Hand paddles for swimming are a great tool for strengthening the arms and increasing efficiency in the water.
When using hand paddles, it is important to use them correctly. Beginner swimmers should start with smaller paddles that create less resistance, while more experienced or advanced swimmers can use larger paddles that create more resistance.
We should emphasise proper technique when using hand paddles, such as keeping the elbows high and having a good catch with each stroke. In particular, I have found that hand paddles are superb at helping to position my hands well at the start of the pull stroke, with my fingertips entering the water first.
When starting out with hand paddles, it is important not to overdo it. Start by doing short distances at first, like 50 meters, rather than long distances. This will give the arms time to adapt and get used to the extra resistance created by swimming with paddles.
Here’s the best paddles for swimmers that I have found and used.
1. Speedo Adult Unisex Tech Paddle
The Speedo Adult Unisex Tech Paddle are my favourite hand paddles for improving swimming technique while gradually building strength.
- Contoured palm design
- Strong plastic for a strong pull
- Single finger option for good technique
These hand paddles are perfectly formed to the palm of the hand to give you an excellent hand entry and pull stroke position.
Here is a side view of what these hand paddles look like on my tiny hands. A good rule of thumb when first getting hand paddles is to buy a pair which is slightly larger than your hands. If you purchase hand paddles that are too large, too soon they will be hard to swim with unless you already have excellent shoulder and muscle strength.
You can see from the image above how my hand is shaped to the profile of the hand paddle.
A great tip to further improve your swimming technique when swimming with these paddles (or any paddles) is to only use the central finger strap and let the hand paddle be loose, as I have shown in the image below.
If you can swim with the hand paddle attached like this, it will help your technique as it forces you to place your hand, fingertips first, into the water and maintain a high elbow position for the paddles to stay on and actually work in this position.
2. TYR Unisex Adult Paddle
The TYR Unisex Adult is another fantastic swim paddle. What I love about these hand paddles is that they come in different sizes, so as you gradually want to increase the resistance and improve strength you can move to a larger hand paddle and still have the shape you like and are accustomed to.
The profile of these hand paddles are flat, so are better suited for strength training over technique, however, you can still use the tip I highlighted previously and swim with just one finger through the straps in order to force good hand entry and pull positions.
3. Speedo Unisex-Adult Power Plus Paddles
For those who want a technically excellent swim paddle, but with a flat profile, these Speedo Unisex-Adult Swim Training Power Plus Paddles are a great option.
As well as having durable and comfortable rubber tubed straps, this hand paddle is formed with a scalloped edge to help your pulling trajectory through the water.
Again, different hand paddles with different sizes exist for this model and since the model is of a flat variety, you can experiment with larger sizes as you progress.
This is another great hand paddle that works well for strength training but also improving swim technique.
4. FINIS Strapless Technique Agility Paddles
This hand paddle design from Finis does not use any straps. For those who hate messing with straps or feel that straps are uncomfortable, then this is a good option.
The primary advantage of this swim paddle is to develop your swimming technique. Since there are no straps, you need to enter the water, pull and recover your hand in the water with good technique otherwise this hand paddle will simply fall off.
If you are gliding your hand, leading with your fingertips and recovering with a high elbow position, then swimming with this swim paddle will feel effortless.
5. Arena Hand Paddles
These hand paddles from Arena are a very technical hand paddle. For those who really struggle with technique, specifically finger tip entry position and the pull part of the stroke, then these are a good option.
They are not large enough to develop any great speed or strength, however; they do one job really well and that is hand entry position and pulling technique.
If you are supper focused on improving and working on this aspect of your stroke, then these are a good buy.
6. Speedo Unisex Adult Fastskin Hand Paddle
The Speedo Adult Fastskin hand paddle has a unique design with just one central strap for your finger and supporting plastic to cover the rest of your palm.
Although this hand paddle is supposed to be designed for improving technique, this hand paddle is best for power, strength and speed.
