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How to Choose a Pull Buoy


Pull buoys are buoyant pieces of foam held between the thighs while swimming. Pull buoys keep swimmers' legs and hips at the surface of the water, allowing swimmers to stop kicking and concentrate exclusively on pulling and body rotation technique. Since pull buoys isolate the upper body, they also help swimmers increase arm strength.

There isn't much variety in the world of pull buoys, but it is important to find one that fits. The right shape and buoyancy can make quite a bit of difference in the value pull buoys provide, and this guide outlines the various benefits of different pull buoy styles.

Pull Buoy Design & Shape

Pull buoys come in two main silhouettes: One-piece and two-piece. One-piece pull buoys are sculpted pieces of foam, with rounded ends and a narrow middle section. They are usually roughly the shape of an "8." Some are symmetrical, while others have one narrow end and one wide end for a slightly more ergonomic fit. Placing the wider end under the thighs makes it easier to grip the pull buoy for long periods of time. They are made of soft foam that can withstand many hours of exposure to chlorine and sunlight.

Two-piece pull buoys consist of two separate foam cylinders connected by nylon straps. Two-piece pull buoys are a more old-fashioned design, but they do allow swimmers to adjust the distance between the cylinders for a customized fit. These foam cylinders also tend to get a bit abrasive as the pull buoys age, unlike one-piece pull buoys.

Pull Buoy Size & Buoyancy

Some people require more buoyant pull buoys than others. Anyone with large legs, heavily-muscled legs, or legs that have a tendency to sink should look for a larger pull buoy. To that end, there is some variety when it comes to choosing the size — and therefore buoyancy — of a pull buoy. Buoys with thicker, wider, and more generous ends keep even the heaviest legs at the surface of the water. Too-small pull buoys won't keep the legs high enough, and can reinforce an incorrect body position.

Children and petite people should get pull buoys in smaller sizes; either ones designed specifically for juniors, or merely in a smaller size. Although smaller people can still use large pull buoys, they won't be as balanced in the water and the large pull buoy can prevent some of their body's rotation as they swim.

Other Pulling Options

Select brands manufacture a combination pull buoy-kickboard, usually called "pull-kicks." These are designed to function as both pull buoy and kickboard, and can help cut down on the amount of swim gear swimmers cart to and from the pool. There are also buoy systems that consist of individual bands that wrap around the thighs and help legs float. This removes the need to "grip" the pull buoy to hold it in place.

Nearly every swimmer can benefit from pulling practice, both for the strength training and the chance to concentrate on technique. Finding the right pull buoy makes pulling more comfortable, more effective, and more fun!

Shop all Pull Buoys

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Ted
3 months ago.
Join the discussion...
Ted
3 months ago.
Hi Iam Ted. Looking for a bout system that allows me to kick. Individual thigh band or swim belt
Aaron
6 months ago.
Hi I’m 6ft and 108 kg what size pull buoy do I need
SwimOutlet
6 months ago.
Hi Aaron!

We recommend the "Speedo Team Pull Buoy" or the "KEMP Solid Pull Buoy" for you.
James
7 months ago.
My son is 4’ 11” and full grown and very muscular weighing 123 lbs and yes he likes back stroke . Which size for him ?
Maureenwkeyes@gmail.com
9 months ago.
I’m thin and have skinny thighs. It’s difficult to keep the the buoy between my legs—I’ve tried various shapes. What do you suggest?
Sarah
11 months ago.
I've been using my gym's pull buoy but will need to get my own now. I use it exclusively to be able to backstroke w/o flutter kicking due to ankle inquires. What pull buoy would you recommend? I'm 5'4" and about 170 lbs.
SwimOutlet
11 months ago.
Hi Sarah!

We recomend the Sporti Pull Buoy.
Faith
1 year ago.
Im 5 6 and i weigh 110 pounds what kind of pull buoy will I need and I have big legs
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Faith!

We recommend the Sporti Pull Buoy. It works great for up to 170 pounds.
Hannah Metcalfe
2 years ago.
I’m a strong and fairly heavy 5’8 woman and I’m really struggling with finding a pull bouy. I find that the standard ones lift my bottom out of the water. I do have very muscular legs so I’m not sure why this happens. I’ve been just doing arms without a bouy but it’s not ideal. What do you recommend?
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Hannah,

We recommend larger pull buoys with thicker, wider, and more generous ends for those who are fairly heavy and have muscular legs. You may try the Speedo Team Pull Buoy. Please click the link below for reference.

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/speedo-team-pull-buoy-8138179/?color=48720
Danielle
2 years ago.
I'm between 5'7''-5'8" and weigh around 115 lbs. Which size pull buoy would you recommend?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Danielle!

