Swimming : -TOP DRILLS FOR BREASTSTROKE

swimmer drills for breaststroke body position swimmer drills for breaststroke body position

BODY POSITION DRILLS

Because drag is an inherent part of the breaststroke, achieving excellent body position is essential in maximizing the forward motion of the stroke. Like freestyle and backstroke, the core is the center of power, but in breaststroke, there is no side-to-side roll, instead, there is a tipping or rocking type motion. Achieving an effective rocking motion requires the swimmer to maintain a stable hip position, while the head and legs switch back and forth between the extremes of the tipping float. The goal of the following drills for breaststroke body position is to learn to use core tension to achieve the best floating technique, while minimizing drag and maximizing glide productivity.

 

Streamline

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Eliminating drag
  • Achieving an advantageous breaststroke glide position
  • Feeling effective core tension and stability

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Position your feet wide apart on the wall and push off on your front still with your legs apart, arms extended but with your hands about thirty-six inches apart. You should be floating like an X. With your face in the water, look forward. Float until you stop. Notice the distance you travelled.
  2. Step 2 : - Again push off the wall in the same X position, put this time, lower your chin and look at the bottom of the pool. Float until you stop. Notice that the distance you travelled is farther. Simply by eliminating the frontal resistance of your face being forward, you bump into less water, and move forward better.
  3. Step 3 : - Now push off the wall, with your legs apart, looking at the bottom of the pool, and this time clasp one hand over the other, and straighten your elbows so you are squeezing your ears between your arms. Your arms should be pointing forward, like an arrow. Float until you stop. Notice that the distance you travelled is even farther. By narrowing your leading edge, you bump into less water, moving forward better.
  4. Step 4 : - Now push off the wall, looking at the bottom of the pool, clasping one hand over the other, with straight elbows, squeezing your ears between your arms. This time position your legs closer for the push off, then when you leave the wall hold them together, thigh to ankle. Float until you stop. Notice that the distance you travelled is much farther. By reducing the total space you take up, you bump into less water, and move forward better.
  5. Step 5 : - Now push off the wall, looking at the bottom of the pool, clasping one hand over the other, with straight elbows, squeezing your ears between your arms, legs together, thigh to ankle. Engage your core, so that your spine becomes straight. Pull your belly button back toward your spine. Float until you stop. Notice that the distance you travelled is farther still. By creating a firm straight line with your body, you bump into the least water possible, and move through the water in the most streamlined manner. This is the glide or home base position for breaststroke.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
With my face forward, I cannot push off underwater. Yes, this is an additional drawback of swimming face forward. It is always best to push off the wall completely submerged, to avoid the drag from the waves on the surface of the water.
It is hard to get a strong push off with my feet apart. Once again, this is an additional drawback of widely positioned feet. For stability on the wall, your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Then when you leave the wall, move your legs together as quickly and smoothly as possible, to bump into the least water possible.
With a straight spine, I am slightly piked at the hips. Use your straight spine together with your abdominal muscles to create a streamlined body position from head to toe. Sometimes squeezing your buttocks together helps.

Rocking Drill

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Using a rocking motion for breaststroke
  • Developing unified core action
  • Understanding the purpose of rocking

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Float face down in the water, arms at your sides. Engage your core and straighten your spine. Achieve a downhill floating position by pressing your chest down into the water about three inches. Notice that your legs float higher. This resembles the body position during the glide phase of the breaststroke. This is one extreme of the rocking action of the stroke. Hold for five seconds.
  2. Step 2 : - Now, release your chest press as you draw your heels back toward your buttocks, bending at the knee. Keep your feet under the water. Feel your floating position change. Notice that without raising your chin, your head rises. Your knees should be the lowest point of your float. This resembles the body position when you are approaching the inhale and the power phase of the kick. It is the other extreme of the breaststroke rocking motion. Hold for five seconds.
  3. Step 3 : - Next, try it with forward momentum. Push off the wall with good force, face down, arms at your sides, core engaged, spine straight. Achieve the glide position immediately by pressing your chest down about three inches. While you are still moving forward, switch to breath- ing position by releasing your chest and drawing your heels back. Notice that your forward motion slows right away.
  4. Step 4 : - Again, push off the wall and press your chest down about three inches. Then switch to the breathing position, but this time, quickly shift again, so you are pressing your chest down in the water, your legs are straight, and you regain your glide position. Notice how you can overcome the slowing effect of the breathing position by returning to the advantageous glide position quickly. Try it again. Alternate floating chest down and chest up continuously for several seconds while still moving forward.
  5. Step 5 : - Now, push off the wall with your face down, arms at your sides, core engaged, and spine straight. Begin the rocking motion of the breaststroke, spending twice as much time in the glide position, as in the breathing position. Practice several times. Notice that by returning to the glide position more quickly, you can continue your forward momentum much longer.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I can't get back to the glide position. It is a matter to using your upper body, including your head as a counter-weight to your legs. Hold your core firm, and actively lean forward in the water. Aim to lower your chest more than three inches at first, until you feel your body float downhill.
I end up going uphill in the breathing position. The longer you are in the breathing position, the more uphill you will float. Although this position is a necessary part of the breaststroke, for breathing as well as better kicking, it is also a position of drag. It is important to get back to the glide position quickly. Spend half as much time in the breathing position as the glide position.
I am not able to get a breath. Although your head will rise when you release your chest and draw your heels back, it will probably not rise enough to get a breath until the arm stroke is added later. Concentrate on feeling the change in your body position. When you need a breath, stand and breathe, then resume your floating position.

KICK DRILLS

Unlike other strokes, the kick in the breaststroke produces more forward motion than the arm stroke. It also has a great deal of potential drag. It is a unique kick that uses rounded, lateral and completely splashless leg motion, where the soles of the feet push the water rather than the tops of the feet as in other strokes. The goal of the following breaststroke kicking drills is to experience positioning and, using the hips, knees and feet most advantageously, maximize forward motion, and minimize drag for the most effective breaststroke kick.

Duck Feet

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning to use your feet as paddles
  • Using ankle rotation to keep hold of the water
  • Avoiding potential drag

