Swim Paddles – When and How to Use Them

You’ve undoubtedly seen swim paddles at the pool before, as many seasoned swimmers use them. And now that you’ve been swimming for a while you wonder if you should get them too.

A pair of swim paddles
Swim paddles are useful for correcting your arm stroke.

You’ve figured out that they should allow to strengthen your shoulders and make you swim faster. But are they such a good idea?

Swim Paddles and Shoulder Strengthening

As discussed above, hand paddles are often described as the swimmer’s equivalent of the weight lifter’s dumbbells. The idea is that using them regularly will make your shoulders stronger and allow you to swim faster. However, there are several problems with this thinking:

Other Shortcomings of Swim Paddles

Besides the debatable shoulder strengthening argument, other arguments speak against the use of swimming paddles:

  • Swimming paddles aren’t allowed in competitions. So you have to learn to be efficient without them.
  • With paddles, you swim fast without much effort and feel great. But when you remove the paddles you don’t feel so fast and great anymore.

How To Use Swimming Paddles

However, hand paddles have their uses. They shouldn’t be seen as strengthening tools but as teaching tools to improve correct stroke mechanics. For example, in front crawl, you can use them to concentrate on the following focal points:


If you want to use swimming paddles, make sure to use the smaller variants with holes in them. They put less strain on the shoulders and allow a better feel for the water.

While using them focus on feel of the water and correct stroke mechanics instead of on force exertion.

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