Welcome to the “Training Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore every month with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), Training Tips of the Month are meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.
This month’s training tip of the week series is centered around Breaststroke. The slowest (and often most unfairly criticized!) of all four stroke, breaststroke more than any other stroke is about minimizing resistance and maintaining consistent rhythm and timing between the pull and kick.
This week’s training tip will focus on the most essential component of the stroke: the kick. While this is the main source of forward momentum for the stroke, the kick is also often the piece that gives swimmers the most trouble. In this article we’ll look at a few common problems (and ways to troubleshoot them!) that get in the way of a powerful and efficient kick.
Keep The Knees Close…
Make sure that the knees do not drift too far apart as the heels draw up. The more the knees and legs come up outside of the body line, the more resistance there will be because the swimmer’s profile in the water will be larger.
A great drill to work on this is to have your swimmers kick breaststroke with a pull buoy between their thighs. While what they do won’t really resemble breaststroke kick (or move them very far), when they take the buoy out they will have much better sense of whether their knees are drifting out with each kick.
Feet Turning Out…
A huge problem many swimmers (especially “non-breaststrokers”) have is with getting the feet to turn out enough to efficiently press behind them to generate forward momentum. Kicking breaststroke on the back or kicking breaststroke with shoes or sandals on can provide a “lightbulb moment” for swimmers to realize when they are making solid contact with the water.
Finish the Kick…
A huge reason why a lot of swimmers can’t hold on to their breaststroke technique is that they don’t properly finish their kick. Ideally, each breaststroke kick should finish with the legs together in line with the rest of the body before the next kick begins. This ensures the swimmer is getting the most propulsion possible out of each kick while also setting themselves up for a great second kick.
Any number of timing drills (separation drill, 2 kicks/1 pull, or 3-2-1 count) can be useful tools to focus on finishing the kick and making sure to get back to proper body line before the next stroke cycle.
All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.