When it comes to swimming, the most efficient swimmer is the one able to generate more power in their stroke. One way to do this is through using swimming paddles for the feet or hands. For most people, getting the right hand paddles is an issue given the intricate differences between them.
The best swimming hand paddles are made of long-lasting material as well as fairly priced. They are should features that make them comfortable to use and easily adaptable to the size of your hand.
Following is a review of the top swimming paddles for beginners, pros, kids and adults plus a guide on features to look for, benefits and tips on how to use them properly.
1. Speedo Power Plus Paddles(Unisex)
The Speedo Power are as good as you’ll need hand swimming paddles to be. They’re meant to work for all types of swimming strokes, all levels of power and just about any swimming routine you’ll employ.
They’re made with scalloped edges which create a smooth pulling efficiency reducing the drag on the stroke. The Power Plus has multiple holes which allow various sizes of hands while allowing water through like a hand would.
They also come in four sizes (small, medium, large and extra large) and four colors namely blue, red, white and yellow.
- Textured EVA foam making them very comfortable.
- Can be used for all swimming strokes, and all swimming activities.
- Available in four sizes and four colors as well.
- Scalloped edges to improve efficiency.
- Can be adjusted to fit any size of palm.
- The plastic strap holding the hand to the paddle isn’t very durable.
2. Speedo Nemesis Contour Swim Paddles
Borrowing from the shape of the humpback whale’s fin, these swim paddles have a series of tubercles along the edges to give you a wide surface area to swim with while reducing the drag on your stroke. The result is a major advantage when it comes to generating more pedaling force and building strength in your upper body muscles.
The paddles have contours which help in correcting poor hand position. With time, you’ll have the right power and form for whatever stroke you’re practicing with these paddles. The good news is that they apply to any stroke you pick on.
- The contoured design corrects poor hand position.
- Easy to use even for first timers.
- Tubercles provide more surface area to generate more force.
- The tubing straps are better than the competition.
- They’re not the best for technique-focused training.
3. Arena Vortex Evolution Swim Training Hand Paddle
This is the ultimate training pair for the elite swimmer. The Arena vortex Evolution paddles come with an ergonomic design aimed at reducing shoulder strain.
They have a convex palm shape for a better feel and hand position. They are also designed to allow for multiple hand strap positions
4. Finis Agility Strapless Swim Training Paddles
The Finis Agility is the 2013 winner of the reddot design award in the category of hand paddles. The award was based not just on the look of it but when the importance of the design was considered.
It features a small hole on the side for the thumb to go through. This makes it easy to steady the pull as you swim since the hand is in total control of the paddle as you swim.
Strapless design to help you apply positive pressure throughout your stroke
It can also be used with any type of swimming stroke be it butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke or freestyle.
- Can be used by all levels of swimmers and swimming strokes.
- Comes in 3 size; small, medium and large.
- Features an ergonomic design which takes up little space yet very effective.
- Very efficient when it comes to generating swimming power.
- Can be difficult for beginners to use properly.
- The strapless design can be unfriendly for swimmers used to straps.
5. Synergy Hand Paddles
The Synergy Hand Paddles are created to work in as natural a way as possible. For example, the holes in the paddles are such that strokes feel very natural and there isn’t too much drag in the water.
Beyond improving your swimming efficiency, they also find use in guiding a kayak or other small boat on the water. Primarily, however, they’re meant to help you build your upper body strength and make better your strokes.
They’re available in three sizes of small, medium and large each with a great fit for the hands. You also get to adjust the wrist and fingertips to attain the right fit for your hands. Their adaptability to various swimming strokes is also a great addition to the features.
- Can be used with any stroke and level of power.
- It has a hand-like shape making it easy to adapt to.
- Broad to provide a large surface area.
- Has holes to make the flow of water natural.
- The fitting straps may require repeated and periodic tightening to work best.
6. MP Michael Phelps Strength Paddle
The name Michael Phelps holds a special place in the swimming arena as he has many accolades throughout his life. However, these hand paddles are not on our list simply because they have the Phelps name. Rather, it’s because they deserve it.
The structure of the hand paddles is very similar to that of the hand. This is bettered by a series of vents which allow the natural flow of water through them. Their unique look is completed by straps for the middle finger and the wrist. All these make them highly functional in adding efficiency to your swim.
- Similar to the shape of the hand hence easy to adapt to.
- The straps for the finger and the wrist make for a steady grip on the paddles.
- The series of holes are matched with the space between the fingers for a natural flow of water through them.
- You need the exact size to your hand for the best experience.
7. Aqua Sphere Ergoflex Hand Paddles
Bones” provide structure, while rubber frame maintains flexibility and feel for the water. The rubber frame makes paddle safe for use with multiple swimmers in a single lane.
The contoured fit mimics proper hand positioning.
