Home work for breaststroke legs

At Shirley Pool we have refined our teaching techniques over the years in order to progress children quickly, so that they are water safe as soon as possible.

Then there is the breaststroke. The slowest and the most complicated stroke. Unlike the other strokes, there isn’t a shortcut to learning a good breaststroke.

Children find learning the breaststroke leg kick hard. It is unnatural, a long way from their brain and they can’t see what is happening!

It can be slow, repetitive work.

We try to keep the lesson interesting by introducing tumble turns and standing dives but we have to grind out the leg practices to create muscle memory.

Girls, particularly those with ballet experience, pick up the strange leg action quicker. (It’s similar to the “first position”).

Exercises at home can reduce the time it takes to learn the leg kick.

Here is an exercise that can be practiced at home that will accelerate muscle memory and strengthen the muscles that hold the ankles in the correct position:

Stand with the heels together, feet splayed, knees apart and toes raised. Bend the knees and move up and down, holding something for support. The back should stay straight. Repeat 10 times.

Regular repetition of this drill will reinforce the teaching in the lesson. In the class we emphasise precision and care, a slow controlled action until the legs and feet can remember the position without concentration. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Once the leg action is correctly in place, the breathing and arm action are gently introduced. Finally, timing of the legs, arms and breathing together are practiced till perfected.

It is important that the children learn the breaststroke properly and once they do, it is set for life.

Any work that can be done at home to support our teaching would be a great help.