Mastering Breaststroke Techniques: A Self-Taught Guide Made Simple

by Johnny Jacks

Breaststroke may seem straightforward, but self-learners often struggle with its finer techniques. In this article, we’ll guide you on learning to swim breaststroke correctly.

Breaststroke is a widely popular swimming technique that offers both fitness and health benefits. Many opt to learn it to enhance their physical and mental well-being. To self-study breaststroke effectively, precise swimming technique is crucial.

Benefits of Breaststroke

Were you aware that every 30 minutes of breaststroke burns over 200 calories? It’s considered the easiest stroke to learn, allowing you to focus on the exercise without excessive worry. Breaststroke engages various muscle groups, making it ideal for developing pectorals, hamstrings, thighs, abs, and arm muscles. Additionally, it contributes to cardiovascular health.

While breaststroke is the slowest stroke, its leisurely pace offers an advantage for endurance training, allowing for longer sessions.

How to Self-Teach Breaststroke

Fundamental Breaststroke Techniques

Fundamental Breaststroke Techniques.

To maximize your breaststroke performance when self-teaching, you should pay attention to the following:

Underwater Posture

When learning breaststroke independently, maintain a forward body position in the water. Ensure your shoulders, hips, and legs are as horizontal as possible, with a slight tilt to keep your kicking feet below the water’s surface. Engage your leg and abdominal muscles to prevent your hips from sinking. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed to facilitate arm movement and reduce strain. Look downward during the glide to avoid neck discomfort.

Arm Movement

Start the arm movement from the glide position by lowering your hands and directing them outward. Maintain high elbows as you reach forward and round. Bring your hands back toward your body, meeting them at the top of your chest. Be cautious not to open your arms too wide, as the primary thrust should come from your legs, not your arms. Whether your hands are submerged or above the water, ensure your elbows remain below the surface. Then, stretch your arms forward with your hands close together to initiate the arm movement once more.

Foot Movements

Footwork is the crucial element of the breaststroke technique

Footwork is the crucial element of the breaststroke technique.

When mastering the breaststroke, meticulous attention to foot technique is crucial as it serves as the foundational element generating thrust for the breaststroke motion.

Maintain a position where your knees are only slightly wider than your hips and angling down, slightly behind your hip line. Point your feet outward as they sweep out and back in a circular motion. Keep your feet flexible. The final leg position should be in a comfortable and symmetrical stretched posture.

Focus on drawing your feet inward to bring your heels closer to your body, keeping the soles of your feet facing outward. Emphasize lifting your legs rather than bringing your knees closer to your chest.


Breathing technique can be challenging in swimming, including breaststroke. Thus, it’s crucial to pay attention to this aspect when learning breaststroke. Proper breathing techniques enable you to hold your breath longer, enhancing your strength and endurance.

In breaststroke, the correct breathing technique involves lifting your shoulders to bring your face out of the water for a breath. Avoid raising your head; instead, keep your head at a natural shoulder height so that your chin remains just above the water’s surface. Inhale through your mouth as you release your shoulders to perform the arm sweep.

The mantra to remember while executing the breaststroke is as follows: “Fan your hands, kick your feet, raise your head.

Common Mistakes in Self-Learning Breaststroke

From seasoned swimmers to novices, everyone tends to make errors while swimming breaststroke, as it’s one of the most challenging strokes to master. Therefore, when embarking on learning breaststroke, it’s essential to recognize these common mistakes and discover ways to rectify them.

Head Position: Gazing Forward

While self-teaching breaststroke, you may instinctively want to breathe and look forward. However, this approach can cause your hips to sink in the water. Instead of propelling you forward, it misaligns your body, causing upward movement. To swim effectively forward, it’s crucial to adjust your head position.

Body Alignment: Dropping Hips Low

Maintaining a horizontal position above the water is key for efficient breaststroke. When your body lies flat on the water’s surface, it becomes easier to keep your hips and body parallel to the water. This ensures that each stroke and kick pushes you forward rather than lifting your body upward. Keeping your hips low prevents your body from becoming upright in the water.

Legs: Excessive Width

Avoid kicking your feet too wide while swimming breaststroke.

Avoid kicking your feet too wide while swimming breaststroke.

Many swimmers tend to perform wide kicks when swimming breaststroke. However, kicking too wide is not the most effective technique. If your knees point outward, it can cause your shins to angle in a way that doesn’t provide optimal water propulsion. To effectively push the water backward and forward, you need to adjust the angle of your legs.

Arms: Overextended Pull

Similar to wide kicking, pulling your arms excessively wide is not beneficial. It doesn’t allow you to pull more water because the water is too far from your body. Pulling your arms too wide demands a lot of effort with minimal results.

Timing: Simultaneous Pull and Kick

A common misconception, especially among self-taught breaststrokers, is trying to pull and kick simultaneously, resulting in circular arm and leg motions at the same time. While this may feel comfortable, it doesn’t contribute to forward movement.

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