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.

Saturday 11th MSM SC Teaching FC and FC Turns

Poolside

Streamlining

Against the wal

 

Side of pool

Correct Flutter Kick

Feet dipped in the pool

 

In the water

Warm Up

FC kick

BC kick with float over knees

FC kick with long arm doggie paddle

 

Main Session

Push and glide

Bounce

Handstand

Push off the wall

Tumble against the wall

Add FC kick

Add three kicks and flip

Swim to the end. End ‘feet on wall.’

 

Fun one

Sea Otter

 

FC fullstoke

Smooth, silent, slinky …

Swim along the black line

Bilateral breathing

FC zip it up

 

Dead Swimmer into FC with fly kick

 

From the side and starting blocks

Dive and glide into FC

Jumps

Tumbles

Dives and glides

Introduction to Butterfly. Our Grades 4-6 (NPTS 6-10)

“Pull, Breathe, Arms-over, Dive (Shoulders), Kick, Long”

On the Side of the Pool

Fig. 1 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Take swimmers through the dolphin kick: from the hips.

Fig. 2 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Demonstrate the kick action from the hips, then have them do the same.

  • Hips back and forwards to kick like a dolphin or merman.

Beth Ross’s Fly Arms sequence

Lie on the side of the pool head over the edge.

Hands at side.

1. Flick wrist

2. Raise arm

3. Bring arm over.

4. Repeat

Dolphin resting on lane rope. Legs pointing straight down … as they have done poolside.

Part I: Kicking

  • Kick with Woggle: with arms out.
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Back (KOB
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Side (KOS)

Drills

  • Single arm fly.
  • 1+1+1 one right, one left, fullstroke.

G4 did a dive into fly with four kicks to the pull, counting out 4 kicks with 5th the arms in, and 6th the arm pull.

Dead swimmer (From ‘The Swim Drill Book’)  into streamlined position then dolphin kick into FC shallow end and deep, on the ‘T’ or under the flags.

Part: Arms

  • Single Arm 6 kicks to one pull

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

“Kick the hand in, Kick the hand out”

Focus points : Timing of breathing/Rhythm

Whole: Full Stroke

From a dive.

Focus points : Hand entry position/Body movement and undulation

Turns : Transition into stroke.

Focus point : No breathing first stroke

Fun Activities

Bounce from a pencil jump

‘Sea Otter’

Handstands

Somersaults

Mushroom float

Sitting/Lying on the bottom of the pool

Odd props used for teaching swimming: mussel shells

Fig.1 Mussel shells

Three times a week I teach swimming to kids age 7-12. All classes run for 45 minutes. Each week we work on a different stroke or school. Every time include some fun in the session and not having them bash up and down the pool doing drills or parts of the stroke. The fun brings them back. At this age make it a drag and they either play up or don’t show.

I do this thing called ‘sea otter’. For one length, 25m, they have to pretend to be a sea otter. I don’t need to show them a picture. Most can visualise it from a natural history film. The sea otter swims into the kelp and pulls up mussels. They bring a rock to the surface too, then lay on their backs, breaking open the shells and eating the content. I take them through the actions: long armed doggie paddle, duck dive to the bottom of the pool, onto their backs at the surface, a gentle flutter kick while they break open the shells, eat the contents, throw away the shell pieces then roll onto their fronts and repeat the exercise. I expect them to do this four to five times as they swim the length of the pool. Some like to make squeaking noises. All grin. All take their improvisation seriously and do a great job.

I tick off the long armed doggie paddle, the duck dive, the push-off the bottom, the flutter kick on their back, and developing fluency and love for the water as all worthwhile. From this they improve their front crawl and back crawl, they make steps towards a tumble-turn and even diving (several don’t, none do well) and they have fun – always deserved after 15/20 minutes of ‘real’ swimming: lengths up and down the pool to warm up, kicking with a float or on their back.

I play other games. Maybe three such interludes for a couple of minutes at most across the session.

Six years of doing this with this club and the teenagers laugh about ‘otter’ some even insisting once in a while to add it to their coached session where they are swimming over 2200m in an hour.

Teaching Breastroke: Teaching and ‘Training’ Groups

Breaststroke

I’ve just completed my week of poolside teaching and coaching breaststroke.

Over the week, in 45 minute and 1 hour sessions I’ve worked with 41 kids age 7-12 learning breaststroke across the grade range of our club’s grade 3 to 7 (NPTS 5-10) and 32 young teenagers 13-15.

By Saturday morning there’s a pattern.

 

Warm up

FC/BC 40/100m smooth

BR 50/100m Observe their Breaststroke

 

Main Set

Pick through a choices of my six favourite drills

Apply the drills

Adjust according to how they respond

For teaching groups include some ‘fun’ after 15 mins, at 30 mins and to end.

