Swimming Basics: A Beginners’ Guide to the Backstroke

Swimming Basics: A Beginners’ Guide to the Backstroke

The Backstroke (also called the Butterfly) is one of the most popular strokes in swimming. It’s also one of the easiest ones to learn because it requires no strength or coordination at all. There are many different types of backstrokes and they’re used for various purposes such as freestyle, butterfly, synchronized swimming, open water swimming etc…

In order to understand what the backstroke is, let’s first take a look at its definition from Wikipedia:

A back stroke is a swimming motion performed by moving the body backwards with arms outstretched and legs together. The hands are usually held over the head while swimmers move their feet forward in front of them. This movement allows for greater speed than if they were to use straight strokes, which involve only the push off of each foot and then pushing forwards again.

So basically, the backstroke is just like a regular kick except instead of kicking your feet forward, you’re actually turning around and kicking backwards.

As far as what purpose does it serve in swimming?

Well, it helps keep your balance during the watery part of the race. Also, when doing a backstroke you’re using both legs simultaneously so that gives you better endurance than if you were just relying on one leg alone.

The Backstroke Start

The backstroke start is very similar to other swimming starts. The only difference is the position of your arms and legs. For the backstroke, swimmers hold their arms outstretched in a “W” formation (sort of like when Superman uses his telekinesis to fly) and their legs are pressed tightly together.

This helps them to achieve that “Superman position” where they’re flying through the air before diving into the water.

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The Backstroke Arms

When doing the backstroke, it’s very important to keep your arms straight. If you bend them at all, then you’re not actually doing the backstroke and instead doing the fly or the freestyle.

The Backstroke Legs

In the backstroke, swimmers tuck their legs in tightly in order to create a longer “push” with each kick. It should also be noted that when doing the backstroke, swimmers do not kick at all but rather “punch” the water with straight legs. This punching motion helps give them the extra “oomph!” they need to propel themselves forward.

The Backstroke Turn

For the backstroke turn, swimmers will usually use a combination of the “touch-turn” and some sort of flip-turn (like in the butterfly).

Sources & references used in this article:

The back stroke buddy by DG Thomas – 2005 – Human Kinetics Publishers

Effects of Video Modeling on Technical Performance While Teaching Back Stroke Style for the Beginners in Swimming by GP Fonder – 2005 – dspace.mit.edu

FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT by DA Armbruster, RH Allen, HS Billingsley – 1973 – CV Mosby

What is the best swimming stroke to master for beginners in water safety tests? by MGA Al-Magd – Journal of Applied Sports Science, 2016 – journals.ekb.eg

The Elementary Backstroke for Beginners by F II, S LESSON – 1999 – cccymca.org