Breaststroke variation: Finding your Best

There are more successful variations in breaststroke then in every other stroke combined. This makes for a challenge when coaching swimmers. There is no one single set of mechanics to target. When I work with a swimmer on their breaststroke I follow some guide lines to help them find their best possible stroke.

The Arms

  • This may be a new thought to many swimmers. In breaststroke you go through the same catch motion that you do in freestyle. That same high elbow position is seen in most top breaststrokers. This may be an entire shift for some swimmers who think of breast more as an outward and inward scull.

The Body

  • Don’t look forward. You chin should be in line with your shoulders, which generally will feel like it is slightly tucked. When your hands are together in front of your face you should look down at your hands. This change in your head position will change your spine position. This shift will better position your hips to deliver power.
  • Be the rubber band. As you recover your arms, you need to stretch through the entire body, not just from the arms. If you reach Forward with just the arms the observer will often see a jerk in the stroke. This happens when the arms reach their full extension, like a string being snapped straight. Instead stretch forward with entire body. The stretch through the torso will help you reach further and instead of the snap of the string, the extra extension will make the stretch be more like a rubber band stretching.

The Kick

  • How wide should you kick? This depends on your flexibility and power. You will need to try some trial and error to find the best angle for your kick. Here is a thought that will help you as you start experimenting. Think about pushing water back not out, or around. So, start narrow and slowly try getting a bit wider, while testing your power.
  • Keep your knees pointed down, if you let your knees point out your kick cannot deliver power. Ensure you keep your knees point down at the bottom of the pool.
  • Dorsi flex your ankles. Press the ankle to bend a bit more. An ankle that does not bend enough does not make a good pushing surface.

Apply these ideas, one at a time to your stroke and see what improvements you discover

Up Next: Butterfly, getting the right rhythm

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