• Amazon.com

FORM Adds HeadCoach Real-Time Analysis Feature: Hands-On

FORM Case Goggles App

There are few sports tech companies that have really been as laser-focused on their niche as much as FORM has (makers of their heads-up display swim coach/goggle), doubters be damned. About the only other comparison in the sports tech landscape that comes to mind would be Stryd, makers of the running power meter footpod. Both companies operate in the realm of products that could improve performance for both beginners and advanced users alike, but can be challenging to get people over the initial purchasing hump.

In FORM’s case, they’ve continued to tweak their business model since launch 4 years ago, initially transitioning from a standalone tool to a swim training plan/coaching subscription service. However, pushback on that business model found them today’s more happy medium whereby users can still use the goggles as a swim ‘watch’ (except for your eyes), with all the metrics you’d normally get from a traditional swimming pool capable watch. And if users want more advanced features like training plans and other analysis components, they can buy-in to their subscription model.

All of which is a brief but long-winded background for today’s new feature, dubbed ‘HeadCoach’, which introduces real-time coaching analytics on your swim form. Or, at least your head form. Up till now, the device has been tracking your swim (e.g., pace/distance/etc), along with walking you through step-by-step workouts, all from the FORM goggle. But it hasn’t tried to change your swim form, or tell you what you’re doing wrong. That’s what HeadCoach is all about.

Swimming with HeadCoach:

Form Swim Goggle DCRainmaker

Having just finished up at the pool, I’ve got some initial thoughts. First up, it’s worthwhile noting that HeadCoach is essentially two parts. The first part is the real-time coach you’ll see while swimming, while the second part is the app-driven analysis components that let you drill down into the head positioning data.

So, starting in the pool, you’ll select your workout or free-swim as normal. That’s actually all the same, which means you can still iterate through structured/coached workouts automatically. The difference though is that you’ve got the ability to toggle on/off a few different HeadCoach modules. Think of these as extra data pages. These modules are Head Pitch and Head Roll, though you’ll also get graded on Time to Neutral.

IMG 8468 IMG 8471 IMG 8472

Again, what’s nice is that you can toggle these on/off at any time. So I did my first few intervals with them off, so I could establish a baseline of how my form was prior to focusing on it. Then, I simply paused the set and toggled on the specific module I wanted, which first was the ‘Head Pitch’ focus mode.

For head pitch, it’s aiming to get you looking at a specific angle forward. In my case, I’m actually reasonably good here by default, likely due to mostly open water swimming over the past 5-6 months, whereby I’m frequently looking up/head. Whereas if you were “following the black line” on the pool, you’d be looking more straight-down.

While swimming, you’ll see what are essentially the upper/lower limit of the head-pitch acceptable bounds, along with two dashed lines for the mid-point. Your head is that single dot (ball) in the middle. In my case, I would tend to be pitched just a hair down below the perfection line, but reasonably good. Once I focused on it, I could relatively easily keep on-target, albeit it would take multiple sessions of training for my neck to accept that position.

Next, I switched to another module, Head Roll. For this one it’s looking at how far you roll (rotate) your head to get air each breath. In some ways, this is sorta like a little game of Pong, where you’re aiming to keep the ball within the bounds as much as possible (where the ball here moves from center to either of the two left/right lines). Again, by default, I never crossed the unacceptable line, but I could tweak my form just slightly to minimize the extra head roll/rotation.

For each length I completed, I was still getting my various interval split details, but I would also get the score for that length (be it ‘Head Roll’ or ‘Head Pitch’ score). And certainly, it didn’t take long to see the impacts of focusing on either.

After this, I also used the ‘Set Pacing’ option within HeadCoach to pace some sets, albeit, mostly just to see how it would work. The lanes got a bit busier for these last few minutes, so pacing was more like obstacle avoidance.

Now, fast-forward to the end of my workout. I had initially selected just a 1,400m workout, as I was going to double-up on doing a few swims. But then instead I actually just ended up selecting to ‘repeat’ sections of the workout, which is a handy feature to ‘rewind’ (or fast-forward) to a section you want to re-do. In my case, I re-did some 200’s & 100’s. Point being, I modified the workout that was planned for me.

