thanks for your feedback. For the record, I have tried to swim some lengths backstroke with the pull buoy, but I didn't notice any dramatic improvement in speed, I was only slightly faster. So I think balance is not my main problem.
Another funny thing to try (I did it today) is swimming backstroke with an ankle band. I'm already used to swim freestyle with an ankle band and I'm quite comfortable with it (can keep my body balanced and taut without much effort).
What I instead discovered by using the band in backstroke is that my body made a lot of zig zag in every stroke (especially in the 2nd half of the length, when the pushoff effect has vanished), it was far less stable than it is in freestyle. That tells me that maybe what holds me back more in backstroke is that I push water in wrong directions during the catch/pull/push path.
It can be a good drill to do, trying to keep the body as stable as possible.
Judging by my experience of trying to swim front crawl with an ankle band, I would be apprehensive about trying it with backstroke, However you never know, so I will give it a go.
In front crawl I sometimes fishtail a bit at the beginning of the length, which perhaps is due to a somewhat lopsided push off and first pull, but I think the fishtailing then disappears. I have a very non-propulsive kick and swim freestyle with a small two-beat or sometimes four-beat kick. Backstroke is with a flutter kick and I although I do move without an arm stroke it is very slowly.
I can usually swim faster with the old double arm stroke with breaststroke kick, I have just learnt the German term for it: Rückengleichschlag, and was amused to discover that it it is also known as the Old German Backstroke, because in Britain it is known as the Old English style. I wonder what the other European countries call it?
It is very easy to do and I used to see old people doing it when I was a boy sixty odd years ago, so I didn't really have to learn it.
focal points I am playing with and seem to be important.
-Keeping the body straight Pushing the very upper back a bit round and looking slightly backward seems too work just as good as keeping everything straight and getting a lot of water over the head balance wise.
-get a good left -right half snappy roll
- Thrust the hand in the water pushing through downward and getting first a hand than an arm full of water as fast as possible. Not a single pause from rcovery to entry. The movent keeps going like a big wheel. The wheel is rather heavy , so you only can accelerate it a bit now and then, but the wheel keeps slowly spinning.
-Emd of push =start of connecting with water at the front.
-Timing. Halfway recovery must sync rather precise with transition to push phase
The body starts to sink after the recoveryarm is pointing straight up.
right at that time the push phase should start. Pushing the water down a bit to keep body level.
-fishtailing can be corrected by an outward endpush at the very end, making the whole pull very S like.
Not the most efficient perhaps, but without much kick it keeps the body tracking straight.
some interesting stuff about different styles
Aquatic posture and kicktiming are totally opposite compared to freestyle for me.
Freestyle feels horrible after much backstroke. Takes 50 m to get it dialed in again.
Things learned from backstroke that can be applied in freestyle:
-Loading of the underwater part with the weight of the above water part dynamic or static, depending on strokerate.
-smoothness and relaxation in movement to extract every bit of traction on the water during the stroke
-staying long, level and rotating around a straight line.
An interesting post. I liked the link, which I will study carefully. Recently most of my attention has been devoted to watching the FINA World Championships in Kazan.
As far as backstroke technique goes, the main things I think I need to improve are the kick, especially the underwater kick and the holding of water . It seems that a rather straight arm suits me best.
I am hoping to swim in the European Masters Championships in London next year, so I need to add a bit of speed. ;-)
Not sure how you were taught back, but most good swim coaches are going to have you learn how to nail body position and kick b/f they add in arm action. Trying to add kick timing to the arm stroke is really tough I'm not sure I could coordinate it and swim backstroke that way. The more I think about it I venture to guess I'd be lost if I tried to swim back with arm action as the focus and then add in intricate kick timing. I think this is one reason so many adults find a 6 beat kick so difficult with freestyle. They build their stroke backwards with arm action first and then try to add leg action by fitting them into the stroke cycle.
This drill is so old I was doing it in the 70's and it hasn't changed one bit! If you use the kick to power rotation the shoulder and subsequent arm action will just happen and it becomes just like freestyle in that it's a recovery stroke.
There is a reason you don't see people emulating Ryosuke and his kick technique. He is a 1 in a million with total perfection of his body position and stroke timing grabbing enormous amounts of water. Quite simply he is a freak that can get away with it.
That premature backstroke 2bk puzzles me too. Seems I changed
something and now I could not kick as I did previously.
At the moment I think I'm too high in the water. So high that legs
are almost out of the water. Further, I cannot make analogy to
freestyle 2bk. At crawl I could easily prepare kick and have it
when I want it. In backstroke... just different. From previous times,
when I did not ponder a kick at all and had it properly. I will try
to explain what I do: i.e. on the left side, right shoulder out of the
water. Right arm recovering, rotating to the right side. During
that, left arm makes 90 degrees at elbow and anchors, and makes
In freestyle I prepare 2bk. I tense glute and have leg ready to kick.
