How to Tread Water

By | Dec 2, 2016

One can never drown in deep waters once he learns to tread in water. It is a basic survival skill in which the person moves the legs continuously to gain momentum so that the body remains afloat. Extensively used for water sports like water polo or throw ball, this skill helps one stay upright in water without drowning and it gives the appearance of one standing in the water. This is also a great way to build stamina and increase your strength. A major form of pool exercise this is extensively taught during water work outs.

Techniques used for Treading in Water


  1. Use both arms and legs
  2. Keep your head up and your breathing normal
  3. Move your hands horizontally
  4. Move your legs circularly or back and forth
  5. lay backwards
  6. Hold onto any flotation device
  7. Read below guide for details

Use both arms and legs:  Make use of all the four limbs of your body i.e., arms and legs in an upright position. A horizontal position will make you start swimming so that has to keep in mind.

Keep your head up and your breathing normal: One has to be very calm and breathe very normally during this by keeping the head above water. This saves energy, makes you stay calm and enables you to tread in water for longer.

Move your hands horizontally: one needs to constantly move one’s hands forward and backward and not up and down. Up and downwards will lead you to move up and then down in the water but you won’t be able to stay upright.

Move your legs circularly or back and forth: One should move legs in a circular fashion as if one is cycling or in back and forth movement. This would make a person stay upright and afloat.

If you need to then lay backwards and gently paddle your arms and your feet:  Constant leg movement might tire you, so in order to change the monotony you can lay backwards and gently paddle arms and feet as this movement would too let you stay afloat and then after a few minutes you can continue cycling movement of the legs to tread the water.

Hold onto any flotation device if you have trouble staying above water: A rubber tube or float or an insulated ring can help you stay afloat by resting your arms on it. This helps one to stay above water without having to constantly move the limbs.


A great exercise and an even greater technique, this treading water will help you enjoy swimming even in the later stages when you have mastered it. Doggy paddle, flutter kick, frog kick, sculling, rotary kick and the little helicopter are some of the more advanced techniques to tread water. A doggy paddle is one in which the swimmer moves the arms in front of him while kicking the legs. A flutter kick is when the arms are out stretched for balance and the body treads water by kicking the legs.

A frog kick is when one moves the legs to the side and then back in. When you are tired of kicking your legs, you can try sculling with hands to remain upright in the water. Sculling is a movement when you tread the water with the outward and inward movement of the outstretched arms. Quite tough is the rotary kick in which one feet moves clockwise and the other foot moves counter clockwise. And finally, the helicopter kick is when you move you feet up and down lay backwards and move your hands in a circular motion.

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