Post-Workout Analysis:

FORM SwimGoggleAppHeadCoach

With that set, I cracked open the FORM app on my smartphone, and I could see the HeadCoach results. Here are the general results like usual (including which workout I had initially started with). However, you’ll notice the newer line of HeadCoach stats above the yellow button.

IMG 8476 IMG 8477 IMG 8478

Here, we can start off by looking at ‘Head Pitch’. In this case, this score looks at my entire workout, which scores me at 78 (out of 100). You can see my head angle is slightly lower than ideal, at 27° versus 33°. Instead, it should be slightly higher.

IMG 8479

If I tap, I can then see it by lengths or sets. This is notable as I can very clearly see the difference between an earlier set with HeadCoach turned off, where I scored ’69’ for Head Pitch, and then paying attention with it turned on, I scored ’88’. Though even more interestingly, I actually would score higher for shorter intervals than longer ones.

IMG 8482 IMG 8496

For example, all of my 50’s or 100’s, I actually seem to have better Head Pitch, or at least, initially for the first 25m (also, I seem to oddly swim each first 25m very fast compared to the rest).

Finally, there’s also a more general HeadCoach area that I can look at that has my overall scores to date, and would show trending once I’ve got five swims with it. In this case, it’s showing my current status, as well as which level I’m at. Admittedly, it’s rare that anyone says I’m an ‘Expert’ at any portion of my swim technique. But thankfully they can only see my head here. If they saw the rest of my swim form, I’m sure it’d be a negative level.

IMG 8492 IMG 8494

Nonetheless, the obvious idea here being to look at this over longer lengths of time and see if these drills are improving.


FORM SwimGoggle

I think there’s two interesting take-aways from this. First, it’s been a while since I’ve swam with the FORM goggles, and had kinda forgot how nice it was to see the structured workout set details and splits and such without having to try and sneak a look at it on my wrist during each turn. Sure, I still wish there was better overall visibility of things around me on the goggles, but I’m the kind of person that loves the mindlessness of following a structured workout. Whether it’s here, TrainerRoad, or out on the road with a watch – I prefer to just settle in and do whatever the tech tells me to do.

In terms of HeadCoach playing Commodore 64 style graphical games inside a goggle while swimming, it works surprisingly well. No, this isn’t some fancy Apple Retina display, or even a Paris Hilton 360p video. But it frankly doesn’t matter. At no point while doing the HeadCoach drills did I think “You know what I need? More resolution!”. Instead, I thought “Keep the ball in the middle…keep the ball in the middle…keep the ball in the middle”. It’s surprisingly effective at forcing you to focus on that one thing.

That’s likely because it’s very singular in its task. As with any swim technique training, you need to usually focus on one thing at a time until that becomes muscle-memory. Then, you add more things. For most swimmers, the limitation is not strength or aerobic engine. Rather, it’s almost always technique (for which, I most definitely fall into this camp). In FORM’s case, they’ve focused on fixing one portion of that technique. Of course, there are many, many, many other portions that all need to be addressed. How or if FORM can tap into areas like elbow position or body position remains to be seen.

Still, for existing FORM subscribers, this is pretty cool. Speaking of which, the HeadCoach components are free to all FORM goggle users for a month, and then after that they’re only accessible to the FORM subscribers. When you buy a FORM goggle, it comes with a 1-year subscription, after which it’s $15/month. Not the cheapest thing out there, but roughly in line with running/cycling training plans/coaching platforms.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase. These posts generally take a lot of time to put together, so if you're shopping for the FORM Swim 1 Goggles (with heads-up display) or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

Click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture



  1. Wade Harbin

    I’ve noticed the same thing with the first length being faster than subsequent lengths. I’ve found it’s due to the first lap not including a turn. It took a few K laps to figure it out but now after 10’s of thousands I know exactly how long it takes for that first turn and how much ‘slower’ my next laps will be in relation to the first.

