The "When", "What" and "How" of Pull Buoys
Mini squads are the first time a swimmer should be exposed to using a Pool Buoy. Before this, swimmers are too young and their strokes are still developing.
Like any other piece of swimming equipment Pool Buoys shouldn’t be used as a crutch for swimming correctly. Young swimmers should have reasonably good technique, stroke and position in the water. Using equipment is a privileged not a rite.
What does a Pull Buoy do for a young swimmer?
Pool Buoys elevate the swimmers lower body and feet. They are to develop better stroke, body position, self-assessment and self-awareness for the swimmer. It will reduce dragging and sinking in the water. They are not meant for developing massive upper body strength at this level. Swimmers shouldn't come out of the water complaining of intense aching and sore shoulders after using a Pull Buoy.
At this age don’t allow young swimmers to use a Pull Buoy for extended periods of time. Allow for a gentle minimal kick for some propulsion and prevent any shoulder and upper body injuries. It should be placed in between the upper thighs as close to the hips as possible. Not in between the knees or ankles. If the Pull Buoy has one larger portion this portion is placed in the direction of the sky to create to the most buoyancy.
The Pull Buoy should only be used for Freestyle and Backstroke at these levels. If you wish to use the it for any other stroke/kick seek advice from a more experienced senior coach. Always be aware of your duty of care.
What type is the best?
Pull Buoys come in various shapes and sizes. The most popular and easiest to use for junior swimmers is a foam hourglass shape. If your swimmer doesn’t have a traditional Pull Buoy utilize a mini kick board (approximately an A4 size). Never replace a junior Pull Buoy with something bigger that has more buoyancy, do a quick water test if you are unsure. This can disrupt a swimmers position in the water and cause injury.
In order to move up to the next size you will be able to see that the Pull Buoy isn’t providing the adequate buoyancy in the water.
Don’t forget to communicate to parents and carers where they can purchase the correct type of Pull Buoy both in store and online. Give them time to purchase but also a time frame as to when you expect them to have the equipment for their swimmer.