, body position, and what part of the arm do they feel themselves moving water with!

Some sculling drills we use for 8-10 year olds are “Y Scull”, Doggie Paddle, and Breaststroke Pull.

1.) Y Scull & Doggie Paddle:

Includes Y Scull, High Elbow, and Doggie Paddle to Swim

2.) Breaststroke Pull:

Example of Breaststroke Pull without a Buoy and without a Dolphin Kick

Enjoyed these drill videos? Check out our swimmer workout plans, they are loaded with drill videos – along with a training plan that will get your strokes faster, today!

Sculling & 10-12 year olds:

As our swimmers get older (10-12 year olds), we progress them into a few more complicated sculling drills. These sculling drills include different styles of body position, along with body movements – so they are not only incorporating feel, but strength and timing too.

You will notice in the below sculling examples how the swimmers are not always in a flat body position on their stomach. You will see them crunched up, on their back, or using other parts of their body at the same time to incorporate different aspects of timing. Examples include: Bucket Scull, Underwater Recovery, and Underwater Press (which includes body undulation).

Bucket Scull:

Underwater Recovery:

Underwater Press:

Sculling & Senior Swimmers:

From ages 12 and up, you can be very creative with your sculling drills. My personal favorite is Torpedo Scull which forces a swimmer to put their feet first and push with their arms to get the rest of the body down the pool. It requires a combination of coordination, timing, body awareness, strength, and the ability to relax – in order to be successful. Check it out:

Torpedo Scull:

If you want to try an even more complicated version of Torpedo Scull have your swimmers do it without a buoy. And yes, it’s possible to do – JUST VERY HARD!


So while the quick answer to Why Sculling is Important for Swimming is it improves feel. The bigger answer is it improves how much swimmers are comfortable in the water, their knowledge of what parts of their body move water, their body position, strength, timing, and coordination.

If that answer doesn’t sell you on Sculling, I’m not sure what else would!

Happy Training!

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

6 Responses

  1. Over 50 years ago I was taught sculling in a senior lifesaving course, as a rest stroke. The swimmer remained on their back, using a gentle flutter kick with the figure-eight hand motions. It was to help with recovery on prolonged swims, when needed, alternating with other strokes for distance. Is it still being used as such?

    1. I can only speak for using it for competitive swimming purposes to increase a swimmer’s feel in the water!

      1. Naturally for long distance open water swimmers sculling feet 1st or on the back is an ideal form of rest.
        It can help you in a group wait for other swimmers to catch up and though very obvious helps you to map your target or destination when swimming again

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