Best Swimming Paddles

7 Best Swim Paddles for Getting Stronger and Better Technique

Swim paddles are an excellent tool for getting stronger in the water and improving technique. Here’s a breakdown of the best paddles for swimmers.

From beginner to elite, swim paddles are among the favorite types of swim equipment on the pool deck.

Swim paddles are designed to improve strength and power while swimming. They help refine technique, encourage cleaner hand entry, and facilitate more efficient pulling in the water.

Additionally, using paddles increases swimming speed, which is flat-out fun!

But which swim paddles are best for you and your goals in the water?

In this expert guide, based on 30+ years of competitive swimming experience as an athlete and coach, we test and evaluate the best swim paddles in the water right now.

By the end, you’ll have a crystal-clear idea of which swim paddles will help you unlock faster speeds and more strength in the pool.

Let’s dive in.

Best Swimming Paddles for Upgrading Your Swim Workouts

Here is a quick look at our top picks for paddles for swim training:

Next, we will evaluate each swim paddle, highlighting the pros and cons, what kind of swimming each paddle is perfect for, and where to buy.

Later, we will also detail what to know when choosing between the different paddles on the market.

Best Pool Paddles for Swimmers

1. Speedo Power Plus Paddles

⭐ Best hand paddles for power training

Speedo Power Plus Hand Paddles

Speedo is probably the best-known company when it comes to making swim gear. Whether it’s their line of tech suits, swimming goggles, or swim bags, Speedo brings it.

The Speedo Power Plus training paddles are no exception, being the best hand paddles for developing a stronger pull in the water thanks to an ergonomic shape that mimics the shape of your hands, tons of strap placement options, and excellent durability.

I have a black set currently in my mesh swim bag and have been using them regularly over the past six years. The straps on them have not disintegrated whatsoever, which is remarkable given their daily use and my complete lack of care (you should rinse your swim gear from time to time) for them.

Speedo Power Plus Paddles (1)

Nearly daily, I use them for pull work (I eat up paddle/band/pull buoy sets like dessert) and everyone’s favorite type of set… using swim fins and paddles for all-out, blistering sprint work!

These hand paddles have served me well over the years and will continue to do so.

The Speedo Power Plus Paddles come in four different color combinations and four different sizes, from small to X-large, and retail for around $20.

Best paddles for developing power and strengthNo elevated palm rest on the paddle
Extremely durable 
Contoured edges for natural feel for the water 
Tons of strap placement options 
Made by Speedo—most trusted name in swim gear 

2. Sporti Power Swim Paddles

⭐ Best budget-friendly power swim paddle

Sporti Power Plus Paddles

The Sporti Power Paddles are another hand paddle designed for speed and power in the water.

These paddles are also almost hilariously inexpensive, at less than $10 at Swim Outlet (Sporti is Swim Outlet’s in-house swim brand).

The paddles have the same hand-shaped paddle and rubber tubing as the Speedo Power Paddles, but feature a raised contour for your palm. This makes the paddles sit more naturally on your hand and helps the paddle “suction” into the hand for a more secure fit.

Sporti Power Paddle - best budget-friendly power swim paddles

The Sporti Power Paddles are built for extended use and speed—I love using them for effort 50s as they stay perfectly in place when sprinting.

Sporti offers them in three sizes (the “large” is more like an “XL”, in my experience) and with a price tag at half the cost as other paddles with similar features and build quality. The only issue that I’ve noticed with these paddles is that the rubber straps can slide a little bit when snug against the hand and wrist.

Best budget-friendly power paddlesRubber straps slide
Raised palm rest for enhanced ergonomics and secure fit 
Multiple strap configurations 
Hand-shaped paddle 

3. FINIS Agility Paddles

⭐ Best strapless swim paddles

Best Swim Paddles - FINIS Agility Swim Paddles

While Speedo is the big name in swimming equipment, whether it’s with swim caps, goggles, or swimsuits, FINIS has quietly become the pioneering swim brand.

From their swimmer’s snorkel, to the Tempo Trainer Pro, to their Monofin, FINIS produces a line of industry-leading swim gear developed for high performance in the water.

The FINIS agility paddle is no exception.

FINIS Agility Swim Paddles

The first time you look at the FINIS Agility Paddles you can be forgiven for being confused—they look more like a pair of plastic plates than paddles. No straps? No holes to pass water?


The FINIS Agility paddles’ biggest feature is that they come without straps to keep them attached to your hand. Instead, there is just a small hole to slide your thumb.

This unique design promotes great technique in the water, as the moment your hand entry starts to get sloppy, the paddle will slide off.

Although I always get some furrowed brows when I show these paddles to swimmers, they are excellent hand paddles that can be used with all four strokes in the water.

Beginner swimmers may be flustered when starting out with these swim paddles, but the FINIS Agility Paddles are an excellent tool for correcting improve technique.

