6 Breaststroke Drills for a Faster and More Efficient Breaststroke

Michael Butler
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Breaststroke Arms with Flutter Kick

This drill helps improve aerobic capacity, endurance, and lactic acid tolerance.

Start with your legs fully extended and hands toes together, at the end of the pool.

Tuck your head in. Draw your legs forward, maintaining the tuck, until the heels are just below the hip.

Simultaneously keep your upper body forward or slightly backward and your legs as straight as possible.

Once you feel your hands touch the water, kick with your legs 3-6 times.

Bring your legs back together, and then bring your arms under your chest as your back comes out of the water.

Once your palms reach the water, push forward with your arms.

Repeat the cycle for 15-25 repetitions.

This drill is intensely cardiovascular and will give you a great workout. If you’re aiming for a leaner, healthy body, then this exercise is perfect for you.

It is very important to be able to glide smoothly through the water because you are essentially swimming with your face in the water. Having good head movement is also important because you can use it to breathe, allowing your arms to rest as your head moves to the side.

Many swimmers don’t realize where their face is in the water because they do not have good head awareness.

Knowing the best way to move the head will help you have better control of your strokes. Focus on making smaller circles, one in the front and one in the back, and try to work on the timing of the two circles.

When executing the head bob, keep as much of your face under the water as possible to avoid wasting energy by lifting your head up to breathe.

Windshield Wiper Drill

This drill—also known as a “deadman” drill—is designed to teach you how to “windshield wipers” as you bring your hands into the water and “scrape” off the water as your hands enter and exit the water.

Start out swimming freestyle and then stop your freestyle stroke and begin doing small supinated circles with your hands. The circles will push water while you are taking a stroke. Start your arm motion after the first circle and continue doing circles for a few seconds before coming back to the freestyle stroke and repeating the motion.

Do this drill for 10 cycles. As you develop your skills, you can increase the speed of the circle motion. This drill will place a lot of stress on your shoulder joint. If you don’t like it, you can replace the motion with a flutter kick. The drill—simplistic as it may sound—will help you learn how to retract your hands in the catch phase.

If you want to see the windshield wiper drill in action, go to this youtube video.

In-Sweep Drill

The goal of this drill is to get the body completely out of the water, keeping as much water to the side as you possibly can.

Do it: Start in the water. First, lay on your front with your arms at your sides as if you’re going to dive. Then, kick underwater as if doing a dolphin kick. On one breath, kick about 30 yards, coming up every 5 strokes. When you’ve come to a complete stop after 30 yards, point your body to the side and hold your breath for 5 seconds. Then, bring your arms in front of you so that your hands come in and grab the surface of the water. Then, press off of the surface, bringing your back above the surface of the water. Use your legs to do a dolphin kick reducing the amount of water that you’re bringing back up. Then, try to come all the way to a stop. Then repeat.

Do this drill about 25 to 40 times.

Speed Bump Breaststroke Kick Drill

The Speed Bump Breaststroke Kick Drill adds a bit of drag to your kick. This drag propels you faster and forces you to swim more effectively.

To do the Speed Bump Breaststroke Kick Drill, put a kickboard in front of you. Put your feet on the board with your body in the water. Push off the board, pulling yourself out of the water with a single hand. From here, do a breaststroke pull for a few strokes.

After a few strokes, with your remaining hand pull you feet out from under the kickboard and continue doing a breaststroke pull for a few more strokes.

After a few more strokes, return your feet under the kickboard and continue swimming for a few more strokes.

Repeat this until you’ve completed the required number of swims or until your hands get tired from holding the kickboard.

This drill will get more difficult as you increase the number of strokes with one arm extended. That’s the point! This is a good thing.

1 Up, 1 Down Breaststroke Drill

This drill is all about time and efficiency in the water during the breaststroke arms and breathing. It’s a great drill for swimmers of all ages and abilities, and it’s perfect for adding to the end of a warm-up or even as the warm-up itself.

{1}. Start in a deep-water position with your body parallel with the surface of the water, as if you were going to dive in.
{2}. Breathe out and pull your arms forward, reaching your fingertips out as far as you can. Think about reaching with your fingertips and your armpits.
{3}. Once your hands are out in front of you, breathe in, roll your head back underneath the water, and perform a breaststroke pull. Bring your hands back to your hips.
{4}. Breathe out and repeat 1-3 for 4-5 repetitions.

This drill brings a lot of attention to the pull, which is one of the most important parts of the breaststroke. You’ll keep your focus on the pull, whether it’s during a sprint set with high-intensity intervals, or a drill like 1-2-1-2.

The more you can focus and concentrate on the pull, the more efficient your hands will be and the better your pull is going to be over the entire race.

1-Arm, 1-leg Breaststroke Drill

This drill will help you develop a more efficient body position and will also help you refine the catch. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get. Here’s how you do it:

Start alongside the wall with your arm fully extended.

Draw your shoulder to your ear so that your arm is about 90% extended and your hand is about 6 inches under the water.

Wiggle your fingers through the water very quickly as if you’re skimming stones (a.k.a. “skimming”).

Try to keep your elbow high above the water at all times during the power phase. Keep your shoulder tucked to your ear at all times except during the catch.

Make sure you drive your elbow straight back behind you.

Make sure you don’t lead with your elbow; keep it directly behind you.

This stroke will feel awkward at first. Head to the pool equipped with a kickboard or fins. It will help you keep your chin up and your elbow high while you get comfortable with the movement.

Use this drill a few times each week to build your skills and to increase your endurance.

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The breaststroke is one of the four swimming strokes, which is about 25% of your swim. Breaststroke is a challenging stroke to master, due mainly to the large amount of propulsion and speed endurance required to swim it well.

The breaststroke is all about getting the most efficiency out of your body, featuring a rotary motion of arms, breathing and kick. In this article, we will go over 6 breaststroke drills to help you improve your breaststroke along with 4 other swimming tips.

Tip 1. Enter the Water Upright

Enter the water with your body upright. Don’t lean forward. This makes it easier to position your head and turn your face to the side.

Tip 2. Keep Heart Rate Up

Much like any other distance event, you could be expected to maintain the same pace for multiple lengths of the pool. To keep you heart rate up, breathe in and out on every fourth stroke.

Tip 3. Learn to Feel the Water

Breaststroke is a very feel-driven stroke. This means that in order to be efficient, you will need to learn to use the right muscles at the right time. Practice your breaststroke in a shallow pool or the edge of the pool closest to the wall. This allows you to focus on how your body is aligned and how you feel as you swim. Aim to feel your hands brushing your chest as you swim.