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Breaststroke – Timing the Kick

A great coach recently said that the biggest problem with breaststroke is "the kick."  This confirms our belief that working on when and how you initiate the kick is a much bigger concern than most people think.


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Why Do It:
Learning how to time the kick, or how to initiate the kick in breaststroke can help create a more efficient and ultimately faster breaststroke.

How to Do It:
1.  Our goal here is to create a stroke in which the legs are drawn forward by the hips… which are drawn forward by the arms.  With this in mind, as you step through these various drills, two focus points are consistent:  1) Allow the legs to stay straight for as long as possible into the pull, and… 2)  make sure your hands are all the way extended when the you initiate the kick.
2.  Start by swimming easy breaststroke.  Then, when you start your pull, relax your legs so that they "float" forward, rather than get tucked forward.
3.  A little tougher approach is to tie yourself up to a stretch cord and swim to the other end.  First do a small dolphin kick so that your legs can stay a bit straighter while you pull.  Then add a small breaststroke kick, keeping your legs straight and back BEHIND you for as long as you can before you set up for the kick.  This later kick will also help you recover a bit smaller (less resistance).
4.  Another "fun" way to practice this is to use paddles, snorkel, and parachute.  The goal here is to finish the recovery of the hands before the dolphin kick comes in.  The snorkel and slowness of forward movement allows you time to focus on this timing.
5.  The Alpha Fin is a great tool for allowing your legs to "float" into the kick.  They keep the feet high and behind the body.  The focus, again, is to finish the extension of the hands before initiating the dolphin kick.
6.  Finish with some higher-speed breaststroke, focusing on how you draw your legs up, rather than tuck them up for the kick.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
If you go through all the steps we just talked about, you’ve covered all the fine points.  So practice really well… and keep practicing.