While breaststroke is the slowest of all competitive strokes it is also the one that demands higher levels of coordination proper technique is priority. It is more important than building energy or fitness level. While many coaches think of “building the engine first”, the chassis has to be worked beforehand and at all times.
In swimming, minimizing resistance is more important than increasing propulsive force. For breaststroke, minimizing resistance means there are moments of clear propulsion:
- The pull and the kick alternated with moments of drag and resistance.
- The recovery of the arms and the recovery of the legs, when the limbs bend and move forward.
- In the other strokes, specially freestyle, there may be propulsion at all times.
This means the tips are mainly geared towards reducing resistance DURING the recovery moments specially.
The Five Tips to Improve Your Breaststroke
- The first tip I advise everyone to do is PULL THE HIP FORWARD WHILE THE ARMS PERFORM THE PULL. Too many swimmers lift the head up while neglecting the hip, then the stroke moves up and down, very visual and impressive but ineffective. If you want to be effective, connect the head to the hips so when the head goes up, it drives the hip forward. The movement of the body should simulate a wave motion, not a jagged edge.
- My second tip would be to recover the legs with the soles of the feet together, and kick with the knees close to each other. Many people do the recovery with the knees together, separating the feet, to then kick with a wide knee separation. But if you look at the best swimmers in the world they do the opposite. Do this while kicking straight back, not to the sides, but keep the toes pointed to the opposite walls.
- Focus on “riding the line” at the surface of the water. Don’t let the hands drop down when shooting forward to finish the pull. Make sure, once the body is fully underwater, that there is a straight line from the fingertips to the toe.
- Do not look up or break the surface of the water until your pull has come to a wide Y. Looking up before the hands do the “out sweep” part of the stroke is a common mistake that will create resistance and lose momentum of the body.
- Do not allow the hands to hesitate at the chest or under the chin during the pull. Once the recovery begins it needs to be fast to the front.
Practice Makes Perfect
These tips have worked for athletes who trained at Thanyapura for more than ten national records in breaststroke – for medals at the SEAGames, South Asian Championships, and Asian University games.