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Swimming Hand Paddles Advice

Here at Simply Swim we understand that choosing the right hand paddle is important so you don’t damage your upper body muscles and get the most effective workout possible. We also know it can be a difficult choice with so many options available to you, so we have created this advice page just for you to make things a little easier!




Finger paddles are a type of hand paddle that are simply designed to fit your fingers. They are designed to improve your catch and feel of your stroke in the water so can be a great help for someone who’s looking for technique help.




These are the original hand paddle used for swimming and are possibly the most flexible to swim with. You’ll notice that the hand paddles have holes in to allow a small amount of water through and often come with moveable straps to keep your hand in place.




Hand paddles are most commonly used for swimmers looking to develop their upper body strength as they work the muscles in the back, chest, arms and shoulders. They do this by stopping the water from flowing through your fingers, allowing you to perform your arm pull with more power.

By using hand paddles in training you can have some great benefits, not just the development in your upper body strength. Hand paddles can help you to develop your swimming technique as you become much more aware of your arm pull and general swimming stroke. So if you feel a lot of resistance when you pull, then your hand is positioned correctly and you are pushing the maximum amount of water under your body to help you move.

If you have a first stroke that could do with slowing down, then hand paddles will do this for you as you have to work harder for each arm pull. If your stroke is slowed down then you can concentrate on areas of your body such as your head position or leg kick, so benefiting more than just your upper body.

Your stroke lengthens when you wear hand paddles which means that you reach further with your leading arm and are able to pull more water. A longer stroke means that you get a better distance per stroke so each arm pull becomes much more efficient.

Training with hand paddles is even more time efficient than normal swimming as you work harder, so tire sooner and don’t need to swim for so long. These can be a great training aid for those that are up against the clock.




  • Don’t do too much too quickly. Build up your hand paddle use gradually so you’re not at risk of injuring yourself.
  • First-time users should go for a smaller sized hand paddle to start with.
  • When swimming with your hand paddle on, keep the palm of your hand open and flat as you would when swimming normally. This makes it feel more natural and so when you take your paddles off you continue to swim with this good position.
  • Experienced swimmers who are looking to increase their training should try using a larger, wider hand paddle as it gives more resistance than a finger paddle or smaller hand paddle. Also, try adding in a pull buoy so it puts your body into a better position and prevents any leg kick, making your upper body work harder.
  • If you experience any muscle pain then stop using your hand paddles. They are designed to push you but it shouldn’t hurt.

Click here to see our range of hand paddles and upper body training aids.