Due to the large surface area and ergonomic design, this hand paddle slips effortlessly through the water, allowing you to pull a lot of water. This result is improved power and strength.
7. Zoggs Matrix Hand Paddles
The Zoggs Matrix Hand Paddles are a good all-round hand paddle with comfortable straps and a flat hand profile. Many swimmers prefer the “tube” strap design that is found on many of the top performing hand paddles, as they are more comfortable on the skin since they do not have any sharp edges.
With this paddle, it is best for speed and strength training.
8. ZONE3 Ergo Swim Training Hand Paddles
These swimmer’s paddles are made from a hard plastic with a contoured shape which fits the profile of the hand to give you an excellent hand entry and pull position.
The single finger strap option is great for technique training, yet the stronger plastic allows you to build strength. These are an excellent swim training aid and right up there with the Speedo Adult Unisex Tech Paddle.
9. MARU Hand Paddle
This Maru hand paddle is another technical hand paddle which is good for swimming technique.
With a contour shape, a single-finger option and strong plastic feel it is good for improving your swimming technique.
This swim paddle is also much cheaper than other similar designs on the market, so a good option if you would like to try this style of profiled hand paddle without over-spending.
What Is The Best Paddle For Swimmers?
With so many varieties on the market, it’s hard to pick the single best paddle as it depends on your swimming goals.
When using hand paddles, most swimmers will either have a goal of:
- Improving Technique
- Building Strength
Best Hand Paddle For Improving Technique
My top pick of the paddles for improving technique is the Speedo Adult Unisex Tech Paddle. With a shaped palm profile, it will automatically help your hand to find a good catch position.
- Contoured palm design
- Strong plastic for a strong pull
- Single finger option for good technique
In addition, the straps are versatile, so, as you get more accustomed to using the paddle, you can just use the strap over your middle finger. This will force you to put your hand, fingers first, into the water and develop a good pull stroke.
If you are not using a good hand position, the paddle will just fall off by using one strap so you get direct feedback on your pull stroke.
Best Hand Paddle For Building Strength
With a flat surface, the TYR Unisex Adult is the best hand paddle for strength building. This paddle moves a lot of water, which means a lot of resistance for your arms.
- Very comfortable
- Excellent for strength training
- Single finger use
- Various sizes available
What really makes the TYR Unisex Adult excellent is that it comes in different sizes. For a start, use the smallest paddle, just slightly bigger than your hand.
Once you have developed your strength and this feels easy, you can use a larger paddle, which means moving more water and increasing resistance.
Just like the Speedo Adult Unisex Tech Paddle, you can just put your finger through the central strap to help with technique. You don’t want your swim technique to decrease just because you are working on strength.
Swim Paddles – Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Choose The Right Paddle For Swimming?
When selecting the right swimming paddle, there are a few key things to consider.
First, take the size of the paddle into consideration, as it can influence the way you swim.
As a general rule, start with a hand paddle that is just slightly larger than your hand. If you go too big, too soon, you will quickly get exhausted.
It is like lifting weights at the gym. If you go straight for the heavy weights and don’t have the strength and stamina already developed, you will not get very far.
Larger paddles provide a larger surface area to create more power with each stroke, while smaller paddles can help improve your technique.
Novice swimmers should opt for smaller paddles with less resistance, while more experienced swimmers who want to build strength can go for larger paddles, which will give you a more powerful stroke as you are moving more water.
It’s also important to consider the material of the paddle. Some paddles are technical paddles made with a hard plastic while others have a softer plastic that bends more easily.
Which you choose depends on your swimming style and personal preferences as both options are great.
Are Hand Paddles Good For Swimming?
Hand paddles are a great choice for swimmers of all levels. They help to increase the surface area of the hand, resulting in increased power with each stroke and improved technique.
Hand paddles also offer more feedback to the swimmer, so they can make adjustments in order to improve efficiency and form. The added resistance provided by the paddles can also help build strength and endurance, making them a great choice for both novice and experienced swimmers.
