Tips on teaching breaststroke

Fig.1. From ‘The Swimming Drills Book

“Pull, breathe, kick, glide.”

Repeat this until sticks in their heads and they do it in the pool!

Watch this animation from the BBC Sport

The body is horizontal in with the hips high, the head is steady and the chin tucked in – the breath in is short and explosive – the breath out underwater is a slow trickle. The arms reach forward out, pull out and scoop to the chest in one inverted heart-shape.

The stretch is most important in Breaststroke as it forms a vital part of the swim – you kick into the glide.

In breaststroke you are moving faster and more efficiently through the water when you are doing nothing at all – this streamline position is vital. The arm pull is short, the legs whip out against the water to get you into this sliding, gliding, streamlined position.

The session plan

Fig.2. Breaststroke Arms. From ‘The Swimming Drills Book.’

Poolside

Exercise 1
Breaststroke arms standing (poolside or shoulder high in water)

Establishes the correct arm action.Begins to address swimmers who pull down to the their thighs

Keep arms in front of shoulders.
“Like putting tomato sauce on a pizza?”
An upside down heartshape.
“Pull, sweap, sneeze!!”

FOCUS: Watch your hands, they should always be in front of your shoulders.

You may need to take their hands and move them through the stroke.

Warm up

FC/BC 50/100m smooth
BR 50/100m Observe their Breaststroke

Main Set
Pick through a choice of your favourite drills to fix observed problems (see suggestions by group grade below).

These are typically:

  • Dropping the hands to the waist
  • Kick Problems: not symmetrical, screw kick/side kick, not a whip kick.
  • Head tipping back and forth.
  • Hips are low in the water
  • Breathing in and out with equal force. It must be an explosive inhale and a slow ‘trickle’ exhale.

Apply the drills. See ‘The Swim Drills Book’ Ruben Guzman

Adjust drills according to how they respond

A choice of drills based on the problems they’re having and grade:

Breaststroke arms with a woggle tucked under their arms
An excellent way to give swimmers a physical barrier to their arms dropping to the waist.
Push off gently so you don’t lose your noodle. Hand out only one colour to avoid hassle who gets what colour!

Breaststroke Arms with flutter kick
Keeps the body horizontal and moving forward making it easier to develop what may at first be a weak arm stroke in front of the shoulders.
Keep the flutter kick steady. Wear fins if you have them. A dolphin kick is a good alternative.

Breaststroke Kick with a float

Hands over the top. Use as pullbuoy as a variation on this and before kicking without a float at all.

Steady kick. Always kick into a streamlined glide.
Explosive inhale, blow out slowly.

2K1P
Two Kicks One Armpull

To develop the kick and put emphasis on the gliding action.
Make them work. Do it a few times, as 25m, 50m or 100m until they do the drill perfectly.

Extended glide
Glide for one, or two seconds counting ‘One Mississippi’- start the count once in the streamlined position not before. They will cheat!
Many cheat and so making it a two second glide is more likely to achieve the desired effect. Be emphatic about streamlining the glide.

Breaststroke leg kick on your back.

Higher grades with arms extended above the head.
Also Old English Backstroke.
Aim to keep the knees below the surface bringing the ankle into the bum

Tougher drills:

1D1U
One down, one up
Only with top grades and training groups

This alternates the arm stroke to the waste (for transition) with the surface stroke to encourage undulation

Some struggled to get it. Relax, drop to the bottom, pull to the surface

1A1L
One arm, one leg!
Take the left leg with the right arm (or vice versa) and swim 25m breaststroke with only one leg and one arm!

Encourages coordination and being flat on the water.

A good fun one, serious though. Some do it brilliantly, others struggle.

Reference

The Swimming Drill Book. R. Guzman

Some useful video clips to watch

How to do the breaststroke (development)

How to swim breaststroke arms (competitive)

Breaststroke Animation: Side one

Common breaststroke mistakes

How to kick breaststroke – frog kick

Bend, Open, Snap – Breaststroke Frog Kick demonstrated

Teaching Breaststroke by Gator Swim Team

About Swimming Breaststroke

From ‘Swim Fastest” Maglischo

THE SESSION PLAN (Download from Google Docs)

“Pull, breathe, kick, glide.”

Key Points:

  1. The body is horizontal in with the hips high, the head is steady and the chin tucked in – the breath in is short and explosive – the breath out underwater is a slow trickle. The arms reach forward out, pull out and scoop to the chest in one inverted heart-shape.
  2. The stretch is most important in Breaststroke as it forms a vital part of the swim – you kick into the glide.
  3. In breaststroke you are moving faster and more efficiently through the water when you are doing nothing at all – this streamline position is vital. The arm pull is short, the legs whip out against the water to get you into this sliding, gliding, streamlined position.

 

Poolside

Breaststroke arms standing (poolside or shoulder high in water)

Establishes the correct arm action.Begins to address swimmers who pull down to the their thighs

Keep arms in front of shoulders.

“Like putting tomato sauce on a pizza?”

An upside down heartshape.

“Pull, sweap, sneeze!!”

 

Focus: Watch your hands, they should always be in front of your shoulders.

 

Warm up

FC/BC 50/100m smooth

BR 50/100m

Observe their Breaststroke

 

Main Set

Pick through a choice of your favourite drills to fix observed problems

 

Breaststroke arms with a woggle tucked under their arms

An excellent way to give swimmers a physical barrier to their arms dropping to the waist.

Push off gently so you don’t lose your noodle.

 

Breaststroke Kick with a float

Hands over the top. Use as pullbuoy as a variation on this and before kicking without a float at all.

Steady kick. Always kick into a streamlined glide.

Explosive inhale, blow out slowly.

 

Breaststroke Arms with flutter kick

Keeps the body horizontal and moving forward making it easier to develop what may at first be a weak arm stroke in front of the shoulders.

Keep the flutter kick steady.

 

2K1P

Two Kicks One Armpull

To develop the kick and put emphasis on the gliding action.

Make them work. Do it a few times, as 25m, 50m or 100m until they do the drill perfectly.

 

Extended glide

Glide for one, or two seconds counting ‘One Mississippi’- start the count once in the streamlined position not before. They will cheat!

Many cheat and so making it a two second glide is more likely to achieve the desired effect. Be emphatic about streamlining the glide.

 

Breaststroke leg kick on your back.

Higher grades with arms extended above the head.

 

Also Old English Backstroke.

Aim to keep the knees below the surface bringing the ankle into the bum

Tougher drills:

 

1D1U

One down, one up

Only with top grades and training groups

This alternates the arm stroke to the waste (for transition) with the surface stroke to encourage undulation

Some struggled to get it. Relax, drop to the bottom, pull to the surface

 

1A1L

One arm, one leg!

Take the left leg with the right arm (or vice versa) and swim 25m breaststroke with only one leg and one arm!

Encourages coordination and being flat on the water.

A good fun one, serious though. Some do it brilliantly, others struggle.