I agree with Dave that the strokes feel more similar than different. All my best back stroke swims come when I feel the power of my recovering arm falling into the water is timed perfectly with the switch. It is exactly like the spear to me.
One thing to pay attention to is that the balance can't be as perfect in back stroke as free, at least at slow speeds and if you rotate closer to 80 degrees. When I am in (I forget what the newest term is) back skate, Lengthen vessel sweet spot, I can rest comfortably with my top shoulder, arm, knuckles and thigh touching air and I can relax my head back into the water and just clear my nose and mouth. As soon as I roll more of my arm out of the water, I sink a bit putting my face under. As soon as I raise the arm, I sink underwater a couple inches. Just like in free, only 3-5% of your body can be above the surface and this causes sinking. So you have to let yourself sink and hum (to keep water out of your nose) or cheat the balance slightly to breathe. If you cheat the balance slightly, you will have to kick more to keep your head up. I believe rolling closer to 80 degrees puts your arm in a better position to use larger muscles, but it sacrifices tempo and balance. I am still trying to find where my best roll angle is.
I happened to do a lot of back stroke work today and noticed something that may apply. I worked on a drill which I believe is on the DVD. It is basically active balance on the back (kicking and rolling from side to side) and finishing each roll with the top arm raised 30 degrees and holding it there. I found that it took a lot of focus and effort to hold my torso strait in that position. When I could hold it, I could maintain balance with the arm raised and my top thigh touching air. The muscles that hold the torso strait on the back are different than on the front. For example, try holding plank position and reverse plank position. I find one far more difficult than the other. This drill also sets up the kick nicely. Once you get the hang of it, decrease your hold time. I moved from rolling every 11 kicks to 9,7,5, and 3. At 3 you are doing a six beat kick. I will be doing a lot of this drill as it is one of the most effective for my free and I expect it will be for my back. I also did a lot of one arm back to feel the recovering arm falling causing the roll.
Side note, I did a few IMs after the drills and easily held very fast splits (for me anyway) in back. I think that drill is one of the best.
Last edited by CoachEricDeSanto : 03-18-2009 at 03:26 AM.