We recommend an adult size or large for your weight.
James Jack
2 years ago.
5'11'' and 220 lbs. Heavily muscled with bug legs. The pull buoys my swimming coach has just sink. Any recommendations for the less buoyant athlete?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi James,

Please see the link below for pull buoy recommendation. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!

https://www.swimoutlet.com/regular-pull-buoys-c9665/
Mark
3 years ago.
Can pull buoys be used to do the back stroke? I want to still be able to kick a bit but have trouble keeping my feet from sinking. I though a buoy might help.
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hello Mark,
Yes, you can use a pull buoy for the back stroke.
Heather
3 years ago.
Hello! I have been looking to buy a pull buoy for quite a while, but I have not been sure how to buy the right one. I'm a petite 5'3 and weigh 124 lbs. I have a lot of muscle in my legs and was cursed with thunder thighs. When borrowing these at my local pool, I tend to like the smaller ones better. Would a junior size be too small for me?
Thanks for your time and help,
Heather :)
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hello Heather,
Yes, the junior size will work for you.
Margaret
3 years ago.
Hi, I am 5'2'' and 124 lbs. The Tyr pull buoy, adult size causes me to rotate and seems to bother my lower back.
I am looking for a recommendation
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hello,
Due to you height and weight, we recommend a Jr. pull buoy.
Phil
3 years ago.
I'm looking for a large pull buoy for more buoyancy. Cannot tell from those listed which would be appropriate. Please advise. Thanks.
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hello Phil!
We recommend the FINIS Adult Pull Buoy.
jean
3 years ago.
I am looking for a pull buoy will less lift I found the Finis one put my lower back in a bad position. Can you recommend one with less buoyancy , or perhaps I should try a junior even though I am an adult.

Thanks
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hi Jean!
Yes, you would want to use a junior pull buoy as these will have less buoyancy than the adult/large size.
Mari
4 years ago.
Hi. I am buying a pull buoy for a 10 year old girl who is just starting to swim competitively. Would you recommend a junior one for better fit, or a senior one that she might have for longer? She is tall for her age.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Mari,
Since she is tall for her age, we would suggest the adult size!
Izzy C
5 years ago.
Hey I need a pull buoy but I'm worried about which one to buy. I'm about 5'2" and about 92 lbs, so is a junior ok?
swimoutlet.com
5 years ago.
Hi Izzy,
The Junior pull buoy would be perfect for someone your height and size. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Have a great day!
Deb S
5 years ago.
I'm a self taught new swimmer. Haven't been in a pull since I took swim lessons at around age 10 and am 54 years old now. Fortunately, I still remember a lot of the basics and been working diligently on the front crawl for about four months. At this point, I'm not seeing much progress so I thought I'd give the pull buoy a try. Just not sure which one to buy. I'm 5"4 and weigh 202 pounds. Hope this is enough information to work with for a recommendation. Thanks.
swimoutlet.com
5 years ago.
Hi Deb,
Please see the link below for pull buoy recommendation. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a great day!

https://www.swimoutlet.com/regular-pull-buoys-c9665/
Gene
5 years ago.
I bought a Sporti pull buoy from you and used it the first time last week. I found it hard to keep it in place, i.e., between my thighs, and my body rolled a lot. I don't know if it's the size or I wasn't doing it right. I'm 5'6" and 135 lbs, and I have skinny legs.
SwimOutlet.com
5 years ago.
Hi Gene,
Try tucking it a bit higher and keeping your thighs together while swimming. This should prevent it from sliding out or moving around. The size should be find as long as you have the adult buoy. If you have any other questions please feel free to let us know. Have a great day!
Lance R.
6 years ago.
There are also buoy systems that consist of individual bands that wrap around the thighs and help legs float.

How do I find these? Is there some secret search phrase? :)
Swimoutlet.com
6 years ago.
Hi Lance,

We actually do not have a buoy system that consists of individual bands. The closest we have are ankle straps. But thats more for putting your legs together instead of helping them float. You may try doing a search on Google for leg floats to see if there is something like that out there. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Lance R.
6 years ago.
Yes, Sarah, those are what I am looking for. Thank you :)
SwimOutlet.com
6 years ago.
HI Lori,

Our pull buoys come in 2 sizes, either adult or juniors. I would recommend the adult for you. Below are links to our top 3. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/barracuda-pull-buoy-8114523/

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/finis-adult-pull-buoy-13410/?color=18645

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/nike-swim-pull-buoy-22322/
lori efird
6 years ago.
I need a medium size pull buoy. I am 5'3", 110 lbs. Which model would you recommend?

Thanks
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