While researching stroke refinement for all strokes, I have found the following websites to be very helpful. If, in your own research, you find a fantastic website full of great information that you would like to share with others, please submit it to me via email for review to be included as a link on this page. I look forward to developing a comprehensive and informative list of links here and look forward to your input.
• Video: muscles used in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, & free-style
Head position is one of the key elements of a great backstroke. Keeping your head still and back, chin up in a neutral position, can assist in lifting your hips towards the surface of the water allowing you to be more hydrodynamic. A hydrodynamic body position is easily propelled by a strong kick.
The backstroke kick is a short, quick and steady one that is done under water with straight legs and pointed toes. The action of the foot/leg is similar to kicking a ball. Avoid breaking the surface of the water with your knees and allow the power of the kick to originate from the hips and come out through the toes.
Alternating arm strokes in the recovery portion of the stroke, the straight hand and arm are lead out of the water by the thumb, and as the arm brushes past the ear it turns outward to encouraging the hand entry to begin above the head with the pinky. As your hand catches the water above your head, push the water with a bent elbow to your hips. The motion of the power phase of the arm is as if you were throwing the water from above your head to your toes.
Body Position. Body Roll. As you reach your hand behind your head, your body and legs should roll to that side. Rolling your body allows you to essentially “grab” more water behind you. A good drill to encourage body roll and correct head position, is to kick on your back with your head in a neutral position while rolling your shoulders from one side to another. Hold & kick for a count of 3 seconds on each side. Remember to keep your head still and back. To keep water from entering your mouth and nose while swimming on your back, keep your head & neck in a neutral position. Breathe in while recovering and blow out while exerting energy.
The breaststroke is a difficult stroke to master in many ways due to the combined elements of the arm and leg actions. The timing is what makes this stroke a challenge. Your arms are going to work first, working to pull your head and mouth out of the water to breathe. This pull motion can pull your head up so much that it forces your body in a diagonal position causing form drag. Form drag is caused by your body’s position in the water. After grabbing your breath of air, it is important to put your face back down as soon as you can to assist in leveling out your body in the water to be more hydrodynamic. After your arms have pulled your face out of the water, they begin to recover. It is at this point that your legs kick in. Both legs should move in synchronicity. The heals of your feet come up to your rear end, then your feet point outwards to begin the power phase and finally swoop around grabbing the water and squeezing it between your straightened legs. It is important to try to keep your hands together until your legs come together and touch so that you can enjoy the gliding action in this stroke. Breaststroke is all about the glide; enjoy the ride.