Most swimmers view backstroke as one of the most beautiful strokes out there.
When swam correctly, the swimmer appears as if gliding on top of the water with rotating arms in a smooth motion.
Let's have a look at how it is done.
There are several aspects that you need to focus on
I'll dissect these, one by one below.
The head could be at two different levels, depending on what distance you are swimming.
The main position of the head is similar to when sleeping on your back and resting your head on the pillow.
Eyes look to the sky, the neck is relaxed and chin is NOT on the chest.
You should not be looking at the walls while swimming, only at the ceiling.
If you have the correct position of the head, your hips and legs will be at the surface which will create a nice and less resistant swimming glide.
This technique is great for 200 backstroke event, however, for sprints, you should have the chin tilted a little bit forward in order for your legs and hips to drop lower below the surface.
Now you are asking, why would I want to do that?
Well, if you are sprinting, you need to kick like mad and if your feet are right at the surface, you really can't do that really well, so by allowing your legs to drop down just a slight bit, you are actually creating more room for your kicking power.
At the same time, your body is angled more like a boat trying to swim over the top of the water rather than through it.
It turns out this kicking room compensates nicely for the inconvenience of having your hips a little lower below the surface.
Well, there is a lot to say about the backstroke kick, but the basic principle applies.
If you can't kick well, you will probably not be any good at backstroke.
In fact, backstroke is a very kick driven stroke, so go get your kick on first.
Don't bend your knees.
Motion starts with the hip and undulates forward to your toes.
Relax your ankles.
Be sure to practice quite a bit of dolphin kicking on your back off the walls (best dolphin kick exercise there is).
Hips are also a very important part of backstroke swimming.
You should be moving your hips from side to side with each stroke.
Backstroke is not swum flat.
The hip should lead your arm pull.
Meaning: Before you get your arm in the water above your head, your hip should already be there.
In other words, the hip is the first thing to rotate and the arm stroke follows.
The normal rule - "thumb up" (when you arm comes out of the water at your hip) and "pinky in" (when you enter above your head back in the water) is perfect.
However, the question is, when do you rotate from "thumb up" to "pinky in"?.
Well, your best bet is to try it for yourself and see the result.
If you are a good observer, you notice that if you rotate your hand too early into the "pinky in" position, your triceps will tighten; hence you are using energy you could have saved.
So, my recommendation is to rotate to the "pinky in" position right before your arm is about to enter the water, that way your arm is relaxed above the water almost the entire time (as it should be in all the strokes).
The rest of the tips are the good ol’
When in the water, to achieve maximum efficiency your hand should be about 30 cm (1 foot) below the surface.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comment sections, I will do my best to address them.
Happy stroking :).