So if you’re looking to improve your swimming, give hand paddles a try. With the right selection and some practice you’ll be sure to see improvements in no time.
How Big Should Hand Paddles Be For Swimming?
As a beginner, or a swimmer who is new to hand paddles, start with a hand paddle that is just slightly larger than the palm of your hand.
As you become more experienced, try larger paddles which will generate more power but require greater strength and stamina to use.
You will be amazed at how quickly your will tire when you first use hand paddles. As someone who swims everyday, I was shocked when I first used hand paddles and could only swim a couple of lengths at a time with hand paddles before I had to take a break.
Now I can swim many lengths with hand paddles as I have built the strength and stamina. I have learnt that it is better to start small and work your way up to larger paddles.
Should Beginner Swimmers Use Hand Paddles?
Beginner swimmers can absolutely consider using hand paddles to improve their swimming technique and build strength.
When starting out, smaller paddles with less resistance are generally easier for novice swimmers to use, as the decreased size and weight makes it simpler to control the paddle during each stroke.
Additionally, the feedback provided by the paddle can help beginner swimmers make adjustments in order to improve their form.
For those who are less confident in the water, just like using training fins, swimming with hand paddles can help to improve water confidence.
Overall, hand paddles are an effective and efficient tool for improving your swim technique, building strength and endurance, and can help swimmers of any level swim faster with more power. With the right selection and some practice, you’ll soon be seeing improvements in your swimming performance.
Can You Use Hand Paddles For Breaststroke?
Yes, hand paddles can be used for breaststroke. Breaststroke is a technique-driven stroke, and using hand paddles can help swimmers to improve their technique and increase the power of each stroke.
Hand paddles can also help swimmers to keep their arms close together at all times during the stroke, which improves water flow and helps to maintain balance.
When using hand paddles for breaststroke, it is important to select the right size paddle for your swim style and personal preferences. Smaller paddles with less resistance are generally easier for novice swimmers to use, as the decreased size and weight makes it simpler to control the paddle during each stroke.
Larger paddles can be used when you become more experienced and build up your strength and stamina.
So if you’re looking to improve your breaststroke technique, using hand paddles is a great option.
Which Are Better Swim Gloves Or Paddles?
Swim gloves (also knowing as resistance gloves) are an alternative to hand paddles and are used in the same way: to increase the surface area of the hands to generate more power. They come as a pair and fit snugly over the swimmer’s hands, providing extra resistance with each stroke.
Unlike hand paddles, they don’t require any straps or clips to keep them in place.
Which is better (swim gloves vs paddles), ultimately depends on personal preference and the goals of each individual swimmer.
If you’re looking for more power, then hand paddles are a great choice as they will help to increase your stroke rate and generate more speed in the pool.
In addition, for improved swim technique hand paddles are also widely accepted as the better option. [source]
However, swim gloves provide an alternative for those who experience discomfort when using hand paddles or are unable to keep them in place during their strokes.
In addition, swim gloves are a better option for those who have shoulder injury as they are more forgiving and less aggressive on the the shoulder muscles and joints.
To learn more about swim gloves, what they are used for and how they compare to swim paddles I have covered this in greater detail in this article.
My favourite and top recommended swim paddles for improving swim technique is the Speedo Adult Unisex Tech Paddle.
My favourite and top recommendation of swim paddle for improving swim strength is the TYR Unisex Adult.
Overall, hand paddles are an effective and efficient tool for improving your swim technique, building strength and endurance, and can help swimmers of any level swim faster with more power.
Whether you’re a novice or experienced swimmer, the size of paddle is important to get right in order to maximize their effectiveness. A paddle which is just slightly bigger than your hand is a great place to start.
Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect paddle size that works best for you, as often having different styles and shapes in your swim bag can help build different aspects of your stroke.
Just pop them in your swimming mesh bag and you will be swimming faster and better in no time.