By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Monday, June 10, 2019
Although the majority of forward momentum in breaststroke is generated by the kick, the pulling action of the stroke is extremely important as it sets up the breath and (hopefully) eliminates drag as the arms pull back and then shoot forward.
One way to test the effectiveness of your breaststroke pull is by wearing paddles. With an increased surface area – and no straps, you will immediately see where you are grabbing the most water – or possibly losing it.
Kim Brackin, a former NCAA coach at Auburn University and the University of Texas and owner of her own Brackin Elite Swim Training, explains the benefits of swimming breaststroke with paddles to improve the efficiency of your pull and find your “corners.”
Why: This is a great drill to recognize whether you are effectively keeping pressure on the water with your hands and forearms. The swimmer will know immediately if/when the paddles fall off that they aren’t keeping pressure on the water. I love drills that give you immediate feedback and you don’t need to rely on your coach to tell you whether you’re doing it right or wrong – the paddles will let you know!
How: Find a small set of paddles that just cover the surface of your palm. Take off the straps! Don’t wrap your fingers around the edges. Learn to keep the paddle on your hand by the pitch of your hand and the pressure you apply to the paddle.
I suggest you start this drill progression first with windshield wiper sculling with paddles – use a snorkel and a pull buoy or light flutter kick.
Continue sculling until you get used to the paddles on your hands and how much pressure you need to apply in order to keep the paddles in place. Recognize where you have to pitch your hands and how much pressure you need to apply in order to keep the paddles in place.
Swimmers find their breaststroke “corner” very quickly once they begin to master this drill. Obviously, turns are tough with strapless paddles, so I recommend 25s of this drill.