8/11/03 Breaststroke Timing Technique Tip:
Timing Basics:

One of the common characteristics of most great breaststrokers is their timing. Timing includes both the order and the spacing in between the parts of your stroke (pulling, kicking, etc.). One of the simplest and most effective ways to teach breaststroke timing involves using what some coaches call "self-talk."

In self-talk you speak your swimming cues to yourself, consciously affecting what your body is doing. The self-talk that you use with breaststroke is “Pull-Breathe-Kick-Stretch.” By speaking to yourself, you can positively impact technique flaws, especially in timing.

Some of the common technique flaws in breaststroke timing and the ways that using a self-talk can overcome them include the following:

  • Over-lappers: Beginning the pull before the kick is finished. By saying "stretch" to yourself after each kick, it will help you to finish each kick and streamline the body at the conclusion of each stroke.
  • Over-gliders: During the stretch phase of the stroke, if you glide so long that your body loses much of its momentum, forcing you to speed up and slow down every stroke cycle. If your self-talk sounds like “Pull-Breathe-Kick-Stretch-pause-pause-pause-pause-pause” you may be over-gliding. A self-talk allows you to recognize immediately pauses and problems with your timing.
  • Stop-and-Goers: During the cycle, the pull is finished and the head is down before the feet begin to kick. When we refer to the kick’s place in our self-talk, we are talking about the power phase of the kick (when the toes are pointed out and they are pushing the water back and together). While you are doing the outsweep of the pull and your head is rising to breathe, the heels of your feet should be coming up toward your hips. This will ensure that when it is time to kick, your legs are bent and you’re ready to kick. This kick timing will also help your hands to recover quicker while your legs are driving together.

The breaststroke self-talk can be modified to fit into many drills that most of you already know.

  • 1 Pull/2 Kick Breaststroke – "Pull – Breathe – Kick – Stretch – Kick – Stretch"
  • Streamline Kick or kicking with hands on the bottom of a kickboard – "Breathe – Kick – Stretch"