Best strapless swim paddlesCan be frustrating to use for beginners
Ideal for all four strokes 
Promote better technique 
Hand sits comfortably in the pocket of the paddle 

4. Arena Flex Paddles

⭐Best paddles for beginners

Arena Flex Swim Paddles

Departing from the usual plastic dinner plates that swimmers strap to their hands is the Arena Flex paddle, which is a mesh paddle that doesn’t provide the same amount of propulsion, but they are also not as hard on the shoulders as your traditional plastic paddle.

The Arena Flex Hand Paddles have a flexible surface that is made of mesh that flexes to the unique grooves and contours of your palm and fingers, giving you an enhanced feel for the water and a more comfortable fit on your hand.

These swim paddles are more for technique improvement, as the added resistance of the mesh and the fact that water flows through the mesh will really force you to focus on achieving a better early vertical forearm. The Arena Flex paddles can be interchanged with your regular plastic paddles which are more suited for power and strength development.

The Arena Flex comes in three different color combinations and retails for around $20, making it an awesome and cost-effective tool for working your stroke and strengthening your pull at the pool.

Best swim paddles for beginnersLimited strap placement options
Mesh design is easier on the shoulders and elbow jointsNot suited to high-speed work
Ideal for multi-stroke use 

5. FINIS Freestyler Paddles

⭐ Best paddles for improving freestyle technique

FINIS Freestyler Swim Paddles

The FINIS Freestyler Paddles are a specialized hand paddle designed to encourage a clean hand entry, longer stroke, and a quick vertical catch when swimming freestyle.

Because there are no wrist straps, a poor hand entry will leave the paddle twisted on your hand. The shape of the paddle also pushes you to really reach at the beginning of your stroke, extending distance per stroke.

The Freestyler paddles are great beginner hand paddles for newer swimmers who are more focused on fine-tuning their technique and learning the most efficient ways to move through the water.

Also, because the paddles don’t have a frisbee amount of surface area, they are easier on your shoulders and elbows compared to some of the bigger, more strength-oriented pool paddles on the market.

Best paddle for improving freestyle techniqueLimited utility beyond freestyle swimming
Available in Adult and Junior sizes 
Uni-strap design encourages clean hand entry 

6. Arena Elite Fingertip Paddles

⭐ Best fingertip swim paddles

Arena Fingertip Swim Paddles

Lastly, we have a specialized paddle that won’t really give you the standard benefits of using paddles (building strength and swimming really, really fast).

The purpose of finger paddles is to help you power up the farthest reaches of your stroke—the point where your fingertips begin the pull. The very top and beginning of the stroke. The small surface area of the paddles highlights the “feel for the water” in your fingers.

Fingertip paddles will also help you emphasize a “fingers down” pulling motion and help you avoid pushing down on the water, and instead of pulling it back. Fingertip paddles are also ideal for doing sculling work.

The Arena Fingertip Swim Paddles are my favorite of this sub-niche of pool paddles, as the dual straps help to keep the paddles in place (even when your technique falters and the paddle tries to slide off). Arena offers them in three different colors, including lime green and pink, for around $14.

Best fingertip swim paddlesSome reviewers struggle with getting strap placement correct
Helps improve feel for the water 
Encourages faster entry into the pull motion 
Easy on the shoulders 
Helps swimmers “grab” more water 

7. Strokemaker Hand Paddles

⭐ Best Old-school “classic” swim paddles

Strokemaker Swimming Hand Paddles

The Strokemaker paddles have been around pool decks for a long time.

I remember them filling up our equipment bin during my age group swimming days–we’d scramble through the bin to find matching sets before those dark early morning swim practices more times than I could count.

The Strokemakers are old-school paddles that have undergone several updates over the years, and this recent edition is their most durable Strokemaker Paddle to date.

Strokemaker Hand Paddles

Designed by longtime swim coaches, the Strokemaker features vents to allow a slight amount of water to pass through and give you a more natural feel for the water. The paddles–especially when you take the wrist strap off–will coach you to not finish your arm pull too soon.

The Strokemakers come in a huge variety of sizes and are right up there when it comes to the biggest swim paddles on the market.

Strokemaker has a handy sizing chart that provides recommendations on paddle size depending on your age and experience level, with the size 0 paddles being best suited for swimmers aged 5-10, with the size five paddles being for the strongest swimmers in the pool.

Available in a wide range of colors, the Strokemaker Swim Paddles are long-lasting, designed to improve swim performance, and will help you exaggerate (and correct!) some of the more classic stroke errors in the water.

Hard plastic that lasts foreverNot very ergonomic
Made in the USA 
Best old-school, no-frills power paddle 
Tons of strap adjustment positions 
Smaller sizes for youth and Jr swimmers

Other Swim Paddles We’ve Tried and Tested

The A3 Performance Swim Paddles are very similar to the Sporti Swim Paddles, with the contoured palm and paddle shape, but are more expensive.

The FINIS Manta Swim Paddles are strapless power paddles that blend the Agility Paddle with the added power development of power swim paddles. While I love the concept, the plastic rubbed hard on my knuckles when swimming.

