The #1 Mistake Made During the Breaststroke Pull!

Welcome back to Part II of our series on the Breaststroke Pull! This week, we will be discussing a few of the common mistakes seen in the Breaststroke Pull. I’m even going to tell you what the NUMBER 1 mistake made is by swimmers. As always though, it doesn’t make sense to read Part II before Part I—so if you missed last week, click here to catch up.

Otherwise, let’s get started!

As we dove into last week, the Breaststroke Pull has 4 steps to it. For the most part, there is rarely any common mistakes made between step’s 1 & 2, but more made between 3 & 4. After all, the hands are actually doing more work during step’s 3 & 4 anyways.

The first part of the Breaststroke Pull is really a sculling pattern to the get hands in position to pull back. It’s when you actually start to MOVE the hands backwards towards the body, and then reset them through the recovery—swimmers are the highest risk for a technical mistake.

Let’s look deeper into these common mistakes:

1.) The Over-Air Recover-er

We’ve all seen it. That Breaststroker that recovers with their arms over the water, instead of under. I mean, heck, it makes sense? Water is more dense than air, so why PUSH your hands through the water when you CAN go over it. That argument is 100% true and valid—BUT, the problem is with doing this is at the end of the recovery, swimmers must place their hands back into the water and this creates a downward ‘diving’ motion.

We’ve discussed a lot in regards to technique that if something goes up, something else must go down. This relationship here is no different. If swimmers dive their hands into the water at the end of the Breaststroke Pull, their body will be forced down—instead of forward. Breaststroke itself is already a short-axis stroke with a lot of movement around the hips—this movement is required to get swimmers down the pool, but the problem is it can get to be TOO much up and down motion and not enough forward and backwards.

If you look at the backside of the Breaststroke stroke during the Breaststroke arm recovery, swimmers are finishing their kick—which is the most powerful portion of the entire Breaststroke stroke, so it doesn’t make sense to change the trajectory of the swimmers forward motion, by recovering the arms OVER the water. We want that surge to help you move FORWARD, not dive down.

Hey, I even wrote a blog post named EXACTLY that in the Butterfly stroke—because ya you know, Butterfly and Breaststroke ARE short-axis strokes.

2.) The Deep Diver

It makes perfect sense to transition over to this second common mistake, as we touched on WHY doing this wouldn’t make sense in mistake #1.

The Deep Diver is someone who recovers with their hands under the water—BUT, the first motion of the hands is to drive them down instead of forward. This is normally followed with a head motion that is too quick, where swimmers are tucking their chin into their chests and not following the hands forward—back to their original step.

It is important to keep the pace of the arm recovery with the head drive. You don’t want swimmers to bury their head too quickly. I always tell my kids to let the eyes follow the hands forward and when you can’t see the hands anymore, then drop the head all the way through!

3.) The Elbow Pusher

This is BY far the #1 mistake made by Breaststrokers, and I see it all the time. It’s when swimmers pull too far back on their ‘scoop’ portion of the pull and lose sight of their elbows.

By doing this, swimmers ‘drop’ their grip on the water for a split second before recovering the hands forward. The goal during the ‘scoop’ of the Breaststroke Pull is to keep the forearms engaged against water the entire time. If swimmers pull too far back, they lose that engagement and the water they were pressing against is left in a relaxed state at the torso, which then swimmers must propel themselves forward over it.

It should be a goal of every swimmer to keep an eye on the elbows through their peripheral vision the entire time during the Breaststroke Pull. If you can’t seem them, you’ve pulled them too far back!

Be sure to stay tuned for next week, where we will analyze some of the WORLD’S BEST Breaststrokers’ pulls.

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

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