An Informative Guide on How to Use Paddles


Paddles, in swimming, are frequently misused, which may potentially cause unnecessary injuries and shoulder issues. However, when these paddles are used properly, they provide you with an incredibly useful tool. This makes paddles worth the financial investment. In fact, you will see swim paddles in swim bags around the world. That’s how important they are.

In this post, we will be discussing everything there is to know about how to use paddles in swimming. As these paddles are primarily regarded as a tool that helps you build strength in your shoulders and arms. But that isn’t always the case. To be deemed effective, swim paddles should only be used in the correct way. Keep reading if you want to know more.

What Are the Benefits of Swim Paddles?

Generally, there are two primary benefits of using swim paddles, which is to build strength and power while you are swimming and to help you solidify great swimming technique habits. Here are some of the other advantages of incorporating swim paddles into your swim training:

  • Specific power development: When it comes to building power and strength, as previously mentioned, you should be able to perform your strokes with precision and accuracy to be able to reap the paddles’ benefits. If you do your strokes as precisely as possible, you are likely to add more resistance to every stroke. 
  • Efficiency and speed: As obvious as it is, swim paddles are great because it helps you gain speed a lot faster, whether you are using it for recreation or during competition. When swimming with paddles, you get to feel the speed, allowing you to be extremely efficient while you’re in the water.
  • Adds spice to your workout routine: Whether you are required to do a repetitive 500s or whatever your coach is telling you, adding swim paddles into your routine surely mixes things up. It may also help you be mentally fresh.
  • Allows better catch: If you are specifically being adventurous on your training day, try using only the strap for the middle finger. When you are not using the early forearm catch, there is a possibility that the paddle will just slip off. This might make you feel like an amateur swimmer, having to place the paddle back in your hands mid-swim. However, there’s a silver lining – it tells you what you shouldn’t do.
  • It tells you when you’re pulling incorrectly: In case you didn’t know, the use of paddles is likely to accentuate every aspect of the pulling motion. Using paddles allows you to make your catch a lot stronger, not to mention the pulling motion. This way, you will have a better focus, as well as tune the other important components of your stroke.

How to Use Paddles

While swimmers regard paddles as a strengthening tool, you should also see it as a teaching tool, allowing you to improve your strokes. Here are some technique drills you might want to incorporate in your training:

1. Paddle balance

Position one paddle against your head’s top portion. Pull away from the wall and swim, all while you keep the paddle in its original position. Some advanced swimmers tend to take breaths while they maintain the paddle balance. Doing this technique allows you to get rid of superfluous movements, especially with the body and the head. In addition, it also encourages propulsion.

2. Fist drill using paddles

When doing this drill, try grasping the paddle’s top, without you using the straps. Then, allow your paddle to be extended with your forearm. Doing this technique prevents bending of your wrists, especially during the pull and catch phases. To add, it also minimizes strain on your shoulders.

3. Remove wrist strap

Doing this technique entails you to attach your swim paddle to your hand, using only one finger strap. Then, swim as normally as you would. However, take notice if your paddles slide towards your palms. With this technique, you are likely to find the flaws, especially when you pull underwater. To add, you will notice that the paddle is pushed to the opposite way when your hand is faced in a direction but straight.

4. Sculling

Try placing your hands on the swim paddles but get rid of the straps. Then, proceed swimming with your regular sculling movement. In case you didn’t know, sculling aids in developing your feel of the water, supporting a more powerful catch. Also, your swim paddles only stay in its place, especially when you maintain the pressure between the water and your hand. That way, it’s a lot easier to detect the flaws you commit when doing the sculling technique.

Best Practices When Using Swim Paddles

  • Use a paddle larger than your hand : Different swimmers, obviously, have varying hand sizes and shoulder strengths. When you have small hands, you may want to start using paddles that are a little larger than your hand and continue working on improving your strokes. However, if using a larger paddle means that it decreases the speed of your every stroke or it may start straining your elbow’s tendons, then you might want to skip the paddles for now.
  • •Remove the straps: The worst thing you could do in your training is to incorporate paddles but do it in an insufficient habit. When you remove the straps, you would be able to notice whether your swimming technique is good or not. This is especially true with freestyle. In addition, your swim paddles may just slip right off your hand if you are not doing the early vertical forearm drill, especially at the start of your pulling motion. While it may be extremely annoying, at least you’re sure that you’re doing it the proper way.
  • Copy natural finger position: Normally, bigger paddles cause swimmers to further extend or spread their fingers, allowing them to evenly distribute pressure across the swim paddle. However, you might notice that your paddles may be too large for you if you keep doing this. Likewise, if you find your fingers fully extended up to the point beyond the paddle, you are likely to naturally curl the fingertips, just around the paddle’s edge, adding more stability.


Swim paddles are certainly a great addition to your swim training. However, we don’t recommend that you use then during warm up. Surprisingly, these paddles are best used during the main set, or until your shoulders are already warmed up. Doing so makes it possible for you to improve your every stroke. With this guide, we hope that you will be able to apply them, even if you are doing it for recreation or professionally.

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