Welcome everybody to my guide for How to Learn Breaststroke in Five Minutes or less! This week, this article will detail the steps that you can follow to develop a proficient breaststroke!
How to Learn Breaststroke in Five Minutes or Less!
Step 1: Learn and Practice the Basics:
First off, I want to get each and everyone of you trying and practicing your front glides. Get your butt in the water and practice your front glides. Stretch out your arms above your head, squeezing your ears with your shoulders if you can. Also start stretching out your legs behind you so that your entire body is nice and streamlined. Push of the wall and glide as far as you can. Simple. See the photo below for the basic front glide position and what it looks like out of water.
Image 1. Basic Front Glide Position
Many students have weak basic body positioning and giving a quick review to your basic glides will help you identify any excess stiffness in your shoulder or body. And releasing it consciously can be a great way to improve your stroke at the most basic level!
Practicing the basics is how to learn breaststroke!
Secondly, and please do not skip this step. There is one crucial mistake that you are probably making with your breaststroke right now that you have never noticed before.
Where are your eyes looking…?
Let me guess… Forward?
I know that I am right with my guess. With 90% of you out there, I can guarantee that I have just pointed out something that is holding you back from performing excellent swimming in the water.
If your eyes are looking forward, your spine in it’s eternal wisdom will try to keep itself in a straight line and will therefore drag your feet downwards towards the bottom of the pool. Elite breaststrokers in the Olympics don’t actually look forwards in front of them, even when they take a breath. Their eyes are actually still looking downward, I’ll be it at an angle.
Looking down at the bottom of the pool will make a whole bunch of things easier for you, so check that you aren’t being guilty of looking down at the bottom of the pool while you swim!
Step 2: Learn how to do a Whip Kick:
I am going to give you the basics for how to do a proper whip kick in this article. You may already know how to do the whip kick, but know this. If you are doing the basic whip-kick technique wrong, you will really struggle making a go of breaststroke. If you are wondering how to learn breaststroke swimming, put the time and effort into figuring this one out. Not only is it completely essential for a good breaststroke, but it can be an excellent way for you to catch your breath when you’re swimming front crawl or something more strenuous.
Before you attempt the kick, I recommend sitting down on the side of a pool or a bed and try it out of the water first. Begin by sitting down on the side of the pool and stretching your legs out in front of you with pointed toes. Pull your legs back towards your bum (notice how your legs hit your bed or the pool wall if you are practicing). Flex your feet outwards at a 30 to 45 degree angle from normal flexion. And then whip your legs around in a wide circle keeping your feet flexed outwards at an angle until you reach the initial starting position.
Check out this illustration on how to practice the kick while sitting on the edge of a pool deck or bed!
Image 2: Whip Kick on a Bed or Pool Edge
Again, I stress that you should really try to do this sitting on an edge before you try it in the water. Trying it on the edge will give you another reference point to try and see where you are going wrong. It will also emphasize the point that your kick should not arch back more than about 90 degrees from a stretched out position.
Next hop in the water with a flutterboard or kickboard and stretch out nice and long and push off from the wall. Try and do a full length in the water with this kicking motion. After every kick, there should be a 3-5 second gliding period where you should be stretched out nice and tall with no movement in your legs in that streamlined position we discussed and practiced before.
A few points to note with your kick:
- Your feet should be wider or equal than your knees at all times to avoid knee injury. If you open up the kick by widening your knees far apart, you may irritate your knees because your legs are being forced into a really awkward shape. Plus the propulsion you achieve from it will be horrid…
- Your feet should “clap” together when you are ending each kick so that you achieve maximum propulsion. If your feet are pulled together quickly, you will gain a lot of propulsion because your feet will concentrate all of the water pressure out directly behind you, accelerating you!
Step 3: Master the Breaststroke Pull!
Your last step before you can mash all of the skills together is to learn the proper breaststroke pull. And again, we aren’t dealing with anything super complicated here. The pull, like the kick, is very straightforward.
The arms for breaststroke can be practiced on the side of a bed or pool before you try it in the water, just like the leg technique. I prefer the pool deck spot because your face will need to be in the water when you try it. As a result, you will be practicing your breathing as well because the arms and breathing happen at the same time!
- Start by lying down on a bed and hold your arms above your head pressed together.
- Then hinge your arms forward about 90 degrees till they touch the bed side.
- Tuck the hands under your chin, while simultaneously raising your head up and looking forward.
- Press your hands together and breath in.
- Then drive them above your head (more aggressively than the majority of the movement was) and hold them out in a glide for 3-5 seconds. Try this out on your bed now!
Check out this illustration on how to practice the arms while lying on the edge of a pool deck or bed! Notice I was not breathing during this demo, you should be lifting your chin and breathing in at step 2 if you wish to practice the breathing too.
Image 3: Breaststroke Pull
At this point it’s worth remembering what we discussed about where you should be looking while swimming breaststroke. The bottom.
See, what happens is that the breath in on this stroke occurs when the hands are brought underneath your chin. When they come underneath your chin, you should be raising your head and torso up slightly so that you can take a breath. And after the arms come back overhead, your head should turn back down to the bottom of the pool again! Don’t look forward for longer than you have to because it will cause your legs to drop!
When you’re done practicing on the side of the bed or pool, hop into the water with a tool like a pull buoy (a floaty that you can hold between your legs, see the link below for an example of a pull buoy) and place it between your legs. Try practicing the arms the same way we were before on the side of the deck. Pull your hands in, breath in, and throw them back over head while pressed together. Keep trying it until you feel moderately comfortable with the arm technique and the breathing technique that this stroke requires. Figuring them both out now will make it easy when you combine them together with the kick!
Finishing it Off!
Ok, let’s be honest, you probably won’t learn how to swim breaststroke in five minutes or less. But in a few practices sessions you absolutely will following these steps.
So now let’s put the parts together once you’ve practiced them individually. And these are the three key things that you need to keep in mind while you are practicing:
- You want the kick and the arms to be timed together. The arms and kick should end around the same time. They provide you the propulsion. Once you stop moving the arms and legs, there should be a few seconds of glide so that you can get a good little rest out of it. Breaststroke should be your “rest stroke” to a certain extent! Don’t make it tough or hard on yourself. Let your stroke be nice and fluid!
- Your hands should form a nice flipper with your fingers locked together nice and tight. Don’t let your fingers stay loose while you’re trying this out. All of the propulsion from your arms comes from tight hands and fingers that cup the water!
- Remember to exhale while your face is underwater. Everybody always forgets to do this and it comes back and bites them in the ass. Exhale so that when you go to take a breath, you have room to fill up your lungs with fresh oxygen!
And that’s it! Simple. How to Swim Breaststroke in three easy steps! Give these ideas a try and report back here in the comments below! I want to hear your successes and questions about my progression I’ve presented here!