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Observe a duck swimming in the water. Focus on its feet. They are a perfect swimming feet! They are wide and flexible, and very paddle-like. Looking closely at the kicking motion, although the duck kicks with alternating legs, the actual kicking motion is very similar to the breaststroke kick. Studying the motion of one foot, it shows a good example of how the human foot should move in the breaststroke kick. As the duck's foot prepares for the power phase of the kick, from front to back, it takes a flexed position, forming a right angle to the ankle. During the rounded sweep-back of the duck's kick, notice how the angle of the foot steadily changes, rotating from a flexed and pitched out starting position to a pointed, inwardly pitched position at the end of the kick. This changing foot position, produced by rotating the ankle, allows the duck to maintain pressure on the water most effectively with its foot at all stages of the kick, and create very effective forward motion.
  2. Step 2 : - Now observe the foot of the duck as it returns to the starting position for another kick. Notice that while the foot is pointed, it appears as it is retracted, reducing the size of the paddle. It also moves more slowly than during the power phase. This is the recovery of the duck's kick. The duck's foot slides back to the starting position without applying pressure on the water.
  3. Step 3 : - Keeping the duck's kicking technique in mind, get in the water, at least waist deep, and stand facing the wall of the pool. Hold onto the wall with both hands, arms extended. Draw one foot up behind you, so your heel is close to your buttocks. It should be completely submerged, and remain that way throughout the kick. Flex your foot, creating a right angle at your ankle. Also pitch your toes outward.
  4. Step 4 : - From this position, press the bottom of your foot against the water. Notice the water resistance on the bottom of your foot when it is flexed. Trace a rounded line with your foot, outward and then inward, until your leg is straight. Try it again with more speed. In order keep your foot pressing against the water as it makes the rounded sweep, the position of your foot must steadily change. Rotate your foot from the ankle to maintain the feeling of water resistance on the bottom of your foot. Practice this several times, increasing speed.
  5. Step 5 : - When you have achieved steady resistance on the bottom of your foot from the point where your foot starts near your buttocks, through the rounded sweep, until your leg is straight, then try to mimic the duck's foot recovery. As you bring your foot back up to the starting point, position it so you feel little or no resistance. Slide it through the water smoothly and with less speed. Once it reaches the starting position, flex your foot again and pitch your toes out preparing for another power phase. Practice this several times. Then practice the whole kick, power phase and recovery.
  6. Step 6 : - Once you are able to feel a difference in the resistance between the power phase and the recovery, try doing the kick with both legs simultaneously. Holding the wall with one arm extended, place the other hand lower on the wall so you can brace yourself easily in a horizontal position. Keep your feet submerged throughout the kick. Your feet should move as mirror images to each other. Draw both heels back toward your buttocks. Focus on using your feet like paddles to engage the water throughout the power phase. Done correctly, by the end of the kick, you should have to tense your arms to prevent yourself from advancing toward the wall. Slide your feet gently back to the starting point, so you don't feel any pull away from the wall. Practice the breaststroke kick several times.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
My foot makes a splash. Flex your foot, curling your toes up from the very beginning of the power phase. Kick with the sole of your foot, not the top of your foot as in all other kicks.
I feel resistance on the recovery. It is important to learn to eliminate as much resistance as you can, because the kick recovery can actually move you backwards done incorrectly. Try keeping your knees still while you move your heels back and up slowly behind you.
I end up with the soles of my feet together by the end of the kick. You are lucky to have excellent ankle flexibility. When you keep the soles of your feet positioned so they push against the water throughout the rounded sweep, outward, then inward, some people are able to clap the soles of their feet together at the last moment. Make complete use of your flexibility.

Breaststroke Kick on Your Back

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Developing a propulsive kick
  • Avoiding folding at the hips
  • Positioning your knees inside your feet

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Lay on your back in the water, hands at your sides, and slightly behind you, fingertips extended. Begin to kick breaststroke kick on your back. Bring your heels back to the point that they touch your fingertips. Then with your feet flexed and pointed outward, use a quick motion to trace a rounded sweep with your feet, outward then inward, maintaining water pressure on the soles of your feet until your legs are straight. Repeat several times, drawing your heels back slowly and smoothly, then engaging the water with the soles of your feet and pressing firmly against the water until your legs are straight.
  2. Step 2 : - Now, continuing the same kicking action on your back, focus on your knees. They should remain under the surface of the water as your heels come back and touch your fingertips. If your knees are coming out of the water, it means you are folding at the hips. For many people, this causes a wave of water to wash over their face. If you were swimming on your front doing a breaststroke kick folded at the hips, that wave would work as drag, greatly slowing your forward motion. Try again, maintaining a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Produce a knee bend by drawing your heels back, rather than by folding at the hips.
  3. Step 3 : - Still focusing on your knees, positioned under the surface of the water in a straight line from shoulder to knee, position them about shoulder width apart. As you draw your heels back to touch your fingertips, hold the position of your knees steady. Notice that with your knees held still, your feet will be farther apart than your knees when your fingertips touch your heels.
  4. Step 4 : - Continue your kick, holding your knees steady at shoulder width apart. Trace a rounded sweep with your feet, outward then inward, without your knees moving wider apart. Only at the very end of the kick, as your legs straighten do your knees also move, coming together as the feet also come together. Notice that with firm knees, your lower leg, ankle and foot are rotating around your knees as they sweep out and straighten. Practice again.
  5. Step 5 : - Once you are able to achieve a kick without folding at the hip, and you are able to maintain a stable knee position, try kicking with more force. You should be able to produce enough forward motion with each kick that you can glide in the straight leg position for three to five seconds before slowing down. Practice this several times.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
My heels don't touch my fingertips. Try swinging your heels outward more, when you are drawing your heels back. Remember the heels should be farther apart than the knees.
I get more power when I fold at the hips. You might, but you also produce much more drag. In fact, kicking this way produces almost as much drag as it does forward motion, so your gain from each kick is practically nothing, as you go forward, then backward. Try using ankle rotation to position your feet, rather than folding at the hip.
My knees are farther apart than my feet. This could mean you are drawing your feet up the middle. When you do this, you then have to do an additional step of swinging them laterally outward to prepare for the power phase. The drag of wide knees, moving in the opposite direction that you are headed, in addition to the drag of the extra movement to position your feet wide, is hard to overcome. Some swimmers successfully position their knees a bit wider than shoulder width apart, but they still keep them stable through the sweep of the power phase, until the very end when the legs straighten. In addition, their feet remain outside of their knees.

Vertical Breaststroke Kick

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Developing a productive kick
  • Using foot speed during the power phase
  • Eliminating drag

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - In water, at least as deep as you are tall, get into a vertical position. Begin a gentle sculling action (tracing side to side underwater figure eights with your hands) to keep your head above water.
  2. Step 2 : - To begin the power phase of the breaststroke kick, draw your heels back toward your buttocks. Use flexed feet, stable knees, and kick in a path that your feet rotate around your knees, without producing forward or backwards motion. Use a forceful and quick enough kick so that you bob upward with each kick as your legs straighten. Practice several times, with increasing foot speed.
  3. Step 3 : - Practice several times. While preparing for the power phase of the kick, avoid raising your knees toward your abdomen so that you don't pull yourself down underwater. Make sure your feet are in the flexed position before beginning the power phase of the kick.
  4. Step 4 : - Once you have achieved a productive vertical kick, stop the sculling action with your hands. Position your hands: left hand on right shoulder and right hand on left shoulder. Kick, keeping your head above water. Maintain for 30 seconds.
  5. Step 5 : - When you are able to keep your head up without the help of arm movements, try the advanced version of this drill: Position your arms so they extend side to side on the surface of the water. Now raise your hands out of the water, bending at a right angle at the elbow. Kick! Can you keep your head up for 30 seconds

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I am not bobbing upward. Use a faster, more forceful sweep, outward then inward with your feet. Make sure you are pushing water with the soles and not the tops of your feet. Also make sure your knees remain stable.
I am sinking. Practice flexing your feet more, achieving a right angle to your ankle, curling your toes upward, and pitching your feet outward before you kick. You must use the soles of your feet like paddles and achieve constant pressure against the water throughout the power phase in order to stay up. Also, make sure that you are not drawing your knees up toward your abdomen, but drawing your heels up toward your buttocks instead.
This hurts my knees. Breaststroke kick is not the easiest action for the knees. Modify your knee position so it is comfortable for you. Try adjusting your knees to be slightly farther apart. If it still hurts you, just don't do it.

