Learn backstroke technique using known practices used by swimming instructors, with step by step instructions part two, arms

Backstroke technique /introduction

Swimming backstroke using good backstroke technique, 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 swimming backstroke it 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 swimming backstroke 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 mover 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 technique /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 technique /arms introduction

When swimming backstroke begin with both arms to your side, your arm will move over your head arms straight with thumb first. See the photograph below to see a a demonstration of this.

Then as your arm comes to your ear your arms turns so that your little finger enters the water first, have a look at my demonstration to see this.

This is the point when your arm enters the water with little finger first as the arm enter the water you then pull your arm straight with a slightly bent arm towards your hip. Do not pull your arm down under the water, your arm pulls just under the surface of the water. Looking at my demonstration in the photograph below you can see this. Once your arm has pulled to your hip you simply use the other arm. You can also read about backstroke technique arms in more detail in the link above after the paragraph introduction.

Finally your arms comes to your side, just before your arms comes to your side you start with your other arm. See my demonstration which simply shows the arm resting to the side.

Backstroke technique /arm practices

To begin with do some push and glides mentioned in page one to get used to being on your back as well as creating a good body position. Now try holding a hand float in one arm across your chest, lie on your back and push off the wall. Once you have done this swim with one arm on your back as described in the arms introduction. Reach over your head as far as you can then pull your arm to the side, remembering to kick your legs nice and hard to prevent your legs moving side to side as well as keeping you in a good body position. Then change arms and swim with that arm. Have a look at the photographs below to see my demonstrations of this. The first photograph shows the start with arm to the side, then the second photograph of arms coming over the head and the third photograph shows arm entry. Click here to look at page one which includes the above mentioned push and glides

Backstroke technique /full stroke

Now you have practiced with one arm at a time it is now time to do the full stroke, it is not as hard as you might think. All you need to do is put what you have learned into practice. Push and glide off the side of the pool with both arms to your side, then keeping yourself in a horizontal and streamlined position kick your legs hard and bring your first arm out of the water nice and straight brush your ear with your upper arm as it comes over your head. Enter the water little finger first, then pull your arm to toward your thigh. Then use your other arm, use each arm one at a time not together the other arm comes out of the water for recovery just before your other arm comes towards your thigh. This means there is a slight gap for a second or two when there is no propulsion created by the arms so again a good leg kick is needed. Another point to be made at this point is that you can lean into your stroke, this simply means that as your arm enters the water for the propulsion you lean towards that arms, why? it gives you more power to your stroke as you pull. The reason being, by turning slightly into your stoke you are utilizing the power of the muscles of your chest combined with your arms and shoulders rather than just your arms and shoulders. When turning in the water try to keep your head straight and looking towards the ceiling, try not to turn your head with your body.

Backstroke technique /timing and breathing

Timing and breathing is not a problem on your back, you could try breathing arm in blow arm out, whatever makes you feel comfortable. The timing of the arms are one at a time you, bring the other arm out of the water just before the other has finished the propulsive phase.


Keep practicing this stroke and most of all enjoy it, if you would like to improve your stroke technique on strengthen some aspect of your backstroke technique or any other stroke, my page about swimming drills which includes backstroke drill will help you. Backstroke technique /Click onto this link to look at my page about backstroke drills If you have enjoyed my page about backstroke technique then there is plenty of more pages to view, hope you visit soon Dale Dudley Click here to return to home page