Backstroke – Quick Draw

When I was a kid I used to watch reruns of TV westerns. My favorites were Gene Autry the singing cowboy and Roy Rogers, king of the cowboys. At the climax of almost every show there was the inevitable shootout between the good guys (white hats) and bad guys (black hats). The good guys were always quick on the draw, and could shoot the bad guy down from their hip. I realized at a young age that being quick on the draw is more than just having quick hands. It starts with the shoulder. All backstrokers can learn a thing or two from these gunslingers.
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Why do it:

Quick-draw backstroke teaches you to use your dry shoulder while swimming backstroke. By drawing the shoulder up, you can free your hand for a clean exit and quicker turnover. This drill, in combination with the Spin Drill, can help you realize the importance of a quick recovery in backstroke.

How To Do It:

1. This drill, in its basic form, is single-arm backstroke. You have one arm extended and the other arm at your side. The focus is on the arm that is at your side.

2. When your lead arm is extended and initiating the pull, you want to shrug the shoulder of your trailing arm up toward your chin. Make sure that you are rotated onto your side so your shoulder can clear the surface.

3. As you shrug the shoulder of your trailing arm, your hand should pop out of the water. Let the hand come up out of the water, then relax the hand and let it fall back to your hip.

4. After taking three or four strokes with one arm, take four full strokes. While you are swimming whole-stroke backstroke, concentrate on shrugging your shoulders to clear you hands.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

1. In order for this drill to work you need to have your body rotated so that your lead arm is deep in the water. If you are flat on your back, it is difficult to shrug your shoulder.

2. Make the shrug an aggressive motion. The more pronounced the shrug, the more acceleration you’ll generate in the hand that comes out of the water. Make sure not to hit yourself in the face with your shoulder.

3. Try to have the thumb pop out first as your hand exits the water.

4. Start by swimming with one arm on the first length, and with the other arm on the second length. When you feel that you have the jist of the drill, mix in some whole-stroke swimming. For example, you could do some 50s, taking 3 strokes with one arm, 3 full stroke, 3 other arm.