How to Do a Breaststroke Pull-down

Pull-downs are essential to a fast breaststroke race. Without a good pull-down, you have a major disadvantage. You don’t want to start the race behind your opponents! If you’re looking to improve your breaststroke time, mastering the pull-down is a great way to do it. This guide is filled with easy steps to strengthen your race through a powerful pull-down.


Push Off the Wall

To begin practicing, start in the water. Although you’ll do a pull-down after a dive, focus solely on the pull-down for now. Push off the wall in a streamline. At this point in the pull-down, you are merely gliding. Move smoothly through the water — keeping your legs and arms still — from your push off the wall.

Don’t kick while in your streamline! Some swimmers accidentally kick freestyle in this step. Remember: This will get you disqualified in a race.


Hot Tip: Look Down
In order to be as hydrodynamic as possible, it is essential that you look down. Looking down will keep your spine in alignment, and thus make your body straight. This way, you will slice through the water quickly and efficiently.

Hold this glide for about three seconds. If you start to move your arms too soon, you will be slowing your body in the water. Moving your arms creates resistance. You don’t want to slow down at the start of your race!

You also don’t want to glide for so long that your body starts to slow down in the water. Instead, begin your pull right before you feel like you might slow down. Three seconds is a ballpark for your timing, but play around with the timing. Everyone’s pull-down is slightly different. Figure out what timing is best for you!




Pull Your Arms Down

After you’ve glided in a streamline for about three seconds, it’s time to use your arms. Move your hands apart. Bend your elbows, and point your fingertips downward. Stiffen your forearm to grip the water as you pull. Then move your arms back in a straight line, and leave them at your sides.

Many swimmers tend to pull their arms out from their sides like during a jumping jack. Do not do this! It is extremely ineffective, and will not give you the boost forward that you should get on your pull-down. Instead, focus on keeping your arms underneath your body, and try to pull straight back.

Once your arms reach your sides, hold the position for about two seconds. Allow the boost from your arm pull to move you forward in the water.

Dolphin Kick

If you’re looking to advance your pull-down, add in a dolphin kick. The dolphin kick in the pull-down just became legal in the past few years. The added kick helps move you forward in the pull-down, and naturally flows with the arm pull.

As your hands pass underneath your face, begin to do a quick, snapping dolphin kick with your legs. Keep this motion small and rapid, otherwise it will slow your pull-down. Do not use as much of your body as you normally would with a dolphin kick. Instead, try to use a small body roll and mostly kick from the knees down.

Also, don’t let your knees bend too much. Play around with the flick of your feet. It should feel like an added boost. However, it should not feel as if you’re using an entire body roll. If you feel a strong press with your chest, your kick is too big. See how small you can make the kick while still strengthening your pull-down.

Keep in mind that you’re only allowed to do one dolphin kick. Otherwise you will get disqualified. Also note that the dolphin kick is not necessary. If you find it tricky, skip the kick for now.



Breast Kick & Sneaky Hands

After you’ve held your arms at your sides for two seconds, sneak your hands back up into a streamline. Simultaneously perform one breaststroke kick. As your hands move up into a streamline, tuck your elbows in and slide your hands along your body. The more tucked in your elbows are, the less drag you’ll have. You want to reduce the amount of resistance as much as possible. This will help continue your forward movement.

Once your hands reach your face, move them right past your nose. Don’t glance forward, though! This will mess up your body position and slow you down. Get your hands together, and move them into a streamline.

While moving your hands upward, perform a breaststroke kick. Remember that you are only allotted one breaststroke kick. If you kick more than once, you will get disqualified.

Hold the streamline for about one second. This is the amount of time that it should take you to get close to the surface of the water.



Start Your Stroke

At this point in your pull-down, you should be getting close to the surface of the water. When you’re a few inches below the surface, begin your stroke. Your first stroke should lift you up on top of the water. If you begin too soon, you’ll struggle to get to the surface. This will slow your body down. If you start too late, you’ll lose time and start the race behind the other swimmers.

Timing the break-out might take a few tries. Just feel it out, and go with what seems best for you.


Practice from a Dive

While practicing your pull-down, remember: Three, two, one. Hold your steamline for three seconds, tuck your arms at your side for two, then kick and go back into a streamline for one. After you’ve gone through many pull-downs and feel satisfied with your timing, practice from a dive. Your timing and speed will feel a little different than when you were pushing off the wall. With a little practice, you’ll be beating your opponents from the very start of your race!

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