Heads Up Breaststroke Kick

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Using your senses to recognize a productive kick
  • Observing momentum
  • Practicing an effective kick

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall in a streamlined position, arms extended, clasping one hand over the other. Establish a stable hip position. ith your head up, allow your chin to rest on the surface of the water. Begin kicking breaststroke kick, keeping your feet completely submerged throughout each kick.
  2. Step 2 : - Notice your movement. During the power phase of the kick, you should be able to see your kick producing forward momentum. During the recovery phase of the kick, you should notice no slowing, or movement in the reverse direction. Feel your feet working like paddles during the power phase, pressing on the water. Feel your feet during the recovery, gently slipping back to the starting point without pressing on the water. Listen to your kick. It should not make a sound during the power phase or recovery.
  3. Step 3 : - Continue kicking with your head up, chin on the water, arms extended to the far end of the pool, looking, listening and feeling. Practice for several lengths of the pool, resting at each end.
  4. Step 4 : - Once you are able to produce an effective heads up kick with your arms extended, try the advanced version of this drill. Kick another length, but this time put your arms at your sides, keeping your head up and chin on the surface of the water.
  5. Step 5 : - Notice that with your arms at your sides, you must use a faster kick, and one with greater force to keep your face above water. Use a forceful kick that gains speed throughout its path, and a gentle recovery, until you can also produce forward momentum for a glide with every kick without your face submerging. Practice for several lengths of the pool, resting at each end.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I hear an occasional splash from my feet. That splash indicates that your feet are not always connected to the water. Check that when you begin your power phase your feet are flexed, not pointed. Make sure your spine is not swayed, positioning your hips too high in the water to begin the kick with your feet submerged.
I can't produce a glide. Make sure your are tracing a rounded path with your feet, outward then inward, not straight back. The breaststroke kick is a large sweeping kick. Make use of the whole thing to produce the most forward momentum.
With my arms down, I can't keep my face up. This is not easy. As well as using good force during the power phase, your kick must also gain speed all the way until your legs are straight. You must produce little drag during the recovery. Your ankles must be active, adjusting the pitch of the feet throughout the kick. Your knees must be stable, so your lower legs and feet can rotate around them.

ARM STROKE DRILLS

In an effort to overcome drag, and increase forward motion, the breaststroke arm stroke has evolved immensely over time. While it has remained a simultaneous stroke, many theories about what the arms do have been developed. The arm stroke has been described as a heart-shaped pull, a box-shaped pull, even a straight-arm circle, half formed with each arm. It is now accepted that the legs are where the majority of the potential power is in breaststroke, so the arm stroke has evolved into a compact, lateral action, with its main function being to balance the action of the kick, and to facilitate breathing. The goal of the following arm stroke drills for breaststroke is to learn to enhance the breaststroke balance and breathing using a quick, compact arm stroke.

3D Breaststroke Arms

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Getting the most out of the arm stroke
  • Using an accelerating stroke
  • Maintaining a compact stroke

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall for breaststroke. Sweep outward until your hands are slightly outside your shoulders, forming a Y. Your arms should be straight at this point in the stroke. This is the widest point in the breaststroke arm stroke. From there, sweep your hands inward until they meet under your chin. This is the narrowest point in the breaststroke arm stroke. Practice to the far end of the pool, identifying the wide and the narrow points of the stroke.
  2. Step 2 : - Again push off the wall for the breaststroke, arms extended. Sweep outward, with your fingertips just below the surface of the water. This is the shallowest point in the breaststroke arm stroke. From there, holding your elbows firm, sweep your hands down and inward, tracing a half circle until your hands meet in the middle, under your chin. This is the deepest point in the breaststroke arm stroke. Practice to the far end of the pool, identifying the shallow and the deep points of the stroke.
  3. Step 3 : - Again push off the wall for the breaststroke. Start the stroke with your arms completely extended. This is the longest point in the breaststroke arm stroke. Sweep outward, then inward. Your hands meet under your chin. This is the shortest point in the breaststroke arm stroke. Practice to the far end of the pool, identifying the long and the short points of the stroke.
  4. Step 4 : - Continue swimming breaststroke for several lengths of the pool, observing the three dimensional path of the stroke. Notice the complete area of the arm stroke, by feeling the widest and narrowest points, the shallowest and deepest points, and, the longest and shortest points.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I am not producing much forward motion. Since the breaststroke arm stroke is much more compact than the other strokes, it produces much less forward motion. It is therefore even more important to make the most of the space that you have to work with by applying pressure throughout the three dimensional space.
My elbows don't stay high when I sweep inward. To make the most of the insweep, it is important to maintain high, still elbows. When your hands meet in the middle, your elbows can fold in toward your sides.
I am not feeling the Y. It is important to sweep outward with straight arms, because the insweep that follows uses the longest to shortest dimension of the stroke to accelerate the arm stroke. If your hands have already left the long position during the outsweep, the insweep will be slower and less effective.

Breaststroke Sculling

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning to use lateral strokes
  • Holding on to the water
  • Experiencing a high elbow scull

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall, arms extended, face in the water. Use core stability to maintain a good floating position. If necessary, use a gentle but continuous flutter kick. Keeping your hands completely submerged at least two inches under the surface of the water, begin a sculling action with your hands, maintaining firm wrists. Your hands should be tracing a mirror image of each other. Press the water outward with the palms of your hands, positioning your thumbs lower than your pinkies.
  2. Step 2 : - After pressing outward just wider than your shoulders, reverse your hand pitch so your thumbs are higher than your pinkies and press the water inward with the palms of your hands.
  3. Step 3 : - Before your hands meet, again switch the pitch of your hands to thumbs-down and press outward. Produce a continuous lateral sculling action for one minute. To breathe, press your chin forward gently.
  4. Step 4 : - Increase your hand speed, maintaining high elbows and firm wrists. Trace sideways figure eights with each hand. Practice until you feel you are holding onto the water in both directions, even as you change directions.
  5. Step 5 : - Without increasing the width, depth or length of your scull, and without adding or increasing kicking, attempt to create forward motion with your skull. Use your whole arm to trace your figure eights, maintaining firm wrists, and high elbows. Practice until you can move to the far end of the pool.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I am feeling bubbles during my inward scull. This probably means that your hands are not quite deep enough in the water, and are catching air as you press outward or while changing directions. Keep your hands totally submerged the whole time.
I lose my hold on the water as I change directions. Think of a knife spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread. Use your hands in the same way, from one side of the bread to the other, and then back again. Also, maintain your hand speed as you change directions.
I am not moving. Make sure your elbows and wrists are firm. Increase the quickness of your figure eights. Check that your hands are completely submerged.

Half-stroke Breaststroke

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning to use compact strokes
  • Using a quick stroke
  • Eliminating drag

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall, preparing to do the breaststroke, arms extended, face in the water. Do four arm strokes with your face in the water, watching your hands as they sweep outward, then inward through the path of the stroke. Return your arms to the fully extended position between each stroke. Kick each time your arms approach straight.
  2. Step 2 : - Take a breath, then do four more strokes. Reduce the width of your arm stroke until your hands stay within your field of vision throughout the stroke. Still return your arms to the fully extended position between each stroke. Notice that a stroke with less width takes much less time to get your arms back to the extended start position.
  3. Step 3 : - After breathing, do four more strokes maintaining your reduced arm stroke width. Now, watch your hands as they sweep from shallow to deep through the path of the stroke. Again, return your arms to the fully extended position between each stroke. Kick as your arms approach straight.
  4. Step 4 : - Take a breath, then do four more strokes, reducing the depth of your stroke so that your hands remain within your field of vision throughout the stroke. Still return your arms to the fully extended position between each stroke. Notice that a stroke with less depth takes much less time and effort to get your arms back to the extended start position.
  5. Step 5 : - Practice the reduced stroke again. Make it compact and quick. It should feel like half a stroke. With your face in the water, your hands should remain easily within your sight throughout the arm stroke.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I am not getting any pull from half a stroke. The point of the drill is to keep your stroke compact, entirely within your field of vision, thereby reducing drag and effort. It is your kick that should produce most of the forward motion.
I can't see my stroke when my hands are under my chest. Reduce your stroke until you can see your hands the whole time. Keep your hands and elbows in front of your chest.
The arm stroke is now too fast to fit the kick in after each one. Remember to return to the extended position after each arm stroke. Each arm stroke starts and finishes in that position, giving you more time to kick.

