Why are freestyle and backstroke pulls so different? Since working with Aaron Peirsol, we’ve learned to think about the backstroke pull as being similar to a freestyle pull on the back. Here’s a quick way to put that into play.
Why Do It:
Learning a better backstroke pull will make backstroke easier and faster. If you’ve already mastered freestyle, this will make backstroke easier as well.
How to Do It:
1. You’ll be alternating 4 strokes of backstroke with 3 strokes of freestyle. There is no breathing on the freestyle during this drill.
2. Push off on your stomach and swim 3 strokes of freestyle. On the third stroke, try to maintain your rhythm, and roll your head immediately UP and move into 4 strokes of backstroke. When you switch from freestyle to backstroke, do your best to focus your mind on continuing to pull freestyle.
3. After the fourth stroke of backstroke, keep your head pointed to the ceiling for as long as you can, while your body continues to roll over into the freestyle pull. The head will be pulled around by the body, but don’t rush it. Try to maintain your rhythm and arm cadence when you switch from back to free.
4. Continue this rotation, and no matter if you’re on your front, or on your back, continue to think about a freestyle pull. Nice bend in the elbow, and catching the water as far in front as possible.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Keep kicking! When you roll from back to front, there will be a tendency to stop the kick and move into a gliding position. Don’t forget this is a backstroke drill, and there’s very little gliding in backstroke, so maintain the rhythm of backstroke, while maintaining the pull of freestyle.