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How Long Does It Take to Learn Breaststroke?


Breaststroke is a popular swimming style, known for its distinctive frog-like kick and circular arm movements. It’s a stroke that requires a high level of coordination and timing, making it one of the more challenging swimming styles to master. However, with consistent practice and the right guidance, it’s a skill that can be learned by swimmers of all levels. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how long it takes to learn breaststroke, the techniques involved, common mistakes to avoid, and frequently asked questions about the process.

Learning Breaststroke: A Timeline

The timeline for learning breaststroke varies greatly depending on the individual’s prior swimming experience, physical fitness, and the frequency of practice. For beginners with no prior swimming experience, it may take several weeks or even months to learn the basics of breaststroke. This includes understanding the correct body position, mastering the arm movements and leg kicks, and coordinating these movements with proper breathing techniques.

However, it’s important to note that learning breaststroke is not a linear process. It involves mastering different components of the stroke individually, then gradually combining them into a fluid motion. For instance, beginners may first focus on the leg kick, then the arm movements, and finally, the coordination of these movements with breathing.

Techniques Involved in Breaststroke

Breaststroke involves a unique combination of symmetrical arm movements and a frog-like kick. The stroke can be broken down into three main parts: the pull, the kick, and the glide.

The Pull

In breaststroke, the pull begins with the hands sweeping out slightly past the shoulders, followed by a bend at the elbow to initiate an Early Vertical Forearm (EVF) catch. This turns the forearms into large paddles, allowing the swimmer to pull more water.

The Kick

The kick in breaststroke, often referred to as the “frog kick,” is what differentiates breaststroke from other strokes. It involves flexing the feet and kicking out in a circular motion, propelling the swimmer forward.

The Glide

The glide is a crucial part of breaststroke, allowing the swimmer to maximize their forward momentum. After completing one stroke, the swimmer should glide for a 2-count before starting the next stroke. During this glide, the body should be in a streamlined position, with the head neutral, eyes looking straight down, arms squeezing the ears, and legs squeezing together.

Common Mistakes in Breaststroke

Breaststroke is a technically challenging stroke, and it’s common for beginners to make mistakes. Some of the most common errors include incorrect timing, a wide kick, and improper body position.

Incorrect Timing

In breaststroke, timing is crucial. The stroke should start with the pull (when you take a breath), followed by the kick, and finally the glide. Many swimmers often pause during their breath instead of when they’re gliding, which can disrupt the flow of the stroke.

Wide Kick

A common misconception is that a wider kick in breaststroke is better. However, a wider kick can lead to increased drag and decreased efficiency. Instead, the kick should be powerful but controlled, with the legs not extending too far apart.

Improper Body Position

Maintaining a proper body position is essential in breaststroke. The body should be as horizontal as possible in the water, with the head facing forward. Lifting the head rather than the shoulders can lead to back pain and lower the hips, which will increase drag.

The Importance of a Good Coach in Learning Breaststroke

Having a good coach can significantly speed up the process of learning breaststroke. A coach can provide personalized feedback, correct your technique, and help you avoid common mistakes. They can also provide motivation and structure, which can be particularly beneficial for beginners who may struggle with self-discipline.

A good coach will be able to break down the complex movements of breaststroke into manageable parts, allowing you to focus on one aspect at a time. They can also provide drills and exercises to help you improve specific areas of your stroke. For example, they might suggest practicing the leg kick separately from the arm movements, or focusing on your timing and coordination.

However, it’s important to remember that a coach can only guide you – the actual learning comes from your own practice and effort. Regular, consistent practice is key to mastering breaststroke. Even if you only have a short amount of time to practice each day, it’s better to swim regularly than to have long sessions infrequently.

The Role of Physical Fitness in Learning Breaststroke

Physical fitness plays a significant role in how quickly you can learn breaststroke. The stroke requires strength, endurance, flexibility, and good cardiovascular fitness. Therefore, individuals who are already physically fit may find it easier to learn breaststroke and may progress more quickly.

Strength is particularly important for the powerful leg kick and arm movements in breaststroke. The kick requires strong hip and leg muscles, while the pull requires strong arm and shoulder muscles. Therefore, strength training exercises that target these areas can be beneficial for those learning breaststroke.

Endurance is also crucial, as it allows you to swim for longer periods without getting tired. Cardiovascular exercises, such as running or cycling, can help to improve your endurance. Flexibility, particularly in the hips and ankles, is also important for the frog-like kick in breaststroke.

However, it’s important to remember that while physical fitness can aid in learning breaststroke, it’s not a prerequisite. Individuals of all fitness levels can learn to swim breaststroke with practice and perseverance.

