Breaststroke Swimming Technique

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Once you’ve gotten the basics of breaststroke, the next step is to improve and perfect it. But how do you do this, and where do you start?

The best way is to understand more about the stroke itself. Analyzing and breaking down the breaststroke, as well as repetition and practice, is what is important for improvement. 

Keep reading to learn more about breaststroke, its swimming techniques, and the best way to improve.  


What is the Best Breaststroke Technique?

There are four main phases to the breaststroke technique. These phases change based on the movement of the arms and their purpose at that moment. 

Those four phases are:


  • The out sweep. The out sweep consists mostly of the gliding movement. You are in a prime position to maximize drag reduction. Near the end of this phase, you will start to stretch your arms out. 


  • They are in a sweep. This phase is also known as the pull phase. Your arms will begin to move to let you grab the water. This is the best time to exhale. Your feet should be close behind your hips. 


  • Breathing. This will be your fastest phase if performed correctly. Your head should be pushed naturally above the water. This is when you will breathe. Unlike other strokes, it is best to breathe with every cycle instead of every other cycle. 


  • Recovery. This is also known as the lunge or extension phase. During this phase, you will move so you can glide when you are ready. A powerful kick is key here. 


To truly have the best breaststroke technique, you must master all parts of the stroke. This includes more than just the four phases above. 

Breathing and timing are also incredibly important when it comes to the perfect technique. 

This is what you need to know for the perfect time technique. 


Body position


  • You want your body to be as flat as possible. However, make sure the hips are a little lower than the shoulders so the legs stay underwater. 


  • However, having hips too low can increase drag and resistance. Keep your legs behind you instead of below. 


  • Keep your gaze down to reduce the risk of neck strain or injury. 




  • Don’t raise your head to breathe, and you will cause neck and back strain. It will also lower your hips and increase drag.


  • Your head should naturally come out of the water with your shoulders.


  • You should be breathing out during the in-sweep phase so you can use this full time to take in a long breath. 


  • Breathe during every cycle. 


Arm positions

  • Keep your elbows high. Though the exact reason this stroke is named the breaststroke is unknown, one of the reasons suggested is that you are keeping your hands and elbows pretty close to the breast. 


  • Another name suggestion comes from how far you are pulling yourself out of the water. Make sure your pull is strong so you can maximize the breathing phase.


  • Don’t take your elbows out of the water despite your elbows staying high. Your hands can go out of the water if you want them to, but never the elbows. 


Leg positions

  • Most of your force and propulsion come from the kick in this stroke.


  • Don’t let your knees extend much beyond the shoulders in width, or you lose a lot of the force. 


  • Your feet should be near your rear at the end of the recovery phase. 


  • The legs should finish together in a long, outstretched position. 




  • Mastering the timing for arms and legs is what makes sure you nail the stroke.


  • You always want to be moving through the water, even if slowly.


  • Alternate whether your arms or legs are doing the propulsion at that moment. 




  • Go into the turn as flat and streamlined as possible. You will also want to leave the turn the same way. 


  • Keep your hands together so they touch the wall at the same time. 


  • Your body should rotate to the side as your knees are tucked, and your feet touch the wall. 


  • Touch your chin to your chest as you push off of the wall. 


What is the Most Important aspect of My Breaststroke Technique to Work on?

Timing is often considered the most important aspect of the breaststroke to work on. Though the breaststroke doesn’t rely on speed as many other strokes do, it still relies on timing. 

So while you can perform this stroke as slow or fast as you want, you have to make sure your timing is perfect. 


How do You Improve Overall Breaststroke Swimming Technique?

There are several ways to improve your overall breaststroke swimming technique. If you are planning on learning multiple swimming techniques in the future, these methods work for all of them. 


  • Tips. Look up tips and tricks for breaststroke online and keep some of the most important and repeated ones in mind. 


  • Drills. Learn what drills work best for the breaststroke and practice them frequently, especially in the areas you are lacking. 


  • Practice. Keep practicing, even when you think you’ve nailed the stroke. 


  • Record yourself. If you struggle to improve, no matter how much you practice, try to record yourself in the water. You may be able to see where you are faltering or not performing something correctly. 


  • Hire a coach. If you just can’t seem to improve and you want to do better, it is possible to hire a coach. 


  • Watch professionals. Watch other people swim. Watch practices in person and professionals online to see what they are doing differently. 


What Flaw in You Breaststroke Technique Makes You Tired?

Even getting tired fast can be based on timing. So it makes sense that you will be faster in your laps by performing the stroke as fast as possible. However, people have found that this isn’t often the case. 

By swimming quickly, you end up tiring yourself out faster. So while your first lap might be particularly fast, your next one will be slower as you have worn yourself out. 

Most people recommend slowing down your first lap by a couple of seconds. While this may seem counterintuitive, you are setting yourself up by not going all out in the first lap so that you still have the energy to perform the next few laps easily. 


Final Thoughts Breaststroke Swimming Technique

Now that you understand the areas where it is the most important to improve, as well as the most common flaws and how to improve, you are ready to keep practicing! Get out there and work on your breaststroke.