Corners Drill

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Accelerating into the insweep
  • Producing lift without pushing down
  • Holding onto the water

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall for the breaststroke, arms extended. Press your chest into the water, and use core tension and a straight spine to achieve a downhill float. Begin the breaststroke arm stroke, pressing outward with your thumbs low, then inward with your thumbs high. Keep your hands within your range of vision.
  2. Step 2 : - Do four or five quick strokes, holding on to the water throughout the entire path of the stroke, especially during the transition from outsweep to insweep. It is very important to maintain firm wrists and high elbows during this transition. It should feel like you are turning tight corners with each arm. It is important to feel that you are doing so with your whole arms, not just your hands. Upon arriving at these corners, gather speed for the insweep. Increase your speed as you round the corners. At the end of each insweep, when your hands come together in the middle, push them straight ahead to the extended position.
  3. Step 3 : - Notice that with a quick enough arm stroke, which accelerates at the corners, you feel the effects of lift, without ever pushing down on the water. Try it again. Increase the speed of your stroke so that you produce noticeable lift in your upper body as your hands transition from outsweep to insweep. Without altering your head position, your face will rise as you begin your quick insweep. Notice that if you maintain a firm core, when your upper body rises, your feet will drop just a bit. Use this opportunity, when your face is naturally at its highest out of the water to get a breath. Then return your face to the water as your hands approach the extended position. Press your chest downward.
  4. Step 4 : - Continue practicing your quick lateral arm stroke, accelerating at the corners to produce lift. Then, quickly return to the downhill position. Spend half as much time in the breathing position as in the glide position.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I don't produce any lift. Try increasing the speed of your hand at the corners. Maintain your core tension and straight spine, so that when your upper body rises, your feet drop a bit. If your core is not unified, your hips will actually limit the lift effects your arms can achieve at the corners.
I don't feel the corners. If the transition from outsweep to insweep is too gradual, you will not feel it or benefit from it. Make it a tight corner, and accelerate your hands through it. Also make sure you are changing the pitch of your hands, going into the corners with your thumbs down, and coming out with your thumbs up.
I can't get back to the glide position. As your arms begin to extend, and your face returns to the water, drop your chest lower into the water. Make sure you are looking at the bottom of the pool and not forward.

book The 100 Best Swimming Drills Blythe Lucero 

Hand Speed Drill

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Observing a compact arm stroke
  • Using a quick arm stroke
  • Holding on to the water

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall, arms extended, face forward out of the water, chin on the surface. Use core tension to maintain a good floating position. Begin doing the breaststroke arm stroke, accompanied by a very quick flutter kick. Look down at your hands just below the surface of the water as you do the breaststroke arm stroke. Keep the entire stroke within your range of vision.
  2. Step 2 : - Check for firm wrists and high elbows, especially at the corners. Practice until you feel you are holding on to the water in both directions. Start each new stroke from an extended arm position.
  3. Step 3 : - Still focusing on your hands, increase the rate of your arm stroke. Pick up speed through the corners and into the insweep. Practice until your arms are accelerating through the entire stroke. Your stroke should be moving fast enough so that you can clap your hands under your chin at the end of the insweep. Then, quickly return your arms to the starting point, fully extended.
  4. Step 4 : - Now focus on your quick flutter kick. Kick at a rate of at least one down-beat per second. Try to accomplish an entire arm stroke during three to four kicks. Watch your hands, checking that you are maintaining a compact stroke, firm wrists and high elbows, and accelerating into the insweep. When your hands return to the extended position, hold them there for six kicks before trying to do another complete arm stroke within the time of three to four kicks.
  5. Step 5 : - Continue practicing to the far end of the pool. Focus on the speed of your hands throughout each arm stroke, then return to the extended position and hold. Start each arm stroke from this still position, then attempt to go from zero to sixty within the time of three or four kicks.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
Water wells up in the middle at the end of my insweep. This shows that you have a good hold on the water, and are using good hand speed. Just make sure that you are not lifting that water upward, or you will be creating drag. When your hands meet at the end of your insweep, that is the end of the power phase, so just let go of the water and return your hands to the extended position.
It's hard to keep my head up. Use core tension to lean downhill from hips to chest. Make sure you are not trying to keep your head too high out of the water. This stroke produces very few waves, so your mouth just barely has to clear the water. Also make sure you are pitching your hands thumbs-down for the outsweep, and thumbs-up for the insweep, and using a quick and accelerating stroke.
This is awkward with the flutter kick. The flutter kick is meant to work like a metronome to help you achieve a quicker arm stroke. It also should allow you to fully focus more on the productivity of the arm stroke alone, without any assistance from the breaststroke kick.

Breaststroke with Fists

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning to feel the water with the forearm
  • Understanding the changing elbow position
  • Appreciating the role of the hand

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall as if preparing to do the regular breaststroke. Before the first stroke, form closed fists with each hand.
  2. Step 2 : - Start the arm stroke. At first it may seem impossible to make forward progress without the paddles of your open hands. Stroke quickly, purposely positioning your arms so that the inside of your forearms press against the water throughout the arm stroke. This will require you to initiate your stroke with your arms extended, but elbows rotated high, then to maintain firm elbows while your fists sweep outward.
  3. Step 3 : - Accelerate the stroke main- taining high elbows as you turn the corners with your fists. Keep the stroke speed quick. Adapt your stroke to the handless paddle. When your hands approach the end of the insweep, then allow your elbows to fold inward in front of your rib cage, still pressing against the water with your forearms. Practice the change of elbow position again, letting your elbows come inward, but not back like chicken wings, and only at the end of the insweep. Continue to the far end of the pool.
  4. Step 4 : - Now push off again, this time with open hands. Swim regular breaststroke, using your hands as well as your forearms to press against the water in both direc- tions. Do a quick, accelerating stroke. Keep high elbows until the last part of the insweep.
  5. Step 5 : - Continue alternating lengths of fists and open hands until you are feeling the water with a paddle that includes both your hand and your forearm.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I am not moving. Reposition your forearm so when your arm moves through the stroke, the inside of your forearm presses constantly against the water in both directions.
I am getting a lot of bubbles in my outsweep. Make sure that your wrists are not pitched backwards. There should be a straight line from your elbow to your knuckles. Also, make sure that your entire fist is submerged so you don't pull air down into the water.
My elbows end up back like chicken wings. This indicates your arms are stroking in the collapsed position. Work on keeping your elbows high through the entire outsweep corners and then draw your elbows firmly together just in front of your rib cage.

RECOVERY DRILLS

Breaststroke is the only stroke with a recovery that passes through the water rather than over it, leading to the potential for a great deal of drag. To overcome this drag, the breaststroke recovery must be an active part of the stroke, rather than a resting phase, as in other strokes. The resting phase in the breaststroke comes after the recovery, during the glide. Some swimmers have tried to avoid drag by developing over-the-water recovery styles, with varying degrees of success. For the most part, swimmers have chosen to overcome the drag of the traditional in water recovery by increasing speed into, and streamlining during and after the recovery. The goal of the following breaststroke recovery drills is to minimize drag by quickening the transition between arm stroke and recovery, and developing a long, fast and compact recovery that works with the line of the stroke.

