Breaststroke Kick with Rebecca Soni

Breaststroke kick is one of the most challenging techniques of swimming. A powerful breaststroke kick relies on having great flexibility in the hips and dorsiflexion of the ankles. To kick with power in breaststroke, a swimmer must be able to push backward with the instep of the foot with great force and quickness. The hip flexibility may enable that to happen, but a swimmer must also develop strength in the hamstrings to draw the legs up quickly and in the quadriceps to push the feet backward with force in breaststroke kick.

Many swimmers that do not have enough flexibility in the hip attempt to increase the power of the kick by widening the distance between the knees. Yet this technique creates a problem. With widened knees, a swimmer cannot get through the kicking cycle fast enough to take advantage of the tremendous coupling energy from the upper body pressing forward and the head snapping down. By the time they start pushing the feet backward, the body’s motion downward has already stopped, lessening the propulsive force of the breaststroke kick. Olympic Champion Rebecca Soni has extraordinary hip flexibility and leg quickness. She draws her legs up quickly, once her pull force is completed, and begins to push backward quickly just as her upper body strikes the water. It is the exquisite timing of these motions that makes her so powerful in breaststroke.

At The Race Club, we have found the Finis yellow elastic band , placed above the swimmer’s knees, is an extraordinary tool to help swimmers keep their knees closer together during the breaststroke kick and develop a more effective and faster breaststroke.

2 Responses to Breaststroke Kick with Rebecca Soni

  1. Lee Burkin

    When I normally do a breaststroke kick my legs go wide and then together. If I am correct, Mark Schubert in his book Competitive Swimming seems to approve this technique. I’ve heard though that the modern breaststroke kick is more like a snap with the heels coming up to the rear end with the legs afterward coming together, trying to keep the knees close. What do you think is a better technique?

    • garyhallsr


      I was recently in Indiana talking to coach Ray Looze about Lily King. He stated what makes her better is ‘lightning fast legs’. One cannot get through the kicking cycle fast enough to couple with the body and head coming down with a wide kick. Virtually all elite breaststrokers today have knees at or inside the hips and are very fast getting through the kicking cycle.


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