How to Choose the Right Swim Paddles for Lap Swimming

Here is what you need to know about choosing the right paddles for you and your swimming.

✅ Paddle size.

Select paddles that are just larger than your hands. I know the temptation to get the biggest possible paddles is real—bigger paddles mean more power and more speed—but your priority with paddles is to progressively build strength, not blow your shoulders out.

Similar to choosing a pair of swim fins for training, the larger the tool, the slower your stroke tempo will be in the water.

You want a paddle that balances power development with a stroke rate similar to your regular swimming to get the maximum benefit from it.

✅ Ergonomics.

Paddles come in a variety of depths, shapes, and with or without vents to replicate the experience of swimming without paddles.

Speedo’s old-school paddles were a simple rectangular shape, but paddles have since transitioned into hand-like shapes that mimic our natural hand and finger positions in the water.

Some pool paddles are also raised and contoured in the middle to match your palm, but for the most part, swim paddles are flat.

How to Choose Swim Paddles
The A3 Performance Swim Paddles have a raised contour for the palm.

✅ Straps vs No straps.

Paddles are kept on the hand (usually) with a pair of rubber straps. A smaller one for the knuckle of your middle finger, and a second larger strap that goes around your wrist. Beginners to pool paddles will want to use both straps to get used to the feeling of swimming with them.

As you get comfortable, you can try removing the wrist strap to get the technique benefits of using hand paddles. Without the wrist strap you will have to really focus on putting full pressure on the water through the full stroking motion.

Lastly, there are some specialty paddles (the Agility Paddles and the FINIS Manta paddles) that are strapless and best suited for experienced swimmers.

Swim Paddles - Straps vs No Straps

What are the benefits of swim paddles?

Swim paddles are a valuable tool for enhancing strength, technique, and overall performance in the water. Incorporating paddles into your swim training ca:

  • Build swim-specific strength by over-exaggerating the amount of water pulled.
  • Develop upper body strength in the forearms, back, chest and shoulders.
  • Improve swimming technique.
  • Encourage a more efficient pulling motion.
  • Teach swimmers proper hand entry.

Swim paddles are an excellent form of swim gear that can help swimmers of all abilities improve their swimming.

What are the different types of swim paddles?

The type of swim paddles swimmers should choose comes down to you and your goals in the water.

Are you looking strictly to develop hysterical amounts of velocity and power in the water? Power paddles like the Speedo Power Plus or Sporti Power Paddles are excellent options.

How to Choose the Best Swim Paddles

Are you trying to improve your feel for the water? Try a finger-tip paddle to take your sculling to the next level?

Is your goal to really hone and improve your swim technique? Pick up a specialty swim paddle like the FINIS Agility Paddle or the FINIS Freestyler Swim Paddles.

It’s not uncommon to see elite swimmers with several pairs of paddles in their mesh bag, so choose a swim paddle (or two!) that aligns with what you plan on accomplishing in the pool.

What is the best size for swim paddles?

The natural instinct is to get the biggest of the big paddles—the more surface area on the paddle, the faster we can hurl ourselves through the water.

What is the Best Size for Swim Paddles

But a massive paddle slows down your stroke tempo so much that it becomes counter-productive.

Select a paddle that is just slightly larger than your hand. In my experience, both in my own swimming and coaching swimmers, aim for a paddle size about 25% larger than the size of your hand.

Tip: When sizing hand paddles, choose a paddle that is approximately 25% larger than the surface area of your hand.

Should beginners use swim paddles?

Beginners should exercise caution when using swim paddles in the water. When starting out, you should focus on the fundamentals of swimming with good form and technique.

Adding load to a developing stroke can be risky when swimming with poor technique, overusing them, or improperly sizing the paddles. But swim paddles add stress to the shoulder and elbow joints and should be used intelligently and progressively.

Beginners should approach swim paddles with the goal in mind to help improve technique first, and as form improves, use the paddles more and more to develop power and strength in the water.

Best Swim Paddles

The Final Lap

Swim paddles are one of my all-time favorite tools for mixing things up in the water.

Whether it’s doing a swim set with them (20×100 free with paddles is a favorite) or a pull buoy and paddles set, paddles are an excellent tool for faster swimming.

To recap our breakdown of the top paddles on the market:

⭐ Most swimmers will love the Speedo Power Plus Paddles, which come in various colors and sizes. These paddles give you tons of flexibility with straps and have vents to mimic the feeling of your natural swim stroke.

⭐ More experienced swimmers will want to try the FINIS Agility swim paddles. With a strapless design, these paddles emphasize helping you develop power while maintaining excellent technique in the water.

⭐ For a simple, old-school paddle, the Strokemakers Hand Paddles are an excellent option for younger swimmers (they have youth swim paddle sizes) and experienced swimmers alike.

Whatever your goals are in the pool, the right swim paddles will help you get there.

Choose the perfect swim paddles for you and get to paddlin’!

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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