We hope you are all safe and well during these extraordinary times. Maybe you cannot tell if it is Tuesday or Thursday anymore and that every day feels like Groundhog Day, following the same schedule. We are not denying having the structure and routine is helpful, but sometimes it is good to mix things up to stop feeling like every day is the same. Here are a few exercises which can add some variety to your new normal. You can start out with Swimming Practice at Home Part 1 & Part 2 if you have not seen them yet.
Breaststroke is considered the most technical stroke in swimming, but we introduce it to young swimmers as soon as they can swim on the front and back for a short distance. The success of breaststroke all depends on the kicks, so it is vital to take time to master this.
We will break this down, so that it is easy to follow. It is best to do these drills out of the pool first, so we have a perfect opportunity whilst pools are still closed!
Children learn to have ‘pointed toes’ when doing flutter kicks on their front and back in a pool. For breaststroke kicking, they will need learn to flex their toes as much as possible. Often children do not understand if coaches tell them to ‘turn out toes’ or ‘flex toes’, so let’s call these ‘duck feet’ instead! Get your child to sit on a chair and stretch their legs first, making sure feet are touching together. Lift all toes towards the ceiling then open to the side, creating V shape with heels together. These are your duck feet. Ask them to walk around with duck feet, so that they have full understanding of the shape they need to create.
Pointed toe to duck feet
As mentioned, swimmers should be familiar with ‘pointed toes’ from practicing flutter kicks. Breaststroke requires both pointed toes and turned out toes (aka duck feet), so we combine both in this exercise. They can sit on the bench or the floor with legs stretched. Ask them to do ‘pointed toes’ first then ‘duck feet’ repeatedly around 10 times. They can say ‘pointed toes, duck feet, pointed toes, duck feet’ as they move their feet to be sure they know what they are doing. Make sure they are flexing their toes as much as possible when doing duck feet as that is what makes the difference in breaststroke kicking.
Now your child knows what shapes to create with their feet, it is time to move on to using all the legs. Your child should sit on the chair with straight legs and pointed toes. They should then move legs down with knees bend to wrap their feet around chair legs. Their feet should be turned out to do this, like the duck feet they have done previously Try this a few times to get the sense of pointed toes with straight legs moving to duck feet with bent knees.
Making letters (I-M-O-I)
The next one is to simulate the entire sequence. Your child should sit on the sofa or the end of their bed and stretch legs with pointed toes. This is creating “I” shape with their legs (Make sure toes are not sticking out). Then ask to move on to duck feet with knees bend as they did with the chair wrap around. The key point here is to keep knees quite close with the distance between feet much wider. This should create “M” shape with their legs. The next one is quick snap kick creating “O” shape with legs before they are back to straight “I” There is a lot to take it, so do it slow first. You need to make sure they have pointed toes at “I” and toes are turned out with “M” with knees close.
Ready for froggy legs
The final stage is to try out I-M-O-I on front at the end of the bed or bench. It might seem confusing to flip upside down, but the movement is exactly the same. A swimmer needs to start with straight legs with pointed toes, bring heels toward his bottom to create duck feet (with feet apart but knees close), a quick snap creating ‘O’ shape and finish with nice stretchy legs with toes pointed. Try them at least 10 times to get the hang of it. Once you are sure of the order, work on the timing so that you have a quick ‘O’ kick but take time at ‘I’, this is when the beautiful gliding would (should) take place in the water.
There you have it – the amazing breaststroke leg action! Send us pictures or a video clip of your child practising at home to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are really looking forward to seeing everyone at the pool, hopefully very soon.