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Backstroke timing is crucial to achieving a smooth, rhythmical stroke and the coordination of arms and legs is the key to success. The number of leg kicks to each arm pull is the secret to a steady, smooth stroke pattern.
Arm pull and leg kick timing patterns will vary from person to person, depending on their level of coordination. Some will have a 6 beat cycle (6 kicks to every arm pull cycle), some a 4 beat cycle (4 kicks to every arm pull cycle) and some may even have a 2 beat cycle (2 kicks to every arm pull cycle). It should be noted that one 'arm pull cycle' is defined as each arm performing one complete arm pull.
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The opposite leg kicks downwards at the beginning of each arm pull. This helps to balance the body. This may vary according to the swimmer's level of coordination.
Arm action should be continuous. i.e. when one arm enters and begins to pull, the other should begin its recovery phase.
Like front crawl, the timing and coordination for this stroke can be a 6 beat, 4 beat or one beat cycle, depending on the ability and level of coordination of the swimmer.
A common mistake is performing one arm cycle at a time, resulting in an uneven and unbalanced stroke overall.
Timing and coordination problems occur with back stroke when the legs are allowed to sink below the water surface and the arm lose their continuity and pull one are at a time.
Counting in your head can sometimes help to maintain stroke rhythm and timing. If you are able to perform a 6 beat cycle then you should count to 3 during each arm pull, therefore kicking 3 legs kicks per arm pull.
If a one beat cycle comes more naturally then there should be one leg kick for each arm pull. Performing the stroke slowly at first will help to establish the rhythm and timing and only when you are proficient swimming at a slow steady pace should you try to increase speed.
With increases in speed comes the greater potential for the timing and coordination to become disrupted and the overall swimming stroke to lose it efficiency.
Now that you have a clearer idea about backstroke timing, use my book 'How To Swim Backstroke' to perfect the body position, arm pull and leg kick techniques.
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