Wearing swim paddles during training is an excellent way to improve stroke technique, build muscle strength and increase swimming speed. The best swim paddles can help a swimmer learn correct hand positioning, learn to incorporate the entire arm into the stroke, gain a better feel for the water, increase distance per stroke, and improve pulling technique and efficiency. Paddles also spice up training and help ingrain good habits.
For paddles to be of help, it is very important to wear the right pair and use them correctly. To help you choose the right pair, we have reviewed ten best hand paddles for swimming and have a buying guide with choosing tips. To help get the most out of a pair, we also cover the benefits and downsides of using hand flippers and how to care for them so they last longer.
How To Choose Swim Paddles – Buying Guide
Swimming hand paddles come in different shapes and sizes. And there are all kinds of offerings by different brands. Each pair is designed to help with swimming in a specific way. It is essential to do some research to ensure that you pick the right pair that will satisfy your requirements and meet your training needs. Consider the following aspects to choose the best swim paddles:
Swim paddles vary depending on the purpose they are designed to serve. Some are meant to improve technique while some are aimed at helping elite swimmers win gold medals. Some are designed for a specific stroke while some are multi-stroke training tools that work for all four swim strokes freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.
Understanding what a pair is designed to accomplish is extremely important before you make your order. This way, you can pick a pair that will actually improve your technique and performance while avoiding injuries and bad habits.
Larger and wider hand paddles give more resistance and make your body work harder. They are great for building upper body strength. Adding a pull buoy will position your body better and control leg kicks to make your upper body work even harder. Want to improve your catch and feel of your stroke in the water? You can go for fingertip paddles.
For swimming hand paddles to help you improve technique and develop power, they should fit properly. To achieve a great fit, order the right size for your hands by consulting the size chart. Adjustable paddles will offer a superior fit since you can achieve a custom fit.
For the best fit and training effectiveness, the paddle should be 10% larger than your hand. You should be able to keep a natural finger position where the palm is open and the fingers are open a little bit with them on. The fingers shouldn’t extend out of the paddle edges. There should be a 1cm gap between the fingers and the edges to create an even distribution of the pressure applied by the palm, forearm, arm, and shoulder on the paddles.
With the right fit, you won’t feel the need to spread your fingers wide in order to apply pressure on the paddles more evenly. You also won’t find your fingertips curling around the edges of the paddles to gain stability.
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Hand paddles for swimming come in small, medium and large sizes. The important thing to keep in mind as you make your order is that these sizes are meant for different levels of training. Not hand size. What size to choose will depend on your strength and the level of resistance your shoulders can handle.
Never used swim paddles before? The best swim paddles for beginners are fingertip paddles or smaller hand paddles just slightly bigger than your hands. Once you become slightly more advanced and get stronger, you can switch to the medium size then graduate to the large size so as to experience more resistance and have to pull harder thereby building strength and power. For an open water swim, you will need larger paddles that will be able to withstand the strong currents.
The wrong size of paddles can cause serious injury and harm. If the paddles are too big, there will be too much resistance. You will exert a lot of effort for every pull and this will mean shoulder trouble later. You will also have to spread your fingers too much or unnaturally to apply pressure evenly and this will lead to strained ligaments and tendons.
Paddles smaller than your hands are also not good. You will find yourself grabbing the edges for stability, which will create a lot of tension on your wrist and make it inflamed.
When swimming with hand paddles on, it is important to keep the palm of your hand open and flat and fingers spread apart in a natural position. Contoured hand paddles mimic our hand’s size, shape, and form and encourage this proper hand position. When wearing them, your hand conforms to the paddle shape and falls into a natural position for swimming. The contours also make them ergonomic and comfortable to wear for extended durations.
The best hand paddles for swimming are sturdy and made using quality materials. They are also lightweight and comfortable to swim with. Traditional swim paddles meant for power and strength development are made out of plastic. A rubber construction offers some degree of flexibility in the water and is safe to wear when training with other swimmers. The straps should be made using a strong and flexible material to avoid the hassle of broken straps when swimming.
Q: What Are The Benefits of Swim Paddles?
Swimming with hand paddles is all about improving technique and powering up. They accentuate everything making you more aware of your pull and overall swimming stroke. Proper use of swim paddles helps build strength and power, improves pulling and stroke technique, and increases swimming speed. Here’s a breakdown of the specific benefits:
Strapping on a pair of swim paddles takes your hands out of the way so you are able to develop a better feel for the water, position your hands correctly and engage your entire arm in the stroke. This improves the efficiency of the catch and pull. Hand paddles without straps improve your hand entry. If you go for an early vertical forearm, the paddle will slip off letting you know that your hand positioning needs correction.
When you swim with hand paddles on, your stroke lengthens because you reach further with your leading arm and are able to pull more water to propel you forward. Your pull will become more efficient, you’ll notice an increased distance-per-stroke and you’ll swim faster. You will get a feel for how your form is like when you are most efficient in the water and you will get used to swimming at great speed.
Swimming with paddles is a swim-specific strength-training workout. The increased surface area due to the paddles offers increased resistance, which forces the muscles in the back, chest, arms, and shoulders that power a swim stroke to work harder. This builds upper body strength so a swimmer is able to generate a powerful pull for high-speed swimming.
Swim hand paddles can also spice up your workout. Bored by monotonous repeats of the same workouts? Throwing in some paddles will present a new challenge that will make training exciting and fun again. These training tools will also add efficiency to your workouts helping you make the most of your training time. A waterproof MP3 player and swimming headphones will also make your workouts much more pleasant.
If you want to find out how using hand paddles is helping you, here are ways to track your swim workout.
Q: What Are The Downfall Of Using A Swim Paddle?
While a swim paddle is a very beneficial training accessory, there are downfalls to its use as well. If used incorrectly or excessively, it can lead to bad habits and/or injuries.
An oversized pair can encourage spreading of fingers, which will strain arm ligaments and tendons causing inflammation. If you have weak shoulders or swimming shoulder injuries, swimming with paddles can aggravate the issue.
Paddles can also encourage bad training habits such as a gallopy stroke. And if a swimmer has technical issues such as dropped elbows or a lack of feel for the catch, paddles won’t be of benefit until the swimmer corrects these issues.
Too much of a good thing can be harmful and this is also true with swim paddles. Only use paddles for a quarter of your workout. Incorrect use or overuse can exert too much stress on the body, leading to incorrect muscle usage and swimmers shoulder.
Q: How To Care For Swim Paddles So They Last Longer?
Swim paddles are low maintenance. They don’t need pampering but a little extra care will go a long way. To keep them in good condition and ensure they last long, rinse them after use and pack them in your swim bag carefully.
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Whether you want to correct your form, develop strength and power, get used to swimming incredibly fast, or are training for a race, swim paddles can help you achieve your goal.
Just like using swim fins<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> helps strengthen the lower body, proper use of hand paddles – also referred to as hand flippers or swimming hand fins – can strengthen the upper body, improve feel, and strengthen the stroke and pulling technique.
Smart use of swim paddles is by improving technique first then working on building strength. This way, you learn to do it right then learn do it powerfully. When swimming with paddles on, focus on the feel of the water and concentrate on how your body is moving so you will be able to achieve the same performance sans hand paddles.
More Watergear Swim Guides:
- How To Choose Lap Swimming Suits
- Swim Resistance Gloves VS Swim Paddles: What Is The Difference?
- Swimming Workouts That Build Strength
- How To Increase Lung Capacity For Swimming
- Difference Between A Training Suit And Technical Race Suit
How about you? Which swimming hand paddles is your personal favorite, even if it isn’t included in our swim paddle reviews? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below!