4-Steps to a GREAT Breaststroke Pull:

Welcome back! I hope you guys are ready and geared up for another blog series. This month, we are shifting gears away from Backstroke and starting to dissect Breaststroke. Personally, Breaststroke is my LEAST favorite stroke. I never enjoyed swimming Breaststroke, and it never came naturally to me. I do think there are some swimmers out there born with genetic advantages, which make them great Breaststrokers (i.e. flexible ankles and hips)–I, unfortunately, was not one of them.

With that though, Breaststroke is a stroke (just like the others) that you can LEARN and GET BETTER at. Especially as I do believe, Breaststroke, is the most TECHNICAL of strokes. There’s actually multiple, different ways to swim Breaststroke, and you can see that through watching the races of some of the the World’s BEST Breaststrokers!

So my aim for this series is to give you guys the FUNDAMENTALS of the Breaststroke Pull, Common Mistakes made, How Technically—you can improve your pull to get your Breaststroke faster!

Let’s get started!

So remember when you were in learn-to-swim, and they taught you how to move your arms for the Breaststroke stroke? It probably went something similar to this:

1.) I

2.) Y

3.) Scoop

4.) Shoot

Those 4 basic steps are still important to this day. Let’s dive into each of those.

1.) I

Out of the 4 steps of the Breaststroke Pull, the “I” is by FAR the most important—and it is not because of anything the arms are doing, but the fact it dictates your body line.

Hitting your “I” step is super important, because it allows swimmers to FULLY get their head up the surface of the water after they breathe, AND it’s the closest position to a streamline swimmers can be in.

2.) Y

The “Y” step comes next, and this step really is just an out sweep of the hands to get the fingers outside the body line. Ideally, you should always be able to see your fingertips outside of your peripheral vision during this step.

From a propulsion perspective, you don’t create any speed during this step—but you should feel some water pressure against the forearms, as you out sweep.

3.) The “Scoop”

The “Scoop” is the most speed-generating portion of the Breaststroke Pull. This is the only step during the Breaststroke pull that swimmers move water—but comparatively to the legs, it’s not NEARLY as much.

The key to a GREAT scoop is making sure swimmers don’t pull their elbows too far back and lose sight of them BEHIND the body.

The scoop is a “V-like” motion bring the hands in towards the chest, from their outward “Y” position before.

Just like in Freestyle, you want swimmers to keep their elbows high during this step so they are moving water by pushing their forearms against it.

4.) Shoot

The last step is the “shoot’. This step is basically the ‘recovery’ of the Breaststroke Pull. This step is responsible for getting the hands back up to the top and ready to hit the “I” position again.

Ideally, during the shoot phase—you want swimmers to keep their hands under the water.

I always say create a teepee with the fingertips and as you shoot the hands forward, slowly bring the palms together so by the end of this step—swimmers are basically in a streamline position without the wrist being top of the other.

To see these steps in action, watch my video below:

Be sure to tune in next week, where we discuss some common mistakes made during the Breaststroke Pull!

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

6 Responses

  1. The only comment made that I don’t agree with is that the ‘Y’ part of the breaststroke has no propulsive effect. I make no claims of being an expert. But I have 50 years of swimming experience with the first eight of that in competitive swimming and, most importantly, I love the breaststroke. To your comment, I feel the outward, and downward, sweep of hands and forearms actually give a leveraging effect against the water. Because the hands/forearms go from straight with the upper arms, from your ‘I’ position, out to some 30 degrees or so, the pressure against hand/forearms begin to add propulsion as they spread. Like you said, it puts pressure against the forearms. Well, more of that pressure becomes propulsive as the forearms go beyond straight. So I feel you are unfairly discounting the value of the ‘Y’ for speed in your presentation.

    I also feel it significantly contributes to body undulation, which is true for all four stages of motion.

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