The Mental Aspect of Learning Breaststroke

Learning breaststroke is not just a physical challenge, but a mental one as well. The stroke requires a high level of coordination and timing, which can be mentally demanding. It also requires patience and perseverance, as progress can sometimes be slow.

One of the key mental aspects of learning breaststroke is the ability to focus on one thing at a time. Trying to master all the components of the stroke at once can be overwhelming. Instead, it can be more effective to focus on one aspect at a time, such as the leg kick or the arm movements.

Another important mental aspect is the ability to stay motivated and persevere, even when progress is slow. It’s normal to experience setbacks and plateaus when learning a new skill, and breaststroke is no exception. However, with patience and persistence, you can overcome these challenges and continue to improve.

The Role of Equipment in Learning Breaststroke

The right equipment can also play a significant role in learning breaststroke. While swimming doesn’t require a lot of gear, a few key items can make the learning process easier and more effective.

A good pair of swimming goggles is essential. They protect your eyes from the chlorine in the pool and allow you to see clearly underwater, which is crucial for proper technique. A comfortable, well-fitting swimsuit is also important, as it allows for unrestricted movement.

Swim caps can be beneficial, especially for those with long hair. They keep your hair out of your face and reduce drag, allowing you to swim more efficiently. Swim fins can also be a useful training tool. They help to improve your kick technique, increase your ankle flexibility, and build leg strength.

Kickboards and pull buoys can also be used to isolate specific parts of the stroke. For example, a kickboard can be used to practice the leg kick without worrying about the arm movements, while a pull buoy can be used to focus on the arm movements without the leg kick.

The Benefits of Learning Breaststroke

Learning breaststroke comes with a host of benefits. Firstly, it’s a great form of exercise. It works out the entire body, providing both cardiovascular and strength training. It can help to improve your stamina, muscle tone, and overall fitness levels.

Breaststroke is also a low-impact exercise, making it a good option for those with joint issues or injuries. The water supports your body weight, reducing the impact on your joints compared to land-based exercises.

Additionally, swimming is a life skill that can increase your safety around water. It’s also a recreational activity that can be enjoyed at any age, making it a valuable skill to learn.

Finally, learning a new skill like breaststroke can be a rewarding experience. It can boost your confidence, provide a sense of accomplishment, and even open up new opportunities, such as competitive swimming or lifeguarding.


In conclusion, learning breaststroke is a multifaceted process that involves physical effort, mental focus, and the right equipment. It requires patience, practice, and perseverance, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn a new stroke, or an experienced swimmer looking to refine your technique, the journey of learning breaststroke can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is breaststroke harder to learn than other strokes?
Breaststroke is often considered one of the more challenging strokes to learn due to its unique combination of arm movements and leg kicks, as well as the importance of timing and coordination.

2. Can I teach myself breaststroke?
While it’s possible to teach yourself breaststroke, it’s often beneficial to take lessons from a qualified instructor or coach. They can provide personalized feedback and guidance, helping you to refine your technique more effectively.

3. How can I improve my breaststroke technique?
Improving your breaststroke technique involves consistent practice, focusing on each part of the stroke individually, and gradually combining them. Watching videos of professional swimmers and comparing them to your own technique can also be helpful.

4. Why does my body sink when I try to do breaststroke?
If your body is sinking while doing breaststroke, it could be due to improper body position or incorrect breathing technique. Try to keep your body as horizontal as possible in the water and ensure you’re breathing correctly.

5. Why do I get tired quickly when doing breaststroke?
Breaststroke can be tiring because it requires a lot of energy to perform the unique arm and leg movements. If you’re getting tired quickly, it could be due to inefficient technique or a lack of physical fitness.

6. How can I make my breaststroke faster?
Improving your breaststroke speed involves refining your technique, building strength and endurance, and improving your timing and coordination. A swim coach can provide personalized advice and training plans to help you achieve this.

7. Is breaststroke good for fitness?
Yes, breaststroke is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that works out the entire body. It can help to improve your stamina, muscle tone, and overall fitness levels.

8. Why does my lower back hurt when I do breaststroke?
Lower back pain during breaststroke can be caused by lifting your head rather than your shoulders to breathe. This can lead to back strain and lower your hips, increasing drag.

9. How can I practice breaststroke at home?
While it’s difficult to practice the full stroke at home without a pool, you can practice the arm movements and leg kicks on dry land. There are also various strength and flexibility exercises that can help to improve your breaststroke performance.

10. Is breaststroke suitable for beginners?
While breaststroke is technically challenging, it’s a stroke that can be learned by beginners with consistent practice and the right guidance. It’s also a slower stroke, which can be less intimidating for beginners.

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