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Why Your Breaststroke Technique is Failing You

If you're struggling to improve your breaststroke technique, check if you're making any of these common breaststroke mistakes.


Breaststroke is the slowest among all the strokes and one of the toughest to master in terms of technique. The good news is, making even the slightest adjustments can result in better stroke efficiency and a faster swim.

If you’re struggling to improve your breaststroke technique, check if you’re making any of these common breaststroke mistakes:


1. Too Much Head Movement

Like any other stroke, a tight, streamlined position is critical.

In breaststroke, this means keeping your head in a neutral position as you take your breath, using the pull to lift yourself up instead of bobbing your head up and down.

Moving your head around will throw off your body position and sink your hips. This not only increases drag but also makes it more difficult to execute a powerful kick.


2. Inefficient Kicks and Pulls   

In breaststroke, most of the propulsion comes from the kicks.

But before focusing on increasing your kick strength to gain swimming speed, you need to ensure you have the right technique, so you’re utilizing the power of your kicks to propel yourself forward.

Bring your heels up (without breaking the surface) quickly, flex your feet and point them outwards before pushing the water back and bringing the legs together.

A few common mistakes are bending the knees up to the chest, kicking with the knees too wide, and not completing the kick. Any of these will create drag and prevent you from maximizing the propulsive force of your kicks.

While most of your momentum comes from the kick, the pull still generates a good amount of propulsion and enables you to shoot forward in the recovery. An efficient pull supplements the propulsive force of your kick to maximize the distance gained from each stroke.

To set up for a good pull, the arms should go out to about shoulder-width before the in-sweep. Going out too wide does not push more water back, and an out-sweep that's too narrow prevents you from setting up for a good catch.

Make sure not to drop your elbows or pull them too far back before driving your arms forward in a fast recovery.



3. Poor Timing

Perfecting your timing is key to bringing all the elements together so that you’re maintaining speed in between the strokes.

Whether you’re going for a high distance per stroke or a fast stroke rate, timing your pull, breath, and kicks right will greatly improve your performance.

Take your breath during the in-sweep, using the inward catch to lift out of the water. as your hands come together, bring your heels up quickly, complete your arm recovery, and finish the kick strong to maximize the momentum of your stroke cycle


4. Not Optimizing Time Underwater

The moment after the push-off or dive is when you are at your fastest, and capitalizing on this speed with a good pullout should not be a wasted opportunity.

This starts with a rigid streamline and keeping your arms close to your body during the recovery. Whether you place your one allowed dolphin kick before the arm pulldown (after the glide) or at the end of the pull-down (before the recovery), the important thing is to get in a strong kick and put a good amount of effort into every underwater.

If you find yourself making any of these errors, work on improving one area at a time, and you’ll be swimming a faster and more efficient breaststroke in no time!


Jasmine Ong

Jasmine has over 13 years of competitive swimming experience and is a marketing professional by trade. Jasmine enjoys merging her swimming history with her natural marketing abilities, to deliver valuable swimming and performance content.

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