Growing Your Recovery

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Achieving the longest recovery
  • Using your elbows to extend recovery
  • Using your chest to extend recovery

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Stand in waist deep water, facing the pool wall. Bow forward so that your chin is on the surface the water. Look down and forward, preparing to watch your breaststroke arm stroke and recovery. Extend your arms in front of you so your fingertips touch the wall. Your hands should be slightly submerged in the water. Now, begin the arm stroke, compact, quick through the corners, maintaining firm wrists throughout, and high elbows until the last part of the insweep. When your hands finish the insweep, return them to the extended position, fingertips touching the wall in front of you.
  2. Step 2 : - Take one step back - the length of your foot. Maintaining your chin on the surface of the water, do another breaststroke arm stroke, compact, quick through the corners, firm wrists throughout, high elbows until the last part of the insweep. At the end of the insweep, form a point with the fingertips of both hands, and drive your hands and elbows forward with speed. As your hands reach toward the wall, bring your forearms as close together as possible. Your arms should form a long arrowhead, from hands to shoulders. Notice that simply by straightening your arms more and creating a narrow leading edge with your hands, forearms and elbows, you have increased the length of your recovery, and are able to touch the wall.
  3. Step 3 : - Take another step back - the length of your foot. With your chin still on the surface of the water, do another breaststroke arm stroke, compact, quick at the corners, firm wrists, high elbows. At the end of the insweep, with your fingertips together and pointed forward, drive your hands and elbows forward with speed, narrowing the space between your forearms as you reach. Before your hands have reached full extension, drop your chest down and forward into the water as you reach for the wall. Notice that using your chest in the recovery action, you have increased the length of your recovery even more, and are able to touch the wall.
  4. Step 4 : - Now practice growing your recovery while swimming. Push off the wall face down, achieving a firm core and good floating position. Begin the breaststroke arm stroke. As your hands finish the insweep, return your arms to the front extended position, making a tight arrow with your arms. Drive your hands and elbows forward, bringing your forearms as close together as you can. With your arms forming a narrow leading edge, drop your chest down into the water. Do a breaststroke kick as your chest drops. Feel your body move forward in a streamlined glide. Hold that position for three to five seconds before starting another stroke. Continue to the far end of the pool.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I can't get my elbows very close together. Everyone's flexibility is different. Just get your elbows closer than they were originally. You can also try placing your hands palms together during recovery and see if this moves your forearms closer.
When I use my chest, I lose my footing and fall forward. This actually shows that you have succeeded in shifting your weight forward for encouraging a more productive glide, as well as a longer recovery. Keep it up!
When I drop my chest into the water, my face submerges. You might be dropping your chest too far downward. Try it again with less depth. Try to make your chest join the forward motion of your arms as they extend forward.

Shoot to Streamline

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning to accelerate into the recovery
  • Recovering with the rocking motion of the stroke
  • Eliminating any pause between insweep and recovery

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall, preparing to do the breaststroke, your arms extended fully in front of you, forming the point of an arrow from your hands to your shoulders. Achieve a downhill floating position. Begin a compact arm stroke, that is quick through the corners.
  2. Step 2 : - Maintain firm wrists throughout the stroke, and high elbows until the last part of the insweep, when your elbows fold inward in front of your rib cage. As your elbows fold in, notice that your hands come together in a sort of praying position. This is the breaststroke breathing position, a necessary but drag-producing point in the stroke.
  3. Step 3 : - Getting back to the downhill position quickly is crucial in retaining your hard-earned forward momentum. To achieve this, the recovery must continue the forward motion of the breaststroke, avoiding any pause after the insweep. From the praying position, shoot your hands and elbows forward at lightning speed, with your forearms close together as you drop your chest and head down forward. Kick when your arms are in mid-recovery. Glide for three to five seconds in a fully streamlined position.
  4. Step 4 : - Do another stroke. Use a quick outsweep, and a quicker insweep. Make the recovery quickest of all. Do it again, accelerating through the entire stroke, then shooting your arms forward in the recovery. Notice that the narrower your recovery is, the faster it cuts through the water. Notice too, that by eliminating any pause in the praying position, the recovering arms add to the forward momentum of the arm stroke.
  5. Step 5 : - Continue practicing the narrowest recovery possible, eliminating any stall between the insweep and the recovery. Keep practicing until your arm stroke and recovery have become one continuous, accelerating action. Catch the forward momentum of the stroke and shoot to the streamline. Glide for three to five seconds after each recovery.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem  
I have a pause in the praying position. To avoid the slowing effects of drag, it is very important not to pause in this position. Make sure that you are preparing to breathe at the corners and not later, or you can get stuck in an uphill position, and miss the opportunity to time your recovery to the forward motion of the stroke.
My hands end up palms together at the end of the recovery. That is fine. It is also fine if your palms face down. Either way, after gliding, you will turn your palms outward to begin the arm stroke. The bottom line is that for a streamlined recovery, the arms and hands should slice through the water and form a narrow leading edge in front of your body.
My recovery aims uphill. Be sure your arms are aligned forward from the shoulders, elbows and wrists. Check the direction your fingertips are pointing at the end of your recovery. It should be forward, not upward.

Fold and Shrug

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Adding speed to the recovery
  • Increasing momentum into the glide
  • Learning to rest after the recovery

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

Step 1: Push off the wall preparing to swim breaststroke, arms extended. Achieve the downhill floating position. Begin your arm stroke, sweeping out, then accelerate around the corners, and in towards the middle to the praying position before recovery. This is also the point in the stroke when you draw your heels up toward your buttocks, preparing to start the power phase of your kick. In this position, your head and chest should be higher than your hips. You have a brief window of opportunity for breathing between the corners and the praying position.

Step 2: As your elbows fold quickly inward to the praying position, shrug your shoulders up. Then, as you transition to your quick, narrow recovery, shrug your shoulders forward and down. Notice that with this shoulder shrug, your upper body becomes more involved in the recovery. Kick as your arms approach the streamlined position. Glide and rest for three to five seconds.

Step 3: Do another stroke. Accelerate through the outsweep corners and insweep. Fold your elbow in at the end of the insweep and shrug

your shoulders up, then forward and down into the recovery. Notice that the shrug helps keep your momentum going through the praying position, where a disadvantageous pause often occurs. As you shoot your hands and forearms forward, and drop your chest down and forward, notice too that your recovery carries more speed. Kick as your arms approach the streamlined position. Glide and rest for three to five seconds.

Step 4: Do another stroke. Quick outsweep, turn the corners and accelerate into the insweep. Approach the praying position and shrug your shoulders up as your elbows fold in front of your chest, then down and forward giving more speed to the recovery. Notice that you are able to achieve a greater downhill streamline with the shrug helping to shift your weight forward. Glide and rest for three to five seconds.

Step 5: Continue to practice for several lengths of the pool. Sweep out, then in. Fold and shrug. Feel the momentum of the stroke follow your arms into their recovery and glide.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
The shrug helps me go up, but not forward. You have to shrug your shoulders up and then forward and down to feel it assist in the speed of the recovery. Try it on land first, in the mirror. With your arms at your sides, shrug your shoulders up, then roll them forward and down. Now trace the path of your stroke in the air, adding the shrug up then forward and down, as you go through the praying position. Feel the shrug forward add momentum to your recovery and glide.
My elbows fold into my rib cage, not in front of it. Try beginning the shrug earlier, before your elbows fold in too far. Also make sure that your elbows are high and firm coming into the insweep, and remain high until the last few seconds.
My streamline is flat, not downhill. Make sure you are looking at the bottom of the pool and not forward during your streamline. Also, realize that the degree of the downhill float is very subtle. It shouldn't be so severe that you are aiming at the bottom of the pool, or so deep that you have to lift yourself up to the surface with the next stroke. As long as your chest is slightly lower than your hips, you have achieved a downhill position, and will move forward better during the glide than if your hips and chest were equal in depth, or worse, that your hips were the lowest part of your float.

BREATHING DRILLS

The forward breathing style of the breaststroke makes the head position a factor in maintaining the forward line of the stroke. In addition, the timing of the breathing is crucial in reducing drag during the power phase of the stroke. Incorrectly timed, the breathing can break the forward motion of the stroke, but timed well, the breathing action can actually improve it. The goal of the following breathing drills is to learn the correct timing of the breaststroke breathing and to unify the head and body into a single action that benefits the stroke.