For training groups (non-competitive squads) the ‘fun’ comes in the form of the variety of drills, STFs (Starts, Turns and Finishes) and sprints against the clock.

 

GROUP DRILL PURPOSE TIPS
G3/G4 Breaststroke arms standing(Poolside, or shoulder high in the water) Establishes the correct arm action. Begins to address swimmers who pull down to their thighs. Clear demonstration. I may lean over a bar, or woggle or just the edge of the pool
G3/G4 Breaststroke arms with a woggle (noodle). An excellent way to give swimmers a physical barrier to their arms which otherwise may drop to the waist. Doesn’t always work! Push of gently so you don’t lose your noodle. Hand out only one colour to avoid hassle who gets what colour!
G3/G4G6 Kick with a float. Hands over the top. Use as pull-buoy 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.
G6/7T2 Backstroke arms with a FC 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.
G6/7T2 Backstroke arms with a dolphin kick Creates a fluid, rolling action. Useful to get the swimmers to feel they control what their body can do. Keep the dolphin keep from the hips and continuous.
All groupsTeaching and Training Two Kicks OneArmpull2KP 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’ Many cheat and so making it a two second glide is more likely to achieve the desired effect. Be emphatic about streamlining the glide.
STFs Starts, turns and finishes on BR Mark the middle of the pool. Dive and transition to the mid point. Turn from the mid-point and back. Finish from the mid-point. At a competitive pace. Keep doing until they have the dive and transitional right, typically going for a three second count on the first glide and a two second glide on the second.

 

 

Backstroke for 9-12 year olds, MSM Grades 4 and 5 (ASA equivalent NPTS 9 to 10) (+G8 additions)

Backstroke for 9-12 year olds, MSM Grades 4 and 5 (ASA equivalent NPTS 9 to 10) (+G8 additions)

G4/G5 G8
Streamlined position against the wall
Post registration Pre-Pool By the wall, left shoulder, palm facing thigh, rotate arm as if bringing it out of the water, rotate so that the palm faces the tiles, twist shoulder, drop and ‘pull’ down to the thigh. Repeat. x3. Then turn and face the other way. Use Ruben Guzman. X
Sitting down. Leg position. Long pointed toes. Flutter kick.
Streamlined push off in the water

Push and glide off the wall for start and turns.

X
WARM UP 2 x 50m FC

Emphasis on ‘long legs’ and ‘silent, smooth swimming’.

100s
1 x 50m BC

Emphasis on body position, head back as if resting on a pillow.

MAIN SET 2 x 50m BC kick 50s
1 x 50m Float over knees. Knees should not touch, float should not bounce. Keep the legs long.
1 x 50m Ideally, kicker float above the head, held at sides.

Stretch. Body position flat on the water.

2 x 25m Pull along the lane rope

Instruct them to swap arms / Help them get the drill right

100m
Applied FUN Double arm down the lane 1 x 25m

Emphasis on a steady flutter kick

Off the block with a pencil jump then streamlined bounce to the shallow end

+G8 Single arm BC – stretched out and under the water

Swap arm after 25m

50
Single arm BC – arm raised for entire length.

Swap arm after 25m

Push and glide on the back in the shallow end

Add a dolphin kick

Start the stroke with ONE arm while stretched out

DRILLS 2 x 25m Submarine periscope

During stroke HOLD the arm in the vertical, laser the ceiling, then continue the stroke

Emphasis on a steady flutter kick

50m
Repeat 2 x 25m Typically have the best one demonstrate

Emphasis on counting three seconds when the arm is raised

2 x 25m Have them go down in pairs, side by side, synchronising the raised arm
RACE PACE 1 x 25m race pace BC

From the shallow end

Streamlined glide

Dolphin kick into stroke

Steady breathing

1 x 25m race pace BC

Using the grip on the block

Dive backwards into glide and dolphin kick

Sea Otter

1 x 25m

On front, duck dive to the bottom, up to the top, swim along on your back, roll over.

Swim Down As 4 x 25m
BC – BR – FC – FLY

BR – FC – FLY-BC

FC – FLY-BC-BR

FUN END Somersaults (towards BC turn)

Mixed set T2 Thursday 18th December

Teenage Training Group Session. One Hour.

UW phase & rotational turns

WARM UP

4 x 100 F/C Kick 25 Explosive 50 Moderate 25 Explosive 1:45
1×100 FC Full Stroke 2:00
1×100 BC Full Stroke 2:15
1×100 FC Zip it up 2:30
1×100 BC Roll Shoulder 3:00
3 x 100m

as 25 Kick, 25 Pull, 50 Swim

300m
4 x 25 Fly/BC    Streamlined kick 1:00
RELAY PLUNGE + Dolphin kick to 12.5m
2 x 100m Bilateral breathing every 3,5,7,9,7,5,3