Wide, adjustable hand strap for custom fit; one size fits all
8. Finis Freestyler Swim Paddles
The Finis Freestyler Swim Paddles are meant specifically for the freestyle swimming stroke. As such, they have a different shape from the rest of the paddles on this list with the focus being enhancing this particular stroke.
They have a pointed end with two fins at the base. This design gives them a better reach for the water ahead as well as increasing the power for when the hand is pushing the water backwards. This narrow design also reduces the weight of the stroke from the shoulders thus reducing shoulder pain.
This freestyle paddle has a single strap for the middle finger. This design makes it easy to move the hands around in a freestyle stroke with the focus being on generating more power while streamlining the stroke as well.
- A great choice for professional swimmers.
- Improves speed and power of the stroke.
- The single strap on the paddle enables flexibility and control in the stroke.
- Increases the reach of the swimmer owing to the pointed end.
- Not suitable to other swimming styles or beginners.
9. Contour Training Hand Swim Paddles
A first look at these hand paddles reminds you of flip flops as they’re designed with two straps meeting in the center with a loop for a finger.
As such, the design is focused on producing the most efficient and balanced stroke with a balance of force on either side of the palm.
The unique alignment of straps makes them fit palms of different sizes without the need to get paddles of different sizes.
They also feature a series of perforations on the main surface to allow water to flow through it and thus provide a natural feel for the swimmer. They’re also contoured to reduce the drag of water on the hands while increasing the surface area of the palm. This aspect increases the force you’re able to generate with normal strokes.
- Ergonomic shape which provides the most effective strokes.
- Gives a natural flow of water around the palm owing to the holes on their surface.
- The rubber straps fit any size of a palm.
- Contoured for a streamlined result.
- Very large palms find them a bit restrictive.
10. TYR Catalyst Stroke Training Swim Paddles
Another popular pair for paddles is the TYR Catalyst Stroke Training Swim Paddles. They’re best for those seeking a perfectly fitting pair of hand paddles to especially improve their strokes.
This pair comes in two sizes although they all support 5 size specifications from the small hands to the largest ones. There’s another version, TYR Catalyst 2, for general swimming training.
Their flat surface ensures that the swimming pressure is distributed across both shoulders evenly. This reduces strain and damage to a single shoulder due to imbalance. It’s also very durable given the high quality material it’s made of.
- Highly durable material.
- The flat surface distributes pressure around the palms better.
- Comes in various sizes to fit different palm sizes.
- They’re not very comfortable.
Picking one pair of paddles from this list will help you reap the many benefits of using swimming paddles.
HEAD Contour Swim Paddle
In addition to our top 10 picks, head is also a good choice.
With a long-lasting plastic construction, the Head Paddles come with hydrodynamic design for better technique development. Blade design grips water to reduce fatigue.
As you already know, the contoured shape mimics the path of a pull without paddles
The adjustable silicone straps makes them one-size-fit-all
Arena Flex Paddles
Another bonus on top of the head paddles is Arena Flex paddles. The design of this pair is a symmetrical one deviating from the typical hand-shaped ones available. The reason for this is to offer symmetrical resistance to the water as you stroke with both hands.
In our tests, they works quite well especially with the flexible net material. This allows water to flow through the paddle thus making it feel natural at all times. For the most part, this design needs getting used to as it’s not what most people are used to.
- Symmetrical design for better balance.
- Flexible net material for better control.
- Provides a firm grip.
- Better pressure distribution around the hands.
- Has a steep learning curve.
How to Choose the Perfect Swim Paddles
Among the aspects to consider as you look for a pair of swimming hand paddles include the following:
The best fit for your palms will ensure you don’t injure yourself when swimming with hand paddles. This starts from getting the right size for your palms and fitting them properly as well.
Always ensure that your swimming paddles are at least 10% larger than the palm to attain the right balance from the paddling. At best, allow a 1cm distance between the end of your fingers and the edge of the paddles.
Also, consider adjustable paddles as they offer room to attain the right fit even when they’re not the perfect size.
On our list we have both contoured and non-contoured hand paddles. However, the contoured ones will offer a better fit for the palms as they allow the water to press against the hand naturally as if you don’t have the paddles on. This prevents strain on the palms and shoulders leading to a better experience.
For the non-contoured ones, ensure that you have the right material which allows the hand to have a natural feel for the water. This is made possible by the array of holes on most swimming paddles.
You need swimming paddles meant for your specific swimming activity and level of expertise to make the most of it. There are paddles for improving speed, building strength, finding the right swimming form and many other targets.
When selecting the paddles, keep in mind that there are general purpose and special-case paddles. For example, you can find paddles for a specific swimming strokes such as freestyle and breaststroke while others can be used with any stroke you need.
Lastly, you need paddles that suit your level of expertise. Some are meant for beginners while others are for experts. Still, others can be used by all classes of swimmers.
