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 Floppy ankles 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.

Pull buoys

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.

Catch up

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 leg kick.

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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