Aquatic Mitts - Why Use Them?
coming to the pool for the first time are amazed to see the participants
wearing aquatic mitts in the water. "Why do you need them?" is the
first question we get, and the answer is simple. Aquatic Mitts can
assist every participant get the best out of their water workout.
the arms properly to support balance and posture can provide effective
training for all exercise goals whether cardiovascular, strengthening,
stretching, agility, coordination and so on. Learning to utilize the
hands properly will allow each client to become successful and go home
In any fitness environment, safety for the participants
should be the number one priority especially in the water. The Aquatic
mitt is primarily a safety feature, worn to assist the wearer with
balance and stability. On land, the air mass around participants is
unlikely to knock anyone over, whereas in the pool, water mass surrounds
the participant and exerts buoyancy and water currents created with
every movement . This combination will lift and move the body and can
unexpectedly sweep the participant off their feet if they are not
sufficiently skilled to maintain balance. The extra surface area of a
mitt helps to maximize vertical balance in water for good postural
training. Correct sculling techniques with the mitt stabilize body
alignment, whether at rest or in motion. The mitt can assists travel to
provide efficient movement. In other words: the mitt helps to maintain
posture, balance and stability (which is fundamental to any aquatic
Sculling should be the first skill trained in the pool to show how the extra surface area provides water support. Using
the regular flat figure eight scull to push the palm of the hand
against buoyancy the participant will feel the buoyancy push back. Mitts
help a client to secure lower body stability. To train balance, stand
on one foot and scull the arms. Feel the weight aligning over the
supporting hip. To progress balance training, lift both feet off the
bottom. Participants will need to have good sculling skills and comfort
in water to suspend or have both feet off the pool bottom. This is key
for non impact training with or without a belt or noodle. Working non
bottom contact allows the client to achieve more core strength as well
as less vertical stress on the joint.
Another arm pattern
that needs to be trained is a propeller type of scull. This movement is
important to assist travel through the water. This hand technique uses
the hands in a "thumbs up" or supinated wrist position as the back of
the hand of the lead hand and the palm of the trail hand to push against
the water. Pushing left provides travel and assistance to the right. To
intensify the workload (or conversely in a reversed push-pull pattern) ,
push left and travel left to resist or add work into the travel
Mitts can be used in a warm up to assist with
basic movement and prepare the muscles and joints for the upcoming
workout. For example when walking forward using the "serve the platter"
movement to open up the chest and set-up the shoulder area for good
posture. Use backward shoulder rolls to assist scooping for backward
travel. When walking to the side, pull the arms down to the sides to
feel buoyancy or introduce the propeller scull to warm up the wrist and
Additionally, the mitt can be used to resistance-train specific muscle groups in the upper body by alternately "webbing" towards the target muscles and "slicing" to rest on the return phase of the movement.
Example of showing Slicing Arms
clients should master the movement with a slicing hand positions This
is a triceps extension exercise. Start with the arms in front of the
body with the elbows tight to body. Extend the elbow and push forcefully
down - being sure to no lock the elbow.
Example for Fisting Arm position
is a posterior deltoid exercise. Start with the arms reaching out in
front with a fisted hand positions. Power and pull the arms down keeping
the arms close to the sides of the body. Relax and streamline the hands
on the ascent or back to the start position.
Example of Webbed Hands
with the hands in front of the body crossed for full range of motion.
Notice that the Thumbs Up breast stroke position. Powerfully press the
water with the back of the hands until there is a crease in the middle
back or pull back and squeeze the shoulder blades together to target the
rhomboids and middle trapezius muscles.
warm up the body with a simple slicing action. Progressing to a fist
hand position to provide more intensity. Provide more athletic types the
webbed hand position ( with the fingers spread in the mitts) to create
the widest surface area possible.. Offering three intensity progressions
for upper body muscle targeting really helps to program a class with
many levels of fitness. Instructors may have the new people slice the
hands back and forth ( to work at a beginner intensity). Those
participants able to do more challenge will work harder while the less
skilled and fit people will streamline. Everyone may choose to work at
an intensity they feel comfortable and skilled with.
targeting the latissimus dorsi and lower trapezius muscles start with
the arms at shoulder height to the side (as learned in the side walk
warm up). Power down and pull the palms of the hands to the sides or pat
on the buttocks and slice back to the start position. Try to pull the
arms down as the legs go out to a squat so that the shoulders are
submerged and protected as well as there is more water to pull down for
added resistance. The lats are a large upper body muscle group -so using
only the hands will not yield enough resistance for most people to
benefit with the strengthening of those muscles. Mitt positions may be
sliced down and up (beginner level), Fist down and slice up (intermediate level) and web down and slice up (advanced level ).
