Sometimes, learning how to stay in one place in the water is more important than learning how to get to the other end. Here’s a drill that will help every learn-to-swim student (and every swimmer) have more control in the water.
Why Do It:
Back Balance may look fairly simple, but for beginning swimmers it presents a series of challenges and puzzles that need to be solved. For Nancy and Sharetha, the swimmers in the video and photos, it took many assisted attempts and several lessons before they could do this on their own. But once they found their ‘balance point,’ they had a lot more confidence that they could control their destiny in the water ‘ especially in the deep end.
Back Balance teaches you how to use your buoyant lungs to help support you in the water. There’s kind of a magic balance point ‘ different for every swimmer ‘ where if you lean back at just the right angle, you don’t have to do very much at all to support yourself in the water. The drill helps you find your center of gravity ‘ or center of balance ‘ in the water.
Back balance also teaches you how to have ‘smart hands.’ Finding your back-balance point isn’t quite a free ticket to staying afloat. You have to do SOME work with your hands and arms or you will start to sink. It’s figuring out the RIGHT KIND of work that is the challenge. Most beginners tend to move the hands in only one direction when they try this drill. They either push water AWAY from their body’or they push water TOWARD their body. The trick is to use the hands to push and move the water in BOTH directions. This is called sculling, and it makes it possible to stay in the back-balance position for as long as you want, with minimal effort. If you develop really smart hands, you can start to spin in circles and will develop new appreciation for synchronized swimming.
Back balance is the first step toward treading water ‘ a key skill for every beginning swimmer. You need smart hands and a sense of your center of gravity to be able to tread water in the deep end.
How To Do It:
1.If you are just learning to swim, it’s best to have a partner — preferably someone who has already mastered Back Balance, and who knows how to hold your body so that you can find your personal balance point.
2.Stand in the shallow end and bend so that the water is at about your armpits. Let your hands and arms float on the water. Your partner should stand beside or behind you, ready to support your back and neck with their hands and arms or maybe even using their knee to support your lower back.
3.Lean back and imagine you are resting your lungs on the water. Let the water support your back and head, but you should be looking up and slightly forward. The knees should be slightly out of the water, and you want to form a ‘tabletop’ with your lower legs.
4.You will need to use your hands to support your body in this position. Imagine that you are using your palms to ‘spread peanut butter’on two big pieces of bread. Spread it in both directions, and keep the palms on the ‘bread.’ You want to apply constant pressure on the water with your palms. The pressure is down and side-to-side.
5.Experiment with how far back you lean and how you use your hands until you can balance on your own. Be patient! It may take many attempts before you find your balance.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1.The smarter your hands become, the less work you have to do to stay afloat. The more attuned you become to pressure on your hands, the less side-to-side motion you will make with your arms. It’s kind of like magic. Once you find your balance point and learn to scull with the hands, this one-impossible drill becomes incredibly easy.
2.Now have some fun with it. Find your balance and turn yourself in a circle, by pushing out a little harder with one hand. Switch directions by pushing out a little harder with the other hand.
3.Wiggle your feet. See how long you can stay afloat. See how fast you can spin and change directions. Put on a big smile and start planning your first synchro routine!