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Breaststroke Training Drills to Refine your Technique


They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you always get in the pool and swim your stroke without thinking about the different elements that are involved, you’re not likely to make big improvements. Breaking the stroke down into specific exercises or drills that isolate a certain part, whether it is the kick, an arm action or the breathing, will help you to identify weak areas and refine your technique.

Here are some common training drills for Breaststroke. They’re useful both for beginners who want to understand and learn each part and for strong swimmers who want to optimise their stroke.

Using a float and reducing the number of kicks per length:

The main driving force in breaststroke is the powerful kick, however swimmers who are more used to swimming front crawl or backstroke and also many beginner swimmers will focus their attention on the arm action and use it to pull themselves through the water. This isn’t ideal, so using a float removes the temptation to pull through the water and helps you focus on developing a strong kick. Some people take to breaststroke quite naturally and find the kick easy. Others find the kick very tricky to get any propulsion. By counting the number of kicks it takes you to complete a length and aiming to reduce that number over subsequent lengths, you will develop a more powerful kick and a longer glide. Front crawl and backstroke tend to involve continual movement of the arms and legs, but breaststroke incorporates periods of time where the swimmer is holding a straight, stretched position and simply gliding across the pool. With a powerful leg action, you can glide across the pool with just a few kicks.

Using a pullbuoy:

There is some room for variation in a breaststroke kick, from a narrow, whipping action to a wide star jump-type kick, but if you want to develop the narrower whip kick, then a pullbuoy can help you. By holding the pullbuoy between your legs above the knee, it trains you to keep your thighs narrow and rotate the lower leg around the knee. Once the muscle memory has been developed, you are more likely to keep a narrow whip-kick without the need for a pullbuoy. As well as rotating the lower leg, it is important to flex the ankle to draw the foot up and then push down hard with the toes as you kick round. It is your choice whether or not to develop a whip kick as some people will experience knee pain and find a wider kick much more comfortable.

Speed up the pull:

As previously mentioned, breaststroke is a kick-driven stroke. Although the arms do pull forward a bit, their main job is to pull the head up to take a breath. At this point in the stroke, the body is rotated upwards and the legs are drawing up ready for the next kick. There is not much driving the body forward at this point and the body position is acting like a brake, so if your goal is to swim fast, you should spend the minimum amount of time in this non-productive position. Because breaststroke is also a great stroke for gentle, recreational swimming where the pull phase is slow and relaxed, and because many recreational breaststroke swimmers keep their head out of the water at all times, it is easy to overlook the benefit of a fast pull when using breaststroke for racing.

Resistance float:

Many swimmers think of a float as a confidence tool for beginners, but a float is versatile and can be used to make your workout harder. By holding the float in a vertical position under the water, you are effectively having to push a wall of water forward as you swim. By massively increasing the resistance, your legs will have to kick harder, helping you to develop a powerful technique and build your muscles.

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