Breaststroke legs extra teaching points

Fun Ideas while talking through and teaching Breaststroke legs

Imagine today is the first day of school and you have just opened a new page in your new workbook. Do you scribble quickly across the page? No, you try your hardest for nice, neat letters, slowly. Think about your legs being the pen, carefully drawing the right shape on the water. 

Legs don’t have brains, they have do have muscles. Muscles have memories, that is how you learned to walk as a baby. You didn’t suddenly pull up your nappy and say “mum, I’m off to run the marathon” . First you fell over, then took a couple more steps, then fell again. Eventually you could toddle. It’s the same for learning this leg kick- they can only learn slowly and you must tell them what to do – all the time. Until the memory is burnt into the muscle. Once you can do it without thinking, you have muscle memory in place and can move onto learning arms.

Pick the offending foot (usually their stronger side is okay) and get them to focus on that leg, the naughty leg. Slap it, talk to it – get them to talk to it.

“Naughty, naughty foot”

Who wants to go to the next group up? Everyone? This is what you need to do: Perfect breaststroke. Not fast. It can be as slow as you like, take the whole lesson if you want. Correct, not speedy. Once you are in the next group you will develop stronger muscles that will make you go faster.

Reward each good kick with exaggerated joy. “Alleluia” “Praise the Lord!”

“Try getting three perfect ones in a row for a five-down low.

“Each foot is a lover, a boy and a girl and they are very much in love, hate to be parted, and do so very slowly, copying each other, then sneak back together for a kiss (toes kissing)

Anyone been on an airplane? Know how it takes off? It is because the wind rushes across the wings and they are a different shape on each side, creating an unequal force causing lift. The water must hit these bits here (tickle the feet) See the cut out on the inside of your feet? As the water passes across the shape it creates FORWARD lift. But you MUST turn the feet out. Number 2 is crucial.

 Keep it simple. Keep it fun.

Bend at the knee, swing the legs under you until they touch the wall, counting down from ten, get them to join in with the countdown. Put your hands on and push them down and up, wake those particular muscles up. 

Remind the kids that these (calf & thigh) muscles don’t “think” but they can remember, just like when they learnt to walk as babies. 

But they can remember wrong as well as right. (That’s where screw kicks come from – poor teaching)

Note (to them) that there is no movement in the thigh or knees, just the lower part of the leg.

 Around the rugby ball is easy

Its curly toes that’s the hard one. Knees up and rest are easy; it’s number two that’s hard. Curly toes are the hardest part of the kick. The kick is the most important part of the stroke.

So curly toes is difficult to learn, but the most important.

(Unless you know how to do ballet) “Anyone know the first position in ballet?”

First gets the knees out, feet pointing in opposite directions, little pinky toes against the wall.

 “Hard isn’t it, it hurts the feet? Because it’s unnatural, the muscles aren’t used to that position, so we have to teach them.”

“Get them curly, keep them curly”

A technical word on why and how this kick works:

It’s the strange cutaway on the inside of your feet. It works, in the same way, an airplane wing – because it is a different shape to the other side, unequal pressure creates lift. Doesn’t matter if you don’t get that. 

What is important is that you remember it’s this bit, the inside of the foot that is crucial. That is the part of the foot that must press against the water.

Hold the toes in your hands (so you can push them back) and do a countdown ten to one in that position.

Now let’s put that together. Knees out, curly toes rest.

“Never, ever miss out curly toes, or the kick will never work. Slowly, carefully.”

Now moving into the water, just transfer that action to the water, laying on a woggle.

Keep encouraging, keep talking. Reward a successful, correct movement with heaps of praise. 

They have just done it on the wall, so why wouldn’t they be able to do it in the water?

Only if they try too hard to accelerate too early.

 It’s just concentration. Keep them focused. Tell them to talk to their feet.

The stronger side will often be able to do the movement so bring that to their attention, get them to focus on that “naughty” foot, “Wakey, wakey”.

Watch for knee lift, correct it straight away. 

Keeping your hand against the inside of the feet, provide resistance and guidance, don’t do it for them. 

At some point you have to let go and test that it has worked. Make sure they know you are going to do that.

If they can do three kicks in a row without your intervention, then they are ready to try on the front with two woggles.

If at any time it goes wrong, return to the back position. Kids hate this, it means they got it wrong, they are going backwards. Keep it short, re-emphasis that wonky foot.

THEY need to take ownership for these muscle movements.

On the front, only allow one kick attempt per breath. (Always with the head down).

“Kick-glide-blow bubbles-breathe”

If their backsides are sticking up in the air it means the knees are coming towards the chest.

If the knees rise under the body, pop them back on the side and show them knees out position again. The knees never lift to the nose. Again once they can do three unaided perfect kicks they are ready for flippers.

THERE IS NO SNAP IN THE Teaching of LEG KICK action. Try it yourself. Even if you move the legs slowly, the kick works.

All errors come from trying to move too fast too soon. 

Boys are the worse. Tell them we do not want fast, we want correct. To move up a group (which is what they all want) We need a perfect stroke, not a fast one.

Tell them (or even better) ask which is the slowest stroke? Its meant to be slow and graceful, like a swan.

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