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The Ultimate Guide to the Breaststroke

Swimming is an excellent exercise and a competitive sport demanding technical finesse and endurance. One swimming stroke that has endured the test of time is the breaststroke. It’s a favorite among many due to its elegant moves and efficiency.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the intricacies of the breaststroke, exploring its technique, common errors, and drills to enhance your mastery. Let’s refine that breaststroke and take your swimming to the next level.

The Breaststroke Technique

One of the distinguishing features of the breaststroke is the simultaneous and symmetrical movement of both arms and legs, mimicking the motion of a frog or a swan gliding through the water. The stroke begins with a streamlined glide followed by a kick, known as the frog kick. Executing the perfect frog kick requires a coordinated flexion and extension of both legs, propelling the swimmer forward while maintaining stability and minimizing drag.

The arm movement in breaststroke is equally crucial. Unlike the freestyle stroke, where the arms are extended alternately, the breaststroke employs a simultaneous pull and recovery technique. During the pull, the arms pull the water backward, generating propulsion. In the recovery phase, the arms are brought back into the streamlined position, minimizing resistance.

Although the breaststroke is considered the most challenging stroke, children are still capable of learning this technique. Children as young as 3 years old can already learn how to do the breaststroke once they have learned the basics of swimming. Breaststroke for kids is incorporated in swimming programs found in swimming schools like Bear Paddle.

Understanding the Foundations of Breaststroke for Beginners

For beginners, grasping the basics of breaststroke technique is essential to ensuring a smooth and efficient swimming experience. 

To begin, let us explore the foundational components of breaststroke that form the building blocks for beginners. These include body position, arms, legs, and breathing techniques.

Body Position 

Maintaining a horizontal body position is crucial in breaststroke. Beginners should aim to keep their bodies flat on the surface of the water, with their heads in line with the spine. This helps reduce drag and improves efficiency.


The arm movement in breaststroke involves a symmetrical pull, commonly referred to as the “pull, breathe, and whip” technique. As the arms extend forward, the hands separate, creating a Y-shaped position. Subsequently, the hands turn outwards and sweep out, propelling the body while simultaneously allowing the swimmer to take a breath.


The leg movement in breaststroke is characterized by the infamous “frog kick.” Beginners should practice the whip-like motion of the legs, ensuring that the knees are pulled towards the chest before extending the legs outwards and then closing them together. This motion generates propulsion and maintains a steady rhythm.


Timing the breath correctly is vital in breaststroke. Beginners should aim to take a breath during the arm recovery phase when the head is above the water, ensuring a smooth and continuous stroke.

Common Mistakes and Corrections

Throughout the learning process, beginners may encounter common mistakes that hinder their progress. Recognizing and addressing these errors is crucial for improvement. Some common mistakes in breaststroke include:

Head Position

Beginners often lift their heads too high while taking a breath, which leads to increased drag. Encouraging a more streamlined and relaxed head position is key to optimizing performance.

Kicking Technique

Ineffective leg movements, such as kicking with the knees apart instead of together, can significantly reduce propulsion. Encouraging proper form and reinforcing the whip-like motion is essential.

Arm Recovery

Rushing the recovery phase can compromise stroke efficiency. Beginners should focus on maintaining a controlled and consistent recovery, allowing for a smoother stroke progression.

Drills to Enhance the Breaststroke Technique

To refine breaststroke technique, beginners can incorporate various drills into their training regimen. These drills focus on isolating specific aspects of the stroke and reinforcing muscle memory. Some effective drills include:

Glide and Kick

This drill emphasizes body position, balance, and the coordination of the kick. Swimmers can practice gliding underwater while kicking in a streamlined position.

Stroke Timing

In this drill, beginners focus on synchronizing their arm and leg movements. By starting with a slower tempo, they can gradually build up speed while maintaining proper timing.


This drill emphasizes arm movement and propulsion. Swimmers explore the motion of the hands and forearms, generating lift and propulsion for an efficient breaststroke technique.

Mastering the Breaststroke

Achieving mastery in the breaststroke requires a combination of regular practice, strength training, and attention to detail. Whether you are a competitive swimmer or an enthusiast seeking to enhance your swimming techniques, the knowledge gained from this guide will serve as an invaluable tool on your journey towards mastering the art of breaststroke. So, dive in, practice diligently, and let the beauty and efficiency of the breaststroke propel you to new swimming heights.

At Bear Paddle, we offer top-quality swimming programs for children. Let your child learn the breaststroke with us and enroll today!

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