Advanced practices for breaststroke

And fault corrections

One of the most difficult skills for a teacher is looking at the full stroke , seeing what is wrong and then knowing how to correct it. Here are just a few tips that may help.

The swimmer keeps sinking

Almost all faults with the arm action can be traced back to the timing of breathing out. If they lose concentration and end up holding their breath or pulling with their arms, just a gentle reminder should suffice.

Wide or deep arms just mean they haven’t got rid of all their air underwater and still have to finish exhaling before they can take a fresh breath. Taking a longer, wider, or deeper arm action buys them a little more time with the head up. The payback is that when they try to bring their arms back to the surface they push water the wrong way, and sink!

But if they are doing correct blowing and still sinking, look at the hands. If the wrists break at any time and point down, the back of the hands causes resistance, and as they recover back to the start, push upwards causing the swimmer to sink. Use the karate hand drill or James Bond guns drill

“Point your fingers where you want to go. Point them down, you will go down.”

Knee Lift

The swimmer has feet turned out but they are not really making any progress. The answer may be that they have not developed any power yet. More likely is that they are trying too hard, lifting the knees high under the trunk to get “power” into the kick. Especially the boys who just want to go fast. Backsides pushing up into the air is a tell-tale sign.

Firstly, reassure them that it is a slow stroke, it’s meant to be done slowly, gracefully. A small slow kick will still work well enough, as long as the head is down when they kick and the feet are turned out.

To eliminate that knee lift, take them back to the leg kick drill on the side of the pool and show them what they are doing – lift the knee up to the chin! Explain that the thigh creates huge resistance and undoes the great work their feet have just done. It also causes confusion for the muscles of the legs, too many chefs! The message for the feet gets lost in all that movement.

Now return to the woggle on the back and check that “knees go out, not up”

Swimmer still sinking

Check the timing of when the leg kick is applied. Is there a gap after the head goes back in before the kick starts? If there is then they lose all momentum and start to sink. The kick should be applied as the face returns to the water.

“kick your head back in”

Another way to explain it, “Everything comes in – arms in, air in, legs in – everything goes out – arms out, air out, legs out lay still”


Two kicks, one breath is a great correction drill. Once they have done a couple of widths successfully, take away the second kick.


If you have a swimmer with a strong leg action, this is a good drill for mastering the breathing.

The swimmer takes two breaststroke kicks then tries to grab a breath without moving the arms. To achieve this they must have blow out correctly so that they can breathe in as soon as they lift their heads. This is great practice for timing and breathing AND leg action. Reduce to one kick, no arms. Then and ONLY then bring in the arm action.

Gliding. Ask your swimmers to stay as flat and still for as long as they can. Try and get across the pool with as little movement as possible.

“Hold the glide position”

Make it a competition and explain that the less energy you use to get across the pool, the better you are at swimming breaststroke.

Teaching plan, Shirley Swimming Pool 2021 Copyright West End Swim School Ltd