How To Do Breaststroke Arms

It's time to learn how to do breaststroke arms, and you may discover how wrong you've been doing it all this time. We've all done it - used our breaststroke arms to haul ourselves through the water, only to find we don't seem to go far for the effort we've put in. 

Did you know that the leg kick, not the arm pull, provides the propulsion and boost to move along during breaststroke? Correct breaststroke arm technique is needed to assist the movement but mainly to keep the stroke streamlined and efficient. 

Read on and discover which part of the breaststroke arm technique you need to include or which of the most common mistakes you might be making. 

Breaststroke Arm Pull Video

The video clip shows that the arm pull technique for breaststroke takes place just under the water's surface. The arms pull simultaneously around in a small circle in front of the swimmer before stretching out in front again. The arm pull cycle is performed in perfect time as the legs kick, creating a seamless 'pull, kick, glide' sequence that keeps the whole stroke smooth and efficient. It is important to note that the arms provide more balance than propulsion, although some propulsion is generated.

We can break breaststroke arm pull technique into three parts.

Those parts are:

Catch - the beginning of the arm pull cycle as the hands 'catch' the water and begin to pull.

Propulsion - as the arms pull through the water to generate some of the movement.

Recovery - as the hands and arms complete the arm pull cycle and return to the catch position.

correct breaststroke arm technique for beginners

FREE EBOOK:  all technique tips here can be found in my 'Breaststroke Technique' book, along with a couple of bonus drills to help you perfect some essential parts of the stroke.

Don't miss out!  Click here to grab a FREE copy of my book. 

How To Do Breaststroke Arms Step-By-Step


Begin with your arms fully extended out in front of you, fingers and hands together. Pitch your hands outwards and downwards to an angle of about 45 degrees to begin the catch phase. Your arms then pull outwards and downwards until they are approximately shoulder-width apart. Your elbows start to bend, and your shoulders roll inwards at the end of the catch phase.

Propulsive phase

Your arms sweep downwards and inwards, and your hands pull to their deepest point. Allow your elbows to bend to around 90 degrees while remaining high.

At the end of the down sweep, your hands sweep inwards and slightly upwards. Your elbows tuck into the sides as your hands are pulled inwards towards the chest and the chin.

Correct breaststroke arm pull technique


Your hands and arms recover in front of you by stretching into a streamlined position, forming a shape that allows easy and efficient movement through the water.

Allow your arms to remain in that streamlined position for the brief glide phase before beginning the catch phase and repeating the arm pull cycle all over once again.

Do You Make These 2 Common Mistakes?

Mistakes often made with basic arm technique are:

  • relying on the arms for propulsion
  • pulling too wide

The arm technique for breaststroke can become the dominant force when it should not. It is very common to put more effort into pulling yourself through the water when your leg kicks should provide the power and momentum while the arms balance the stroke and give a small amount of propulsion.

In an attempt to haul yourself through the water, your arms pull too big and too wide of the shoulder line. Pulling your arms completely to your sides is common, making for an inefficient recovery under the water surface, which will certainly result in you slowing down or even going nowhere. 

Try this easy exercise:

An easy exercise to practice to help perfect the arm pull technique is to walk slowly through the shallow water of about shoulder depth, ensuring your arms pull in small circles and your hands remain in front of you at all times. Ensure that you also extend your arms forward and stay there momentarily to account for the glide phase.

For some more breaststroke drills for beginners, click here.

Now add your arm technique to the rest of the stroke...

Now you know how to do breaststroke arms, the arms have to be coordinated with the leg kick and breathing techniques. My book 'How To Swim Breaststroke' gives you all the tips and practical drills you will need to make your breaststroke a complete swimming stroke. Discover over 20 exercises that take each separate part of breaststroke and help you focus in and fine-tune it. Then take all the parts, put the whole stroke together and swim like a pro!

Click here for more information, or click below to instantly download your copy to you computer, tablet or mobile device today!

How To Swim Breaststroke with ease and confidence.
add to cart
add to cart


pay using paypal

I am a member of the Amazon Associates Program and I will earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. 

Buy a PRINTED copy from: 

buy from amazon

You can also download from:

buy from apple
buy from google

Related Pages