Now what in backstroke? I'm relaxed on the water, balanced. See
no way to tense and not to break a balance. I have to move leg a
bit down to have a kick up later. Thinking about, every moment
is wrong to kick. How did I do that before?
I will try this out this morning on the lake. Report later.
Best regards all.
I think you are right that in pronciple its best to start swimming bottom up from a 6 bK with rotational kicks.
Since my kick is crap, but balance good I can get away with little kick.
When starting form balance and using hip and body to rotate at least the main kicks are more or less in place, because rotating the hips automatically happens with a kick supporting that movement.
THats the basic 2BK action.
I have noticed thats not optimal, certainly at lower strokerates.
On the right side, when trying to just get the continuous flutterkick going without much thought and rotating the hips at the same time, the kicks starts to fall in place sometimes.
Its a matter of locking the continous flutterkick rhytm to the 2BK anchor kicks.
It seems at the right side its going to a 6BK. At the left there is still one or 2 kicks missing from a full 6BK.
(The flutterkick has a tendency to stop at the left side when I focus on the anchor kicks)
Sometimes the kick keeps on ticking for a few armstrokes and that is great.
The machine really needs the 6BK to get a nice rhythm it seems.
With very good balance and tight body 2BK is OK ish, but 6BK feels much smoother.
At very high strokerates 2BK could get better, just like in freestyle, but thats no option right now. Taking about 18-20 strokes/25m .
Feeling of traction on the water starts to get better and better.
Start to let the arm slip a bit at the very start of the stroke when getting tired instead of locking the water in right there to not have to haul the body past it because its quite hard on the core to really power through the stroke while keeping the body straigh with minimal fishtailing.
When this sloppiness gets too big its time to take a rest.
Getting/keeping backstroke straight and tight is an insane core workout.
I did a few lenghts with a consistent 6bk but with a slight stutter in the arm stroke.
Concentrating on the kick makes the arms go jerky and concentrating on the leg-hip+armpush/entry makes the legs stutter.
The funny thing is that from the outside I can make it look like a normal stroke with 6Bk if I keep the arm cycling in a relaxed automatic way with little pressure on the arms, without a good leg-hip+armpush/entry drive in the stroke.
So even if it stroke looks superficually sound, it still can lack that powerfull diagional twist through the core.
Thats a thing that can be seen a lot in the pool.
Roughly a good timing between arms and legs, but no real driving connection between them.
It also seems to indicate that the hip-shoulder connection is the most important one.
This can be supported or initiated by the endpush of the stroke combined with the recovery swing on the other side, together with some hipswimg uncomsciously supported with the leg, and/or with a consious legkick followed by regular inbetween kicks to arrive at the next major kick at the right time.
Working on the and instead of the or.
kick action hasnt improved much, the arm action has.
More rotation of the hand on entry to slice in and dig deep to get a bowl of water on the hand and arm fast. Feels like the handpalm is facing the water at entry almost. Catch feels more like a freestyle catch now.
Shoulders at the end of range of motion to get optimal grip at the front with a high elbow idea, but they are stretched at every stroke so thats only becoming easier.
Little less elbow bend and straighter shallower push backwards, but deeper catch.
The shoulders and core are getting stronger and I can really power up and accellerate without much trouble or slippage, keeping the body pretty straight.
More shoulder roll to really get more of the body involved in the propulsion.
Goes along with a bit of body bending like Lochte is doing, but the extra force available offsets the slight drag increase by bringing part of the upperbody forward into the catch, slightly breaking perfect alignment. There is a lot of power laying around te corner with this technique.
Relaxed backstroke is faster than medium effort breaststroke now. Mostly 2BK plus some faint extra kicks.
Have to get more kick going, but also can ingrain upperbody mechanics more so it doesnt start to stutter when focussing on legtiming.
glad to hear about your progress. I start to believe I'm hopeless at backstroke :) Guess I've tried almost everything but nothing really seems to provide the breakthrough I expect. Why I expect a breakthrough? For me, swimming 100m in 1:30 at fs is easier than swimming 100m in 2:00 at bk. If I relax my pace drops to 2:15. Comparing to fly, which is a stroke I never practice: my easy fly is way faster than my easy bk, I can easily stay under 2:00 on 100m, or I can swim 50m in 50s with a reasonable effort. No way I can hit 50s over 50m at bk, even at max effort.
The things you describe seem fine tunings more than anything. Instead, since you started practicing bk, is there something that you consider a cornerstone, that made you instantly faster once fixed? (eg fix balance and jump from 2:15 to 2:00 effortlessly)
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