Common Breaststroke Mistakes: Part Two

Analysis by Joszef Nagy

Editor's Note: Today is the second in a five-part series of articles exclusively on detailing the most common mistakes swimmers make in breaststroke, as seen through the eyes of noted coach Joszef Nagy. Yesterday's article introduced the series and showed the common errors in the glide/base position. Click here to read Part One.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 5. TODAY, we discuss the most common mistake swimmers make in the breaststroke kick.

1. When starting the kick, the feet are not together. (see photo 5)

2. During the pull-up of the feet, the knees are too narrow (narrower than the hips). (see photo 6)

3. The pull-up of the feet tends to be all the same speed with no acceleration toward the top of the kick and turning out the feet.

4. The knees are pulling up under the stomach. (see photo 7)

5. At the end of the pull-up of the feet, feet are closed, hence ending up behind the buttocks, instead of beside the buttocks. (see photo 8)

6. For those with less flexible legs, it is useless to pull the heels up to the buttock because they are only able to turn out the feet during the second half of the kickback. (see photo 9)

7. The turning out of the feet is too late.

8. The turning out of the feet is too slow.

9. The turning out of the feet is not full.

10. The kick is too wide and the swimmer is kicking outward instead of straight back. (see photo 10)

11. The swimmer is kicking downward instead of straight back. (see photo 11)

12. While finishing the kick, the legs and feet are closing too slowly.

13. While finishing the kick, the legs and feet are not closing fully. (see photo 12)

14. When the kick is finished, the legs are not lifted up and are not in a streamline position. (see photo 13)

15. When the kick is finished, the heels are higher than the toes and the toes are not in a streamlined position. (see photo 14)

Here, the most dramatic mistake is definitely if the swimmers brings his or her knees up under the stomach. Our goal is to have the upper body and the thighs making as large of an angle as possible.

If two swimmers are of the exact same strength and condition, each have the same good or bad techniques, and each are flexible enough to turn out the feet and bring the feet to the buttocks, but only one of them can do this by pulling the knees closer to the stomach by 20 degrees, then only this difference in their strokes will cause some seconds of differences in their 100-meter distance.

Because of this, we only want to pull the feet to the buttocks while bending and opening the knees. Even this way, though, the knees will cause much resistance, but that is one of the unfortunate properties of breaststroke that has not yet been solved. (see photos 15 and 16)

Tomorrow: Common pulling mistakes

Photos courtesy Eva and Joszef Nagy.

Joszef Nagy coached Olympic medalists Sergio Lopez (1988, 200 breast bronze) and Mike Barrowman (1992, 200 breast gold), among others. He was the pioneer of the wave breaststroke in the 1980s, which gained immense popularity in his native Hungary before spreading around the world. Nagy is the head coach at the National Swimming Centre in Vancouver, where Olympians Tera van Beilen and Martha McCabe train, as well as 200 breast world record holder Annamay Pierse.

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