Backstroke drills which help you to swim better backstroke using know practices designed to emphasize a good body position
What are backstroke drills? The answer is simple, they are practices to improve your stroke Using floats, kick boards and pull buoys. Using these floats you can perfect
your arms and legs separately so being able to concentrate on one particular area that improving.
So now you know what a backstroke drill is let's get on with it and look at various drill improving various
aspects of your stroke.
Backstroke drills/ body position
Let's begin with a drill to improve your body position. The most obvious practice to start with is the
push-and-glide. This is exactly what it suggests you push and then glide. Face the pool wall and hold onto the
side. Put both feet against the wall with bent legs. You should be in a ready to spring position. You will then
push hard against the pool wall with both arms to your side. With your head back stomach up you will then
glide for about 4-5 meters. This is a good backstroke drill/ practice to help to gain good body position in the
water when swimming backstroke.
You can use some variations of this for example you can link your hands together holding the side. Then as you
push off the side you then throw your arms over your head keeping your arms straight and together.
You could then use the push and glide to begin your backstroke maintaining good body position throughout.
Make sure that you push off the wall nice and hard to achieve good momentum then begin the arm action as soon
as your legs straighten.
Backstroke drills/ floating
Another way to improve your body position is to practice floating on your back (supine position). Make sure that
these skills are constant and you can do them perfect every time, make sure that the skill you are trying to do
is effective and set out what it is intended to do (the desired aim).
Click here to read my page about backstroke swimming to understand the the correct technique for backstroke
Backstroke drills/ legs
There are quite a few backstroke drill for the legs we will go through the main drills and look at their effectiveness
and how it will help you to achieve your desired aim. I will also look at the most the most widely used drills as well
as the not so commonly used. You will need to use hand floats or kick boards for these backstroke drills.
Click here to see my page about swimming equipment including hand floats and kick boards
Backstroke drills/ click here to go to the fun swim shop to purchase hand floats, kick boards as well as other swimming equipment
Backstroke drills/ legs, two floats
Hold one hand float in each of your hands then place under each arm bend your arm about 90 degrees. Then lie back
making sure you are nice and flat on the water. Kick your legs hard continuous with bent so the floats are resting on your lower arm
Then lie back and kick your legs. Make sure that you:
Keep your stomach up
keep your legs straight
Try not to bend your knees
kick from your thighs and hips
hips out of the water
point your toes
Alternate leg kicking and legs close together
Toes slightly break the surface of the water
Remember that the leg action keeps you balanced, streamlined, and keeps you in a horizontal position. Because
the arm pull is outside the center line then there is more chance of lateral deviation (legs moving from side to
side). So it is vital that you keep the legs constant and strong to prevent this.
Backstroke drills/ legs, one float
This is the same leg action but using one arm float instead of two. The float can be held across the chest with
arms crossed. You could also hold the float over your head with straight arms so the float is in the water which help with body
position. You could also hold the float behind your head or hold a hand float over your knees this also has the added purpose
of making sure that you are not bending your knees. You will know this if your knees keep touching your float whilst you are
kicking your legs.
Backstroke drills/ legs, no floats
This time try kicking your legs on your back without using your arms keeping them to your side. Concentrate on keeping your head back
as well as your hips up. Make sure that you kick from your hips and thighs not your knees.
Try holding your arms over your head fully extended with your hands interlocked. This will help you to lift your chest. It will also help
to refine your leg action. As your arms are held above your chest it will help to develop your stretch when trying the full stroke.
Legs, no floats
Lie on your side in a horizontal position in the water. Whilst kicking your legs extend one of your arms, for example if you
lie on your left side then you would extend your left arm fully. Then rest your head on that arm. This backstroke drill is mainly
for backstroke swimmers who are fully competent at doing the full stroke and want to improve synchronization. This backstroke
drill also helps to give you a feel for the water.
The next backstroke drill is somewhat different from the others but is just as important because it concentrates on creating resistance
in the water which in turn strengthens your leg kick. This is important in backstroke swimming because the arm pull is outside the
centre line and you will need a good strong leg kick to preventing your legs moving from side to side (lateral deviation). The leg
kick will also help you to keep streamlined and horizontal. So it is is important to do backstroke drills that improve the strength of
your leg kick for these reasons.
Lie in the water kicking your legs, begin with your arms either side of your body then bend your arms at your elbow at a 90 degree angle.
Leaving your lower arm raised above your abdomen (vertical). From the side your whole arm looks like the letter 'L' with your upper arm
in the water and the lower arm out.
Backstroke drills/ arms using floats
Lets look at backstroke drills using the arms now, on some occasions your legs will have to be used as well but you will mainly
concentration on your arms. Some practices you will be using a hand float and sometimes we will use pull buoys. Remember that when
using your arms you will need to remember the key points for your arm action.
Your little finger enters the water first remembering that it stays in line with your shoulders
Your hand will press down to the catch position
In the propulsive phase tour arms will follow an 'S' shape
Remember to follow the main phases of the backstroke arm action (downsweep, upsweep and downswep).
The first main backstroke drill for improving your stroke we will look at is one arm one float. This is simply what the name implies.
You will hold a hand float across your chest and with the other arm you will swim the backstroke arms. Not forgetting a strong leg kick to
keep you in a straight line because you are using one arm you are likely to go off course.
Once you have done this a couple of lengths/widths then change arms and practice with that arm. By concentrating on one arm at a time you can
perfect the stroke better and work on improvements and faults.
If you do not know what a pull buoy is or what they are used for then click on this link to read my page about swimming equipment.
Using a pull buoy will help you concentrate on your arms only both at the same time rather that one at a time. Your legs will move from
side to side due to the fact that you are not using your legs but don’t worry about this too much. Hold the pull buoy between your legs
just above your knees and remember to keep your legs together and do not kick your legs. Then simply practice your arm action
the way I have described it in my page about swimming backstroke.
Arms without floats
Another way you can use one arm at a time when practicing your backstroke arms is to swim with on arm resting and then change over and
each different position for the resting arm has different benefits for the backstroke swimmer. So now we will go through each one and
look at each benefit.
A single arm pull with one resting on your thigh, this is very good for improving your technique by allowing greater roll to increase
the amount of propulsion. It also encourages more shoulder lift for recovery of the arm.
A single arm pull with one arm resting extended above the head in the water, this refines your technique epically the entry to the
catch. It also lengthens the stroke.
If you are not familiar with catch up it is fairly simple, you begin lying on your back kicking your legs with both arms held above your
head in the water fully extended. Then perform one arms action from this point beginnig with the arm pull and end at the same point with
your arm full extended over your head again, making sure you pause beyond your head When you have completed one arm cycle you then use
the other arm. So you are using one arm at a time only and using the other arm when the other has caught up.
This backstroke drill develops the precision of your hand entry, improves your technique and also improves your strength of your
Backstroke drills/ Double arm pulling and leg kick
Try swimming with both arms at the same time it develops the bent arm action as well as a shallow push through to your hips. Your aim
is to reduce the number of strokes across the pool.
I do hope my page has been of some use to you and you have found what you were looking for, have a look at my other pages if you are
interested in other aspects of swimming.
Thanks for reading, Dale Dudley
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