Breaststroke for Beginners

In today’s video, I’ll be reviewing breaststroke. First, we’ll look at the kick, then the arms, review the timing, and go over some drills.

Breaststroke Kick:  Unlike freestyle or backstroke which utilize a pointed toe and an up and down motion, in breaststroke we pull the toes back and make a V. Watch as I’m bending, make that V, out and together. Back, turn the toes out, bring them back and together. Back, out, together.

Elementary Backstroke Kick:  For some students, this kick is easier to learn on their back which is why we introduce elementary backstroke as early as we do.

No Knee Tuck:  Don’t let your students pull their knees underneath their tummies.

Full Kick:  Instead, have them bend the knees, turn the toes out, push back and together.  Toes out, push back and together.

Jump Off My Hands:  Oftentimes, I’ll help my students turn their toes out, and jump off my hands to get a feel for the kick.

Wall Drill:  Here, I’m doing the legs right, but I’m not turning my toes out. I’ve noticed that kids that do this will turn their toes properly when the try to push themselves away from the wall.  I’ve been able to capitalize on that a few times.

Stroke Length:  Unlike the other competitive strokes, the arms on breaststroke do not finish past the hip except for one stroke on the pullout. In fact, the hands don’t back any farther than the chin.

Stroke Shape:  Watch as I demonstrate the arms with these markers. I’m pushing back and down, elbows high. Lean in on the glide. Shoot forward. From the swimmer’s perspective, the shape of the stroke looks like and upside-down heart. The arrows indicate the direction the hands are pulling.

Stroke Timing:  As we put it together with the kick, the hands start first. Pull, breath, kick, glide.  The hands don’t come back any farther than the chin. This can be practiced with a barbell.  Pull, breath, kick, glide. Pull, breath, kick, glide. Or.. a kick board. Pull, breath, kick, glide. Pull, breath, kick, glide.

Finning/Treading:  The hands on breaststroke have some similarities to treading water in that we’re changing the angle of our hands to create pressure against the water. See how I change the angle of my hands. With that in mind, try to stay away from dog paddle arms when teaching treading.

Pulling Past the Hips:  When I encounter swimmers that breath late or pull past their hips, I’ll have them tread water breaststroke style. Start in a treading position using breaststroke arms and whip kick, then flatten it out into the full stroke. Watch again. I’m doing breaststroke arms and breaststroke kick in a treading position. Then, I lean forward into the full stroke.

Finning Drill:  Finning with kick can also be useful in helping students get a feel for the water on breaststroke.

Still Head:  When swimming the full stroke, keep your head still. Let your pull or arm stroke get you the breath. Remember the timing. Pull, breath, kick, glide. Touch with two hands. Let’s watch again. Pull, breath, kick, glide. Still head. Touch with two hands. The pullout is the only time that you can pull past your hips on breaststroke.


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Written by Chris B.

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