After learning the Front Crawl and the Breast Stroke, your child may be ready to learn what may become his or her favorite swim stroke: the Backstroke. While the Front Crawl is the fastest of the four basic swim strokes and the Breaststroke is the slowest and least efficient, the Backstroke is somewhere in between. While frustrating to some, this stroke is also the most likely to be described as “relaxing” by those who learn to master it.
Third Basic Swim Stroke: Backstroke
As its name implies, the backstroke is different from other basic swim strokes in that it begins with the position of the eyes looking upward. For those who prefer not to have their faces submerged, this position is definitely good news. However, for those who struggle to float (a skill we discussed previously), it can be especially difficult. For those who battle with sinking rather than floating, this stroke can be a definite challenge. It also requires a higher level of coordination. Once a person masters this stroke, it can become a very powerful and efficient means of maneuvering through the water.
Backstroke Anatomy: Arm Movement
The backstroke begins with the body horizontal and eyes facing upwards. The steadier and more streamlined the body remains, the more effective the movements will be. The hands should enter the water, with the palm facing away from the body, starting with the pinky finger. The upper arm should move past the ear, moving through the water in an S-shaped path. As one arm finishes at the hip, emerging from the water’s surface with the palm facing toward the water, the other arm should begin to pull through the water. Breathing should occur at regular intervals, in time with the rhythm of the stroke.
Backstroke Anatomy: Leg Movement
While coordinating the movements of both arms may be a bit challenging, the most common challenge in performing the backstroke is getting the leg kick just right. Without a proper leg kick, not only do the legs tend to sink, but the overall position of the body ends up compromised. As the stroke begins, the ankles should be relaxed and the toes should be pointed. The kick should originate from the hip, with knees bending slightly with each kick. (Throughout the kick, the leg should remain inside the parameters of the body’s width.) That knee bend helps provide the power needed to propel the body on the upbeat portion of the kick, and it will be completed as the toes break through the surface of the water.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of the backstroke is for the movements of both the arms and the legs to remain steady and controlled, while the head remains in a fixed position. As proficiency and then mastery are achieved, actions will become increasingly smooth and relaxed.
Continue reading with Part 4.
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