Breaststroke: Quick tips

Breaststroke: Quick tips

Streamlining (Fig. 1)

As Anita pushes off the wall, she is angled slightly downward, her head lower than her hips. Her eyes are looking down, and her body is perfectly streamlined: one hand is on top of the other, elbows are as close together as possible, biceps against her ears. She has stretched her torso to make herself as long and sleek as possible.

Pull-down and Pull-out (Fig. 2)

Anita has sculled out, thumbs pointing down, and is about to begin the pull-down. Her hands have moved outside her shoulders. Now she rolls her hand inward, lifting the thumbs up, and starts the inward sweep toward her belly button. Note her high elbows. Her head remains looking down, here and throughout the pull-out, keeping it in line with her body.

Finishing the Inward Sweep (Fig. 3)

As she finishes the inward sweep to her belly button, Anita’s hands turn out and push back. She shrugs her shoulders and tucks her chin as close to her body as possible.

Recovery and Outsweep (Fig. 4)

Anita begins the recovery, tucking her hands in tightly to her body and bringing them up the midline. She is now ready to bring her feet up and begin the kick. Next, she will pick up her heels, shoot her arms forward, kick and fully extend her torso.

She will start the outsweep of the first above-water stroke, breathing naturally as her head and shoulders rise with the outsweep.

Breaststroke is arguably the most difficult of all four competitive strokes. Here, world champion Kurt Grote demonstrates the drill that keeps his breaststroke rolling.

Hand Set-up (Fig.1)

Start the drill lying flat on the surface of the water with a light flutter kick to keep the legs afloat. The hips and shoulders should be at approximately the same level in the waterand the head should be in a “neutral” position-in line with the body The back should be straight, not arched, and the arms should be in a streamlined position.

Press (Fig. 2)

Keeping the head in line with the body, press the chest and head forward and down as a single unit (do not tuck the chin down to the chest). This will lift the hips-like a teeter-totter. Keep the line from the hips to the head perfectly straight. Separate the hands to a wide vry” position as you press forward and down with your body.

Hip Drive (Figs. 3 and 4)

This is the most crucial and exaggerated part of the drill, in which you will learn to press the hips forward in your stroke. From the “Y,” quickly and aggressively push the hips forward and scull the hands together until they meet. Pushing the hips forward will cause the upper body to lift up. I never think about lifting my body with my arm pull; pushing the hips under it lifts the body.

In Fig. #3, you can see why this drill is called “Cobra.” The body is coiled and ready to strike!

In Fig. #4, notice that the body is nearly vertical when the hips are driven forward. The knees are not pulled forward, and the legs should feel relaxed. The abdominal muscles are tight, helping to pull the hips forward.

Dive Forward (Fig. 5)

In the last part of the drill, dive forward to a streamlined position. I am using the leverage of my hips under my body and the potential energy of my upper body lifted out of the water to throw myself aggressively forward. My goal here is to get my arms and head into a streamline as quickly as possible so that I can take full advantage of my kick. I am just starting to catch water with my feet as my upper body finds the streamlined position.

After completion of the kick, reset in a streamlined position and do the drill over again. I usually repeat it 10-15 times, and it leaves the hip movement in my breaststroke feeling very natural and easy.

About the Author

Kurt Grote, a 1996 Olympian, won gold in the 200 meter breaststroke at the 1998 World Champ-ionships in Perth, Australia.

Copyright Sports Publications, Inc. Fall 1999

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