How to Swim the Backstroke
While the backstroke is one of the four major competitive swimming strokes used around the world, that doesn’t mean it is difficult to learn. In fact, a lot of swimmers love using the backstroke while in the pool to gain some great exercise and improve the health of their bodies.
If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge about the different swimming techniques you can master during your fun time in the pool, you can learn how to swim the backstroke pretty easily. It is a fun and versatile swimming position that can improve your muscle strength and teach you about the different ways to get across a large or small body of water.
Positioning Your Body
The first position you should practice while mastering your backstroke is positioning your body in the correct way. First and foremost, you should position your body as if you are floating on your back in the water. As the name suggests, the backstroke is a swimming stroke performed completely on your back, rather than on your stomach like in most other strokes.
When positioning your body, remember the following integral tips:
- Float on your back in the water at all times.
- Keep your head aligned with your spine, in a neutral and non-strained position so you don’t damage your neck.
- Keep your face above the water and look straight up while you swim.
Following these simple instructions, you should be able to execute the body positioning of your backstroke quite easily.
Moving Your Arms
Learning how to move your arms during this swimming stroke can be a bit tricky, but you can definitely improve upon it with practice. The first thing you should pay attention to is the fact that your arms will rotate in movement. They will never be doing the same thing at the same time. For example, one arm will be above the water and the hip, while the other is sweeping under the water, backwards towards the hip. Think of it as a rotating propellor movement, where your arms are reaching behind you and then sweeping underneath you. It will follow an “S”-shaped pattern the entire time.
Moving Your Legs
Your legs should be performing fluttering kicks, not too large but not too small either. You can practice this while floating on your back, holding on to a wall or the edge of the pool. Flutter kick your legs as you establish your balance and learn how you can use these smaller kicks to propel yourself in the direction you want to go.
Learning your kicking should be the easiest part of learning the backstroke, as you can be sure to keep a steady balance and rhythm as you go. Remember not to keep your legs too spread apart - they should be straight out in front of you as you swim backwards. When floating, allow your legs to rest halfway in the water and halfway above water. They should be a part of your rigid back posture, as you lie like a plank in the water.
Be sure to practice the basic positioning and movement tips posted above before you move on to learning how to advance on your technique. Getting the basics down is essential to improving upon your backstroke.
Once you are ready to figure out some additional tips for staying in the rhythm and the posture of the backstroke, you can check out the following list below:
- Let your body roll with the natural movements of the water as you go. While your spine should be straight and rigid, it should not be fighting against the push and pulls of the water.
- Avoid hitting the back of the wall as you move backwards by keeping an eye out for the side pool ladders, or by looking at the metered flags along the edges of the pool. Eventually, avoiding bumping into the back edge will come naturally to you.
- Keep your face above water so you can work on establishing a steady breathing rhythm as you get used to the movements of the rest of your body.
Keeping these movement tips in mind, you are well on your way to perfecting your backstroke!