A pull buoy can be a fantastic training aid for helping swimmers to maximise their time in the pool and work on their stroke technique.
The primary purpose of the pull buoy is to assist in balancing the lower body in the water. This is achieved by placing it between your inner thighs and holding it in place gently with your legs.
Keeping the pull buoy held in position while you swim allows you to turn your full attention to your arm technique.
Your buoyancy in the water will be increased, and your lower body will be raised to reduce drag and increase efficiency.
The arms will be responsible for doing all the propulsion work, no matter which stroke you use, which will increase arm and shoulder strength.
You'll also have more time to concentrate on your arm pull stroke or breathing technique, and your general swim posture. Due to the additional buoyancy these training aids provide, they help to promote a better body position in the water too.
Top tips for using a pull buoy properly
Use your upper thighs
The best position for your pull buoy is between your upper thighs, so it should be gripped just below the crotch.
A mistake many swimmers make is to hold the pull buoy too low, nearer to the knees. However this will cause your legs to bend and your hips to drop, which will increase your drag.
By placing the pull buoy between your upper thighs, you'll be helping to promote a better position by keeping your hips and body flat in the water.
If you're planning on using the pull buoy for a longer session, you'll also notice it's much easier to hold it in place more comfortably when it's just under your crotch.
Place the larger end below the body
Traditional pull buoys are shaped like a figure of eight, but many will have a larger end and a smaller end.
The larger end will provide the most buoyancy, so this should be the end that is placed underneath the body when you're in your swimming position, closest to the bottom of the pool.
This will provide the maximum buoyancy for your hips and waist, helping you to hold a better position as you swim.
If you find the pull buoy is giving you too much buoyancy, you can always try flipping it around and using it with the smaller side facing down to the bottom of the pool.
How a swimming pull buoy can make you a better swimmer
Improved stroke technique
Have you identified an area of your stroke technique that needs improvement? Using a pull buoy is the perfect way of addressing it.
With no need to concentrate on any kicking, you can turn your full attention to what your upper body is doing.
By spending more time and attention on your arm technique, it will soon come more naturally and really benefit your performance when you're swimming without the pull buoy.
Improved upper body strength
Training with a pull buoy takes your kicking out of the equation. For propulsion, you'll be relying solely on your upper body.
Using your stroke to generate all your forward power will provide an even tougher workout for your arms, shoulders, neck and upper back.
You'll soon feel the benefit when you return to swimming without the pull buoy, and with the added propulsion your kicking provides.
Improved body position
The buoyancy provided by a pull buoy will help promote a proper streamlined body position in the water.
With your hips and thighs elevated, drag is reduced and the addition of a pull buoy will also help keep uneccessary body movement to a minimum.
You'll soon get to know the 'feeling' of a streamlined position in the water, and how it translates to a more efficient and faster swim.
Improved breathing technique
Much like your arm stroke technique, training with a pull buoy can also help you concentrate on your breathing.
Getting your breathing technique spot on is absolutely essential to producing your very best swim so, by taking your lower body out of the equation, you'll have more time to get your breathing perfected.
Where to find the best pull buoy
Here at ProSwimwear, we stock a huge range of pull buoys from all the top brands. You can shop the full range, or check out some of our recommendations below.
Speedo Pull Buoy
Speedo have put together a useful training video (above) to show you how easy it is to use a pullbuoy. It's a quick watch, and will help you visualise how useful one of these aids can be when you're in the pool.
It has a new shape design to further help your position in the water, and has a durable gloss finish for an even longer life.
Arena Freeflow Pullbuoy
The Arena Freeflow Pullbuoy gives you that traditional figure-of-eight shape, and is made of soft lightweight foam for comfort (and to avoid chafing).
Like all Arena products, it looks very stylish and is available in a choice of eye-catching colour combinations featuring the reknowned Arena branding.
There are also more specialist designs such as the Arena Pull Kick Pro and the Arena Training Swim Keel.
FINIS Foam Pull Buoy
The FINIS Foam Pull Buoy is available in both adult and junior sizes, and comes in the brand's smart yellow and black colour scheme.
For a more specialist workout, you could also consider the FINIS Axis Buoy if you want to add an extra dimension to your training. It can be used as a regular pullbuoy, but you also have the option to attach it to your ankles and use it as an ankle float.
Made from lightweight EVA foam, it is comfortable to use and lightly textured for a more secure grip, making it easy to transfer between ankles and legs. The FINIS Axis Buoy is also available in two sizes.
Maru Pull Buoy
This is the pullbuoy for you if you're looking to add more colour to your swim training.
The Maru Pull Buoy is a popular choice among our customers, not only because of their vibrant multi-coloured designs but also because they're a traditional pull buoy that offer excellent value for money.
They have been designed for optimum buoyancy, and their contoured design improves water flow while reducing friction. Junior pull buoys are also available.
Mad Wave Jet Board Pull Buoy
Mad Wave have come up with an extremely versatile training aid that combines a pull buoy with a kickboard, and saves valuable space in your swim bag!
The Mad Wave Jet Board Pull Buoy can be used in the traditional pull buoy style between your upper thighs, but it is also shaped in such a way that you can grip it with your hands and use it as a kickboard.