Breaststroke Timing and Coordination

Are you looking for perfect breaststroke technique?  A well executed breaststroke timing sequence is key to achieving a smooth and efficient swimming stroke.  

Breaststroke timing and coordination is a continuous alternating action, where one propulsive phase takes over as one ends. 

Incorrect timing will make good leg kick and arm techniques cancel each other out and render them ineffective.

The timing and coordination for breaststroke can be summed up with the following sequence:

Pull - Breathe - Kick - Glide

A good way of practicing the timing sequence is to perform it in slow motion.  Forget trying to cover any distance at first and just practice each part, one at time.

In a short time you will find the pieces all falling into place and you swimming along without really trying.

Breaststroke Timing Demonstration

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Correct Timing Sequence = Smooth Breaststroke

If remembering the sequence and getting it together is tricky, try 'kicking your hands forwards'.  In other words, as your legs kick back in their circular action, your arms should be stretching forwards.

Basic breaststroke timing sequence for beginners

A streamlined body position at the end of the timing sequence is essential to capitalise on the propulsive phases of the stroke.

The timing can be considered in another way:  when the arms are pulling in their propulsive phase, the legs are streamlined and when the legs are kicking to provide  propulsion, the arms are streamlined.

Perfect Each Part of Your Breaststroke

Full body extension, where the legs and arms are together and streamlined, is essential for the glide phase before the start of the next stroke cycle.

Competitive variations in stroke timing can be found by decreasing or even eliminating the glide and using the arm and leg actions in an almost continuous stroke to give more propulsion.

Common Breaststroke Timing Mistakes

As this stoke is a simultaneous stroke it is very common to kick with the legs and pull with the arms at the same time.

The result will be a very inefficient swimming stroke as the arms and legs counter act each other.  

To ensure the timing and coordination of the arms and legs are correct the swimmer must focus on performing an arm pull followed by a leg kick, or on 'kicking their hands forwards'.  In other words as their legs kick round and back, their arms must extend forwards.

This ensures that the arms and legs are working efficiently and are extended out together during the glide phase.

Get your timing and coordination right with these simple exercises

Download this document to your computer, tablet or mobile device and fine-tune your breaststroke coordination and timing.  Test your pull, breathe, kick, glide sequence with the key technique tips. 

Slow stroke with a swim noodle


Two kicks, one arm pull


Slow stroke from a push and glide


Click here for more breaststroke exercises.

All of these documents are PDF format and are compatible with all tablet and mobile devices.  Some computers may need PDF reading software such as Adobe Acrobat.

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