How to Use Hand Paddles: Learn How to Do It Properly


Hand paddles are some of the most common swimming aids that you can use for training. Whether you are a newbie or an expert, these paddles will come in handy in your training sessions.

By strapping paddles in your hands, you will enjoy a wide array of benefits, which include developing power, enhancing efficiency, improving speed, encouraging a better catch, and allowing you to pull properly. To make the most out of these benefits, you need to know how to use hand paddles correctly. Keep on reading and learn from the insights we’ll be sharing.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use Hand Paddles

It isn’t as easy as grabbing paddles, strapping them in your hand, and swimming. The steps mentioned below are important to maximize the benefits of using hand paddles.

1. Pick the Right Paddle

One of the most important considerations is the right choice of the swim paddles. From the size to the material, pick one that you are most comfortable with. Otherwise, it will be an ineffective training aid.

Make sure that the paddle is not larger than your hand’s surface area. When the paddles are too large compared to your hand, there is a higher likelihood that you will suffer from a shoulder injury. The large size of the paddles will put unnecessary strain on your joints. Choose a larger paddle only once you become a more advanced swimmer.

To know if the paddle has the right fit, it is a must to try it on. When you are wearing the paddles, your fingers should be at least half an inch from the top edge of the paddle. The bottom part of the paddle, on the other hand, should be sitting on your wrist.

2. Strap the Paddle Properly

Hand paddles vary in terms of their shapes and sizes. Among others, one thing that makes them different is the number of straps that are present. If you are a beginner, you will need more straps. This will secure the paddle properly, making sure that it won’t slip as you swim. On the other hand, for experienced swimmers, they can get away with just a finger strap in their middle finger. This improves feedback when they are swimming.

3. Position Your Hand Properly

Now that you have the right paddles, the next thing you need to do is to position your hand properly. This is important to improve efficiency in your movements. Also, this will lessen the likelihood that you will end up with an injury.

The goal is to mimic the natural position of your fingers. After all, you are using hand paddles so that you can correct the position of your hands and practice how they should be when you are in the water. You don’t have to spread your fingers to cover the surface area of the paddle. If you find yourself doing so, this means that you are using paddles that are larger than what your hands need. You must also curl the fingers just slightly above the tip, which will be beneficial in terms of improving stability.

4. Use the Paddles for Sculling

Sculling is a swimming technique wherein you will be performing horizontal hand motions while keeping your head on the surface. You can use hand paddles when you are sculling. To do this, you have to place your hand on the paddles, but this time, let go of the straps. Use regular sculling motion while maintaining hold of the paddles. This strengthens your catch. The challenge for the paddle is to stay in place. To do this, there is a need to have a continuous motion between your hand and the paddle.

5. Mind Your Strokes

It is also crucial that you are mindful of your swimming strokes when you are wearing paddles. With hand paddles, your strokes will be longer. Your leading arm needs to reach further to pull yourself when you are in the water. This also means that the distance per stroke will be better, allowing you to get to the other end of the pool quicker. This is a great way to practice arm pull.

6. Perform Fist Drill

There are many exercises that you can perform with the help of hand paddles, and one of the best would be a fist drill. As the name implies, you will be using the power of your wrist. The paddle will extend along your forearm and there will be no straps, similar to using the hand paddles for sculling. This will help in the prevention of bending your wrist during a catch and pull. This also minimizes the strain on your shoulder.

7. Use a Pull Buoy

As your work on your strength, you can elevate the swimming routine by adding a pull buoy. This will be instrumental in improving your upper body strength and working on your techniques.

Pro Tips

Before we end this post, allow us to leave you some useful tips when using hand paddles when swimming:

  • While paddles have plenty of benefits, this does not mean that you should wear them during the entire duration of your workout. As a practice, do not wear it for more than 25% of the duration of the workout. Using it for a longer period of time will make you dependent on the paddle, which isn’t a good practice.
  • Don’t swim too quickly when you are wearing hand paddles, especially if you are a beginner. If you proceed too fast, you are increasing the chances that you will be suffering from an injury since you are putting unnecessary strain on your body.
  • Find the material that you are most comfortable with. Some paddles can be too stiff, which can put unnecessary strain on your hand. Choose a material that allows you to mimic natural hand movements even when you are wearing paddles.
  • Unless you are an experienced swimmer, do not use hand paddles in breaststroke or butterfly. These are demanding strokes and you will need to exert a lot of effort to do them the right way. Wearing paddles will only make the exercise more difficult. This will also put you at a higher risk of an injury.


Now is the time to add paddles to your swimming exercise. You don’t have to wear them during the whole routine as this will encourage dependency. Take note of the tips mentioned above on how to use hand paddles to make the most out of this swimming aid and improve your technique! Start by finding the right paddles, especially one with the right size!

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