How to Choose the Right Swim Paddle

Swimming hand paddles can help you develop strength and improve your stroke technique. Learn how to choose the right swim paddle for you with this Pro Tips guide.

April 17, 2019

Swim paddles are a training aid worn on the hands. Both beginner and advanced swimmers can benefit from the effects of this swim training accessory.


“Practicing with swim paddles can help swimmers improve their arm and shoulder strength, as well as their stroke technique,” says Division I swimming and diving coach Marc Christian.


Finding the right swim paddle for beginners can be a challenge. Christian shares his tips on how to find the best swim paddle for your needs.




One of the first things you should look for when choosing a paddle is the paddle size. The size of the paddle determines resistance; i.e. the bigger it is, the harder it will be to move through the water.


“Swimmers should start with paddles that are slightly larger than their hands,” Christian says, noting that as you become more comfortable with the level of resistance or need a more challenging workout, you can slowly begin to graduate to larger paddles.




Resistance can also be affected by whether or not a paddle is solid in design or has holes throughout.


Solid paddles create more resistance. Meanwhile, paddles that have holes allow for water to flow through, which reduces the resistance. The more holes a paddle has, the less resistance it will provide and vice versa.




There are a variety of paddle designs that can serve different purposes in your swim training. Paddles can be stroke specific, flat or ergonomic.

  • Stroke-Specific – Some paddles are designed to help with one area in particular. These single-use paddles may either be for specific strokes or techniques. You can use these paddles to target areas of weakness.
  • Flat – Flat swim paddles can come in different shapes, including triangular, rectangular and hand-shaped. These flat paddles are less ergonomic and are best suited for strength training, as they generally have more resistance. This can help force you to really focus on your technique as you swim.
  • Ergonomic – Ergonomic paddles are designed to follow the natural shape of your hands while pulling water. These paddles can help give you the benefit of training without altering your technique.

Swimming paddles can give you a helping hand in your training. Now that you know the purposes of different styles and sizes, you can find the best swim paddle for your needs.