    • Interesting. I was wondering if perhaps it’s actually not picking up the ‘start’ of each set until a few seconds into it. I suppose if I were to have someone on the deck walk alongside me, I could validate that precisely. Maybe next swim with my wife.

      The ‘problem’ here though is that for the new pacer functionality within HeadCoach, it bases it off of the first lap split. Thus, in effect I was always gonna be about 3 seconds slow each time. :-/

    • Ryan

      Yeah, I have the same issue with the first lap being faster than the rest.

      I raised an issue with them and they said it’s expected behavior 🤷‍♂️

  2. Martin

    Hi, I think you first have to explain the majority of your audience what a Commodore C64 is. :)
    Love your blog and wrap ups. Keep on going!
    About the googles. A hefty price tag to begin with. Adds up if you have Strava, Zwift, Form etc.

    • I suppose that same audience segment might also need an explainer on the Paris Hilton situation too…

    • Eni

      After following your blogs for a couple of years, I should have known better than drinking coffe while reading this article. The Paris Hilton remark almost showered my workplace with coffee. But reading your comment about that same remark… need a new keyboard 🤣

  3. Brad

    > There are few sports tech companies that have really been as laser-focused on their niche as much as FORM has

    This is very true, but I wish they’d spend a little time allowing the goggles to be used for another market – non-competitive swimmers. I’ve used the Form goggles for just over 2 years and absolutely love them for rest day workouts. (I’m an ultra-distance cyclist) They allow me to swim and keep my heart rate super low. That’s all I care about – is my heart rate low, and have a finished 30 minutes / 60 minutes or whatever.

    The big problem is that the goggles really want me to be a super swimmer athlete. If I go to slow (which, again, is my goal) it pauses. If I don’t do kick turns it says my turn was too slow and adds 10 seconds of rest to my turn.

    I love the goggles for the heads up display of my heart rate. But if I know I’ll be doing a chill set of laps I end up recording the workout on my Apple Watch and just just throwing away the data from the goggles.

    I’ve spoken to support about this a few times and I think I’m just not in their demo. It’s still worth it for me and I don’t regret the purchase at all. But it’s annoying.

    • Nathan

      That’s disappointing to hear. I haven’t been swimming since the start of the pandemic, but when I was, my primary goal was to keep my heart rate below VT1 for 80-90% of the time, in line with my other training goals.

      Using a Suunto Fitness 3 I could easily check my heart rate at the end of each (very short) length, but if I put on a chest strap for higher accuracy, the Fitness 3 would only show my HR from the strap, which required me to lift most of my torso out of the water to allow for a RF connection between the strap and the watch—far from ideal.

      A heads-up display from goggles would be ideal, but based on your report, the FORM would be useless for me (a slow swimmer).

  4. Ingo

    What i always find annoying is the limited eyesight… so i can barely see the people around me and have to lift my head up ro see more. This would already falsify the results of the head coach

  5. Marvin

    Another one niche company: Carv for downhill skiing on groomed slopes.

  6. Crispin E.

    Does Headcoach only work in the pool or is it available for OWS too?

  7. Oned

    How to get to head coach mode in the goggles?
    I could not find the menu.

    • Nicholas Wood

      It took me a little bit to find….

      How to Activate
      1. Once you’ve begun your swim, press the FRONT button to pause your swim 2. While paused, use the BACK button to navigate to the Head Coach Skills menu 3. Select Head Pitch
      4. Go back and resume your swim.

  8. Debbie Meyer

    Do the work on all the olympic swimming strokes, or only freestyle? I have found no trackers or anything that can handle backstroke, breast stroke or butterfly well, or, of course, a kick set with a kick board. Is there anything out there for a swimmer, rather than a triathlete that swims?

  9. Sean Webster

    I love these goggles and the integration with training peaks was a great development. The recording of the pace of the first length of each rep is way off though. If you set is heavy on 25s or 50s its way off.

  10. Just wondering, how does Form compare to Finis smart goggles and Holoswim?