Paddle Size+ Chart
The size of the swim paddles is dependent on various aspects the most common of which is the size of the palm. However, the size of the paddle is also a determinant of the level of training.
For starters, you’ll need smaller paddles to prevent injuries to your shoulders and upper body. With time, you’ll use bigger ones which are tougher to control but provide more power.
As such, keep the paddles as close to the fingertips as possible when just starting out using the swim paddles. Otherwise, you’ll injure yourself in the process for taking too big a size.
For experienced swimmers who intend to increase their training, try larger, wider hand paddle as they provide more resistance compared to smaller paddles.
The material for the swim paddles shouldn’t be all tough or all soft as each trait is needed in equal measure. For example, if you’re going develop power and strength, you’ll need plastic paddles as they offer the most resistance.
On the other hand, if you’re going for fluid motions, you should go for flexible material such as rubber.
For straps, you’ll need material that’s both strong and flexible to help maintain their integrity while still providing a firm grip on the swimming pad. Some paddles also allow replacing the straps, which is a good option
Once you consider all these aspects, you’ll settle on one of the paddles we’ve outlined here. Keep in mind what you’re going to do with them and your level of expertise.
What do Hand Paddles do in Swimming?
A swimming hand paddle increases your hand surface area hence adding the resistance or power your hand experiences when you catch and pull water. The paddles do this by providing a surface to stabilize your hand while reducing the amount of water flowing through the space between fingers.
With the correct arm stroke, the increased resistance improves the feel of water which in turn gives you more forward propulsion.
Swim paddles are ideal for swimmers who want to develop their upper body strength as they work the muscles in the arms, back, chest as well as shoulders.
Benefits-How do Hand Paddles help Swimming?
If you’re wondering how hand paddles help will help improve your swimming or training, these are the benefits:
Swimming paddles build muscle hence power
Using the paddles is an upper body workout on its own. You’ll develop power in your upper body as you’ll be catching more water with each stroke. That means that, even when you take them off, you’ll still have more power for each stroke. This allows you swim faster.
Makes your strokes faster and more efficient
With paddles, you’ll move faster even when going at your normal paddling pace. This is because you’ll be catching more water with each stroke compared to using your plain hands.
Makes the catch better
With paddles having a bigger catch of the water, they’ll force you to make the catch more stable and efficient. With a weak catch, the paddles will likely fall off or slip to the side. The most efficient way is to keep them in direct contact with the water with the largest surface area possible.
Helps you focus on the pull
With the pull being the propelling force of the stroke, making it efficient is paramount to your swim with or without paddles. However, given that the paddles have a heavier catch, you’ll be forced to steady your hand when pulling in the water. With time, this makes you more efficient with the pull.
They’re fun to use
There’s also the plain reason that using paddles is much more fun especially when done occasionally. They allow you perform tricks you’re not able to do with plain hands.
For these and other reasons, using paddles is a great addition to your swimming arsenal.
How to use Swimming Hand Paddles Properly
Before getting into how to use them, remember they are not for everyone.
Avoid them if you have weak or injured shoulders, you’re a complete beginner who has no idea how to use them.
If you experience any muscle pain then stop using your hand paddles
Always warm up before getting into the pool.
If you want to add more resistance while focusing on your upper body, add in a pull buoy so it puts your body into a better position and it removes propulsion from legs.
The following video has more how to use the paddles correctly.
Hand Swim Paddle vs Gloves: which are better?
The paddles and glove basically aim at creating resistance while swimming but they’re completely different especially in terms of design.
Paddles are more common and are made of stiffer materials such as plastic. They have straps that hold your fingers.
On the hand, swim gloves are less common and are usually made of a soft neoprene material. They are mostly used for keeping your hands warm but they still do provide some resistance.
Paddles are better if want more intense workout while glove are good if you want to insulate your hands plus some light resistance
At the end of the day, both swim gloves and swim paddles play a role in developing your swimming strength, technique and eventually speed
Following is a list of articles with more swimming information and other water sports
- Different Types of Swimming Strokes, Styles & Names
- What is Sculling in Swimming? How to do it
- How to Tread Water- Techniques, Benefits & Exercises
- How to Swim Freestyle: Technique, Tips & Drills
- How to Swim Breaststroke: Kick, Pull, Form, Drills & Tips
- Butterfly vs Breaststroke Swimming
- How to Swim Elementary Backstroke- Technique, Drills & Tips
- How to Swim Sidestroke-Technique,Trudgen &Combat Drills & Tips
- How to Swim Backstroke-Technique, Drills & Tips
- How to Swim Butterfly: Technique, Drills & Tips
Swimming FAQs & Ideas
- How Many Calories Does Treading Water Burn?
- Can you Swim with Contacts in the Ocean/Pool?
- Can you Open your Eyes in the Salty Ocean or Chlorinated Pool Waters?