If you’re swimming for fitness or training yourself for a race or gala event then you’ll want to use training equipment for your swim workouts. Swimming laps without incorporating any specific drills or using any training equipment will only get you so far. Your fitness levels may improve but to really get the benefits of swim training you’ll want to start thinking about using training equipment to optimise your workout and make the most of your time in the water. Adding extra elements such as paddles or fins to your swimming workout helps to keep things fresh, keep you motivated and interested in your swimming sessions. Bringing new benefits to your swimming technique and overall fitness.
Hand paddles are a great training tool for getting more out of your swim. They’re cheap, compact and easy to get the hang of. There are loads to choose from on the market so you can pick a set of hand paddles that suit you. Swimming paddles are often described as the equivalent of weight training for swimmers but be careful when using paddles, incorrect use can lead to the dreaded “swimmers shoulder”. Leaving your shoulder inflamed and sore, which could take you out of training for a period of time if the condition is allowed to worsen.
Don’t let that put you off. If you’re sensible, using this specialist training equipment can bring immense benefits to your stroke. Proper use of hand paddles as part of your swim workout can strengthen the shoulder muscles, plus help with achieving optimum power and efficiency in your pulling technique.
Here are our top tips for choosing swim paddles:
- Hand paddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In general you should be looking for a set of paddles that are around 10% larger than your hand. Using equipment that is too large can result in the aforementioned shoulder troubles as you’ll be adding too much resistance, forcing your muscles to work harder for every pull. If you’re fairly new to swimming, the recommendation is to buy a smaller hand paddle to start with and work your way up to a larger paddle when you’re confident that your physical conditioning is up to a decent standard.
- Do some research and find a paddle that is right for your wants and requirements. There’s a huge variety on sale out there, some are better suited to improving your power, some are more suited to helping you work on your technique. Try the Finis Freestyler Hand Paddles for improving your technique. They encourage a high elbow and correct hand-entry, plus arm extension and a proper catch. When you’re not using the Freestyle Paddles correctly, they will slide in your hand giving you a good measurement of when you’re using the correct technique or not.
- Never use paddles for more than a quarter of your workout. At least 75% of your swim should be without paddles or you risk causing injury to your shoulder muscles! Plus the more you use swim paddles, the less you’ll recognise what a normal (paddle-less) swim stroke actually feels like.
- If you’re a slightly more advanced swimmer and are confident in your technique, try something like the TYR Catalyst 2 Training Paddles. These paddles add much more resistance to your swim so you’ll have to pull harder to move the paddle through the water. Excellent for building strength and power throughout the entire swim stroke.
Basic Paddle Drill
Reps: 6×50 – 6×100 Metres (Adjust depending on skill level)
Add 300 – 600 metres of swimming with hand paddles to the middle of your regular swim workout. Be sure to focus on the feel of the water and concentrate on which muscles are being engaged. Try to feel every muscle in your upper body working against the water to propel yourself forward. You should be able to feel when you hit that “sweet spot” of perfect technique. You’ll notice an increased distance-per-stroke if you’re swimming correctly.
Shop For Hand Paddles
At ProSwimwear we feature almost 50 different products in our Hand Paddles category. The huge variety includes everything from budget paddles for beginners, right through to the more expensive elite training paddles which can bring great benefits for competitive athletes.