Body position :
Arms :
Legs :
On the back
Stretched in front, next to the body or hands in the side.

The armstroke
The legstroke
The combination
Frequently made mistakes with the simple backstroke


The armstroke
With this swimming-stroke the arms are not moved and are kept still on one place during the whole swimming-stroke. There are three positions where you can keep the arms :

  • Stretched in front of the body as you see on the image below.
  • Stretched next to the body.
  • Hands in the side.
It is recommended to use position 1 because on that way you can never bump with your head to the side of the swimming-pool. This is especially important with little childern whom not exactly know when they reach the side of the swimming-pool.

The simple backstroke seen from above with
the arms stretched in front of the body


The legstroke
With the simple backstroke the legstroke (a frog-kick) is the only propulsion. The damming surface exist out of the inside of the ankle, the foot sole and the inside of the shin-bone. Generally the two-stroke legstroke is used most in competitions. The direction of movement will mostly be backwards and as little as possible sideward. The legstroke can roughly be divided in three phases :

The starting position is a almost horizontal and stretched position just like with the armstroke where the legs are fully stretched and are kept closed. At the same time the legs are kept under water during the whole cycle!

Phase 1:
During this phase the legs are bent and pulled in. The heels move to the direction of the buttocks. The feet keep pointing to the back. Then the knees move from each other (not to much though) but keep them as much as possible inside the streamline of the body. We can call this phase also the contra-phase as the movement of the legs is against the direction of swimming.

Phase 2:
In this phase the lowerlegs and the feet are as it were put "open". Then the feet are at the point where they almost reach the buttocks. The feet are pulled in and turned outward. Also the feet move outward. On this way there arises a some sort of M-figure.

Phase 3:
The outward pointed feet movement is now pointed backward with a turn where the legs are fully stretched and closed powerfully. During this roundtwist the feet move more outward than the knees. The contra-phase (the pull-in of the legs) goes slowly to the M-figure while a clear acceleration is made during the damming phase.


The combination
In contrast to all other swimming-strokes which are descripted on this website, you can not speak of any combination between the arms and legs. You only speak of a combination when both the arms and legs move on a certain way from each other where the timing of those two is decisive which combination is used (short, long, semi-short and so on). During the simple backstroke the arms are held still on one place and therefore there is no combination.


Frequently made mistakes with the simple backstroke

  • The legs do not move symmetrical with as a result the body swings.
  • There is no gliding-phase.



Copyright © Stefan de Best