Breaststroke Tips

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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The breaststroke is one of the easiest swims. Yet, despite this, many people aren’t able to get it right. This is because most of the swim is counter-intuitive compared to other strokes and drills. 

While other strokes focus on speed and efficiency, the breaststroke is very inefficient and relies on much gliding. Therefore, instead of constantly performing strokes, the sign of a good breaststroke swimmer is the ability to not have to perform as many strokes. 

Keep reading to learn more about the best way to improve your breaststroke with our five breaststroke tips. 


Work on Your Flexibility

Having the proper flexibility in your hips and legs can allow you to perform the breaststroke more efficiently. It reduces drag, gives you more range of motion, and provides bursts of speed. It also helps to reduce injuries that commonly occur with swimming near the knees.

Work on both dynamic and static stretching. You want to work on stretches near the quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles. Some good stretches include:


  • Butterfly stretch
  • Single-leg sit and reach
  • Hip abductor
  • Hip flexor
  • Standing quad


Make Sure Your Kick is Powerful

In the breaststroke, most of the power is from the kick. With this stroke, a lot of people tend to go with a wide and slow kick. However, if you want the power from the kick as well as some good speed, you want to try for a narrow, fast kick.

Two main tips that professional coaches give to people learning to kick the breaststroke properly are:


  • Don’t extend your knees wider than the hips
  • Keep your feet just outside the hips


This should give you the whip-like speed you need when kicking to provide full power while reducing the drag against your body. 

Practicing your kick on a kickboard will allow you to get the strength you need to glide for a long time afterward while still getting the speed you need. 


Practice Your Flip-Turns for Walls

Turns are a weak area for many swimmers. While it is an easy part of the swim to master, many people overlook it when practicing. 

There isn’t anything special with the flip-turn. It is simply just a hand touch and a foot left, but many people get it wrong. 

Getting this part of your swim right gives you the right momentum and force to get a proper push-off. This push-off can help you gain the speed and movement you need to keep your breaststroke working well. 

To get this turn right, try and get your feet to the wall before breathing. Another common issue is trying to pull yourself up. If you can go to and away from the wall while staying flat, that will also allow your turns to gain the speed they need. 

When you do the push-off, keeping your strokes looking perfect is important. This will allow you to get the most from your turn. 


Work on Your Breathing

Knowing what part of the stroke to get a breath is pretty intuitive when it comes to breaststroke. However, you may find yourself not knowing how often to breathe. 

Since people are often told that breathing is the most inefficient part of your stroke (which it is), they try to go a long time without catching a breath. 

While it is true you want to go as long as possible, you also want it to be a set time. So if you try for every three strokes but end up only able to do that for the first lap, and then you have to drop down to every other stroke or even every stroke, you aren’t being consistent. 

Instead, try to breathe every other stroke to start, and see if that helps you keep consistency. 

If you want to try increasing the time between breaths, working on your endurance with training and drills is a good idea, as it will increase your blood oxygen levels and cardiovascular health. 


Get that Timing Down

Unlike other swims, there is a lot of downtime between strokes in the breaststroke. Taking that break might not seem like a good idea if you’ve learned other strokes before. However, this is the most important part of your stroke. 

As Russell Mark so eloquently puts it,” Breaststroke is won in the spaces between the strokes.” 

To be able to do this, you have to get your timing down. So getting your strokes right and performing those long strokes you seem the professional swimmers use will benefit you most. 

Try to count your strokes at the beginning and during drills. This will allow you to get the muscle memory of the long strokes you are working for, so during actual swims, your body knows the timing and can move a little more instinctively. 

Getting that timing down does sometimes mean going slower than you currently are. For example, a lot of professional swimmers and coaches noticed over the years that many people go very fast on their first lap and start slowing down on their second.

For example, your first time might be 50 seconds, but your second is probably closer to 60. While you might think that this means you need to improve your second lap, it means you need to try to slow down your first lap by a few seconds. 

Though it may not seem like a good idea, a lot of people notice that slowing down that first lap just by two or three seconds makes your second one a lot faster and shaves off time. 


Final Thoughts on Breaststroke Tips

Once you get the hang of it, you will start to notice that the breaststroke is fairly easy. First, however, getting good at it and improving your time and efficiency as much as possible is important to get the hang of the minute details. 

People trying to teach themselves often overlook things like stretching and turning. However, by working on them, you will see that much of your time gets shaved off just by improving small things.