Coaching Center: Backstroke

Welcome to the Coaching Center’s Backstroke section. The Back section is broken down into the following skills:

  • Body Alignment
  • Kick
  • Rotation
  • Pull

One guiding note:  When watching a video presenting on one topic focus your eyes on the element they are discussing.  Every swimmer has their bad habits, and many of these video demonstration swimmers are doing a great job on the topic but often have other areas of their stroke that is less then ideal.

Swim Faster Backstroke Technique with Chloe Sutton

Chloe presents a strong video demonstrating multiple backstroke skills. The audio in this video has a strong echo making it harder to hear then  I would like. I did find that if I took off the headset and listened through the speakers the echo was not as bad.  It is a long video coming in at just under 14 minutes. To help you focus on the area you want to see I have provided time stamps in the video where she starts each of the skills:

Body Alignment 0:41
Body Alignment Drills: 1:34
The on land alignment drills are great to help you feel the correct position. You really need to pay attention to what it felt like in your core, back and hips to get the correct body position.  Once you jump into the pool and try it without the feedback the solid floor or wall provided you will have to depend on your memory of ho you had to position your legs and muscles to achieve the position. The floating drill (time mark 2:15) is more difficult then it may looks for the beginner and intermediate swimmer. As an easier version push off the wall underwater and adjust your body position to match what you just practiced on land.

Kick: 2:26
Kick Drills: 3:00

Rotation 3:43
Rotation Drills: 4:28

The rotisserie drill is great for freestyle and turns as well. Rotate in the rotisserie drill in the same direction as you do on your push off from each turn to help you have smoother push offs from each wall.  The presentation of rotation is clean and simple, but I think a better understanding of the critical importance of rotation is presented in the XXX video listed next.

Pull 5:31
Pull Drill 7:35

The Arm stroke breaks down into five distinct skills: The entry, catch, power phase, finish, and the  recovery. Chloe breaks down each skill.  Be warned that the catch drill is hard to get right and it would be best if you had a knowledgeable eye watching you.

Connection 10:17

The concept of connection is probably the most important skill in a fast backstroke. Note how rotation is necessary to create this connection.

General Drills 11:18

Backstroke with a paddle on your head drill (time stamp 11:24) is a great drill, but harder to do in a pool. Chloe is in a flume which keeps a consistent amount of force on her head at all times.

Corkscrew drill (time stamp 11:43) When using the corkscrew drill you need practice with rotation in both directions. You will find one direction more comfortable then the other, this is very natural. Practice the uncomfortable or weaker direction more to help even out your skill and strength.

Backstroke with a pole drill (time stamp 12:00) use a pole just slightly longer than your wing span. When you grab the pole make sure you do so with a comfortable stretch position.

Spin drill (time stamp  12:13) is often hard to translate from drill to your swimming.  For many a more effective speed drill is to speed up the rotation drill demonstrated earlier in the video (time stamp  ) and simply pick your speed up while the kick board is out of the water. Watch the next video XXX to understand why this is so important.

Full swim 12:30

Swimisodes – Backstroke Swim Technique 
presented by the Race Club

This video does a superior job of discussing rotation and rotation speed and their critical importance to an effective and fast backstroke. Start at time stamp 0:42 through 1:23.