Welcome back! As I mentioned in last week’s blog on Backstroke Starts, I’ve been really involved in the age-group realm of coaching this past season. I’ve made it a personal venture to really look at the beginning steps of an athletes trajectory to best put add words and stages to a swimmer’s journey. There is no one size fits all equation for a child, but I’ve been really happy to push myself into a space that I’m growing and learning in. In this week’s blog, I’m hoping to get to the bottom of pull buoy swimming and when you should start your kiddos with buoys! Let’s get started!
What is a Pull Buoy?
A Pull Buoy is a buoyant device swimmers wear to elevate the hips, eliminate the kick, and focus on their arm pulls.
A Pull Buoy is a great tool to have in your swim bag, as it adds versatility to your swim workouts. Along with a great strength building tool for your upper body. Also, they aren’t that expensive! Need to grab one? Snag a pull buoy from our friends at A3 Performance for only $12 – and use our promo code: SwimLikeA.Fish (case sensitive) for 15% OFF!
How Do You Perform Pull Buoy Swimming?
The buoy is placed between a swimmer’s legs – specifically their upper thighs. To keep the buoy in, a swimmer must actively SQUEEZE their thighs together – as they are swimming down the pool.
You can use do pull buoy swimming in all four strokes. It’s definitely hardest to use do pull buoy swimming for Breaststroke and Butterfly because the legs play SUCH a big role in those strokes. But just like anything, once you get the hang of it, pull buoy swimming is not that hard!
Types of Pull Buoys
Surprisingly, there are different kinds of pull buoys for swimmers. You have the style I posted above with symmetrical sides from A3 Performance. There’s also an uneven style buoy, along with a junior size. See below:
The pros and cons of all these buoy shapes and sizes are really a bit more age dependent. If you look at the buoys in terms of weight, the junior buoy is the lightest, followed by the symmetrical buoy from A3, and then the unbalanced buoy from Speedo.
What Ages Should Use Which Buoy Type?
You’d use the unbalanced buoy from Speedo with the heaviest weight with your highest level of athletes and swimmers. This type of buoy would be best used for your senior swimmers who have been swimming for a while, and are comfortable pulling in all four strokes.
The A3 Performance Symmetrical Style Buoy would be used for 11-12 year olds and some 13-14 swimmers. Pulling puts a good amount of stress on the shoulder joints and for young women, this type of swim training can have an adverse effect on the shoulder joint if done too much. That’s why it’s really important to make sure you have a coach that’s properly progressing you with pulling, as you age. If you’re looking for a new option for coaching or never even thought about virtual coaching, check out our options here. SLAF may be able to help you 🙂
Center of gravity has another impact on pulling between the sexes. Women have a lower center of gravity than men, so a buoy doesn’t balance them out well from top to bottom. You will find men are MUCH faster pulling than women are because of their center of gravity being higher and a buoy sitting right around that fulcrum in their body balance. No matter your sex though pulling does have it’s benefits!
The Junior Size buoys would be used from ages 8-11 years old. With this buoy a lightest, you would use that with your younger swimmers, but not the kiddos that are between 6-7 years old. I find working on full strokes with the youngest group on your club team is the best bet and leave most training tools out of the equation for those 6-7 year olds is the best idea. We only ever dabble with fins and a kick board with our 6-7 year olds – unless there’s an anomaly running around.
Standard Ages for Pull Buoy Swimming:
8-11 Years Old: Junior Pull Buoys
11-14 Years Old: Symmetrical Pull Buoys
14+: Unbalanced Buoys can be introduced!
Be sure to stay tuned for next week, where we will discuss some pulling workouts for swimmers!
Until Next Time,