Want to know the secret to the perfect breaststroke stroke so you too can breaststroke like Leisel Jones?
Firstly when I say how to breaststroke like Leisel Jones I am referring to the key components that technically made her a consistent performer over a long period of time. The other components of her Champion qualities are the competitive desire and work ethic.
If you have a child you loves breaststroke and as a parent you would like to help them improve, check out the breaststroke stroke model now available which has been produced by Olympic Head Coach in 2004 & 2012, Leigh Nugent.
So lets look at the keys:
1. Kick – This is the foundation for breaststroke and is the key to maintaining forward propulsion.
• Narrow Kick (not outside the shoulders) with flexible ankles to grab the water with the bottom of the feet allow a strong initial drive forward
• Think of opening a car door, the more you open (legs wide) the more drag you create, limit drag with legs width and use ankles to grab water.
• Finishing the kick off with the back of the knees hitting the surface will ensure that your legs are at maximum streamline (toes pointed)
2. Arm pull follows the kick and is most effective when engaging the water to maintain the propulsion created by the kick.
• Width of the arm pull should be just outside the shoulders
• Engage the water with the hands and forearms (one long paddle)
• Press on the water in the out sweep and take your body to your hands.
• At the point of your out sweep it is important to lead with your finger tips back under your chin, the key cue is to keep your finger tips pointed down at the bottom of the pool to create a long paddle and provide propulsion into recovery.
• Recovery of the arms is driven by the hands shooting forward into a streamline position, this will allow the kick to maximize the propulsion it has created.
3. Breathing is so important in maintaining the flow of Breaststroke, too early it creates drag, too late it disrupts kick and pull timing.
• When in streamline position at the end of the kick make sure your eyes are looking at the bottom of the pool and between your arms.
• As your out sweep gets to its widest point look forward
• On the in sweep if you have your eyes up you will be able to rise on the in sweep and breath with out lifting your head.
• As your hands recover forward you look back down and follow your hands into the streamline position you started with.
• The kick helps finish off the movement into streamline.
• Timing of kick, pull and breath are key to consistent and efficient Breaststroke, the type that Leisel Jones delivered every time. As you teach and learn to improve your breaststroke, make sure you work on these key areas individually and use drills to help bring them together for timing.
See below for some of the drills Leisel would use to keep the kick, pull and breathing in time and consistent:
1. Kick with arms to the side, breathing by looking forward at the end of the kick
a. This allows for the athlete to feel when the lift the head instead of looking forward and maintaining a good line in the water.
2. Kick with arms extended in streamline position, same timing as arms to side, look forward to breath, look down as the kick drives forward into streamline.
3. Mid point sculling – pull buoy between legs, arms in front with fingers pointed down to bottom just under armpits, from finger tips to elbows create forward propulsion moving in and out from arm pit. Eyes looking down then up as the in sweep happens.
4. Underwater arm pull no kick, this drill is for the full pull, if it is too wide then the athlete will feel slow, if they don’t maintain connection with the water from the hands to the forearms they will feel themselves stop.
5. 3 kicks in streamline and 1 pull with breath, great for timing, should be done on the surface not submerging. This can also be done as 2 kicks and 1 breath.
THE BREASTSTROKE PULL STARTS IN A STREAMLINE POSITION AND FINISHES IN A STREAMLINE POSITION, THERE IS NO PAUSE IN THE ARM PULL .
I highly recommend if you would like to see the breaststroke stroke model in a visual format where you can watch it over and over again, that you get yourself a copy here.
Rohan Taylor (Coach of Leisel Jones to Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke at the 2008 Olympics)