Here’s a simple balance drill that helps to stabilize your head for backstroke. You could use a half-filled water bottle or cup, but since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, green is the way to go.
Why Do It:
Keeping the head rock steady is one of the key skills for a fast backstroke. If the head is moving side to side, your body is probably moving side to side as well – instead of moving FORWARD. How steady is rock steady? This drill will give you an immediate answer — and instant feedback on how well you’re doing. If you can keep the head still enough to take this drill to SWIMMING, you’re well on the way to faster backstroke. Plus, being stable enough to kick, rotate, or swim with a bottle balanced on your head is just a neat and fun skill to have.
How to Do It:
1. Find yourself a bottle, cup, or something that you can balance on your forehead (we’ve actually used SHOES at swim camp).
2. Fill the bottle or cup about half full. You want to make sure it’s bottom heavy rather than top heavy, so it’s less likely to tip over.
3. Position the bottle just above your goggles. This allows you to keep your head more in line with the rest of your body.
4. Start by simply KICKING, with hands at your sides. When you feel stable enough, and in control, roll your opposite shoulder up, beginning to develop a stable rotation.
5. When you’re really getting it, you can even swim backstroke – slowly at first, then with more rhythm.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Have races. Yes, even with turns! Obviously, these will have to be open turns, and the push off will have to be gentle. But there’s something about RACING -going head to head against someone while trying to go as fast as possible while NOT dropping the bottle — that makes you get better at this in a hurry. One good rule for this race is that it’s not always the fastest swimmer who wins the race (in this case), it’s the person who maintains stability for the longest time.
Now, to make it a REAL St. Paddy’s day drill… if the bottle is a bit too full of the liquid inside…. drink it. Just remember, no glass on the pool deck, and you MUST be over 21 to have anything that REALLY constitutes the real St. Patrick’s celebration. 🙂