Backstroke (or back crawl) is, as its name suggests, the only one of the four competitive swimming strokes swum on the back. In terms of speed, it is slower than front crawl or butterfly but faster than breaststroke.
The arms execute alternating movements: while one arm sweeps underwater from an overhead position backward to the hips, the other arm recovers above water from the hips to the overhead position, and vice versa.
The legs do a flutter kick: they move upward and downward in alternation, with some flexion at the hips and knees, and with feet pointed.
Below a video of world-class swimmer Ryan Lochte swimming backstroke. His technique is amazing to watch:
Ryan Lochte’s video allows us to have an overview of the different phases of the swim stroke. Let’s consider the following starting position:
Your arms execute alternating movements:
The following articles describe the backstroke technique in detail:
Head and Body Positions: This article covers head position, body position and body roll. It also discusses why you may have trouble keeping your legs up.
Arm Movements: This article explains the different phases of the arm stroke, how to create efficient propulsion and how to avoid straining your shoulders.
Backstroke Kick: This article explains how to flutter kick in the backstroke. It also covers kicking rhythms and possible causes of poor propulsion.
Breathing Technique: This backstroke article discusses the relation between balance and breathing. It also talks about breathing rhythms and how to deal with water splashing in the face.
We have a series of swimming drills to learn backstroke step by step. The following progression of exercises is used:
Go to our progressive exercises to learn how to swim backstroke.
Other styles of backstroke exist, for example:
Elementary Backstroke is the beginner’s version of backstroke. This article describes the swimming technique of elementary backstroke, and how to learn it.
How to avoid bumping into the wall while swimming backstroke.Previous – Breaststroke Next – Butterfly Stroke
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