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Breaststroke Technique

Breaststroke Technique

Out of all swimming strokes, the breaststroke is probably the most popular and frequently used. While freestyle (also known as front crawl) is typically the first one you picture when you think of swimming, breaststroke is more accessible to all generations, and can also be maintained for longer.

Here’s How to Get a Breaststroke Technique like Michael Phelps

Breaststroke Technique

To maximise your output and go faster with less effort and less stress on your joints, it’s important to get your breaststroke technique right. Below we dive into (pun intended) the key facets of a strong technique, citing some of the small tips professional swimmers (yes, Michael Phelps himself) adopt when using the breaststroke. Let’s get to it… 

The Breaststroke Technique Broken Down

Breaststroke is known as a short-axis stroke. Freestyle or backstroke are considered long-axis strokes, meaning that your body is rotating along a perfect centreline as you career through the water. With breaststroke, your body is pivoting up and down – similarly to a butterfly stroke.

This means that timing is crucial, and coordination is key to maximising the progress you make. Your upper body and lower body need to operate in perfect synchronisation if you are to propel through the water efficiently.

Perhaps the biggest differentiator between breaststroke and any other stroke is the kicking mechanism. The ‘frog leg’ movement requires you to bend your knees, engage your hips and flex your feet more so than freestyle.

How to Make Your Breaststroke Faster (and Safer)

While breaststroke is a slower movement than freestyle, if done correctly, it can be a very efficient way to swim. The basis for any good breaststroke movement is beginning and ending in the streamline position.

Breaststroke Technique

Streamline is when your entire body is straight out in the water – arms in front and legs straight. Like Superman flying. Crucially, and many people forget to do this, keeping your head facing down – towards the floor of the pool – is important here. It is tempting to angle your neck slightly to look forwards (the direction you are moving in), but this will not only slow you down but could cause undue stress and aches on your neck and spine long term.

Breaststroke: Arm Movement

The arm stroke is a vast movement that recruits a lot of power from your shoulders and, you guessed it, your chest muscles. This means that you can generate a lot of power, but your hand positioning is important if you are to make the most of it.

Ensuring your hands are flat and open, but fingers tight together will mean that you can displace more water with every push. And creating a symmetrical and explosive routine as you pull the water back will allow you to reset the position for the next stroke.

The more you do breaststroke, the stronger your shoulders and chest will become. And the stronger they become, the faster you will get!

Breaststroke: Leg Movement

As we touched on above, the leg movement for this stroke is identical to that of a frog. The key muscles recruited are your groin, psoas, hamstrings and quadriceps. Even though there is no impact on your joints when you swim, this motion can take its toll a little on your knee joints, due to the slightly unnatural outwards bend required.

We recommend taking omega 3 tablets to promote joint health and avoid overtraining to mitigate any knee issues. The legs are big muscle groups that generate the bulk of the power in this stroke. Delivering the kick forcefully, and in sync with your arm strokes, is the recipe for a fast lap!

Breaststroke: Breathing

Finally, we will touch on breathing. Getting your breathing timing right in breaststroke is somewhat easier than freestyle. You don’t have to worry about which side to come up for air on, but rather which stroke. Your head comes directly up and straight out of the water, which is easier to get oxygen in.

However when your head goes back under, just remember to make it perfectly parallel with the pool floor, instead of angled slight forwards for the next breath. As tempting as this is, it will slow you down and hurt your neck.

Begin to open your mouth as you raise your head through the water, this will create milliseconds of time-saving when you can just catch air and drop in shape again. Those milliseconds add up over the course of an hour, meaning personal bests can be smashed.

We hope you have found our tips useful on how to perfect your breaststroke technique.