Common Breaststroke Mistakes: Part Four

Analysis by Joszef Nagy

Editor's Note: Today's installment, part four in a five-part series featuring breaststroke coach Joszef Nagy highlighting top breaststroke mistakes exclusively on, will look at errors in the underwater pull and the head position.

To view part one, click here.

Click here to view part two.

Click here to view part three.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 7. TWO parts of breaststroke will be examined today: the all-important underwater pull and the swimmer's head position.

Underwater stroke mistakes:

1. Feet position is too high on the wall. Therefore, the direction of the push-off will downward instead of forward. (see photo 36)

2. After the push of the wall, toes are not pointed. (see photo 37)

3. Before the pullout, the head is too deep. (see photo 38)

4. The pullout starts with the hands above the shoulders in too high of a position. (see photo 39)

5. After the pull, the head is too deep. (see photo 40)

6. After the pull, the back is too curved. (see photo 41)

7. When the hands are recovering, the elbows are too wide. (see photo 42)

8. The head is facing forward for the whole pullout. (see photo 43)

9. The whole pullout is too deep. (see photo 44)

The most dramatic (and the most frequent) mistake in the underwater stroke is if after the pullout, during the recovery of the hands, the elbows are wide and move forward beside the body. This can be fixed easily, but not very comfortably. After the end of the pullout, the hands must recover and move forward close to and touching the stomach and chest, in a cross, without the elbows moving at all. The elbows should start moving when the hands reach the shoulders, and as the arms are reaching forward, the palms should be facing down. (See the differences between photos 42 and 45.)

Head position mistakes

1. When the pull starts, the head is facing forward. (see photo 46)

2. When breathing, the head is too high and not between the shoulders. (see photo 47)

3. In the arm recovery, the head is turning down too early. (see photo 48)

4. In the arm recovery, the head is turning down too late. (see photo 49)

5. In the streamline at the end of the stroke, head is not facing down. (see photo 1)

6. After the start and turn, the head is facing down, but too deep. (see photo 50)

7. At the end of the arm recovery, the head is not facing down. (see photo 51)

Every head position mistake causes useless resistance and useless core (the central point of gravity) shifts.

Tomorrow: Mistakes in breathing and rhythm

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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