Backstroke - "Wave" Recovery

Jun 25, 2003
Backstroke -  "Wave" Recovery

Why Do It:

To develop a backstroke that takes advantage of the natural movement of the body to aid in the pull.


How To Do It:

1. Start on your side, with one arm at your side and the other arm extended above your head. Stay long and straight from fingertips to toes as you flutter kick. Eyes should look directly at the ceiling.

2. When you feel balanced (horizontal and long), lift your trailing arm straight up toward the ceiling, and then put it back down. Keep the lead arm exactly where it started, extended and long.

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

The point of the drill is to stay balanced (horizontal and long) as you initiate the recovery. The key is to move the trailing hand, and NOT the leading hand.

If you watch young swimmers try to do backstroke, you'll notice that they instinctively want to move the LEAD hand first, they want to pull first, then recover. This drill can help to correct that instinctual, and ineffective, windmilling. It teaches you to WAIT, and not to pull until the trailing hand begins to recover.

Two huge benefits of this drill:

1. You'll learn how to stay balanced while you begin your recovery.

2. You'll drive your lead hand a little deeper in the water when it's time to initiate the pull.


Unsure how high to raise your arm? Less is more. If you raise it too high (beyond 90 degrees), you'll start to fall into the next stroke and will feel a bit awkward.

Starting to sink when you hand is at the top? Don't stop at the top! Just raise the arm a bit, and put it back down. Don't stop the motion. Just up and down... that's it, like waving a handkerchief.

Starting to sink as soon as you raise your arm? Your balance may be off. Trying rolling a little more toward your back, and start by lifting your arm just a little bit and quickly putting it back down. Continue to increase how far your raise your hand, until you finally take a stroke and land in the starting position on the other side.

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