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While pulling breaststroke may seem like a no-brainer type of exercise, there's more to it than you might think.
Putting on paddles and a pull buoy is a nice change of pace in practice. It adds variety to your training, and allows you to pin-point certain aspects of the pull. Here are a few things you can focus on when you do breaststroke pull.
Why Do It:
Pulling breaststroke allows you to find just the right angles for connecting with the water, and for drawing your hips into the next stroke. It also overloads your arm muscles and helps you get into condition for those ultra-fast races.
How To Do It:
1. Put on a pull buoy and grab your favorite paddles. There are many different types of paddles, but we'll be using a medium-size, fairly flexible paddle for this demonstration. These are the Star Paddles, which I like. Grab a fairly small pull buoy -- one that just barely keeps your hips up. You don't want to be so bouyant that your hips pop up... or your chest and head become buried in the water.
2. Breaststrokers frequently adopt a breathe-every-other pattern when pulling, but in this drill we want you to breathe on every stroke -- just as you would when you swim breaststroke. If you breathe every other, then you're allowed to do that here, but if you don't, why practice it?
3. Watch, feel, and be aware of WHERE you aim your hands. Because you won't have a kick to drive you forward, you may notice that your hands FALL, or aim DOWN on the recovery part of the pull. Make sure you aim FORWARD. Shoot your hands directly across the surface of the water.
4. Try not to push your hands too much on the outsweep. You'll feel the resistance of the paddles, but do your best to simply get your hands to the point of the CATCH -- the point where you hook into the water and start to DRAW your body forward.
5. Stay symmetrical. Do your best to maintain symmetry, or an equal balance between the left and right arms. Some swimmers, when they get tired, lean to one side. Avoid leveraging with one or the other arm.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Hook, hook, hook. See if you can find the EXACT point at which you start to draw yourself forward. Identify how far out in front of your body your hands stop moving sideways, and begin to move you toward the other end. While many swimmers will place tremendous power into the out sweep, figure out when you start pulling your hips FORWARD rather than just moving your hands out and back.
Recover your hands QUICKLY and in a directly line. No plunging allowed.