Paddles are one of those pieces of equipment that you will either hate or love, and you’ve probably seen someone using them around the pool at some point. Paddles can provide you with many benefits, and I believe that they can be a good tool to use when you are wanting to develop your stroke. Just about every swimmer of almost every age could potentially benefit from some sort of paddle. If you decide that your child should give them a go, then I suggest you take on board some of these points to make sure that your child is using paddles correctly, and for the right reasons.

At a younger age, there are smaller paddles that can be used until your child has gained a bit more strength. These can be great tools to use to improve your technique and help your child gain a better feel for the water. For younger children, you could try sculling with small, strapless paddles as they might be just what you need to get a “feel” for the water. Feel for the water is really important and this can change your experience in the water completely.

For those who are in the higher levels of the Swim School, such as Development One, Two and Fitness, using paddles can be extremely beneficial, as your child will be able gain strength, gain feel, and improve their technique, as the paddles force you to swim with the correct technique, and without cutting corners. Paddles are great for increasing the resistance during your pull. By making your hand larger, it’s tougher to pull it effectively through the water. This makes you work a bit harder, or use muscles you don’t normally use.

When in the younger levels, and you are still learning the strokes, you shouldn’t try to force the paddle through the water. It is important to feel for the point where your hand enters the water, when the paddle catches the water, and when it starts to move you forward. Many newer swimmers seek the feeling of heavy pressure on the paddle, and they’ll push down, out, in and all around to maintain the feeling of force, however this can be counterproductive. It is important to remember that paddles should only be used to try and gain a better feel for the water when at a younger age.

There are a range of different paddles that can be used. These can range from small, to medium, to large paddles. Some have bigger holes, and some have smaller holes to restrict the amount of water getting through, which increases the pressure. So, it is important to choose the paddles that will be most beneficial to you. If you are learning, then I suggest smaller paddles that will allow for you to feel the water better, which can help you gain better technique. If you are looking at getting paddles for strength, then you can consider using paddles that are slightly bigger.

So overall, paddles can be an extremely beneficial aid to help your child regardless of their level and skill. Paddles can help with gaining a better feel for the water, improve technique, and can also increase strength in the water.

If there are any technique tips you’d like us to tackle, let us know by emailing [email protected]

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Jacob Garrod works for AUT Millennium Swim School and the Schools Programme. He started back in February 2015 and teaches from Breather Level right through to Development Two. Whilst working part time, he is also in the home stretch of completing his Bachelor of Business Degree at Massey University in Albany. Jacob learned to swim aged three, and became a competitive swimmer at the age of 7. He continued right through until 22, clocking up 15 years in the sport. He specialised in breaststroke and has represented New Zealand on the international level, attending two Oceania Championships in 2014 and 2016, where he managed to get five medals - three gold, and two silver. Jacob also attended the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, in Nanjing, China, and the 2017 World University Games, in Taipei, Taiwan. Jacob attended multiple National Championships where he managed to get medals throughout the years, from junior level, to age group level, right through to open level.

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