Inhale at the High Point

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning the correct timing of the inhale
  • Breathing with the line of the stroke
  • Feeling lift

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

Step 1: Push off the wall preparing to swim breaststroke, arms extended. Achieve the downhill floating position. Begin your arm stroke, sweeping out, maintaining firm wrists and high elbows. Hold on to the water as you accelerate into the corners, maintaining a firm spine all the way through your neck. As your hands round the corners, preparing to sweep inward quickly, feel your body position change, and your upper body rise. Notice that without raising your chin, your mouth clears the water. Use this opportunity to inhale. As you recover and kick, notice that you regain the downhill position, and your face returns to the water.

Step 2: Do another stroke. Sweep your hands outward and into the corners. As your hands change directions at the corners, feel the lift produced for your head and upper body. Your breathing window occurs when your mouth clears the water, through the high point in the stroke, near the praying position. When you transition into the recovery, and back to the downhill position, allow your face to drop into the water with the rest of your upper body as you kick.

Step 3: Continue stroking. Allow your face to rise with each stroke cycle, as your stroke produces lift. Inhale at the high point in the stroke until your face returns to the water as you kick, with the forward line of the recovery.

Step 4: Continue practicing until you achieve your inhale as your face naturally rises to its high point. Then, allow your face to return to the water without creating any pause in the stroke.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I don't produce enough lift to get a breath. Make sure that when approaching the corners you are accelerating through. Also, it is important at this point to draw your heels back, to achieve lift for your upper body.
I am inhaling before the corners. Although you can catch a breath at this point in the stroke by raising your chin, doing so compromises the forward line of the stroke as your head tilts back, in effect, putting on the brakes.
My inhale is in the praying position. Try accelerating out of the corners more to increase your natural lift. Beginning your inhale in the praying position encourages a drag-producing pause before the recovery.

Eyes on the Water

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Maintaining a stable head position
  • Breathing with the line of the stroke
  • Avoiding a nodding breathing style

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall preparing to swim breaststroke. Achieve the downhill floating position, arms extended. Focus on maintaining a straight spine, from your hips through your neck. You should be looking at the bottom of the pool, not forward. Begin your arm stroke, sweeping out, and holding on to the water as you accelerate into the corners. As your hands move quickly round the corners, and you feel lift, allow your face to rise, focusing your eyes down at the water right in front of you the whole time. Inhale. Still maintaining your firm spine, return your face to the water as you recover and kick. Exhale.
  2. Step 2 : - Do another stroke. Inhale at the corners, looking at the water directly in front of you. As you finish your inhale, you should be able to see your hands move into the recovery. You should not be able to see the far end of the pool. As you kick, your face should drop down between your arms, and without changing your chin position, you should again be looking at the bottom of the pool as you exhale.
  3. Step 3 : - Continue stroking, maintaining a straight spine line through your neck. Avoid any nodding action as you breathe with each stroke. As your face rises to inhale, keep your eyes on the water right in front of you. Watch your hands move into the recovery. Regain your downhill position as you kick, letting your face return to the water without any independent head movement. Exhale and glide, looking at the bottom of the pool.
  4. Step 4 : - Practice to the far end of the pool, maintaining a stable head position, looking down at the water during breathing, and at the bottom of the pool during the glide.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I can't glide downhill unless I lower my chin during the recovery. If you chin starts in a low position, you would not have to lower it during the recovery. Use a quick arm stroke to achieve lift to breathe while looking at water. Then, drop your chest down and forward, as you move into the recovery. Your shoulder shrug will also help you transition to the downhill position. This way your head and body will work together to maintain the forward line of the stroke.
I can't tell where I am in the pool. Look at the line on the bottom of the pool. There should be a T as you are approaching the wall. Then you will be able to use your peripheral vision to see the wall while maintaining a beneficial stable head position.
My head goes back into the water before my hands recover. You might be inhaling too early in the stroke. Or your hands could be moving too slowly. However, this shows you are looking at the water! Inhale only when you feel lift at the corners, and sweep quickly inward, then without a pause, shoot into the recovery. As your arms form an arrow beyond your face, there is a perfect space for your head to return to the water between your arms as you kick.

Tennis Ball Drill

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Maintaining a stable head position
  • Breathing with the lift of the stroke
  • Achieving lift by dropping the hips

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Place a tennis ball under your chin and hold it there, maintaining a straight spine all the way up through your neck. This will require you to adjust the position of the tennis ball out from your throat, holding on to it with the point of your chin. Check in a mirror to insure your spine-line is not compromised.
  2. Step 2 : - Push off the wall preparing to swim breaststroke, holding the tennis ball with your chin. Achieve the downhill floating position, arms extended. In order to avoid dropping the tennis ball, look at the bottom of the pool. Begin your arm stroke, sweeping out, and accelerate into the corners. As your hands quickly round the corners and you achieve lift, inhale without dropping the tennis ball. Return your face to the water as you recover and kick. Exhale.
  3. Step 3 : - Do another stroke. Accelerate your arm stroke to achieve lift. Maintaining a firm hip position, draw your heels back toward your buttocks, and breathe when your head is naturally at the highest point in the stroke. Hold on to the tennis ball and inhale from the corners through the praying position. As you recover and kick, press your chest down, allowing your face to return to the water without dropping the tennis ball.
  4. Step 4 : - Once you have suc- ceeded in doing a stroke without dropping the tennis ball, try three strokes in a row. Maintain stable hips and a straight spine-line through your neck. Use an accelerating arm stroke as you draw your heels back to achieve lift to inhale. Regain your downhill position as your recover and kick, looking down at the water and pressing your chest down for the glide.
  5. Step 5 : - Repeat this drill over several practices, until you are able to hold on to the tennis ball for an entire length of the pool.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I don't get enough lift to breathe. Make sure you are using a productive sculling action, outward then inward, accelerating your hands throughout the stroke.
I drop the ball at the corners. This probably means you are raising your chin at this point. Instead, look down and accelerate your insweep faster to clear the water for the inhale.
I drop the ball during recovery. You are probably looking forward, not down during recovery. Use your chest to achieve your glide position, rather than your head. Making this change will improve your glide productivity, because you will have less frontal resistance.

LEVERAGE DRILLS

Improvements in breaststroke across the board, over the past twenty years, are largely due to rule changes that allow better use of leverage and the elimination of drag. By producing an integrated rocking motion between the head and legs, with the hips as stable as possible in the middle, the productivity of the arm stroke, kick and glide is increased, and points of potential drag are minimized. A good rocking motion does not have to be extreme to be effective, it just has to be a unified body action, so each stroke action works as a counterbalance to the others. Using a rocking motion allows the swimmer to inhale when more water covers the feet. Using a rocking motion allows the swimmer to transition to recovery more quickly, avoiding drag. The purpose of the following drills for leverage in the breaststroke is to learn to use a rocking motion to create better leverage and less drag in the stroke.

Breaststroke with Dolphin

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Developing a productive rocking motion
  • Maintaining a firm core
  • Developing a rhythmic stroke

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall preparing to swim breaststroke, arms extended, looking at the bottom of the pool. Maintaining a firm core, do six good full-body dolphin kicks. Avoid over-bending at the knee, and allow each kick to whip down from high in your body down to your feet. As you move through the water, notice how the dolphin action positions your body similar to the rocking motion of the breaststroke.
  2. Step 2 : - After six kicks, add the breaststroke arm stroke. Sweep out toward the corners as you snap your feet downward. The combined actions of your quick insweep and the downbeat of the dolphin should enable you to feel lift at this point, so you are able to achieve your inhale.
  3. Step 3 : - Without any pause in your arm stroke, finish your insweep and kick again as you shoot through the recovery. The combined action of a quick, narrow recovery, and the downbeat of the dolphin, should enable you to regain your downhill position.
  4. Step 4 : - Do another stroke. Kick down as your hands approach their widest point, and down again as your hands go into the fast recovery.
  5. Step 5 : - Do several strokes in a row. Use a rhythmic dolphin, and produce two evenly spaced down-beats to each arm stroke. One kick should give you lift to achieve breathing. The other should add to the speed of your recovery, so you achieve a productive glide.
  6. Step 4 : - Practice more until you can feel a rhythmic rocking motion that assists the other actions of the stroke.

