Why Do It:
Playing with Backstroke Hand Entry can help you correct or avoid one of the most common stroke errors in backstroke: over-reaching.
Most swimmers reach across and over the head to initiate the pull. But it’s hard to initiate a good catch — or to generate much power — with the hand in this position.
You can get a better catch and more power if your hands enter at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock-or even at 11 and 1. The highest point that your hands should enter is directly above your shoulders. Beyond that and you’re over-reaching.
Most swimmers THINK they enter at 11 and 1 but are WAY OFF. By playing with your hand entry, you can try EVERY position and determine which entry point gives you the most power. It’s best to have a partner on deck while you’re doing this drill, to help you ‘see’ where your hands are entering, but you can get a feel for this on your own.
How To Do It:
1. Start by swimming several cycles of backstroke with your hand entry at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. It may have to FEEL like 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock to achieve 10 and 2.
2. Have a partner stand on deck and signal you until you get it right. It will probably feel very awkward to have your hands enter this wide, but remember: The purpose of the drill is to experiment. Try to maintain a smooth, steady rhythm.
3. After several cycles at 10 and 2, try several cycles with your hand entry at 11 and 1. Again, a partner can signal you until you get it right.
4. Now switch to several cycles with the hands entering directly above the shoulders.
5. Once you get a feel for the different hand-entry points, try several lengths where you switch seamlessly from two cycles at 10 and 2, to two cycles at 11 and 1, to two cycles directly above the shoulders. Try to develop a feel for how the width of hand entry affects your stroke. Is there one hand-entry point that seems to give you a deeper catch? More power? Better rotation?
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Try doing one or two 25s or 50s with a 10/2 hand entry and get your times. Then repeat the intervals with an 11/1 hand entry. Then repeat with an above-the-shoulder entry. Compare how your stroke feels and compare your times.
2. Have a friend check you periodically from on deck, to let you know where your hands are entering and to make sure you’re not over-reaching.
Get this drill in PDF form in the DVD-ROM section of our Go Swim All Strokes DVD. You can get this DVD FREE from now until the end of the year when you purchase three of our other DVDs. Makes great holiday gifts, and now it’s even more affordable.