You might think breaststroke is strictly for the slow lane, but with the right technique, the stroke can be fast – and get you seriously fit. Check out three drills to master its secrets.
Drill 1: Breaststroke arms with fly or freestyle kick
If the frog-leg kick doesn’t come naturally, your arm technique and body positioning could suffer. This drill will help you find your groove and focus on your upper body.
- Do a freestyle or fly kick with this drill so you focus solely on your arms. Wearing fins can help too.
- Imagine your arms are oars rowing a boat and concentrate on a narrow, sculling movement.
- Start each stroke slowly to maximise the catch phase.
- Once you’ve done the initial out-sweep, start to slow down and back as you shape your pull.
- Change the angle of your hand to maintain pressure on the water at all times – it might help to imagine you’re making a heart shape or scooping out a bowl in the water.
- Once your palms are facing each other you’re at maximum arm speed as your thumbs break the surface.
- Now tuck your elbows in and drive your hands forward to the streamlined position at the front of the stroke ready to start again.
- Keep your head position looking diagonally forward and down.
- When your head goes back in the water, your goggles should be between the inside of your elbows.
Drill 2: 2 kicks per stroke
Speedo says the fastest part of breaststroke is actually the bit where you’re most still – streamlined and gliding off the power of the kick. This drill will help you work on your kick timing and that crucial streamlined glide position. You need to stay tight in the glide position to minimise resistance and maximise streamlining.
- Place your palms face down with fingers in the direction you want to go.
- Press your elbows inwards around your face.
- Keep your shoulders back, and hips and feet in line to minimise any resistance.
- Once you’re halfway through your arm stroke, at the start of the in-sweep, start to recover your legs by bending from the knees.
- Keep your hips and upper leg in line as you bring your heels to your bottom.
- Once your legs are fully bent, turn your feet out and kick back, slightly round and down in an accelerating motion.
- This drill is 2 kicks for every 1 stroke, so do another kick while in the glide position.
Drill 3: Kick back
The breaststroke kick comes naturally to some swimmers, but seems a dark art to others. If you struggle with mastering the movement, swimming on your back with your arms resting is a good way to get a handle of it. Hug a float to sit up and watch your legs from out of the water.
- Keep your arms by your side and concentrate on the movement of your legs.
- Keep your hips high and make sure your knees only brush the surface of the water.
- As you get used to the drill, try putting your hands by the side of your body and make your heels and hands touch at the start of each propulsive phase.
- If you feel uncomfortable on your back, you can hold onto the side of the pool to practise the leg kick.
Four tips for breaststroke:
1. Breaststroke creates the most resistance in the water so streamlining your body position is the secret to getting faster. Take a look at Speedo’s breaststroke videos to see how the stroke should look.
2. As a warm up, Speedo recommends doing breaststroke leg kick and backstroke arms. This will help you remember to bend your knees and drop your heels towards your bottom.
3. As you master the arm movement, try swimming with finger paddles to hone a stronger catch.
4. Counting your strokes each lap is a good way to see your progress – watch your stroke count tumble as you improve.