Breaststroke

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I am not rocking. Make sure your dolphin action goes through the entire length of your body, not just through your lower legs. Allow your chest to be low through the recovery, and high during breathing.
I lose the rhythm after a few strokes. It does take practice. Focus on the timing the down-beat of your two kicks to the two key points in the arm stroke: the widest point and the narrowest point. When you lose the rhythm, stand up and start again.
I get stuck in the praying position. This could mean that your kicks are both happening before that point. One kick should occur as you turn the corners, so you have speed going through the praying position. The next kick helps you regain a downhill float.

Breaststroke Alternating Dolphin and Breaststroke Kick

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Using dolphin action in the breaststroke
  • Transferring power through the rocking action of the stroke
  • Practicing a productive rocking action

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall, preparing to swim breaststroke. Achieve a straight spine and streamlined position. Begin the breaststroke arm stroke, sweeping out to the corners. Inhale with the insweep. Do one good full-body dolphin at the corners, and another one as you shoot your hands forward into a narrow, streamlined recovery. Glide.
  2. Step 2 : - Begin the next arm stroke. Sweep your hands out, round the corners and inhale as you do the insweep. This time, do one good breaststroke kick as you shoot your hands forward into a narrow, streamlined recovery. Glide.
  3. Step 3 : - Continue swimming breaststroke alternating dolphin and breaststroke kick. Accelerate your arm stroke so the insweep merges seamlessly into the recovery. Your hands should arrive in the streamlined position before the kick finishes. Notice that by doing so you achieve a good downhill streamline, and productive glide with both kinds of kick. Notice too that the rocking motion of the stroke works the same with both kicks.
  4. Step 4 : - Keep swimming breaststroke alternating dolphin and breaststroke kick. On the stroke with breaststroke kick, there is one arm stroke and one kick per stroke. On the stroke with dolphin kick, there is one arm stroke to two kicks. Notice, though, that when doing the stroke with the breaststroke kick, a dolphin-like downbeat becomes apparent in the hips, as you transition to recovery.
  5. Step 5 : - Keep practicing, allowing the rocking motion of the stroke to transfer power through your body, with dolphin as well as with breaststroke kick. Once you are producing good glide momentum with both dolphin and breaststroke kick, alternate laps of the drill and regular breaststroke. Feel the rocking motion transfer power to the rest of the body like with the dolphin.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
My head bounces with the dolphin kick. Make sure that you are maintaining a firm spine, so that when you do a dolphin down-beat, your upper body goes up, instead of bouncing.
I can't get the rhythm. This is not an easy drill, but with practice, you will master it. Start with the breaststroke kick, noticing exactly when you start the power phase of the kick in relation to the recovery. On the next stroke, start your dolphin down-beat at the same point.
I am missing the streamline when using. Make sure you are not over-bending at the knee. Use stable hips to do the dolphin kick. Generate the power for the dolphin kick, and let it roll down through the entire length of your leg, and up through your chest as your arm reaches for the streamline. Hold your hands together and count to three before starting the next arm stroke.

Stroke Up to Breathe, Kick Down to Glide

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Feeling a productive rocking motion
  • Maintaining the forward line of the stroke
  • Avoiding flat breaststroke

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall preparing to swim breaststroke, arms extended, looking at the bottom of the pool. Maintain a firm spine and achieve a downhill floating position by pressing your chest downward. Begin your arm stroke, sweeping out and into the corners. Allow your chest to rise as you round the corners, and as you accelerate the insweep, feel your face clear the water. Use this part of the stroke, from the corners through the insweep to inhale as you move forward.
  2. Step 2 : - As you transition to the recovery, your heels should be in a position close to your buttocks preparing for the power phase of the kick. When your hands pass your face during the recovery, kick with force, and feel your head and upper body return to the water. Use this power phase of the kick to achieve a productive glide. Hold for three to five seconds.
  3. Step 3 : - Do another stroke. Feel your body achieve the breathing position during your arm stroke. Feel your body position change back to the downhill position as you kick. Notice the absence of a flat floating position.
  4. Step 4 : - Do several strokes in a row. Stroke up to breathe, kick down to glide, all the time moving forward. Practice until you are able to achieve a quick inhale with your arm stroke, and a productive glide following your kick, spending twice as much time in the downhill position as in the breathing position.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I don't glide well. Make sure you are using flexed feet to kick, and that your feet are following a rounded path, outward and then inward. Also make sure you are transitioning to recovery before you kick, so you can start shifting your weight forward and down, then achieve a more productive glide with the power from your kick.
I am floating flat. Make sure you are maintaining a firm spine and not nodding to breathe. Doing so collapses the leverage effect in the stroke, making you swim flat.
My feet come out of the water. This could mean you are not maintaining a straight spine during breathing, but rocking your head back as you lift your chin. The consequence of doing this can be a swayed back and high hips, making your feet come out of the water. It could also mean that your feet are not flexed just before the power phase of the kick.

COORDINATION DRILLS

Of all four competitive strokes, breaststroke requires the most precise coordination to overcome the inherent drag in the stroke, in order to produce good forward motion. By correctly sequencing and balancing the actions of the arm stroke, breathing, kick and glide, each individual action of the stroke works better. The following drills for breaststroke coordination focus on the inter-related actions of the stroke, how they overlap, and work together to create an effective stroke.

No Stars

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Using the most efficient breaststroke timing
  • Avoiding drag
  • Using the arm then the legs

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall for the breaststroke, arms extended. Look at the bottom of the pool and achieve a straight spine. Notice how well you move through the water in this narrow, streamlined position.
  2. Step 2 : - Begin to swim breaststroke to the far end of the pool. Use a quick stroke tempo with both your arms and your legs. After several strokes, freeze at the point in the stroke when your hands are at their widest. Notice where your feet are. They should be at their narrowest point.
  3. Step 3 : - Continue swimming breaststroke, and resume your quick stroke tempo. After several strokes, freeze at the point when your feet are at their widest. Notice where your hands are. They should be at their narrowest point.
  4. Step 4 : - If your hands and feet are wide at the same time, this puts you in the star position, the most disadvantageous way to move through the water. The star position is achieved when your arms and legs are in their power phase at the same time. In this position, the arm and the leg action cancel each other out, and you produce little or no forward motion. Swim breaststroke again, checking for the star position.
  5. Step 5 : - To avoid the star position, your kick must follow your arm stroke with very little overlap. Begin the power phase of the legs only when your arms are well into the recovery. Try it. Push off the wall for the breaststroke. Sweep your hands out toward the corners, actively holding your ankles together in the extended position. As your arms sweep in and you breathe at the high point in the stroke, draw your heels back gently toward your buttocks. Shoot your arms into streamline without any pause. As your arms approach their narrow point forward, then kick.
  6. Step 6 : - Continue swimming breaststroke, performing your arm stroke and then your kick. Keep your legs still during the power phase of your arms, and your arms still during the power phase of your legs. You will achieve the best forward motion in breaststroke if you stagger the wide points of the stroke. Time your stroke so that feet are narrow when your arms are wide, and, your arms are narrow when your feet are wide. Achieve total streamline with your whole body before starting the next stroke.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
My kick starts as my arm stroke recovery starts. Try to hold your kick even longer so that you can avoid your recovery action working against your kick action.
I can achieve a more continuous stroke with my arms and legs stroking at the same time. Breaststroke is unique in that it is not a continuous stroke. By doing arm then leg action, you will produce more forward motion with less effort, and be able to rest during the glide phase.
I never achieve total streamline. Total streamline will allow you to ride the momentum of your previous stroke. If you start your next stroke before you have achieved total streamline, you will be working harder than you need to.