In lower body muscular target training,
the mitts help provide balance, stability, and good posture for more
effective movement. For example when training the skateboard movements
to target the hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles, a flat scull will
assist the abdominal core muscles to kick in to help maintain a vertical
In deep water, using a bicycle movement
and maintaining a recumbent body position, adding a sculling hand
position with a mitt to the upper body helps to balance the surface area
of the upper body to the lower body. In doing so, the body position may be more
easily maintained so that the core is trained most effectively in a
functional posture. Often, people in deep water pike at the waist and do
not maintain the shoulders over the hips. This chair position alignment
helps the participant to work on body positions that are necessary to
train. In other words their core become stronger so that they can sit in
a car or at a desk without as much pain because the core muscles are
stronger from the water exercise).
Mitts may also be
utilized in deep water to either assist or resist travel. This is
especially useful to travel the body through the water or to counter
balance the arms to the legs with more powerful muscular strengthening.
The arms can pull forcefully back with a webbed hand position breast
stroke movement while the legs pull down and back with a bicycle
movement. The assisting of the arms to the legs makes for easier
coordination and balance and will travel the movement forward. To make
these exercises more intense and negate travel, the arm may be utilized
in opposition. The arms may push forward with a chest press movement
while the legs pull back in a recumbent cycling motion.
with exercises in the water one size of mitts does not fit all that is
why each person should own their own mitts as well as try them first to
chose their best fit for comfort.
There are several styles of aquatic mitts to choose from:
For the average person the WaterART slip on neoprene mitts
provides good support and fit snuggly at the wrist. These can be worn
or either hand. These tend to last the longest because there is no zipper to or black grip pads to deteriorate. Sizes are small, medium and large.
The zippered neoprene mitts
will be easier to put on especially for anyone with arthritic fingers,
or movement disorders where the hands move constantly or conversely
cannot move easily. Sizes are small, medium, large and X-large.
Speedo provides a mitt
that opens at the wrist and is held in place with Velcro. These mitts
have neoprene on the back and a rubberize material on the front. People
with wrist issues find extra support with the higher wrist band or
velcro strap. Sizes are small, medium, large and X-large. WaterART has two sizes medium (green) and large (purple).
does custom order mitts. We have even put names on them and done many
patterns and sizing. We can match any outfit. Allow 4-6 weeks delivery
on all custom mitt orders.
There are also Polyester mitts
available. These have limited or no resistance value however they are
effective to support and maintain balance. These are suitable for anyone
with shoulder or arm problems or for conditions such as osteoporosis
where the upper bone structure may be extremely weak. Sizes are small,
medium, large and X-large.
All mitts should be properly
rinsed out after use. The neoprene mitts can last an average 1-2 years -
depending on how often in the pool. Costs retail between $14.00 for slip on or zipped mitts and $30.00 to $40.00 for Speedo and custom print mitts ( less your WP member discount).
TIPS with the Aquatic Mitt
Never force anyone to use an aquatic mitts
Train sculling and show clients the three levels of intensity ( i.e. slice - fist -web)
the wrist neutral position. Never push the water with a hyper-extended
wrist (with or without a mitt). We always suggest punch or scull with
When sculling teach people to hold the arms at hip
height and dust a table top, spread some icing on a cake or draw a
number 8 in the sand. Push down gently with the hands so that the body
Mitts may be taken off if using noodles for upper body
resistance especially closed cell or super noodles as mitts make it
difficult to maintain a safe hold.
Added Bonus of Mitts for the Instructor !
an instructor you may clap with the mitts. Often yelling is hard on
your vocal cords and clients dont hear properly with the poor acoustics
of a pool. Clapping with a mitt amplifies the sound and will gain you
instant attention. This makes for a stronger communication tool for your
For the Instructor without the benefit of a
pool mat to work on - Kneeling on the mitts when showing a kneeling body
position on deck. wll save you r knees and sitting on them on the side
of the pool can save your bathing suit.
Full PDF Article to download
NEW WaterART Velcro Mitts
WaterART Blue Mitts (pair)
Zipped Exercise Mitts (pair)
Speedo Hydro Resistance Swim Gloves - BLUE (pair)
WaterART Custom or Leopard Mitts (pair)
Buy 10 WaterART Mitts get a Net Duffle Bag for Free!