Swim paddles are one of the most popular pieces of equipment used for training. There are many different types of paddles on the market and many different purposes! There are two basic categories of paddles; there are paddles that are meant to offer resistance and build strength and power, and there are also paddles that are meant to improve technique.
Team Aquatic Supplies carries many styles of paddles in both categories, and will provide a bit more information on each to help you choose a paddle option that is best for you!
Resistance paddles are likely the first thing that comes to mind when people think about using paddles. These paddles are relatively simple in design. They are flat and larger in size than the swimmer’s hand. The purpose of these paddles is to provide additional resistance to the swimmer’s pull to build strength. These are great tools for swimmers looking to increase power in their pull or increase distance per stroke (DPS). For these paddles, we always recommend working with your swim coach to determine what size paddle is right for your training purposes and goals. If you are swimming without a coach or instructor, then our Swim Experts can also help provide you with a recommendation! A general rule of thumb is to choose a paddle that is about 1cm longer than your hand at its longest point (middle finger). A word of caution with these types of paddles, choosing a paddle that is too large can strain the muscles in your shoulder and can, when used incorrectly or too much, lead to shoulder injuries. However, when used in a well-rounded practice plan, these paddles can be extremely beneficial!
Here are some Resistance Paddles that TAS offers:
- Strokemaker Paddles
- TYR Catalyst
- Speedo Power Paddle Plus
- Finis Manta Paddle
- Arena Vortex Paddle
Technique paddles have been around for quite some time but have really started gaining traction as the go-to choice for most age-group and development programs. Technique paddles are engineered with a specific purpose in mind to help fix some aspect of the swimmer’s stroke. Most of these types of paddles do also offer a bit of resistance to the pull, but that resistance is generally with the intention of provide feedback to the swimmer for specific techniques in the stroke. Since there are many different types of technique paddles, each with their own unique purpose and design, we will just go into detail on a few of our more popular designs and the benefits of using those!
Finis Agility Paddle
This paddle is one of the most popular technique paddles on the market. It has a unique and innovative strapless design where the swimmer slides their thumb into a slot on the paddle and that is the only connection the hand has to the paddle. This simple design is actually quite brilliant as it helps fix one of the more common technical errors swimmers have in the pull! This common error is allowing the hand to slip or slide through the water during the pull. Finis has coined this term having a palm-positive hand position throughout the entire pull – meaning your palm is facing backwards through the pull which maximizes the amount of surface area possible to push the most amount of water, essentially making each pull more effective in moving your body forward through the water. With the connection of the paddle on the thumb, the moment your hand slips or turns to slide through the water (instead of staying palm positive) the paddle will come off your hand providing instant feedback to the swimmer that their hand slipped. In order to keep the paddle in place on the swimmer’s hand through the pull, the swimmer must keep constant pressure of the water applied to the paddle by keeping a palm positive hand position. In addition, these paddles do also offer some resistance to the pull making them a fantastic all-around paddle for any competitive or recreational swimmer!
Arena Finger Paddle
These paddles are designed to cover only, you guessed it, the swimmer’s fingers! (Surprising, we know). The Arena Finger Paddles are another technique paddle used to focus on a specific aspect of the stroke; for these paddles it is the catch. The catch is the initial phase of the pull where the swimmer places their hand and the forearm into an optimal position to hold as much water through the pull or power phase of the stroke. In freestyle, this movement is characterized by initiating the pull by putting pressure on the fingers and keeping your elbow higher than your hand – ideally creating a vertical forearm position (which would be perpendicular to the path your arm takes through the pull). The finger paddles also help to keep a strong wrist and keep the hand in a proper position through the length of the pull as well correcting a common mistake where the swimmers will allow their wrist to bend letting their hand slide through the water. These paddles provide feedback in the form of resistance on their fingers when the swimmer’s hands are catching water through the pull. Since these paddles are quite small, the amount of resistance they provide is pretty minimal, so these paddles would not be effective for strength building purposes – but this makes these paddles ideal for younger age-group swimmers as their first paddle; it does offer a small amount of resistance, but that resistance is more for technique feedback and improvement.