backstroke swimming for beginners and improvers, how to learn backstroke using known practices with step by step instructions

Backstroke swimming /introduction

Backstroke swimming, sounds hard? not as hard as you might think. Yes if you just try straight off to do the stroke without any progressive practices. But you will build up to the final skill breaking it down little by little. The secret to backstroke swimming is to maintain a streamlined position throughout the stroke without sinking in the middle holing your head back, tummy up and kicking towards the surface of the water just slightly breaking the surface without splashing.

When backstroke swimming the arms pull outside the center line, because your arms reach over your head they can only reach over your head so far. Your arms pulling outside the center line causes your body to move side to side (lateral deviation). legs must kick quite fast to prevent this, just like freestyle swimming the legs do not contribute much to the propulsion only 4-5 percent the legs keep your body in straight line as well as maintaining a good body position. Backstroke swimming /I do have a page about swimming backstroke in more technical detail if you are interested click onto this link to go to that page

backstroke swimming /push and glides progressions

Let's begin with the push and glides, these always help you to gain a good body position when backstroke swimming. We will start with all the floats assuming you are a complete beginner. Using a woggle placed behind your back and two hand floats in each arm, put one foot against the wall and bend at your knee. As you push off put the other foot against the wall and push off. Keep your head back and your tummy up, glide across the pool until you come to a stop. If you have any problems putting your feet back onto the floor, don't worry simply bend your knees and bring them up to your chest. Move your arms behind you with your arms straight with your floats in your hands then pull your arms towards your hips. Your body will pivot around and move so that your feet will move so that they are underneath you, then simply put your feet to the floor and stand up. This works when you do not have floats in your arms simply use your palm of your hands as paddles and do the same action to gain an upright posion. See the photograph below to see the push and glide in action.

Now try a push and glide on your back with two floats under each arm keeping your head and shoulders back and your tummy up, Glide across the pool until you come to a stop. See the photograph below to see a demonstration of this.

The next push and glide is simply to go down to one float, this is done by holding a hand float across your chest and cross your arms over the floats. Push and glide across the pool keeping a good body position. See the photograph below to see a demonstration.

The last and final push and glide is with no floats, Hold the side of the pool with both hands facing the wall and bend your knees. Push off hard leaving your arms to your side. You may have to practice this a few time until you feel comfortable with this practice. See the photograph below to see my demonstration.

Once you have done these you could try to vary your push and glides using your imagination, for example push and glide then throw your arms over your head or behind your head, just experiment.

Swimming backstroke /legs

Now you feel a little more confident on your back let's try leg practices with a hand float, before we beginning I shall go through the leg action. First your legs are straight, together and toes touching. The power for the legs initiates from the thigh and hip whilst keeping the legs straight, try not to bend at the knees to much. Imagine you are kicking a ball at your feet toes slightly breaking the surface, try to remember that you are not riding a bike meaning do not let you legs go into a cycling action. When you are on your back and the water is moving up and down quite fast by your knees and you can see your knees moving up and down you will then know you are using a cycling action. The leg action on your back is the same as you would when freestyle swimming but the reverse way around. It is not possible to hold the wall and kick backstroke legs but you could hold the wall and try it on your front. The only difference is that you need to kick your legs harder than you would doing freestyle because when doing backstroke swimming your arms are pulling outside the centre line. When pulling outside the center line your body will move side to side which interferes with your body position, when you kick hard it keeps you in a straight line and a good body position.

Swimming backstroke /legs practice

Now you have some knowledge of the backstroke legs that you can put into practice, take a hand float as you did in the push and glide one float. Push off the side of the pool keeping you head and shoulders back, now kick your backstroke legs remembering the points I have told you or if you have read further on my other page. Keep practicing this until you feel that you are propelling yourself through the water, remember that you will not move all that quickly through the water just doing backstroke legs until you use your arms in part two of my two pages. This is because like freestyle swimming the legs only contribute to 4-5 percent of propulsion but are still very important because the legs will give you balance, good body position as well as helping you to stay in a straight line and not move from side to side (lateral deviation).

If you have any problems with just one hand float then graduate it, begin with two floats and woggle, then two floats and finally one, see the photograph below to see me demonstrating with two floats leg kicking on the back.

Swimming backstroke /floating

Before we move on have a go at floating on your back without floats if you can, simply lie on your back resting your head and shoulders back, tummy up. Then open your arms and legs, this is called a star float. It just gets you used to being on your back and being at one with the water.

Thank you for reading page two comming soon Dale Dudley


Now you are ready to move onto backstroke legs, click here to continue to backstroke legs including full stroke


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