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When developing a competitive backstroke model, you need to establish what the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete are before applying the drills.
The model needs to be about having a good connection between the catch and the hips. When there’s a good connection, you can utilize the hips to rotate the body and drive that arm through and to the FINISH of the pull.
The timing of the stroke is important, as is a narrow kick that provides consistent propulsion.
When you’re looking at drills, you need to assess what drill is going to allow you to work on the weakness of the athlete in relation to a strong backstroke model.
Good line. Good head position. Making sure the catch is with the palm down. Making sure the hips rotate early. Making sure the kick is narrow enough – not too big – and is consistent.
When doing rotation drills, you’re looking at the hip rotation and shoulder rotation.
When doing single-arm drills, you’re looking at the timing of the arm rotating with the hips and shoulders.
When doing the single-arm sculling drill, you’re looking at getting into that position and fixing it—creating pressure on the palm.
When you introduce the rotation drills, you’re transferring from the sculling drill to rotation, and practicing the timing of getting on to it with the anchor – that’s the palm anchoring on to the water – and then rotating the hips and shoulders to pull through.
It’s similar to a golf swing. If we look at a golf swing, the golfer will turn the trunk and the hips first, and then follow through with the club and that’s what creates the power.
It’s the same with the swimming of backstroke and freestyle. You want to make sure the hips are creating that power. So timing is very important.
But it’s also very important that you have a clear model to look at to determine what it looks like and what you’re working toward.
Showing the athlete is the most vital thing, so they can create that visualization while doing the drill.