10 steps to learn backstroke in WEST swimming technique

10 easy steps to learn how to swim backstroke

In this article we will review the stages of learning backstroke. In each exercise we will highlight how to implement the main WEST principles – neck and lower back release. We will also explain the purpose of the exercise and how to implement it.

It is important to note that backstroke is one of the healthiest strokes for our body, but it is not suitable for every person and every type of pain, so it is always recommended to adjust your personal swimming style with the WEST swimming coaches.

Exercise # 1: Kicking with fins, hands to the sides of the body.

The goal of the exercise: Adaptation to floating on the back without getting the knees out of the water.

Instructions for exercise: Lie on your back with your hands to the sides of the body, kicking very gently with fins.

Key Principles: Keeping your head straight, ears and knees in the water to prevent sinking and pressure on the lower back.

Learn to swim backstroke, exercise # 2: Shoulder out, shoulder in, with fins.

The goal of the exercise: Releasing shoulders and neck, preparing to remove the hands from the water without sinking of the body.

Instructions for exercise: Just as in exercise # 1, but we add a slight rocking of the body and shoulders.

Key Principles: Avoiding sinking while releasing shoulders and maintaining a balanced body. Usually, the sinking is due to stress. Therefore, if the body sinks, air can be inhaled while the shoulder exits the water in order to prevent unnecessary sinking and pressure on the lower back.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 3: Shoulder touching chin without moving the head, with fins, combined with breathing.

The goal of the exercise: Adapting to the body roll (90-70 degrees) without sinking.

Instructions for exercise: Lying in a balanced supine position, kick with the fins for 3 seconds, when both shoulders are in the water. Each time before the shoulder comes out of the water – inhale, bring one shoulder to the chin and then back, and repeat. Less flexible people will have difficulty bringing the shoulder to the chin and this is natural.

Key Principles: Rolling the body to the maximum possible without sinking and without moving the head.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 4: Classic WEST backstroke with fins + no fins.

The goal of the exercise: Practicing catching water and underwater pull in symmetry and without splashing.

Instructions for exercise: “chicken  / airplane / soldier”

“chicken” position: Sliding the thumbs along the body to the armpits.

“Airplane” position: Open hands to sides to form a T shape.

“Soldier” position: Pull to the sides of the body until the palms reach the thighs again.

Key Principles: Doing an underwater pull without splashing water. To avoid pressure on the neck – keep a symmetrical footwork and an elegant pull. These will help create a good and correct buoyancy.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 5: Lying in supine position and moving to an arrow with fins on the water line.

The goal of the exercise: Learning how to do an elegant, stretched and balanced arrow.

Instructions for exercise: Glide in a supine position, slide your arms along the body to an arrow and bring them behind the head to a stretch.

Key Principles: Especially for non-flexible swimmers – when the hands move towards the head, inhale in order not to sink. Stretching the body will create a better buoyancy.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 6: Hands in an arrow with fins

The goal of the exercise: Practicing arrow position, starting to swim without sinking and improving buoyancy in supine position.

Instructions for exercise: Lying in supine position, stretch your hands with one hand in the water and one above the water, stretching the body as much as possible.

Key Principles: Toward the end of the length, place one hand to the side of the body and the other above the head to keep the head from touching the wall.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 7: Kicks at an angle of 45 degrees

The goal of the exercise: Focus the body position – the palm in line with the forearm and keeping the gaze to the sky. Flow line.

Instructions for exercise: Lie in supine position and kick your legs at a 45 degree angle. One hand is straight above the head at a depth of 35 cm to open the shoulders slightly outwards while another hand leads each time (one length with right hand forward and one length with left hand forward).

Key principles: Keeping your head straight, looking up at the sky and the palm in line with the forearm (not breaking).

** Common mistakes in the exercise: Palm snakes behind the head during swimming, creating strong pressure in the neck and lower back. If this happens, take the palm which is to the side of the body further out.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 8: Switch hands every 3 seconds

The goal of the exercise: Reducing tension and stress to prevent the body from sinking, adjusting the distance between the shoulder and ear according to our WEST.

Instructions for exercise: Same as in exercise number 7, but changing hands every 3 seconds. The time count will begin only after the hand is in the water.

Key principles: Do not bring the shoulder close to the ear, but keep a distance between them. The more flexible we are, the closer we can bring the shoulder to the ear when the arm enters the water. In cases of less flexibility, we will extend the shoulder to reduce tension.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise No. 9: Full backstroke, including touching the wall, with fins, inhalation with one arm movement, exhalation with the other.

The goal of the exercise: Combining breathing in the swimming process (if you do not sink, you do not have to think about breathing timing, but just breathe naturally)

Instructions for exercise: Full backstroke with combination of breathing – one hand movement (remove the hand from the water) in combination with inhalation, second-hand movement with exhalation. This way the lungs will be inflated and you will sink less.

Learn to swim backstroke Exercise # 10: Underwater pull in backstroke with one hand switch and then full backstroke

The goal of the exercise: Learning the underwater pull

Instructions for exercise: Lie in supine position, put your palm deep into the water at the right position, and then fold your hand to a 120 degree angle and straighten up behind your thigh. At the end of the pull, remove a straight palm from the water.

It is recommended to practice one length with your right hand and one length with your left hand. After a few repetitions, we will move to a complete full backstroke, observing the pull process as described above.

Key principles: Folding the hand is less relevant than the flow line. Only after the style is stable, the body is balanced and stretched, the feet afloat, the head is stationary and the gaze is directed towards the sky, we can focus on the pull.

Studying the pull before achieving perfection in body posture will harm the success of learning backstroke.

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