The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to Swim Paddles

Michael Butler
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Swim paddles, or hand paddles, can help reduce hand fatigue while swimming and help you to improve your stroke technique. They are especially helpful if you over-grip the swim hand-position during your fin swimming.

The most common technique used to improve the efficiency of swimming utilises the drag created by the hands to slow down the speed of the swimmer and help with body roll. Hand paddles, worn on one or both hands, can compensate for a weak rolling motion while creating drag on the surface of the water therefore improving the efficiency of the swimmer’s stroke.

So how do you find the right swimming paddles for you?

Here are some great tips to make sure you choose the right ones and I’ll also give you some examples of the swimming paddles I use on a daily basis.

NameCategoryProduct
Agility Hand PaddlesBest OverallAgility Hand Paddles
Speedo Power Paddles Swim Training AidBudget PickSpeedo Power Paddles Swim Training Aid
MP Michael Phelps Hand PaddleUpgrade PickMP Michael Phelps Hand Paddle

1. Agility Hand Paddles

Our rating: 9 / 10

Agility Hand Paddles

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Pros:

  • Fits perfectly to your hand for more precise training
  • It’s easy to adjust for swimming comfort

Want a way to make your workouts count? Be sure you use the right swim paddle for your training needs and that way, you can really enhance your endurance and muscle strength.

The Aqua Sphere hand paddles will help you increase overall strength and performance. They provide a superior resistance exercise, allowing you to focus on each muscle group at a time. Use this product for a more demanding workout and to help you strengthen your arms and shoulders.

They’re a little lightweight, so they won’t give you a really good resistance workout. However, they do come with a satisfaction guarantee and you can return them if they are not for you.

2. MP Michael Phelps Hand Paddle

Our rating: 8 / 10

MP Michael Phelps Hand Paddle

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Pros:

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Boasts a versatile design
  • Great for all ages and swimming backgrounds
  • Great for building swimming fitness

Cons:

  • Parts can be difficult to put together
  • This paddle is pretty long and it can be hard to find a good spot in your pool.

This hand paddle from MP is his own design that's been intelligently crafted with vented handgrips that will help you mold your hand to the paddle based on the size and shape of your hand. This design is meant to give you more control over your stroke, giving you plenty of power and endurance that will allow you to work on your stroke while getting an intense upper body workout to boot.

At a length of 39", it's a rather lengthy hand paddle, so keep that in mind when looking for a spot to store it when done.

It's also worth noting that the velcro on this paddle isn't as strong as on other paddles, but with enough effort, you can still keep things together.

3. Speedo Power Paddles Swim Training Aid

Our rating: 6 / 10

Speedo Power Paddles Swim Training Aid

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Pros:

  • Great tool for improving technique
  • Can help a swimmer focus on their catch or pull or any other individual stroke element
  • Will improve your ability to change stroke rate and rhythm

Cons:

  • Notorious for getting water into the hole and causing it to pop out of the wall swim for a few yards
  • Only goes from the surface of the water to your waist

Speedo has been around in the swimming industry for decades, and it is no surprise that the company’s Speedo Power Paddle Swim Training Aid is still used by so many swimmers today. This training aide has been tested extensively by a panel of swimmers to be the most effective way of improving your stroke.

This handy tool can help you focus on the muscles that you need to engage and bring your stroke back in line if you’re deviating from proper stroke form or timing.

The PowerPaddles are also fantastic for helping you learn to vary your stroke rate and rhythm to better adapt to different types of open water and help you work on your endurance when training alone.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best swim paddles?

If you trip over your swim paddles or see a lane marker with your face in it, then your swim paddles are too big.

If you have to press down firmly on the hand piece of your paddles to keep a good, strong grip, then your swim paddles are too heavy.

If you can spin or wiggle them in your hands, then your swim paddles are too light.

The best swim paddles should feel light in your hands with a snug, but comfortable grip.

Swim paddles don’t need to be heavy, but they do need to offer some resistance. If the resistance is too light, they can feel almost completely useless. If the resistance is too strong or uncomfortable, then you won’t want to use them.

Do swim paddles build muscle?

No, the swim paddles will not build muscle. They are meant to provide additional resistance to the water in order to help build up and tone the muscles that are used in a normal stroke motion.

For people just entering the sport, swim paddles may be used in order to increase the endurance of the person.

As a swimmer becomes more advanced, they will not need the paddles to increase stamina because they will already have it. However, they can instead focus on trying to strengthen their arms and upper bodies.

Using the paddles will not make it seem like less of a workout to the individual who chooses to use it. They are usually very lightweight and easy to handle. It’s not a heavy, bulky weight that will make the swimmer feel like they aren’t getting a workout.

How do I choose a swim paddle?

While it should go without saying that the first thing you should do is actually test out the paddles, there are a few things you can look for to make that decision a little easier. If you are swimming in a pool, the type of material the paddle is made of is not that important. Swimming pools often have chlorine, which will break down the wood.

If you plan to swim in a lake or the ocean you have a little more to consider. Wood swim paddles will be susceptible to salt water, but they will rarely if ever warp like a foam paddle can.

Some people will be put off by the splinters that wood can sometimes cause. Perhaps the most important factor of all is your own personal preference.

How do you wear swimming hand paddles?

Hand paddles are worn in the same fashion as a swimmer might wear flippers in the water. To wear your paddle, first make sure the straps are even on each side of the hand, so that when you raise your hand the paddle won’t tip off to one side or the other. Next, make sure the Velcro securing the paddles to your hand is a bit tighter than what you might be comfortable with.

By having the Velcro gripped about 105-degree angle between the straps and the hand, it should be sufficiently snug, and you may use it right away. When your hands warm up in the water, the paddle will loosen a bit, but it will still be effective. If it’s too loose to use effectively, let your paddle drift around a bit with your hands still going through the motions and it will tighten back up again.

Conclusion

When it comes to swim paddles, they all offer a service in improving your swimming technique and your endurance. The best swim paddle will always be the one that meets your needs the most. There are a range of things to take into consideration when you’re choosing the best swim paddle for you, and it’s important that you understand these factors and how to pick the best one for you.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Agility Hand PaddlesBest OverallAgility Hand Paddles
Speedo Power Paddles Swim Training AidBudget PickSpeedo Power Paddles Swim Training Aid
MP Michael Phelps Hand PaddleUpgrade PickMP Michael Phelps Hand Paddle