FINIS Tip Of The Week: Double + Single Arm Backstroke


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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 tip explains why you should use double arm backstroke and single arm backstroke together to develop a strong catch in your backstroke pull.

Often coaches and swimmers alike can fall into the habit of going through the motions with double arm backstroke, using it for active recovery or warm down. However, when done intentionally double arm backstroke is a great way to develop a strong catch for your pull. Using both arms at the same time helps swimmers connect with the power in their pull (as opposed to driving their propulsion from their legs), and also creates a more stable base to set up a high elbow catch.

And this is why it is a good preceding drill to single arm backstroke. While one of the most common backstroke drills, single arm backstroke can be notoriously difficult to master. The drill works on balance, rotation, head and body position, and holding a consistent kick along with working on developing a strong catch. Particularly with beginners, it can be hard to translate nail all those skills in the drill, let alone see how they translate to normal backstroke swimming.

Using double arm backstroke to set up the feeling of a strong catch allows swimmers to continue to nail that piece of their stroke while also being able to concentrate on all the other elements that make single arm backstroke such a useful drill.

In practice, create progressions that start with double arm backstroke, making sure to think about or explain the intention behind transitioning from one to the other. Especially with more novice swimmers, this can be a great way to not only give them a foundation for a strong catch, but to learn how drills can complement one another to develop good technical habits.

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.

1 comment

  1. Jose Ahumada

    Excellent post! But as a matter of feedback, it will be pretty much illustrative a little clip or video of the drill.