Chapter 11~Safety/Elem.Bkstrk
The Home Pool


The Elementary Backstroke

The first tasks and progressions below are reviews of the Front Crawl and back position which will help in acquiring a good back float.

Practice first at shallow end of the pool.

1--Warm up by swimming the width twice using the Front Crawl stroke.

2--Grasp pool side with back facing width of pool.

3--While holding onto pool side bring body into tuck position with feet about a foot beneath hands. Press feet against pool side. (See illustrations below.)

4--Gently stretch out body atop water pushing slightly with toes. Be sure to keep head back and tummy pushed upward. Think of lying your body delicately atop the water like a feather wafted by a gentle breeze. Practice until mastered.


The first position shows a good tuck against pool side.

After The Push-off and Beginning to Stretch Out


THE KICK: It's important to know that both arms and legs move together in unison. The leg movement, however, is quite different than the up and down kicking of the Front Crawl. Most instructors demonstrate the kick by sitting on the pool deck rather than in the water and also have pupils practice in the same manner. This method is easier for the class to see how it's performed and for instructors to make certain that the kick is executed correctly.

As you read each step for the Elementary Backstroke kick please refer to illustrations.

1--Sit on side of pool with legs straight and toes pointing toward open water. (Hands pressed back against deck for support)

2--Turn knees inward with heels down and toes pointing upward. Lift legs high as possible.

3--In a quick, circling motion straighten out legs, bringing feet together with toes pointed.

4--Practice the three previous steps consecutively until perfected. Study illustration below:

Practicing the Kick in Water:The following drill at side of pool should be practiced before proceeding to the complete stroke.

1--In water, hold onto pool side and stretch out in prone position. Head may either be up or with face down in water.

2--Bring legs up with knees inward, heels down and toes pointing up and out.

3--Form a circle with legs below the knees two or three feet wide.

4--Close circle hard and quick. Return to prone position .

5--Repeat 1 through 4 continuously at least 5 X or until mastered.

Practicing Kick on the Back--This is Also a Poolside Drill.

1--Hold onto pool side in SUPINE position--arms on either side of head. Elbows must be bent and pointing toward feet.

2--Practice the Elementary Backstroke Kick--# 2 through # 3 above.

3--Close circle hard and quick. Return to supine position. Continue practicing kick in supine position until mastered.

HINT: It may help to say, "Up--out--around and straight," as you practice these kicks.


Most problems with the kick are related to the complete Elementary Backstroke and generally concerned with being out of synch with the arm stroke. However, the number one error in the kick is neglecting to bring legs back to a straightened position hard and quick! When first learning the kick pupils often go through the correct motions but let legs float through the movement rather than bringing them around and back with a definitive move. Obviously, a slow floating motion will not produce much power and may also result in lack of synch. with the arm stroke.


Chapter Eleven-B~El.Back Armstroke.
The Home Pool
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