* Prices may differ from that shown
Following a leg injury recently I have been doing a lot more exercise in the swimming pool at my gym, one of the things I have added to my work out is the use of these Zoggs Matrix Swimming Paddles. I use the medium size as I had used them before a few years ago and knew how they should be used. They cost me £9.99 and are a bright yellow colour just like in the picture. There is a larger version as well but that is intended for more experienced swimmers who train a lot as you do have to be careful; using these as they can cause injury if not used correctly.
The idea is that they increase the resistance in the water when you pull through your stroke, they are best suited for front crawl. I had used these when younger as a swimmer and knew that they should only be used for part of your work out, in fact the instructions recommend only using them for a maximum of a third of your workout in the pool. I tend to use them is short 200m bursts interspersed with leg work and normal swimming.
You really do notice the additional resistance especially as you stroke is slowed down, they are secured by three rubber bands that are circular and your hand slides through them and then you tighten, they remain secure while in use and do not slip about. The design of the paddle is such that it helps to scoop the water upon your arm entering and then creates the resistance with the flat surface which is punctuated with some holes to allow some water flow. You do feel the extra strain on your shoulders and the first time I used these I really felt it the next day. As well; as warming up before use it is also important to stretch afterwards and warm down otherwise the ache the next day will be worse, something I have not forgotten to do since.
They are nice and light out of the water however feel so heavy when swimming, they are well made and quite strong.
I find them comfortable to use and they certainly do work my muscles however I would not recommend over using them and while you can use them with other strokes it is while doing the front crawl that they are mainly designed for.
Zoggs matrix hand panels were designed to help people improve their stroke in the water, much like using a float to increase explosive leg power, the hand paddles, act almost like weights in the water, creating more resistance as you move through the water but also in allowing a more streamlines stroke as the paddles act like a rapier in cutting through the water.
The swim paddles look fairly funky, they are hydro-dynamically designed to improve the way you move through the water, the pads out of water are light and small, but in water, they do feel heavy enough to create a real pressure every time you move through the water. There are holes in the paddle which ensure that there is extra resistance every stroke also and they are easy to store in a kit bag.
The good thing about the paddles is that they help improve your technique, they can be a bit of a pain to hold at first but they do really streamline your movement in cutting out flailing hands and fingers. They do make you work a little bit harder in the water and by doing this when you don't use them your stroke feels about twice as easy and it becomes clear how hard the product has worked your muscles, as your refined technique will remain with you without these aids.
The paddles work your shoulders and help you to increase your power through the stroke, the paddles are a decent fit, with adjustable straps, but just like putting on a boxing glove, the first glove is easy, but the second one is difficult to put on because you need one hand to put the other one on. They incline as you put them on, the paddles look pretty cool in florescent yellow or bright blue and look more like knee pads or a baseball pitchers glove. The straps are rubber and the paddles fit to the palm of your hand, but ensure you buy the right size for your own hand size.
These paddles are cool, they look good and are great for strength and speed training, but you should check whether you can use it at your local baths, as they look a little bit dangerous and could perhaps be misconstrued by other swimmers, as these are a fairly new and innovative product.
Another downside of the paddles is that you have to stop before the end of a length a you can't grab hold of the wall (or anything else for that matter!!).
Overall these have been a great buy and I find using my swimming extras i'm getting a whole body workout at all swims, these work my arms brilliantly. They are available from Wiggle or Amazon for £9.99 and are well worth it.
I bought these swimming paddles a few years ago as I wanted to own my own pair so that I would be able to use them whenever I wanted to and so that I could improve my strength and technique in my arms. These paddles are made by the swimming company Zoggs and cost me about £10 when new.
--- What are they used for? ---
These paddles are used when swimming to help improve your swimming stroke and to build strength in your shoulders. They are generally used when doing the front crawl swimming stroke, as this is where they can be used most effectively. They provide a surface area that is much greater than your hand so that it is harder to push through the water, which lets you feel what your hand is doing through-out the stroke.
--- The Paddles ---
These paddles are made out of a solid blue plastic that is 3mm thick. There is very little flexibility in the plastic which makes them good for providing resistance in the water. These are the adult version of the paddles and they are 21.5cm long and 15cm wide. They do also make a junior version which is much smaller to suit a childs hands.
The paddles come with two pieces of rubber tubing that have to be threaded through holes in the paddles. These then form straps that hold your hand firm onto the paddle surface. On each paddles there are three of these straps that hold your hand at the wrist, knuckles and fingers. The rubber tubing is long enough to offer plenty of size adjustment for all sizes of hand.
Around the edges there are holes that let some water pass through them. This means that it is not a completely solid surface and so can act like your hand would and let some water through. The area of the paddle where your palm resides is raised up so that your hand can adopt a natural and comfortable position when using these.
On the rear of each paddle there are "blades" of plastic, no deeper than 0.5cm that help direct the water around the paddle and help move your hand correctly.
--- Usage ---
I have used these quite a bit in the last couple of years as my swimming has improved and the time I have spent in the pool has also increased. I have found that since using them for technique and endurance sets, my technique has improved greatly and I have felt that there has been a increase in the strength of my shoulders. This has subsequently helped me to swim faster and therefore produce personal bests in the last couple of years.
I have found that these paddles are quite comfortable to wear as they don't cause any irritation when wearing them. The adjustable straps has meant that I have been able to make them fit my hands perfectly. Putting them on can be a bit of an issue when you first use them as once one paddle is on, getting the other on with limited use of one hand is always fun. After a while you get used to this and find a way to do it quite quickly. Pulling them off is nice and quick as the hoops allow your hands to slide out quickly.
I have found that once these are on, there is a noticeable difference in the effort that is required to pull my hand through the water. The surface area of the paddle compared to my hand is quite a bit bigger and so this means that I am displacing more water per stroke with these on. This is good as it gets my shoulders working and it also slows my stroke down which means I can focus on my technique more.
These are still in good condition after a couple of years, apart from scratches to the plastic. They don't need to be well looked after as they are very durable and well produced. They are a very simple product for a simple task.
--- Where to buy them? ---
Nowadays as swimming is becoming more and more popular these paddles and similar ones can now be purchased at any good sports shop. If you can't get out to the shops then you can also get them online from many different online stores for a reasonable price. They are not hard to find and now are quite readily stocked as more shops realise the quality of the Zoggs products.
--- Overall Opinion ---
I would be lying if I said that I didn't like these as they are a very useful and functional piece of swimming training kit. For the price I paid and the usage I have got out of them they are well worth the money in my opinion. I shall keep using them for as long as I keep swimming as they bring great benefits in the long run.
One issue with using these is that some swimming pools do not like the public using these in non coached/club sessions. This is because if you accidentally hit someone with these when swimming, it would hurt a lot more than without them on. Luckily I usually swim with a club so this isn't an issue, but when I do swim in public sessions it has been a problem for me.
Overall, if you enjoy swimming and want to improve your front crawl technique and shoulder strength then I would recommend giving these a try. If you are not a confident swimmer to start with then it would probably we worth investing in some 1 to 1 coaching initially, so that you can get the best out of these as if you have a bad technique to begin with, then it will only get worse using these. I wouldn't recommend using these for long periods of time as the extra strain it puts on your shoulders could cause you an injury.
I am going to give these 4/5 as they are a brilliant bit of swimming kit, but for them to be most effective you need a reasonable front crawl stroke to begin with.
Thanks for reading.
This review may also appear on my Blog and on Ciao under the same username.