FINIS Tip Of The Week: Backstroke With A Pull Buoy


Welcome to the “FINIS Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), each tip is meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

This week’s drill is backstroke with a pull buoy, a great drill for more advanced swimmers to work on rotation, body position, and core engagement.

To perform the drill swimmers will continually hold a pull buoy over their shoulders with straight arms, passing it from hand to hand while they alternate arm strokes (you can also substitute in a kickboard, a tennis ball, or any other lightweight piece of equipment that may be around the pool deck). This creates a pause in the middle of the recovery cycle for each arm stroke, forcing swimmers to hold an unstable body position while taking each stroke.

This challenges swimmers to keep a stable body position while holding the pull buoy perpendicular to their body. The hips and legs will naturally drop in this position, forcing your athletes to find more core engagement and be more intentional with their balance and how they are using their kick to stay stable in the water.

It also has the added element of teaching your swimmers to accelerate into their catch and have a strong, propulsive arm stroke. Since this drill puts them in such an unstable position, they will need to be more aware of how they are using their rotation and their upper body to move themselves through the water.

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.