The backstroke is an exciting and unique event. All the elements of this swimming stroke are very different from other styles of swim. The start, underwater phase, turns, and the swimming form itself all need to be practiced meticulously so you can learn how to swim backstroke with perfect technique.
After reading this article, you will understand the appropriate form for all the components that make up the backstroke event. Plus, we will give some technique tips for you to think about during your next training. We will begin by looking at the backstroke start. Then, we will go over the turn and the underwater phase. After that, we will look into the technique you should focus on while swimming backstroke.
Once you put all these elements together, you will have everything you need to understand how to improve your backstroke technique.
The start is crucial in all swimming events. In breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle swimming, you start from the top of the swimming block and execute a forward dive into the pool. The backstroke, however, is the only event where you do not start from the top of the block.
For a backstroke start, you will begin in the water facing the wall. On the bottom of the swimming block, there are handles to hold. With your hands on the handles, place your feet against the wall and pull yourself up into the starting position. From the start position, you will push off the wall and execute your dive.
Here are some things to focus on for your start position:
Now that you know the basics for a good starting position, let’s look into what is needed for the dive:
Next, you’ll want to have a good backstroke streamline. The underwater part of the swim is what comes after the start and after each time you push off the wall. You are allowed to swim the first 15 meters underwater, during which you should perform the dolphin kick.
The streamline position for the backstroke is the same as the technique used for the front crawl or butterfly, except you are facing the surface of the water instead of the bottom of the pool.
When in the proper streamline position, you should keep your arms pressed against your ears, and they should be extended in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your body should be in a straight line so you can efficiently move through the water.
The propulsive force during your streamline comes from the underwater dolphin kick. If you are just starting out, you have the option of using a regular flutter kick during the underwater phase, but this will be much slower than using a dolphin kick. It is recommended that you learn the dolphin kick to improve your time.
To dolphin kick, put both legs together, and start your motion by bending at your hips then driving your legs upward and downward to propel yourself through the water.
The backstroke turn is similar to the freestyle and butterfly turn but with a few key differences.
When you are swimming backstroke, you cannot see the swimming line on the bottom of the pool or the wall. The only way backstrokers know where they are in the pool is by paying attention to the 5-meter flags above them. When you reach these flags, you know you are getting close to the wall.
To develop a good backstroke turn, practice the following:
Now that you have learned how to perform a proper start, streamline, and turn, let’s learn how to improve your backstroke swimming technique. First, we will go over the two common mistakes in body position and then how to fix them. After that, we will take a look at arm motion and kicking technique.
There are two basic mistakes that are made when swimming backstroke. Both mistakes come from improper body position while moving through the water. The first is having your legs too high in the water, and the second is dropping your hips too low.
If you keep your body in a perfectly horizontal position, your legs will be too close to the surface of the water to serve their purpose. A lot of drive comes from the legs in the backstroke event, so it is important to have your legs low enough in the water so that they can displace enough water to propel you as you kick.
Correcting this mistake sometimes leads to a second imprecision: allowing your hips to sink lower than your feet so that you are in the so-called sitting position. If you find yourself in this position, you will be experiencing large amounts of drag, which will significantly slow you down.
Of the two errors, the second certainly slows you down more, but it is also easier to fix: You simply need to increase the speed of your leg kick and move your chin backward a few centimeters, and the problem is solved!
On the other hand, making sure your body isn’t as high on the water surface requires greater effort. Here are some tips for you to follow:
When you train, focus on your body position so you can find the balancing point between your legs being too high and your hips being too low. If you have the chance, try having someone film you while you swim so you can see how you are moving through the water.
Like any other stroke, the way you use your arms is vital to your swimming technique. Here are some swimming tips for you to focus on for your backstroke:
Improving your backstroke kick goes a long way to improve your swim times. You’ll want to focus on these two things to improve your kick:
Try out the following leg exercises using a kickboard during your next training:
In addition to the training mentioned above, be sure to try implementing swim fins and other training tools into your practice sessions for increased leg strength.
If you are new to backstroke, remember to take your time and focus on each element. Pay attention to your body position during the start and how you move through the air during your dive. Practice your turns and streamline form so you can take advantage of the underwater phase of your swim. Don’t forget to keep your hips up and your legs low enough in the water so you can swim your fastest.
Remember to go to each training session prepared. Visit Arena Sport so you can get the best gear to start working toward improving your backstroke.