Backstroke Drills To Improve Technique

Looking for some basic backstroke drills to help learn or improve your swimming technique?  Here you will find the simplest exercises that will make each part of backstroke clear so that you can practice and perfect one stage at a time. 

Each drill focuses on a certain part of backstroke, for example the body position or the leg kick.  Then each given exercise is designed to isolate that particular stroke part and the technique tips and focus points listed help you to perfect the finer details of that part. 

Backstroke Body Position Drill

Push and glide from the poolside without floats

backstroke body position drill for beginners

Aim: to encourage correct body position whilst moving. 

The swimmer uses the momentum of a push from the poolside.  Arms are held by the sides or held straight over the head in more advanced cases.

Key Actions

  • Relax
  • Make your body as long as you can
  • Push off like a rocket
  • Push your tummy up to the surface
  • Look up to the ceiling
  • Glide in a long straight line

Technical Focus

  • Overall body should be horizontal and streamlined
  • Head remains still
  • Eyes looking upwards and towards the feet
  • Hips must be close to the surface
  • Legs must be together
  • Arms are held by the sides

Common Faults

  • Push off is not hard enough
  • Head raises out of the water
  • Tummy and hips sink
  • Failing to maintain a straight line

Backstroke Kick Drill

Float held on the chest

backstroke kick drill to improve technique

Aim: to allow the correct body position to be maintained whilst the legs kick.

This is a progression from having a float held under each arm.  The swimmer is less stable but still has the security of one float held on the chest. 

Key Actions

  • Point your toes like a ballerina
  • Kick from your hips
  • Kick with floppy feet
  • Make a small splash with your toes
  • Keep your legs together

Technical Focus

  • Kick comes from the hips
  • Kick is alternating and continuous
  • Kick breaks the water surface
  • Hips and tummy up near the surface
  • Legs are together
  • Ankles are relaxed and toes pointed

Common Faults

  • Kick comes from the knee ο Legs are too deep
  • Toes are turned up
  • Stiff ankles
  • Legs are too ‘stiff’, not relaxed

Backstroke Arm Drill

Single arm pull with a float held on the chest

backstroke arms drill to improve technique

Aim: to develop correct arm action whilst kicking. 

The float held on the chest provides support for the beginner and the single arm action allows easy learning without compromising the swimmer’s coordination. 

Key Actions

  • Arm brushes past your ear
  • Pull down to your thigh
  • Fingers closed together
  • Little finger enters the water first

Technical Focus

  • Arm action is continuous
  • Arms stretch all the way up and brush past the ear
  • Arms pull down to the thigh
  • Fingers are together
  • Little finger enters water first

Common Faults

  • Arms are pulling out too wide, not brushing the ear 
  • Arms are not pulling down to the side
  • Arms pull too deep under the water
  • Fingers are apart
  • Thumb enters the water first

Get a full set of backstroke drills and fine-tune your technique...

Like the look of the backstroke drills above?  Get your hands on loads more in my book 'How To Swim Backstroke'.  Fine-tune your body position, arms, legs and timing and coordination.  

Click below and download a copy to your computer, tablet or mobile device.  Or, click here for more details

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