Teaching Breaststroke

swimming teacher with student doing breaststroke 

Breaststroke is an important stroke to teach beginner swimmers because it can be used as a survival stroke. It is also one of the four competitive strokes so it can also be useful for more advanced swimmers. 

When teaching breaststroke, students should be encouraged to develop symmetrical movements with their arms and legs. This not only conforms to the competitive rules of the stroke, but maximises propulsion making the stroke more effective. Breaststroke should follow a pull-breathe-kick-glide sequence.

Simple drills

It is important to break down strokes as you introduce them, following the BLAB method (Body position, Legs, Arms, Breathing).

Below are some drills that can be used for breaststroke.

Gliding work

Have students push off from the wall with their face submerged, arms out in front and exhaling. The body should be kept as flat as possible in the water to reduce the amount of resistance on the swimmer.

Dry work

It is a good idea to introduce the breaststroke kick to students out of the water, as it is easier to make any corrections needed. Get students to lie on a bench or on the edge of the pool and work on the kicking action to understand how the movement feels. Ask them to flex their feet and correct them as required.

Glide with kick

Using a kickboard out in front, have students glide with their face in the water and perform the kicking action, breathing when they need to. It is important to ensure the knees aren’t being brought into the tummy as they are bent.

Breathe, kick and glide with aid

Using a kickboard or noodle, practise incorporating the breathing, kicking and glide elements together. Check the feet are flexing and rotating properly and that legs are together during the glide phase. 

Arm action with noodle

Using a noodle under the arms, have students practise the arm action. The noodle will keep the student in the correct position and won’t let the arms move back too far.

More information about teaching breaststroke can be found in the AUSTSWIM Teaching Swimming and Water Safety Manual.

As your students progress towards the Bronze Strand levels some great advice and activities can be found in Royal Life Saving's Swimming and Lifesaving manual.

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