* This blog post is a summary of this video.

Mastering Breaststroke Swimming Technique for Faster Times

Author: Skills N' TalentsTime: 2024-01-13 11:25:00

Table of Contents

Perfecting Breaststroke Timing and Coordination for Faster Swims

The most important component of an efficient breaststroke is timing and coordination between the pull, kick, and glide phases. Many swimmers make the mistake of kicking and pulling simultaneously. This is highly inefficient, as the propulsion from the arms and legs works against each other, severely limiting speed and efficiency.

The proper breaststroke timing follows this sequence: pull, kick, and glide. During the pull phase, the arms provide forward propulsion while the legs and ankles are held in a streamlined position. The kick phase then provides additional propulsion, followed by the glide where the body moves forward with arms extended and legs held together.

Common Breaststroke Timing Mistakes to Avoid

Simultaneous arm pull and leg kick: This is the most common timing mistake, where the arms and legs generate propulsion at the same time instead of sequencing pull, kick, and glide phases. Pulling before full leg extension: Often swimmers will initiate the arm pull before the legs have completed their propulsion. The legs need to fully extend before starting the pull. Late leg kick during the glide: Letting the legs drift instead of holding them in a streamlined position during the glide wastes energy and slows the body down.

Step-by-Step Guide to Proper Breaststroke Timing

  1. Extend arms forward while bringing legs/feet together into a streamlined position
  2. Initiate arm pull back toward hips, while maintaining streamlined leg position
  3. Perform explosive frog-like kick, propelling body forward
  4. Glide with body extended, legs together, and arms forward
  5. Repeat sequence starting with another arm pull

Strengthening Ankles for a Powerful Breaststroke Kick

Ankle flexibility and strength is critical for generating an effective breaststroke kick. As the knees bend, the ankles should rapidly circle outward and provide the main propulsion. Performing ankle circles and other targeted ankle strengthening exercises out of the water is key.

Sit with legs extended and point and flex the ankles through full range of motion. Trace circles with the toes, first inward 10 times and then outward 10 times. Increase the size of the circles for a greater challenge.

In standing, rise up onto the toes and lower for calf raises. Do sets of 10-15 reps to build explosive strength for faster ankle kicking.

Maintaining a Narrow Knee Position When Kicking

Many swimmers make the mistake of bending the knees too widely when performing the breaststroke kick. This leads to loss of propulsion and speed.

The key is to keep the knees relatively narrow when bending them during the kick. Allow the ankles and hip rotation to widen the feet rather than the knees themselves.

Knee position can be practiced out of the water to build correct muscle memory. Lay on stomach with legs straight and knees lifted so feet point behind. Circle ankles outward 10 times slowly, then 10 times quickly. Feel knees held steady while ankles provide range of motion.

Taking Fast Breaths to Minimize Slow Phases

The recovery phase where the head lifts out of the water to breathe is the slowest part of the breaststroke cycle. To maximize efficiency, these above-water breaths need to be as quick as possible.

Begin exhaling underwater as the arms start their recovery. Time the breath so only the brief above-water recovery requires breathing. Though the breaths are short, they can be supplemented by the regular breathing pattern of stroke cycles.

Practice quick turnover of the breath by swimming laps of breaststroke focused solely on keeping the breaths rapid - less than a second above water. Gradually increase distance while maintaining speed.

Developing a Strong Core and Flexible Spine for Elevated Hips

Core Exercises for Breaststroke

Maintaining high hips to reduce drag is challenging without adequate core strength. Key exercises:

  • Planks: Front, side, and variations
  • Sit-ups: Weighted and legs raised
  • Russian twists: With medicine ball or weight plate
  • Back extensions: Raise upper body starting facedown

Improving Spine and Hip Flexor Flexibility

The following stretches can help improve the range of motion needed to hold correct breaststroke body positioning:

  • Child's pose: Extended arms forward fully round the back
  • Kneeling lunge: Back knee resting, front leg forward in lunge to feel hip stretch
  • Supine twist: Lay on back, knees bent, let legs fall side to side
  • Bridge: Shoulders on floor, lift hips up high while keeping them square


Q: Why is timing so critical for efficient breaststroke?
A: If you kick and pull at the same time, you counteract the propulsion from each. By timing movements properly (pull, kick, glide), you maximize propulsion.

Q: Should my knees be wide or narrow when kicking breaststroke?
A: Keep your knees narrow with minimal outward movement. Opening at the hips creates ankle propulsion.