Back in the 60s I remember hearing breaststroke called “reststroke”, and was often seen being used by ladies who did not want to get their hair wet as they swam across the pool. Today’s breaststroke looks very little like the breaststroke of old. But, what does the ideal breaststroke look like. Well that depends, breaststroke has more successful variations then every other stroke combined. There is no one perfect breaststroke. You have to adapt to fit your body, flexibility, and strengths. Today’s focus on key factors in the kick:
- Hip flexibility
- Muscle strength and explosiveness
- Ankle flexibility
Hip flexibility is one of the top drivers of how wide your kick should be to maximize thrust. Don’t think of breaststroke kick as pushing around. Instead think of it as pushing back with a circular motion (picture kicking around a football). How wide is something you need to experiment with to find the best angles for you.
Muscle strength and explosiveness is something we all need to work on. Most swimmers think of the leg extenders and curls first when developing leg strength, ignoring the muscles that work in adduction. It is important to work the adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis and the pectineus gracillis. For a solid Adduction strength building exercise see Livestrong Adduction exercises. (You will have to scroll down, as the page starts with abductions)
Ankle flexibly is critical to maximizing how much of your foot you can turn your foot out without creating knee stress. For increased flexibility and strength Physio Advisor has a simple and effective exercise (Scroll down the page to find ankle Inversion and Eversion exercises.
Up Next: The evolution of stroke mechanics and why that is important to you!