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Common Breaststroke Mistakes and How to Fix Them
The problem: knees too wide
The fix: tools, mirrors, and self-correction drills
One technique to fix “wide knees” is to use a 7-inch rubber band, which you can find at most office-supply stores. Using a rubber band is better than using a pull-buoy because it allows for a more natural movement of the knees.
We want the knees to stay within the shoulder line.
Allow the swimmer to kick over the mirror and they will receive immediate visual feedback. Let them watch their lower leg “hide” and “disappear” behind the thighs. Notice how the feet re-appear -- flexed and turned out -- at their highest point.
As the lower legs extend back, the knees maintain their position. The knees must not go out any further as the kick fires. The kick should “close” quickly.
Here a swimmer is doing a rebound wall kick over a mirror. She can watch a number of her kicks and make adjustments to her technique at the same time.
Another drill to help correct wide knees is to have the swimmer hold a kickboard over her knees and keep the knees in contact with the board as she kicks. Make sure the swimmer is not pushing the board UP with her knees. The goal is to drop the heels DOWN.
Next is to kick with the arms down, and have the swimmer try to touch heels to hands on every kick.
Sometimes I tell my swimmers to imagine they have heavy boots on so their heels will drop down.
Vertical wall kick is another exercise that can help swimmers stabilize and control the width of their knees. This is a very effective cure for swimmers who draw their knees UP on the recovery.
Another drill that encourages a narrow kick is Vertical Kick…and Look. Have the swimmer do vertical kicking away from the wall and then look down at their knees. This provides INSTANT feedback and they can self-correct.
Also, you can have the swimmer kick and look back under water for a view of the knees and legs. The swimmer can see the kick in action and make adjustments.
Be sure to blow bubbles out your nose in this position.