Stroke, Breathe, Kick, Glide Mantra

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Learning the correct sequence of stroke actions
  • Avoiding cancelling out the effect of one stroke action with another
  • Practicing the correct timing of the breaststroke

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Visualize the breaststroke in your mind. Say to yourself the steps in sequence of the breaststroke: stroke, breathe, kick, glide. Say it again. Stroke, breathe, kick, gliiiiiiiiide, drawing out the word glide, so it takes as much time to say as the three previous steps combined. Match each step in the sequence to the breaststroke in your mind. Stroke refers to the arm stroke, outsweep, corners and insweep. Breathe refers to the inhale. Kick refers to the power phase of the kick. Glide refers to the streamlined float that maximizes the momentum of the stroke.
  2. Step 2 : - Push off the wall, preparing to swim breaststroke, straight spine, streamlined position. Say the steps in the sequence to yourself again as you glide forward. Now perform the stroke actions in slow motion, repeating the sequence of steps in your mind, beginning each action when you say that step. Correctly timed, the glide should take as long as the other three actions of the stroke combined. Stroke, breathe, kick, gliiiiiiiiide.
  3. Step 3 : - Do another stroke, again matching the start of each action to the step as you say it to yourself. If you are following the stroke sequence correctly, your arm stroke and inhale should be finished before you begin the power phase of your kick. So, you could modify the mantra to be Stroke, breathe, then kick, gliiiiiide.
  4. Step 4 : - Keep practicing, and repeating to yourself the stroke sequence and timing mantra. Once you are able to perform each stroke action in order, increase your stroke rate. Notice that while the arm stroke starts first, the breathing overlaps with the insweep of the arm stroke. So, you could modify the mantra to be Stroke and breathe, then kick, gliiiiiide. The and marks the corners of the arm stroke.
  5. Step 5 : - Keep practicing and repeating the mantra. Notice that your arms will have already reached the extended position when your kick finishes, and your body reaches streamline. So, you could modify the mantra to be Stroke and breathe, then kick and gliiiiiide. The second and marks the point when the feet come together at the end of the kick.
  6. Step 6 : - Continue practicing with the fully developed mantra giving sequence and timing to your stroke. Stroke and breathe, then kick and gliiiiiide.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
I breathe before the corners. Try to use the lift at the corners to breathe without any independent head movement. This will keep all your stroke actions moving in a unified line forward.
My stroke starts with the kick. If your kick starts your stroke, then it is likely that the breathing will be out of time, and will reduce the productivity of the kick. You might find yourself having to kick again to regain forward motion. By starting the stroke sequence with the arm stroke, position your body to kick most effectively.
My glide doesn't last as long as the other three steps combined. Make sure you are kicking with flexed feet, and that your body position during the glide is downhill. Practice doing the first three steps quickly, so you gather momentum to glide better.

Glide Length, Glide Speed

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Developing a productive glide
  • Recognizing when to start the next stroke
  • Using momentum to rest and benefit the next stroke

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall for the breaststroke, arms extended, hand forming the point of an arrow, looking at the bottom of the pool. Watching the bottom of the pool, glide until you come to a complete stop. Stand and make note of your distance.
  2. Step 2 : - Again, push off the wall for the breaststroke. Watch the bottom of the pool, and this time glide until you start to slow down. Stand and compare your distance to your first glide. Notice that there is not much difference in the distance you have travelled. By gliding until you completely stop, you use much more time to travel a little more distance.
  3. Step 3 : - Try the comparison again with a glide plus a stroke. First push off and glide until you stop. At that point do one complete breaststroke. Stand and make note of your distance. Again push off the wall. This time, just as you start to slow down, do one complete stroke. Stand and compare your distance to your first glide and stroke. Notice that you have travelled the same distance, or even farther with the second method. By bringing some of the momentum with you into the stroke, the length of your glide may be shorter, but you travel father overall.
  4. Step 4 : - Try the drill again several times. Focus on finding the exact point where you maximize the length of your glide without sacrificing speed or momentum.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
A longer glide seems to be easier. Looking at it in terms of swimming a few strokes, it probably is easier. However, if you have to keep swimming for more than a very short distance, it will be require less swimming time to cover that distance if you rest during your glide, but carry some momentum into the next stroke. In this way, your effort is reduced because you don't have to start the next stroke from a still position.
I am not gliding very far before I float to the surface. Make sure you are looking at the bottom of the pool during your glide. Also make sure that your fingertips are pointed forward, not upward. Push off with force.
I am not producing very much momentum with my kick. Make sure you are using flexed feet to kick, and that your kick is following a rounded path. Also make sure you are achieving a downhill streamlined position to glide.

Thread the Needle

THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL

  • Achieving coordinated forward motion
  • Maximizing streamline and momentum
  • Learning to rest during the glide instead of the recovery

HOW TO DO THIS DRILL

  1. Step 1 : - Push off the wall preparing to do the breaststroke. Focus on your body position while gliding forward. It should be long, narrow and streamlined. Your head should be tight between your elbows, and you should be looking at the bottom of the pool. Your legs should be extended and together, toes pointed. This is the position you should strive for with each glide. It is the position that makes the smallest hole in the water. First made with your fingertips, it is the same hole passed through by your forearms, elbows and head, shoulders, chest, hips, legs and finally your feet.
  2. Step 2 : - Begin to swim breaststroke, focusing on achieving a long, narrow streamlined glide after each kick. Try to get back to the streamlined position as quickly as possible after each stroke. Notice that you don't have to wait until you have fully achieved streamline to make your small hole in the water. Begin as you recover, shooting your hands forward to a long narrow point before your feet have finished kicking.
  3. Step 3 : - Pretend the small hole that you pass through in your glide position is right in front of you as you transition into recovery. Pretend you have to pass through it like your were thread passing through the eye of a needle. Create a narrow lead- ing edge with your hands. Keep your chin low and shoot your elbows forward, with your forearms close together as your chest and head drop down.
  4. Step 4 : - Maintain a firm spine as you thread the needle through recovery, achieving streamline the instant your feet come together and through the eye of the needle at the end of the kick. Notice that the recovery in breaststroke works best as an active part of the stroke action, unlike in other strokes where a swimmer can use recovery to rest. In breaststroke it is after the recovery, during the streamlined glide that the swimmer has a moment to rest.
  5. Step 5 : - Continue practicing, threading the needle with each stroke, from the beginning of the recovery through to the end of the kick.

DRILL FEEDBACK CHART

Problem Modification
My head is not in streamline until after the kick. Use a low chin breathing position, with a quick arm recovery, so your head will drop between your elbows as soon as they are straight, threading the needle with your arms and head, as you achieve a full upper body streamline during the kick rather than after it.
My hands begin recovery out of the water. This is fine. It means you have produced major lift through the arm stroke. It is important to make a smooth transition from the breathing position into the streamlined glide. Shrug your shoulders up then down and forward, and, shoot to streamline. Doing so should aim your arms downhill into the water, and lead the rest of your body into the glide position.
My hips are low at the end of recovery. Make sure you are looking at the bottom of the pool and not forward. Looking forward at this point in the stroke will cause your hips to drop. Also, make sure that you maintain a firm spine and drop your chest down before your arms reach streamline. This will shift your weight forward.

book The 100 Best Swimming Drills Blythe Lucero 

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